TML 2nd birthday interview: Spankrock's XXXChange & Soviet Panda

Categories: Interview
XXXChange (L), Soviet Panda (R)

One of the coolest things I've seen at a local dance night happened last September at Too Much Love when LCD Soundsystem kicked off the school year. One minute First Avenue's mainroom seemed vast, dotted with just a few uncommitted stragglers lurking from the concert beforehand -- and the next minute, a jolting scene for any jaded ol' SNDP purist: looking down from the balcony, neon lights scurried across a fluorescent mass of heads filling every nook and cranny, the kids dressed like they were chasing that superfine line between "Whatever, I'm effortlessly stylish" and "LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT MEEEE!" It didn't take long to discern that this was indeed the future of the Minneapolis party scene, and at least for the Twin Cities, this inclusive melting pot of students, newcomers and misfit club scene vets embracing sound palettes of all types was weirdly new.

Months later, there's signs of this "new" Minneapolis all around us, and at the forefront of the electronic sect is a very visible crew of DJs including TML's own Soviet Panda (a.k.a. Peter Lansky), the promoter/founder/DJ who's bringing highly sought Spankrock producer XXXChange to his party's 2nd birthday on Saturday.  Burrowing out of the Baltimore club scene and popping off as a duo in New York, Spankrock revived dance music from its nearing-comotose state, pouring skanky rhymes (rapped by counterpart Naeem Juwan) over buoyant, booty-focused beats that, thanks to XXXChange, makes sultry bedfellows of both hip-hop and electro (much like ghetto house but fuller and more satisfying). There've been many mimics (hi Mickey Avalon!), but there's still only two dudes to thank for this attitude-packed sound, and we're lucky to have one of them coming to our city.

After Soviet Panda has his way with his crowd on Saturday, XXXChange will take the turntables hostage and treat Minneapolis to a set it rarely hears amid all the indie bands, throwback acts and hyper-niche EDM DJs filling up event calendars (and not necessarily venues) of late. And this time, it's gonna get grimy.  The XXXperience has the makings to be as electric as the LCD night times two if it weren't for this damn snow, so throw on those moonboots and lets get to stompin'.

But first, a double feature just for you:

Peter, when you started TML, did you have any idea you'd be where you are today -- celebrating two years of what's surely the reason many kids age 18-25 even get up in the morning?

Soviet Panda: I was surprised we made it past the first month in the VIP room (let alone the mainroom), so no, I had no idea this is where we'd end up! I'm extremely grateful that people have been so responsive to the music and the night in general. I try to keep that impetus behind TML in mind when planning the night's future - bringing exciting electronic music to fill what I felt was a void in the club scene.

So what has been the best night at TML so far?

Soviet Panda: LCD coming down to DJ was probably the best night, at least for me, since it meant so much to me personally. James Murphy has been kind of a mentor to me and to have him play my party was unreal. Some highlights from the past year have been having the Juan Maclean and Holy Ghost! in to DJ classics and unreleased tracks [and] having free hot dogs brought out at the end of the night with the DJs from 205 and Wurst Edits from New York.

XXXChange did an apprenticeship at James Murphy's DFA label. XXXChange, what was the most important thing you learned there?

XXXChange: I learned a couple recording techniques and the importance of giving stuff a little bit of a live feel. It's important to have some human elements in there even if you're making electronic music.

So what's your favorite thing you've produced music-wise and why?

XXXChange: Probably Spankrock "yoyoyoyoyo" -- that was a lot of fun to make. We never thought anyone would ever hear it! Just kind of did it for fun.

What do you think of when you hear the term "hipster DJs"?

Soviet Panda: "Hipster" and "DJ" have been co-opted by so many people for so many different uses, especially in the last few years, that I think both words have more or less lost any useful meaning. Obviously I'm a DJ, but nowadays that could imply a lot of different things. I try to ignore terms like "hipster DJ", regardless of positive or negative connotations. If I didn't I would most likely drive myself crazy thinking about it, since I tend to be pretty self-conscious.

With DJs coming out like they're on an assembly line these days, how do you stay fresh?

XXXChange: it's hard what with the Internet and everything. I just try and play stuff that I really, really like and not follow trends too much. It's easy to get caught up in some new bullshit trend in music but in reality, there might only be a couple good records from any given scene so it's better to be open to playing all kinds of different stuff.

Peter, what is the weirdest scene you've ever witnessed at a TML party?

Soviet Panda: People are weird, and on top of that, First Avenue seems to attract a number of especially weird people in addition to its normal crowds. Combine that with a lot of alcohol, and you end up seeing weird scenes pretty consistently every week. At this point I'm having trouble picking one that really stands out so I must be pretty desensitized to it. I guess I'll say that there is some really, really good people-watching at TML every Saturday.

What's next for TML? Anything coming up this spring or summer you can hip us to? (Winter has been brutal. Minneapolis will no doubt be a more fun place to live soon).

Soviet Panda: Winter has definitely been brutal! TML has been surprisingly vibrant throughout, so I'm expecting an especially fun spring and summer. I am working closely with First Ave to push Too Much Love further, to continue to make it the best party it can be, and to associate it with quality electronic music. For Saturday nights, you can expect more special guest DJs from out of town, as well as excellent local DJs - both those you know and love, and those you may be less familiar with.

XXXChange, what about you? What do you have coming up?

XXXChange: I'm working on an LP of my own for [Diplo's] Mad Decent and finishing up Amanda Blank's LP with switch. i might do some more 12"s, too.

Nice. Mad Decent is a great label. Last one: have you been to Minneapolis before? 

XXXChange: Yep. Liked it! Can't wait to come back.



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