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Awe Fox: From Tigerbeats To The Glow.

April 9, 2014

TheGlowGun$GarciaMIXTAPE01Here’s the fourth installment of our monthly mixtape series, which is curated by GUN$ Garcia. Today she brings us DJs Awe Fox and Tygerstrype, the guys behind  Magic Death Sounds Record Company.

They hold a regular party, The Glow. The next event is on Friday at Barbarella. See here for details.

Our Holli Stephens spoke with Dan Kauffman, aka Awe Fox, about his start as a DJ and how his music career has evolved.

How did you get your start as a DJ?

I guess in public I started DJing for Tigerbeats at The Barbary and before that, I would DJ at house parties that I would throw along with my friend Tony Mont. I’ve always been playing music to people and then it just evolved to different methods of equipment. One day, Tony and I were asked to be resident DJs at the weekly party Tigerbeats at The Barbary.

Who are your DJ influences?

Right off the top of my head? Local DJ ISL (Ian Saint Laurent), who is a friend of mine. Because of that, I’ve been able to see him DJ so much over the past three years and every time, I’m so impressed by his huge selection. It’s truly inspiring to me since I’m a younger DJ and I it try to keep things fresh and learn how to do everything better. So him and honestly my partner, Gabriel Guerrero, who’s from LA and in a band with his roommate Alden Towler called tygerstrype. They just finished their second album and I’m so excited for it to come out. Not only is he a brilliant musician, singer and dancer, but he has such a unique style of DJing. We have a really good balance when we’re doing The Glow together. He plays a lot of stuff that I never would think to play. And when we’re doing The Glow, we alternate sets and he just gives me so much to work off of.

What are your expectations for this week’s party?

For this specific The Glow, they are pretty high. At The Barbary, how it works is that there’s always two parties – one upstairs and one downstairs. So The Glow will be happening upstairs. The party downstairs is a very successful punk and rock ‘n’ roll party called Guitar Army. I’m usually at this even if I’m working or DJing. I’m excited to pair the digital Internet weirdness dance party with the old school style punk stuff downstairs. It’s going to be an interesting mix.

So how did The Glow start?

The Glow has been running a year and a half. And for most of that time, it was exclusively vinyl. We went with the physical music theme because when Gabe and I met, we had this huge record collection of the newest stuff. I feel when people think of vinyl they think of old Led Zeppelin records and that’s cool. But especially now every band is putting out vinyl and we made it a point to collect musical vinyl that we love to pay respect to the new music. So when we started doing The Glow, it was these strictly vinyl parties and it was really fun. It had its quirks too. People would be dancing too hard and the music would skip and we’d just be like whatever it’s real vinyl, we’re feeling it. But then we got the opportunity to change the parties to Fridays from it previously being on Tuesdays. With that came more people and more of a need to expand because there was only so much that we could play every week on vinyl. We changed it to digital, which is also cool in it’s own way because we could do a lot more from a DJ’s perspective. We figured we’d make this mix (The Glow Mix) to show people the next step of The Glow. Our fans were already following the direction it’s taking so it’s a good identifier of what to expect.

What would you categorize your style as?

I would categorize my DJing style as pretty free-form. I definitely try to keep it weird. I always turn to unexpected things rather than obvious sounding mixes. My co-DJ Gabe and I try to keep The Glow pretty high energy and fresh and include stuff that we don’t hear very often at other parties.

What sets you apart from other DJs?

On a big scale a lot of DJs have this need to please especially if they’re doing this for a lot of money. My main reason is to have fun and share music that I love with other people. My main goal is to share new stuff and keep things weird and unexpected.

When and how did you come about creating your own record label, Magic Death Sounds?

Magic Death Sounds was actually started by a very special friend of mine named Dylan Deimler. He moved into town and didn’t know a lot of people. We met when we were both working and he approached me about this record label idea and that it was already named Magic Death Sounds. Our initial goal was to find cool music that otherwise wouldn’t be given any real attention in the city and put it out for the record. Later on, Dylan retired. He moved to a farm and went to agricultural school and kind of handed the whole thing over to me to do what I wanted with it. It’s grown to be a cassette label more than vinyl distribution because it’s cheaper and you can do a lot more with cassette tapes. And we throw block parties and host DJ nights and have live music shows and showcases for all the acts and stuff so it has grown into a beast.

What kind of live events does Magic Death Sounds do and who has performed?

We usually do one of two things. We do a lot of shows for touring bands who come to the city. My partner Tony Mont and I are always are contacted by bands and performers who are coming to Philly and need a place to play. We find a venue and put a show together. It’s pretty cool because every once in while we have a Magic Death Sounds showcase which is exclusively for our DJs and bands from within.

What word best characterizes Magic Death Sounds?

The first thing that comes to mind is eclectic. I feel that every release that we’ve done and every party we’ve hosted has been very different. Every person involved is free to bring their own style and influence so it is pretty all over the place. From an outside point of view people still seem to have a general idea of what we do. We keep it weird and showcase the underdogs and local music and experimental stuff.

How do you go about signing artists?

Some people come to me with their own stuff and usually they’re just looking for a platform to get their stuff more well known. I hear artists and can’t understand why they don’t have any merch, like anything for sale or downloadable or anything. I feel like a band performer and say something like I want to make sure you guys have tapes to sell at shows. It’s a quick verbal interaction and they get really excited and we just make it happen. It’s pretty unofficial and a big team effort. I have a whole team of people who all bring different things to the table and make it efficient for everyone.

Why do you emphasis cassette and vinyl distribution?

Gabe and I believe in physical music. Especially in the past decade everything has just become so easily assessable because of the Internet and digital files and I think people lose a real connection with music because you can just download anything or rip a song off of YouTube. You not only lose the quality of music but the bands and mastering technicians put so much work and money into it. And you lose the experience of going to the store and looking at all the records, touching them with your hands, flipping through them, unwrapping them and seeing what kind of goodies are under the packaging before you put it in that tape player or put it on your turntable. It’s just a magical thing–knowing how to drop a needle right and picking a song–organizing your collections. It’s just beautiful.

So I hear you’re working on your 17th cassette release. What can fans expect?

It is an EP of some old songs that I made a while ago, right when we started Magic Death Sounds so I’ve been sitting on these for a couple of years. We were inactive over the winter so I figured hey, lets keep things fresh; I will put out a cassette of my own stuff. There’s not much ego in it and I just wanted to keep the project going. There’s three songs on it. One is a remix of “MMMBop” by Hanson. The other is a remix of “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. And the third one is a mash-up of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” so it has a sense of humor to it but I think it’s going to be pleasant for fans to hear.

What are your future plans for The Glow, Magic Death Sounds, and your DJ career?

For Magic Death Sounds I hope to just keep doing what we’ve been doing and follow what the universe wants it to become because it has already evolved so much. I have a lot of great people who I’m working with and I just want to keep the doors open and use it for the betterment of the community and for the music scene in Philadelphia whether it’s live stuff or DJ stuff and just keep putting tapes out. I want to keep sharing the music that otherwise wouldn’t be shared with the world. As far as The Glow, I think it’s just a fun time. I want to keep it going as long as I can. If I need someone new or if a DJ wants to share what they love, I’m happy to give them guest sets. A DJ friend of mine named Theo Marshall always comes to The Glow. He’s a loyal fan and we always give him a 20-minute spot. I’m happy to share that with him. I want to keep pleasing the crowd and the bartenders and keep it all positive. Constant elevation. That’s our motto to Magic Death Sounds if I had to explain it in a hashtag.

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