Seattle DJ/producer Jerry Abstract is a human dynamo. If I had half his energy, I could write the entire contents of The Stranger every week—and take out the trash.
Besides maintaining a hectic DJ schedule (mostly around the Northwest), Abstract serves as creative director for the Decibel Festival, heads his Fixelplix design studio, and creates tracks for labels like Germany's Shitkatapult, San Francisco's Semisexual, Detroit Underground, and Seattle's Fourthcity. He's also working on a documentary about Seattle's electronic-music scene with James Yi.
When Abstract spent last summer in Berlin, it wasn't to chill. He worked hard there; when he returned home, his production skills had noticeably improved. "It's amazing what you can develop when you're not socially busy," Abstract marvels. "Of course, I was very influenced by watching and listening to other people's live sets (like Apparat, Phon.o, and James Cotton), and how they all constructed their loops/sounds to be remade for the live party environment."
Speaking of which, while in Germany he achieved a goal he set a decade ago while he was living in Detroit, by playing Berlin's legendary Tresor club. "The set ran for an hour and a half," Abstract recounts. "It was so fucking loud and hot and full of people!"
Abstract also performed twice at Detroit's Fuse-In Festival this year. Although he didn't get choice time slots like he did at Tresor, his Fuse-In sets inspired positive feedback and Abstract felt much pride in rocking his hometown among stellar peers.
With Seattle itself now home to a bevy of talented electronic-music producers, Abstract has raised his game to join the city's elite. His recent CD-R, Demo(n)stration v. One, flaunts diverse stylistic range and impressive quality control. As Jerry Abstract, he forges pummeling strains of knarz-techno, mainly for Shitkatapult, which specializes in nasty, brutish dance tracks. His Ian Ginsing guise focuses on brain-wiggling IDM that deserves to bear Warp Records' logo (Semisexual plans to release an EP titled Champagne Eiscubes in September). Finally, as Former Selv, Abstract explores a heady blend of isolationist dronescaping and angular IDM rhythms.
"My imagination constantly pumps out all kinds of ideas and sounds, and I like that, so I do not intend to cage my flow," Abstract says. "I will continue to explore and evolve my sound forever, I hope. I never sit down and say I'm going to make a techno track this session. Most of the time it's a long process of tweaking until I get a sound or rhythm that I like. Then the rest of the song becomes developed because of that beginning rhythm. There's much more I intend to experience in my life, and the more I get to experience, the more my sounds will develop and change." DAVE SEGAL
Former Selv plays with Terso, Electrosect, Nordic Soul, NDCV, M.O., and others Thurs June 30 at CHAC Lower Level, 1621 12th Ave, 388-0521, 9 pm–2 am, $4, 21+.