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Musicianship loves company. While most rap crews, ravers and shoegazers have tended to bond via shared cultures, geography, institutional angst and drug availability, the burgeoning Soundcloud and Tumblr massives have made it far easier for producers to connect and rise – especially now mixtapes have given way to free downloads. ZOE KILBOURN investigates.

Melbourne producer Dylan Tainsh – who, for the last 14 months, has worked under the name Dugong Jr – understands that changing promotional landscape as well as any. His aesthetic is firmly grounded in the faux-ironic gifs and CGI dolphins of the early internet age, he’s sharing and experiencing the crème of new dance with producers from across the globe, and he appreciates and harnesses the power of the free download.

“I find I’m more inclined to listen to a song by somebody if it has free downloads,” says Tainsh. “Soundcloud enables that sort of sharing. That’s why there’s a lot more of these independent collectives coming up right now.”

In Love, Dugong Jr’s first official solo release, features the space-marimbas, bright synths, and chipmunk-soul vocals you might hear from Wave Racer, Basenji, or Sebastian The Crab in a bucket hat. It’s a track that’s been made possible by Tainsh’s involvement in an up-and-coming future beats crew.

“That one’s the first one that came out through Moving Castle, a kind of collective,” he says. “I’ve never met any of them in real life. Most of them are from the States, a couple from the Netherlands, and a couple from Canada as well, I think.”

“I don’t download a heap of new music all the time,” Tainsh says. “I don’t go trawling through blogs trying to find stuff – I just vibe on what friends are playing, what they’re playing, sending stuff back and forth. That’s one of the most positive things about being part of a collective like Moving Castle – we’re all from different parts of the world and we’re all hearing different things and sharing them with each other. Reaching out and becoming part of those small communities really helps you evolve your sound. If you’re just keeping to yourself, it’s easy to lose motivation.”

Moving Castle’s founder, Hunt For The Breeze, “just connected through a random fan, I guess” – a Soundcloud follower who sent through one of his early remixes. A month or so of tracks back-and-forth led to a formal invitation to be part of the collective. Moving Castle’s work stretches across the whole future beats spectrum. While they’re all based in a similar trap BPM, Dugong Jr clearly belongs to a very Australian form of bass music – the kind of resolutely happy work repped by producers like Basenji, Sable, and Wave Racer.

“It’s just refreshing to pull away from the more serious side of dance music,” says Tainsh. “Techno, deep house. It’s not like this music’s a joke or anything – but it does bring back more positive vibes into dance music. People enjoy that after hearing 30 BPM deep house and techno stuff for hours and hours.”

Tainsh has a firm background in hip hop and RnB, as showcased in his remixes of Destiny’s Child and Kid Ink.

“I stumbled across the a capella for the first Kid Ink remix I did, and I didn’t even know him before that,” he says. “It seemed like he was really big in America – recently he’s blown up a bit. Everything he’s been putting out lately I really dig, and he’s been working with producers I really like. DJ Mustard and Cashmere Cat have been working with him. I probably won’t be able to do any more Kid Ink remixes – I’ve already done two.

“I definitely listen to a lot of RnB, and it helps that it’s in the same kind of tempo range. I’ve always liked 90s stuff – the old Ashanti, Ja Rule kind of stuff. I always play that kind of stuff in my sets, and it varies according to what people are feeling – but I like playing stuff that has vocals and vocal hooks in them. I feel like they get a bit more of a reaction behind them.”

As both producer and DJ, Tainsh very clearly has mass positivity in mind.

“Finding a balance between what the crowd’s feeling, but challenging yourself and being exciting,” he says of his role as DJ. “Playing songs that you know they’re gonna be liking while introducing them to things they probably haven’t heard. There’s something really great about introducing a crowd to stuff they probably have never heard before or wouldn’t normally listen to. That’s probably the most fun thing for me.

“I’ve got a lot of tracks that haven’t been released yet – it’s good to get feedback in different places. Sometimes when you’re not getting as great a reaction, it’s good to be able to go back to a studio and fix them up. There’s nothing better for a new track than being able to play it live.”

The post-ironic joy in Tainsh’s work – teamed with his laconic honesty and shameless appreciation for Say My Name – should tie in nicely with his gig for Surface Tension this Saturday. It’s a Bakery gig, for starters, so it ought to complement Dugong Jr’s feel-good-weird-trap vibe.

“I like pushing the ironic stereotype of that whole overdone seapunk aesthetic,” he says. “I’m just trying to play up the whole internet DIY movement. If it helps, I just finished a Design degree, so I can do all my own stuff and push my own aesthetic in the direction I want it. It definitly helps with some of the branding stuff for Dugong. The seapunk, Tumblr thing – without the comic sans and other horrible design decisions connected with it. “

Ticketing info here.


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