Julian Hochmuth ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
After a long drive back from New York earlier that day and some small town hangs in Lexington, MA, Carina Allen, Mariah Freire and I made our way to the border of greater Boston and Allston for a concert that would end up turning into quite an interesting night.
After going through security, I stopped back at the ticket booth to hand over my ID and receive my fancy “Photo Pass” sticker that would actually come in handy later that night.
The opener for Sliink and Cashmere Cat was Boston-based Durkin. He did an exceptional job warming up the crowd and setting us up with some deep house and jersey club vibes that we would be hearing a lot more of that night. A couple highlights of his set included his remix of “Pour It Up” by Rihanna which used a tasteful combination of future bass sounds and trap percussion. The remix was attention grabbing but was still able to keep the dance floor moving and engaged. The song he closed with and also premiered, Feel It, was another one of my personal favorites of the night. It used vocal and piano chopping reminiscent of the sounds of artists like Daft Punk, but also featured a thick sine wave bass line and half-time drop which acted as a poignant final punch line to the set.
The direct support for Cashmere Cat was New Jersey’s own, DJ Sliink. Sliink is one of many power house DJs to come out of New Jersey representing the Jersey Club scene. Jersey Club is essentially a form of house music that evolved from the break beat centric genre of music from Baltimore called “Bmore club,” “Bmore House” or just “Bmore.” After the boom of house music in Detroit in the mid-1980s, many producers started to disperse throughout America. Many ended up on the East Coast and started to develop new genres. Bmore was one of those genres. Bmore drew inspiration from house music that came out of Detroit, genres of Break beat from the UK, and hip hop that was developing in tandem on the East Coast. Jersey Club is essentially the next evolutionary step after Bmore. Eventually, Jersey Club conglomerates of artists started popping up to help drive the scene forward and give up and coming artists more opportunities to collaborate and get noticed. Brick Bandits was the first and largest of those groups. The group got so large that Sliink was motivated to start his own smaller group Cartel Music to introduce his own sound to the Jersey Club scene.
This perspective really shined through in his performance. Although he did stay true to a lot of roots of Jersey Club music, he had a very eclectic mix of trap, unexpected melodic remixes, booty bounce, and second generation Jersey Club. One of the strangest but also most interesting songs he incorporated into his set was an incredibly melodic remix of O.T. Genasis’ Coco, which elevated the trap anthem to an electronic power ballad. It was an interesting breathing point in a set that was otherwise a nearly nonstop barrage of Jersey Club and Trap sounds. He was able to keep the crowd in a constant state of alert, waiting for the next chopped up remix to drop. In between the Jersey Club bangers that lit up his set he cleverly placed the occasional melodic track. One of those tracks, one of my personal favorites of his, is a collaboration between Sliink himself, Trippy Turtle from Norway, and Hoodboi from New York. The combination of Sliink’s incredible samples and instinct, Trippy Turtle’s obsessive attention to detail, and Hoodboi’s sub drops and percussion make for a melodic power house of a track that keeps people dancing regardless of familiarity. His set was the perfect warm up for Cashmere Cat.
This was my second time seeing Cashmere Cat live. When I first saw him, it was at the Middle East Downstairs. Performing at the Paradise Rock Club is a slight step up as far as venues in Boston are concerned. Cashmere Cat has a very strange air to him. He seemed to kind of just appear behind Sliink towards the end of his set to get ready to perform. After Sliink’s set, a brief exchange of words, and a hug, mysteriously, and without introduction, Cashmere Cat began. One of the first songs he played after an extended melodic intro was his collaboration “Ice Rink” with LA based super producer DJ Mustard. Mustard is one of many high profile producers Cashmere Cat has recently collaborated with. Cat’s production credits include Ludracris, Juicy J, Ariana Grande, and even the self proclaimed “god” of hip hop himself, Kanye West. He played all of these collaborations and more in addition to a long list of originals and favorite songs of his.
Cashmere Cat performs with a level of relaxation that is surprising considering the difficulty of the work he is doing on stage. He got his start in music being a competition DJ under the name DJ Final and even went on to represent his home country of Norway in the DMC World DJ Championships from 2006 through 2009. Cashmere Cat is an impressive performer to watch thanks to his incredible technique and attention to detail while DJing. Because he had that start as a turntableist, he is able to DJ with a level of finesse that is hard to come by. His transitions are creative and the way he chooses to blend songs together is truly unique.
Cashmere Cat choosing to bring Sliink on tour with him reflects the global reach of Jersey Club music, as Sliink is one of the members of the second generation of Jersey Club and self proclaimed “king” of the genre. Cashmere Cat’s songs like “Pearls” feature the infectious Jersey kick drum pattern and his edit of Jeremih’s “773 Love” includes the notorious bed squeak sample so often used in traditional Jersey Club songs. His influences also shine through in his sets playing R&B classics that he mouths all the words to with a strange, lackadaisical charm. In a recent interview with GQ, Cashmere listed, “10 songs that blow his mind.” Before the show I listened to them all and kept an attentive ear open for their appearance in his set. One of those songs that stood out was Patrice Bãumel’s “Roar.” “Roar” is a six minute song with absolutely no kick drum or bass. It is driven by high hats, claps, and other strangely modulated percussion effects that create huge builds that to go no where. I had to take a break from focusing on photography to really absorb this song and see how people reacted. It played with the crowd in a whimsical way. Almost the same way someone would tease a cat with a mouse on a string. The massive builds brought the crowd to extreme amounts of excitement, then dropped them randomly where they had started leaving them, craving some sort of closure. After about two and a half minutes of pure confusion (and probably humor for Cashmere Cat) he finally mixed in a massive, bone rattling kick from another song to satisfy the crowds thirst for bass.
I was trying to run around the venue to get as many different vantage points as possible and eventually I ran into DJ Sliink who was causally observing Cashmere Cat’s set from the back of the venue. Because I also produce music, I have made a habit of bringing USB Keys with my songs on them to concerts. After standing next to Sliink for about two minutes I finally realized it was him when I turned to look for a new vantage point. Taken aback by his presence, I spent a minute to think about what to say. After an admittedly awkward exchange of words I handed him my USB key and said to check out my remix of “End of Time.” I was about to leave when I stopped, turned, and asked if I could take a few pictures of him, making sure to point out the “Photo Pass” sticker on my chest. He looked down at his phone, texted someone who I later found out was his manager and after a second, leaned over and simply said, “Follow me.” We weaved around the crowd, up a stair case, and passed the upstairs bar to a doorway with a security guard that let me pass with a simple nod from Sliink. We took a right turn, passing his manager Fazio, and ended up in front of a door that led to Sliink’s hazy green room. It was actually painted green and perfectly fit the image I had created in my head based off the rock and roll documentaries and satires that I had enjoyed watching as a kid.
Sliink’s crew greeted me and offered that I could have “whatever I wanted” from their selection of left over drinks. I nervously poured myself a light mixer still in complete shock from the whole situation. After talking with Sliink’s manager and exchanging information with a few of his friends, they all posed for a picture together. After some chatting, Sliink paused to listen to my remix on his laptop. He crouched down next to the table about a minute in, turning to me just to say, “This shit is lit. I’ma play it tonight.” Eventually I took a few portraits of Sliink and watched in awe as he put my remix on his own USB key. Later I was joined by Carina and Mariah. We all got a chance to hang out and talk music with Sliink and his friends until he left to go backstage. Carina, Mariah and I went back down stairs to catch the end of Cashmere Cat’s set. He played a mix of bouncy music and originals for about ten more minutes before he ended his set with a reverberous echo effect. A minute later DJ Sliink and Cashmere Cat both came out to end the night with an incredibly high energy back to back set. It was amazing to see two such talented DJs from completely different parts of the world improvise off of each other and really command the audience.
Whilst in the middle of a trance-like state from the set they were playing, DJ Sliink mixed in my very own Beyonce remix, living up to the promise he made minutes ago in the green room. In between trying to dance, catch the moment on video, and hug Carina and Mariah, before I knew it, Cashmere Cat was smoothly transitioning in the next song. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life that only came into fruition by asking a couple questions and pointing at a sticker on my shirt. The rest of the night was a blur. After the back to back set we went to the green room and briefly met Cashmere Cat. I told him the Beyonce remix was mine and in is subtle, quiet Norwegian accent said, “Oh cool man!” and asked, “What’s your cool DJ name?” to which I nervously responded in a borderline incoherent mumble, “Uhhhh… Beeza.” We took a picture together and before I knew it, he evaporated into thin air just as mysteriously as he had appeared on stage earlier that night.