[Photo by Ceci Corsano-Leopizzi]
While most of us are sleeping, Seattle’s underground scene looms late at inside-house shows, warehouses, and clubs. Late last summer, a producer popped up out of Seattle and started drawing attention, thanks to their striking debut record, 90 East. That person is Aos, a Seattle-based electronic artist making deep dance music. I got to catch up with her ahead of her performance at Upstream Music Festival to talk about starting on KUPS in Tacoma, all the way to her thoughts on Seattle’s underground scene.
AK: How’d you get involved with music?
Aos: I got started in college radio in Tacoma. I went to University of Puget Sound (KUPS 90.1FM), and I started DJing before I started writing music… so that’s where it all started. Also, my friends who started secondnature, which is the label and music collective that I was first affiliated with and am still affiliated with, we all met at school and would throw house parties and eventually got a sound system. It just kind of went from there.
AK: How did you get started in electronic music specifically?
Aos: I had a bunch of different kinds of radio shows when I was in school because I viewed it as an opportunity to learn more about genres that I maybe didn’t know so much about, like I knew a bit about, and then I would like really dive into it. My favorite radio show I ever had was with my current partner, Alex. We did a survey of electronic music starting from like funk and disco into present day through that whole semester.
AK: Would you say your music is more techno or electronic?
Aos: I guess I would say I produce both techno and house, but like I use the broader term of “dance music” because I feel like most people you talk to have specific ideas of what that means. If they aren’t really immersed in the genre, which it takes a lot of time and energy to get deep into more underground genres, then they probably aren’t thinking of the right thing. I definitely don’t describe my music as EDM because to me that’s a whole other genre in and of itself now and that’s not a descriptor of dance music.
AK: What does Aos mean/stand for?
Aos: Actually, it’s not an acronym [laughs]. I told Upstream like, “Oh, it’s just, you don’t need to capitalize it because it’s not an acronym, it’s just Aos [ay-ose].” But I also don’t care [laughs]. If it’s easier for people to recognize me as an artist calling me AOS, it doesn’t matter. And it actually sounds like Aos if you say it to yourself out loud fast enough…
AK: You said secondnature is the first collective you’re involved with. What’s the second?
Aos: I’m involved in TUF, and that was started by some of my friends and grew into this amazing huge collective of women, non-binary and female identifying people who are in digital arts and media. It’s all genres and it’s a nice space for me to be inspired by other women because in techno, the genre I’m most interested in, it feels, less so than it used to, but it still feels quite like a male space. It’s really positive to create this space where women can support each other. That’s kind of how I got involved in Upstream. They reached out to me originally solo, and then [they] decided to do a TUF showcase so now I’m involved with that… it’s really cool. Paul Allen, ya know, he’s into the underground dance music…
AK: Any other tips for Seattle’s underground scene?
Aos: I think being versatile in the spaces you use to have shows is important, because every space you use gives a party a different vibe. For me something that’s always been really important for the DIY scene is creating a space that’s for the people who are involved that is a safe space. Like clubs don’t always feel that way- rarely they feel that way, especially for women. A lot of our parties are invite only, and we do vet that [list] to make sure we don’t have creeps or racists or [problematic] people. Creating a safe, comfortable environment is really important to allowing people, especially in dance music, to get in the headspace where they can really let go, be in the music and express themselves. It’s hard to do that in clubs or places that aren’t curated, whether that be through who you invite or even, we’ve done some installation work and tried to create an immersive experience. I see it all the time in the DIY scene because the DIY scene isn’t some musician, it’s artists all coming together from all perspectives. If you can involve all of those perspectives, what you do as a musical artist is going to be infinitely better. I wish I could do more all ages parties… that’s something that’s always been really important to secondnature. Like, we started when we were 20 or whatever, so we know how that feels.
You can catch Aos playing Upstream Music Festival on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 9:45 p.m. at Kracken Congee. Passes are available here.
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