sound

When you hear a piano, it’s a piano. With contemporary sound tools, the sound you hear is the thing, refers to no other shape or handle. I have a strong appetite for sounds that spiral outward, away from the familiar and expected, beyond simple imagination. Please visit hearthis.at/sheldondrake for at least 60 DJ sets, from dark ambient to blazing tech, always hypnotic, always aggressively introspective, always in the lookout for some new kind of kick.

Scene: after church, young hillbilly child skipping lunch, hovering at the organ making dronescapes, before I knew what that was. Yeah yeah, a real natural. The upward limit of my dreams was rockstar, but mainly I just played records, loud, often. Danced, oh was I shameless, relentless, and amused. I arrived in NYC just as the Pyramid and acid house and so much more was hitting its stride. Another clear imprint: I remember right where I was when I heard the vicious synth bass of Front 242 for the first time. New wave mutated into acid house into techno, and the future said hello.

While techno had its beginnings in Detroit, it was generally an underground taste in the US. Where Europe had its million-strong Love Parade, even in NYC it was invisible to most. Once you figured out where to look, though, the rave scene was on fire. Moreso, by most excellent fortune, Abstrakt Wave, the homebase party for the fungal Illbient scene, took place in the same building as my apartment, so it was nicely inevitable that I learned early on about the sleazy, haunted underside of sound. I found my niche in the chillout rooms, playing hypnotic, challenging soundscapes, collaged from whatever bizarre scrap treasures the vinyl elves revealed. Among other things, I hosted the weekly chillout party Undercity for four years; TimeOut called us “NYC’s best chillout hang”. I was the only resident chillout DJ at Twilo, then the best club in the US. I played several times at Clouldwatch, the perfect all night chillout tripatorium.

In 2009 I tumbled off the plane to Berlin, where I reconnected with Ingmar Koch, aka Dr. Walker from Air Liquide, one the earliest and most important German techno bands. He started the weekly cable show lsb.tv, featuring experimental sound and video every Saturday mid-6am, where I have been a resident DJ since 2013. I continue to play experimental/abstract chillout/ambient/noise, but have since taken on the yoke of driving dancefloors wild. My set for Staub, Berlin, linked above, completes the circle, opening for Air Liquide.

My sound is aggressively hypnotic: all the way out is all the way in, and I’ve got hammers and fire. I have zero interest in tracking the festival scoresheets or courting promoters with ghost-produced beatport filler. I don’t even care if you know my name; I’m just here to make a joyful noise unto the abyss. The performance software I use, Ableton Live, means I can easily layer tracks to construct whatever seething edifice, then crush it into dust and jewels…dancing, vivid in the waves of metal rain. Yes, what colorful talk. Turn up a mix and see about all that.

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To date, I guess I must have played about a thousand sets. I’d love to play a thousand more. This is the best job in the world.

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