In the decade I've been writing about national and local music for the Riverfront Times, there's been a near-constant rumble on how our city's bands, clubs, bookers and fans should refer to themselves. Are we a "scene" or are we a "community?" The difference is easy enough to parse - scenes are exclusive, communities are inclusive. At our most charitable we preach inclusion, a come-one, come-all spirit that's based in the knowledge that St. Louis' music culture is not so big or profitable to exclude anyone. Of course, that doesn't stop the shit-talking, the hierarchies and the social jockeying.
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But in looking back on 2012, I'm struck by how a simple, well-worn tool serves as a symbol for boundary-breaking community building: the remix. Remixes have long since passed out of the provenance of solely hip-hop and electronic artists; any reworking of a track is technically a remix. Even Jay Farrar included one on his ThirdShiftGrottoSlack EP at the start of the millennium. But the prevalence of St. Louis artists swapping tracks and reinventing each other's work crossed nearly any genre you can name and made a strong case for a capitol-c Community.
Look (and listen) to Adult Fur's 2012 RÁN for starters. Producer and instrumentalist Ryan McNeely's project has touched on hip-hop, psychedelia and trance music since he began recording under the moniker, but by inviting his friends and collaborators to take a swing at his catalogue, the remixer became the remix-ed. Née's Kristin Dennis takes a Tef Poe cut to angelic heights, Trifeckta added some spirited bounce, and locals in Ou Où, Black James and Loose Screwz re-imagined McNeely's work in ways that revealed both the song's native qualities and the interpretive verve of the remixers. Many of these acts now align themselves under the FarFetched Collective, and that group's Prologue comp from this past January, as well as its coming out party in September at Plush, is perhaps the best evidence of this musicians-without-borders aesthetic.
"I think a remix ought to make the listener hear the song in a way that they could not have previously," said McNeely. "Sometimes a remix can reveal meaning in a track that was originally not perceivable."
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