Experienced and amateur producers were thrown into the same ring last Friday at the Circle City Soundclash Spring Beat Battle. Eight producers local to the city of Indianapolis were recruited to take part in three rounds of the head-to-head competition organized and hosted by El Carnicero and DJ Stefan. The final winner received a payout and (more importantly) bragging rights, but all participants indulged in the priceless act of face-to-face networking: handshakes, business card exchange, and demo sharing.
I had the opportunity to sit at the judges table with two other well-respected figures in the local electronic scene- Dave Owen (a drum-and-bass DJ/producer) and Johnny Ban (an electro/pop DJ and owner of West Coast Tacos). The judging format was an exciting change from the typical assessments I give every Thursday at The Acoustic LIVE Challenge; namely, the pace of the event was much faster (one-minute beats vs. 25-minute sets) and winning beats were chosen solely by the panel (as opposed to a 60% weight on audience votes at The Challenge).
In the first round, an early tie was called between Defame and Son of Thought, mandating an on-the-spot tie breaker. If there had been an award for most energetic delivery, it surely would have been bestowed upon Son of Thought. He ran and danced across the entire floor for the full duration of his electro-pop beat, showing genuine pride and enthusiasm for his work. Defame’s countering beat was raw and grimy, approaching the realm of dubstep but leveraging more on sinister laughter samples and eerie funhouse music that transported listeners to a whimsically scary environment. In a post-battle Twitter exchange, Defame answered my praise of the beat with the promise that “The long form of that will be on a project [he’s working on with] Lorax (of Twin Monster).”
The next-level, twisted carnival beat advanced Defame to the second round where he faced F.I.R.E., the reigning two-time Heavy Gun Beat Battle Champion. “This doesn’t get easier,” fellow judge Dave Owen continuously insisted with each beat’s conclusion. In the end, Defame conquered F.I.R.E.’s beat in the second round and moved to the finals to face a freshly-turned 21-year-old named Sky Shaker who carried sketch pads to the DJ table each time he performed. He later explained to me, "I've always liked visualizing what music looks like in my head, so I have dozens of sketchbooks where all my songs have a bunch of little pictures associated with them. My navy blue sketchbook holds a lot of my 'peak-time' songs, so I was using it as my tracklist when deciding which songs to battle with." As Sky Shaker flipped through the books and picked a contender, DJ Stefan exclaimed, "That’s cool. We can illustrate the beats.”
See the final results below (winners in each battle are bolded) and be sure to check out Circle City Soundclash Spring Beat Battle Champion Sky Shaker.
Mefadone Klinik vs. F.I.R.E.
Defame vs. Son of Thought
Ed Trauma vs. Lonegevity
Sky Shaker vs. Levi
F.I.R.E. vs. Defame
Lonegevity vs. Sky Shaker
Defame vs. Sky Shaker