313 Acid Queen and SickBoy Create Soundscapes from Skyscrapers on Buildings EP

Over the last ten years, Rebecca Goldberg – a.k.a 313 Acid Queen – has completely immersed herself in the city of Detroit. Unlike some transplants who come to the city to take, Goldberg, born and raised just outside of Detroit, came to learn, appreciate and contribute when the time felt right. Starting out as a student of Detroit house under the tutelage of legendary DJ Bruce Bailey, Goldberg cut her teeth spinning all around the city and slowly training her ear as a producer. Nearly a decade and five albums later, Goldberg pays homage to the city that has shaped her on her collaborative EP with Sardinia-based producer SickBoy (Stefano Piseddu), Buildings, out June 20 on limited-edition vinyl pressed at Archer Record Pressing. The record serves as a sonic map of the structures that portray Detroit’s beauty, oppression and resilience.

Today, Audiofemme premieres a video for EP opener “Guardian,” a bold and expansive track encapsulating the depth and complexity of the stunning, hundred-year old Art Deco-inspired skyscraper for which it is named, with its vast vaulted ceilings and tediously crafted mosaics. Goldberg and Piseddu use booming percussion to reflect the sturdy stone foundation and tie a rainbow of synth textures to symbolize the kaleidoscopic designs that gawkers can get lost in for hours. 

The project began to take shape when Goldberg responded to a call from Detroit Underground label founder Kero for producers to work on a “Detroit Map Series.” The series includes three other parts – highways, roadblocks and rivers – and prompts producers to make sonic representations of these staples in the form of Detroit house music. As a member of Detroit Underground, someone who spends a good amount of time sneaking into abandoned buildings to take photographs, and regularly takes friends on tours of the Guardian Building, Goldberg already had an intimate connection with the sights and sounds that accompany Detroit architecture. She says when she was assigned “buildings,” it was a no-brainer.

“There’s just something about Detroit and the creativity that comes out of here and it’s either in the water or the landscape or the people or all of it together,” says Goldberg. The main challenge was to communicate this magic across space and time to her Italy-based collaborator. Goldberg spent hours taking photos and videos of buildings that inspire her and sending them to Piseddu, who was deeply moved by the imagery. Though the two never met in person, they bonded over a shared obsession with Detroit techno. While the language barrier was considerable, the producers were able to communicate through Google-translate and an innate, shared sense for beats and textures. 

This wasn’t the first time that Goldberg made an unlikely connection through her passion for music. She explains that her foray into DJing was based solely on a love for the music and a desire to be around it as much as possible. “Like many people who are into stuff like this, I’m just a fan of this music. I’m a fan of dancing,” says Goldberg. She got her foot in the door by using her graphic design chops to create flyers and merch for Bruce Bailey, then later took matters into her own hands. “I was like, ‘Listen, if I’m gonna keep doing your flyers, I wanna be on the flyer. I also wanna play and I think you should put me on and give me a chance.’”

Then began what Goldberg describes as an apprenticeship of sorts, learning from Bailey and other well established Detroit DJs. “It would be me and all these house heads that had been in the game forever, and they loved me,” says Goldberg. “We loved each other, those people are my family. They wanted to teach me about the music and the culture of it and the history.” After years of collecting records, Goldberg decided it was time to contribute her own soundprint. “Eventually, you start hearing things that don’t exist yet, and that’s how music production started for me,” explains Goldberg. “I’ve tuned my ears now so well with DJing that I think I can play things that I would want to DJ and dance too, and that’s a whole ‘nother wormhole of obsession.” 

Buildings speaks to Goldberg’s years of soaking in sounds and stories from Detroit techno legends, while adding her own inspirations into the mix. After cascading through a series of dreamy soundscapes, the EP ends on “Renaissance,” a track that distills the futuristic aura that surrounds Detroit’s architectural centerpiece. “The Ren Cen is so crazy if you look at it,” says Goldberg. “It looks like a spaceship from the ’80s that’s supposed to be the future about to just take off.” The building’s corresponding track is full of laser-sharp synth sounds and swells of air, making it easy to imagine the entire structure blasting into space. 

The EP is as much of a love letter to the city as it is a testament to music’s power to transcend across oceans and bring people together. Just as techno has brought the people of Detroit together for years, it allowed Goldberg and Piseddu to make an entire EP together, even separated by an ocean.

Follow 313 Acid Queen on Instagram for ongoing updates.

Detroit Artist Billionaire Sophia Defies Genre on Ootgoat EP

Detroit-based artist Billionaire Sophia melds pop, R&B, trap and hip hop on her new EP, Ootgoat. Written, produced and mixed entirely by herself, the project is a testament to Sophia’s growth as a producer and artist. She explains that her journey with production started about eight years ago and has been almost entirely self-taught.  “I started making beats and stuff in 2012, but I didn’t get my own equipment until 2014,” says Sophia. “That’s when I started doing it myself, but I didn’t start getting good ’til 2016…and it’s still gotta get better.”

Where Sophia’s at right now is already sounding real good. Following her February 2020 release, Love Not Attention, and recorded in her bedroom due to the state-wide lockdown, Ootgoat expands on Sophia’s languid, stream of consciousness style of songwriting and showcases both her flow as a rapper as well as her ethereal vocals. Sophia explains that she doesn’t practice a locked-in method for her songwriting, but follows whatever she’s feeling at the time. “If I’m listening to a beat I made… I just listen to it and see if I can feel something. Then if I can’t feel nothing I just go to my mic and start singing whatever comes out,” Sophia explains. “Eventually, maybe a hook will come out.”

Her innate melodic sensibility and knack for hook writing are evident in songs like “White Girl” and “Milan” that are almost impossible not to sing back. They’re the type of songs made for warm summer nights, cruising with your friends, maybe burning one. Sophia’s pop-leaning instincts are likely a combined influence of Detroit’s deep electronic roots and a lifetime of listening to pop trailblazers. “When I first started making beats, I was like, I’m gonna make a whole bunch of jittin’ beats, you know, Detroit style beats where you can dance,” Sophia says. “I just like pop music, I like rap, I like all types of music,” she says, citing Timbaland, Pharrel, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Justin Bieber as some of her early influences.

Merging Detroit-style beats with more Billboard-charting influences gives Sophia’s music both catchiness and a musical complexity not found in generic pop music. Her cadence on “Brown Eyes” is akin to the talk-style singing perfected by artists like Sza or Kari Faux that makes the listener feel like she’s talking solely to them – her sultry, whisper-like vocals add to that sensation as well.

While individual songs on Ootgoat act as vignettes into Sophia’s personal life and aspirations, the EP as a whole speaks to what seems to be Sophia’s vibe as an artist: nonconforming. The cover art, designed by Sophia, features the first-ever known statue of a woman, Venus of Willendorf, thought to have been created in 30,000 B.C. Sophia chose this image because of its stark difference to images of women that we generally see in the media. “She is not typical and it’s not what people think what women should be,” explains Sophia. “Really, you can be whatever you wanna be. [There’s] no rule to being a human.”

Like many women, Sophia personally relates to that sentiment, especially when it comes to who she is as an artist. “I just see that I’m a free artist, I do what I want to do, but I’m never going to be understood fully.”

Follow Billionaire Sophia on Facebook for ongoing updates.

TRACK REVIEW: Gunslinger “All of Your Life”


Light up your day with the electrifying new single, “All of Your Life,” from Gunslinger.

This anthemic house track has everything you look for in an electronic piece: tons of synths, bass drops that get your heart racing, and upbeat jams that make you feel like you’re on a musical journey. In addition to personal inspiration, Gunslinger also utilized the Infected Mushroom “I Wish” plugin as an aid in producing this single. If you’re bummed about missing them at Burning Man last year, keep an eye out because you might be able to catch them at an upcoming show.

PLAYING DETROIT: When The Party Ends/Begins: A Detroit Techno Playlist

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In the 80s, Detroit took on Chicago House and European electronica and quickly became pioneers in the creation of techno and the myriad of sub genres that followed. As an adverse counterpart to popular music, techno challenged radio ready hits and the contradictory exclusivity of punk while maintaining a sonic political retaliation against inner-city struggle. In doing so the city created a sphere in which bass lines and drum beats invited the world to move both inward and outward.

This past weekend marked what most of Detroit consider to be more holy than Christmas. The  Movement Festival honors the birthplace of techno and electronic music by throwing the most playfully outrageous three-day party where freaks can be freaks and non-freaks can unearth their spiritual resonance. Whether you’re finding yourself, losing yourself or just curious enough to feel something new, there is no better opportunity than Movement. Yes, like any festival you can anticipate $4 bottles of water and over policing and under-supplying of toilet paper, but what Movement offers the techno community is a true celebration of one of the most unexpectedly poetic musical revolutions in the history of the city and quite honestly, the world. A culture was born. People found home. And while our pillowcases may feel abandoned as we collectively remove glitter out of our tear ducts,  we are still coming down from the trip. Below are some of my favorite sedated, ambient tracks for the end of the after-after party (or just as suitably for the beginning).

  1. Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale “The PeeKs” (2016)
    [fusion_soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/255276600″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]The Godmother of Detroit House, Stacey “Hotwaxx” Hale has stood her ground and made waves with her distinct thrashing funk. But in her track “The PeeKs” she finds an ambient softness that is the ideal soundscape for post-party come down.
  2. Jon Zott “Make Plans” ft. Yellokake (2015)
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    Most notably one of the busiest most desirable producers in Detroit, Jon Zott has a remarkable ear for bass line heartbeats. “Make Plans” flirts with pop vocals and muffled beat subtlety that feels sexy and sad.
  3. Carl Craig “At Les” (1997)

    Carl Craig is one of the most influential producers and DJ’s in Detroit’s rich techno history. His catalog swells and deflates with a subversive consciousness that gives the aural illusion of time travel; sounds bouncing back and forth off of one another like a psychedelic paradox. “At Les” is a prime example of this restraint vs. release vibe while still remaining stoned and ambient.

    4. Cybotron “Techno City” (1984)

    Formed in 1980 by Juan Atkins and Richard “3070” Davis, Cybotron paved the way for the echoing, intergalactic seduction that has been a cornerstone of Techno for years. “Techno City” feels grimy and sludgy yet invites you into their underground with a sexual pulse.

    5. Kevin Saunderson “E-Dancer” (1996)

    One cannot mention techno without recognizing one of the most detrimental founding fathers of the genre, Kevin Saunderson. Having reshaped electronic music with his insatiable knack for channeling both the past and future through trance-like grooves and dizzying tremors, Saunderson’s “E-Dancer” is a great example of his distorted snake funk.

    6. BLKSHRK “Arm Floatties (Night Swim)” (2015)

    Eddie Logix and Blair French teamed up to form BLKSHRK, an underwater groove that pulses and pumps with a delicacy suited for a tangled dance of sea amoeba and space-age mer-folk.

    7. Stone Owl “Chemtrails” (2013)

    An elusive twosome, Stone Owl is a local techno cult favorite. Although dance-able, Stone Owl latched onto an underlying sinister playfulness that pokes and prods the darkness out of the light. “CHEMTRAILS” is calming with bursts of anxious energy that sizzles like electricity in water, creating a chasm that shakes you from your hiding place.




LIVE REVIEW: The Juan MacLean @ Union Pool


I’ll be honest: when I hear the genres “house,” “techno,” or “dance” being used to describe a band, I picture a couple of dudes posturing behind laptops. But when The Juan MacLean took the stage at Union Pool on Thursday, I knew this show would be different. John MacLean, the core of the project, immediately put to use a theremin attached to his keyboard stand. Nancy Whang, of LCD Soundsystem, gripped the mic and sang brooding vocals, over endless synths and a beat by a drummer, who, though seriously overworked, never seemed to tire.

Apparently, MacLean decided after the first song that we weren’t dancing enough. “It’s very Thursday night in here,” he taunted the crowd, who countered with whistles and shouts. “It’s a very thirsty night in here,” Whang shot back, chugging a water bottle. The group had recently played three nights at the Cameo gallery, and on their first of three shows at Union Pool, they weren’t satisfied with just easing into their set, or letting the audience do so either.

Whang played percussion with a serious, stony look on her face. It never wavered, even when hitting a springy, rattling instrument earned her cheers. “That was a vibraslap,” she deadpanned, to more cheers. When she and Maclean began to trade vocal lines on “One Day,” it felt like at any minute the band was going to break into “Don’t You Want Me Baby”– they had all of the epic synths and a tense, emotional performance that had the whole room dancing as hard as they could, but none of the song’s cheesiness. And, no laptops.

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LIVE REVIEW: Body Language @ Baby’s All Right


Hump day isn’t usually this sexy, but it’s fashion week. I’m not even fully through the door of Baby’s All Right and I’ve already spotted a woman with a balloon animal headband and another in a tomato cape and Zorro hat (no sign of Waldo yet-oh, there he is). And to think I almost didn’t wear these sparkle pants.

All this seems appropriate considering the members of Brooklyn electro-pop outfit Body Language are no strangers to the fashion industry. In 2013 they played a show hosted by makers of brightly colored, suspiciously low-priced socks Joe Fresh. The foursome are themselves a put-together bunch, but in a way that suits their music as opposed to distracting from it. There are so many bands tangled in designer imagery these days, it’s nice to see a group of talented musicians who have their priorities straight.

Before Body Language could get everyone frenzied, we needed to warm up our muscles. Fortunately the night’s opener was Figgy, a.k.a Mike Ferringo, the Massachusetts-born NYC based DJ/producer who’s been making the house rounds lately. Despite the clout, he seemed to be a pretty normal guy who got as much dance out of his set as any good DJ would desire from his audience.

Love or hate the genre, house remixes are still relevant, perhaps more than ever before considering our cultural urge to hunt-hoard-curate, and Ferringo’s background in Jazz is a testament to the rising craft of the remix and the resilient presence of R&B music.

In a recent interview with LA Canvas, he made a simple but pertinent remark when asked to explain R&B’s recent “comeback” and why people love the genre so much:

“The honesty of the vocals, and I don’t necessarily mean lyrics. Soul music will be around forever, it’s not a trend.”

Figgy played for about an hour – or pushed, or programmed for about an hour. I don’t really know the right verb for what DJs do these days, but whatever he did  it was great, and the crowd seemed to agree with a nod of their hips.

I wish I could relay the litany of samples I recognized instantly by ear, but while I enjoyed every moment of his set, I could only pick out “Heart of Glass” and “No Diggity.” The rest was a well-spun web of disco claps and house keys that made it impossible to stand inert. Hats off to you Mr. Figgy.

I was well warmed at this point, but unable to break out of stationary head bobbing. This being the second installment of “going to a show with the cold/flu” I was afraid to dance…could dancing give me pneumonia? Typhus? Scarlett Fever? And then a more jarring question arose: When did I turn into an elder from Footloose?

The great thing about dance music is that you don’t have to think about these things once you hear it. It’s airborne, relentless and contagious…at least it was for the frontal half of the audience. Five minutes into Body Language’s set there was crowd surfing, a shoe to a man’s head, and the all-around pelvic gyrating our grandparent’s feared. Body Language had a few technical errors in the beginning of their set, namely producer/everything-player Grant Wheeler’s Bass acting up, and producer/vocalist/everything-player Matt Young’s levels needing to be more upward pointing.

I don’t mean to get hyperbolic (it just happens) but this is a group of incredibly talented musicians, and that’s not an overstatement. They’ve managed to combine the unpretentious fun of dance music with attentive producing, landing a sound almost as exciting to listen to on headphones as it is to see live. Not a small feat.

Lead vocalist Angelica Bess is in a word: charismatic. She sings with as much ease as she does professionalism. The rest of the band was equally humble, focused and impressively proficient musically. As it turns out, this is no act. After a brief Q+A with the group, AudioFemme discovered that the members of Body Language are not only feel-good beat geniuses-they’re also super nice and down to earth. Kudos times two.



ARTIST EXCLUSIVE: DATALOG “Everything Is Essential”

DatalogDATALOG (moniker of Brooklyn-based digital artist Conor Heffernan), is garnering momentum and buzz on the NYC indie electronic circuit for his recent live performances, many of which have included stunningly curated videography that rivals any I’ve seen in quite some time. His body of work is immense, and reflects the inclinations of an artist coming into his own, though he has yet to release a full-length album. The genre that he deals in—namely live electronic music that incorporates visual or performance art—is an increasingly compelling medium for performers and audiences alike, and hence includes its fair share of mediocrity. In fact so much mediocrity that you could say its heyday is up. Or needs to die and be reborn I suppose. From what I’ve seen, DATALOG is at the forefront of that rebirth, and people should be taking notice.

His tracks embody an expansive classical and jazz pedigree, often layering self-composed, complex instrumentals and polyrhythmic beats into thoughtfully arranged digital sequences that are at once ominous, chaotic, soothing and purposefully glitchy; they call to mind early Notwist albums (minus vocals) and expand on the style of Four Tet, Underworld and the like. His older work, including 2011 EP Threads as well as his impressively thorough collection of singles tends toward the more formulaic aspects of deep house, with heavy beats underpinning jazz and funk infused melodic motifs. His newer tracks however, showcase a growing confidence in his own capacities as an artist, and perhaps more importantly underscore Heffernan’s exploration into darker, more untapped genres of electronic music. There seems to be more negative space in his compositions, in which silence is equally as important as noise, and through which tension is cultivated—not by an accelerating BPM, but by the inclusion of ambient noise and languid, extensive, drawn out expository themes which are often based on two or three notes of music. When performed live with video the result is as much dark and gripping, as it is accessible and visually gratifying.

AudioFemme was lucky enough to get its hands on an exclusive from him. “Everything Is Essential”, a brand new track from Heffernan, seems to signpost a new era in his creative life. It displays in equal measure his prodigious rhythmic abilities and eye for detail as well as his desire to edit and restrain his compositions to create a more sculpted and deliberate sonic narrative.  The first minute or so is quiet for the most part, and plays entirely on three notes of a major scale. Then come just enough hints of bass to keep one guessing whether it might just be a dance track. When the beat finally cuts through, it amps up and resolves this quandary simultaneously. Frantic, like the pulse of an animal in flight, it hovers over the melody for a few minutes until the composition as a whole begins to dissolve into artfully conceived progressive house/trance. By the time it wraps up, right where it started with only a three-note melody, one is left breathless: a rare feat even for those artists who inhabit the upper echelons of electronic music. DATALOG is clearly just getting started.

Listen to “Everything Is Essential” here.

Everything Is Essential