Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by EDMinsider0
Event Review + Interview with Techno DJ Ambivalent at The Standard LA
It’s the second season of BASK (by Harmonic Productions) Sunday summer pool parties and this past opening season Sunday, we took some time to catch up with a Berlin as well as Culprit favorite, Ambivalent (aka Kevin McHugh). This artist cant be described as anything else but fresh and versatile. This MINUS music member is cool, calm, and fresh to death. His style can be described as techno, true to form of his label mate and owner Richie Hawtin. This past Sunday, EDMinsider.com caught up with Ambivalent on the sleek and sexy standard rooftop on a perfectly sunny Los Angeles summer afternoon to see what he had for us. BASK parties have also featured fellow M-nus label-mate, Troy Pierce. Mojitos flowing along with beats; this was quite a unique set for ambivalent. Musically, Ambivalent forms a dyad of two magical cities: Berlin and New York City. The symbiosis of the two personifications of his melodies and beats equal a sound that exudes purpose and metamorphism at the same time. What more can an audiophile yearn for?!
This live set was certainly not the typical after-hours, dark, techno pattern that we expected from this Berlin music bomber! The setting of the infamous rooftop in the Standard Downtown Hotel Los Angeles really gives deejays a chance to have a different setting to showcase their talents. One that requires skill to adapt to the crowd that forms in this intimate, light, summer setting. This venue and the Sunday Bask opener party that went on gave Ambivalent an opportunity to not only show his talent musically, but to give deejays such as Art Department who played a couple weeks ago a chance of mixing with a more “on the fly” type of approach based on how the smaller crowd (very limited capacity) and sound system is vibin’ for them and reflecting back. The waters beds, city view, a cool breeze, and a clean, sleek, modern look, compliment the type of party that you don’t forget easily when the track list was on point. Ambivalent definitely rose to the challenge and read the crowd perfectly. Working three CDJ’s and not his usual Allen and Heath zone 92 6-channel mixer he’s use to, ambivalent played a deep set that started out rooted in techno sounds and developed into a musical time-bomb waiting to light a fire underneath standard rooftop goers. He started with a more signature dark techno sound while people sipped on their drinks and appeased that after-hours sound he’s known to satiate, and lead into a more funky type of vibe. Ambivalent gave us a couple hours of this magic and had everyone moving and grooving into the early evening hours as the Sun set over Los Angeles. To give you an idea of his versatility he played a remix of deep techy remix of Burial’s “archangel” in addition to the instrumental of “Transpiration” by I:CUBE, and the super Chicago style funky house track “Bang’t” by Geeman out on Clone Jack for Daze. Ambivalent had us feeling like we were getting a little peace of Sonar Barcelona that just took place, bringing it back home for us here in Los Angeles. It’s not often that we get to hear this type of unexpected and eclectically satisfying set from Ambivalent. It truly showed he was up for any challenge and ready to rule the dance floor regardless of the flow and ebb. When he chatted with us later in the interview with EDM insider, Ambivalent’s Kevin tells us that he was ready to just spin some tunes and have fun. He informed us this was his first time playing LA since 2008. Read more in the interview with Ambivalent below.
Ambivalent is known for M-nus label fame, however also shares success on M.a.n.d.y’s Get Physical Music with the chart topper done with Audiofly ft Big Bully entitled “I’ll Tell Ya” This set in LA is particularly rewarding for him we imagine having his family on the journey to LA with him as well as visiting with old friends is pretty cool as an added bonus for the DJ being able to share a gig and success with a little trip to la la land with people close. Tunes and loved ones I say made for quite the fun and enrapturing set of tech house, funky deep house, and just some tunes we know ambivalent loves when he’s probably just chilling on the road. We know this artist is rookie and there’s no telling what kind of creations and amazingly endless upward climb in our audio worlds this young maverick of music is going to have. Two words: Mayhem and originality!
You can catch Ambivalent soon in Space Ibiza at Enter. At Space event July 12, 2012 in Playa d’en Bossa. The event put on by Richie Hawtin who holds residency this summer there, also features Richie himself, (in collaboration with MINUS and Kehakuma) as well as big room techno guys Marcel Dettman and Ben Clock. If you are there I wouldn’t miss that show for sure you’re bound to get a taste of everything from that lineup as well as some good dirty afterh ours tunes to your liking. You can buy tickets here. Ambivalent has been bringing it to Berlin for 10 years now and you can also catch his first mix called “Ground” CD on M-nus sub label Minus 12, coming out next week and set to release on July 2nd. All of the tracks on the mix are all unreleased so this should be quite a treat! Here is the track listing if you can’t wait to get an idea!
01. Casah – Lost in Shape
02. Alexx Wolfe – Why Would I
03. Wouter De Moor – Eclipse (Davide Labeij Remix)
04. Saso Recyd – 296 Bolts
05. Schubert – Blind Side
06. Michael L Penman – Open Day
07. Jorge Ciccioli – Owl
08. Michael L Penman – Born Again
09. Saso Recyd – Lidudu
10. Camea – Edge Forever
11. Michael L Penman – Wa
12. Saso Recyd – Alka
13. Aemkey – Missing Passengers
14. Multiple Mono – Go Fish
15. Casah – Isidor
16. Schubert – Entrapment
17. LB – LB1
18. Rich Jones – Neutrino Ridin’
19. ROD – Moulins Three
20. Rich Jones – Warehouse
21. Eduardo De La Calle – The Discussion
Here’s all that EDM Insider’s Shirin was able to discover in her interview with Kevin:
EDM Insider 1 How does it feel like to be on a label like M-nus?
Ambivalent: Being on the label is like being with you’re buds and just playing some tunes with friends, and it’s great. Couldn’t imagine being on another label! We have been doing this for years and it’s really cool.
EDM Insider 2: What’s the next show you are really looking forward to playing?
Ambivalent: I’m really looking forward to playing three cities in Columbia
EDM Insider 3: What’s your “go-to” track at the moment for the dance floors in your live sets?
Ambivalent: I:CUBE – Transpiration
EDM Insider 4: When is the last time you played Los Angeles?
Ambivalent: Last time I played in LA was not since 2008. I use to come and play the techno droid parties with Raiz and Mo from Droid Behavior [LA based techno label].
EDMinsider 5: Did you have an idea of what you were going to play here today or did you just play what you felt like?
Ambivalent: On the way here I had no idea what to play, when I got here I heard the guys who were opening playing some really good deep tunes and I thought Maybe I should play deeper! I’m used to having my Allen and Heath zone 92 mixer, since didn’t have the complex setup I’m used to spinning with so I said “lets just play some tunes!”
EDM Insider 6: What did you do or what were some of the jobs you had before DJ’ing and producing?
Ambivalent: I was in the art world! Did you know that you have the name of an artist named Shirin Neshat? I have been DJing since I was about 20 since 95. I quit my day job and I went into the art world. I was also a writer at an ad agency.
EDM Insider 7: Yeah, actually that’s really cool you know about her! What or whom would you say has influenced your music or style the most in the past 5 years?
Ambivalent: Technology has definitely influenced me the most in the past five years. I have the ability to play stuff and transform it; everything has changed so much!
EDM Insider 8: What kind of technology in particular and what do you use for your setup?
Ambivalent: I use ProTools and Ableton, custom made software on an iPad, special effects routing…
EDM Insider 9: Is there anything you want to add or share with the readers and listeners?
Ambivalent: Yes! I have my first mix CD called “Ground” on the Minus’ sub-label , Minus 12. There will be copies of Ground available in DJ Mag as a CD and individual tracks released on the fan page and MINUS (official page)‘s digital label soon after.
***Thank you to Ambivalent for the fun interview. He was really in touch with his personal style, knows what direction he is taking it, and very comfortable talking about his endeavors. Best of luck!
Article by: Shirin Nene