Monday, April 13, 2009

Ryan Searchl1te invades the 217!!!

So we recently had a chance to catch up with Ryan Searchl1te, one of the heavy hitters in the Chicago scene. Expect to hear some tunes of his coming your way in some mixes we'll be handing out in the future. Also make sure you come out to Cowboy Monkey on May 15th to check a live performance from Searchl1te and MC Zulu @ DUBSTEP MASSACRE 4!!! More info on that to come :)

So first and foremost give us a little bit of background on you and how you got into producing and spinning.

Searchl1te: Around age six, I think, I commandeered the family tape recorder, the one that my parents used to record my first words. Re-using my parents' abandoned cassette tapes by stuffing the holes on top with little wads of paper (thanks for the blank Bob Seger!), I documented my random glossolalia, the rubbing of the mic on household objects and pets, did interviews with my toddler brother about the state of the known universe, skits with my brother touting the strength and effectiveness of fictional products like Mr. T Brand Toilet Paper, and that kind of shit. One birthday, my neighbor gave me a generic walkman that had two buttons - FF>> and Play> - that's when my bedroom dj career ensued. I would cued up a tape on the walkman and stick the mic from the tape recorder in between the headphones. When the tune was over I'd pick up the mic and announce the name of that tune and the name of the next tune, with the occasional interview with "Weird Jeffrey", played by my bro. The result was 45 minutes of a radio-type production that provided me and my brother a soundtrack to fort-building and stuffed animal-throwing.

In middle and high school I made pause tapes for roadtrips and makeout parties. I started to know more and more types of music. Hip Hop and punk opened up so much for me, showed my isolated central Indiana ass that the world was big. I also discovered that the more music I shared with people, the more new music came to me.

In 1994 I got a belt-drive turntable after I found a mess of classical electronic records (Edgar Varese, Morton Subotnik, Stockhausen, etc) in a thrift store in New Mexico. The next summer while living in New York I went into stooopid debt buying jungle records at Liquid Sky, Satellite, and later Breakbeat Science. At school the next fall me and a crew of friends, known now as the BassByThePound Crew, pitched in on Technics and a Gemini Scratchmaster, the one with the doodoo sound effect button. We hooked up a Friday a.m. (hungover!) college radio slot playing jungle and breaks and bugged out shit.

What influences you and your style when you play/produce?

I definitely look outside of the genre I'm working in for inspiration. The life of music resides between genres. The space between genres, where you hear them clanging and blending together, that shit excites me...cacophonous-sounding like a street market...or two cars next to each other at a stoplight with their windows down each bumping different music.

Taking cues from the exceptional elements of a genre is crucial to me, too. Dubstep is a prime example...I've learned so much about squeezing the most out of each sound, about sound articulation, about filling the speakers with a range of frequencies that take up as much space as possible without treading on each other. The dubstep aesthetic has motivated me to make tunes that attempt to free themselves from the speakers, like each sound is sick of being in the speakers and wants to bust out into the dance.

Tell us a little bit about the Chicago dubstep scene, who are the big players there, where does it go down?

Chicago is rich on dubstep. Parties pretty much every week, four or five dubstep-oriented promotion crews - Bass Goes Boom, Dubfix, Dj C and the Mashit crew doing Bouncement, Chris Widman, James Amato at Smart Bar. Part Time Sucker Radio every Thursday on WNUR 89.3 Fm.

Are you currently working on any collaborations? What are some past collaborations?

MC Zulu and I are about to drop a single on Dubfront. We've done a cover version of Bad Brains' tune "Leaving Babylon". Zulu is singing, I'm on production, and Dojo from the New Millennium Orchestra laid down some viola. MC Zulu and I have a couple past collabs that were released on the Right Time Soon Come EP (Dubfront). Really nice tunes on there.I'm also putting together an EP with Columbian singer Demoizella ( She's fuckin' fierce! I've chatted a bit with one of the Sub Swara cats about working with us on this EP, doing a remix and maybe an original. I'm also working on a remix for Argentine MC's Fauna (

My favorite collabs have been with some of my incarcerated students. I teach reading, writing, music production, and do arts programming for the school inside the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. My students record rap, r&b and poetry and I've done several remixes for them. They love it when I come back with a flipped version of their feeds the artistic process and fosters the community of artists in my classroom. I love it beacuse they write amazing fucking lyrics and lay them down in fresh ways. Most of them are way more talented than the mopes who get all the commercial radio play. Here a couple remixes I did with them. The ones that get released, the proceeds go back to my program ( to buy books and supplies.

What tracks are in heavy rotation when you play in public?

Right now, my own of course. I have several nasties still under wraps that I've been bombing. Tracks by the Dubfront folks - Jeekoos, FSTZ, Cringer, Trillbass, Ghosthack, MC Zulu. I dig deep into my production cohort...the folks i feel I'm growing up with production-wise - Sub Swara, Kush Arora, Hexidecibel, Bombaman, Wascal, hd4000, Eshone, Ninja Kid, to name a few. And I always have my ear perked and eyes peeled for shit I've never heard of.

What stays in rotation at home when you listen to music?

Fat Freddy's Drop, Fauna, Douster, Tony Allen, Maga Bo, Dub Gabriel, Betty Davis, Anthony & the Johnsons, Nina Simone, Frikstailers, Philip Cohran & The Artistic Heritage Ensemble, Budos Band, Erykah Badu, Boris, Edgar Varese, Ghislain Poirier, Flower Travelling Band, Can, Sepultura, Jorge Ben, styles like soukous, blues, cumbia, soca, breakcore, etc. I try to keep it as eclectic as possible...and as the playlist jumps genres / eras / production quality I think about how to mash it all up in a dj set or in a tune.

Where would you like to see yourself going with the music?

Hell, baby. Straight to hell. Nah for real though, I just want to get around to new places and trade stories and sounds with folks who are working hard on this shit like I am.

Check out his tunes at

ALSO CHECK THIS OUT - a lil something from Searchl1te!

Recorded this with two of my incarcerated students - Lava & Robbins. Lava wrote the lyrics to the Wayne beat ("I like this beat so I had to make a part two") and I wrote more music for it and remixed it all. Peep the poetry...

I'm so hot I can tear
through the atmosphere
and make the sun shed a tear,
the sky cry a river
and make the moon shiver

Lava and Shon G. are 16 and 17 years old, respectively, and they are locked up in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center awaiting trial.

No proper release for this one. Rock it at will.'s_Trackbanger_Rmx).mp3