“It’s an uphill battle.” The rise of LA’s Body High label, a home for club music in its rawest forms
Sometimes lost in its unmitigated global growth is the fact that electronic dance music as we know it was born in the clubs of American metropolises. And while house, techno, and their legion derivatives are constantly being mutated in ever more inventive ways, it’s easy to lose sight of dance music’s simple (but not simplistic) origins.
Enter Body High, the Los Angeles label run by DJ/producers Samo Sound Boy (aka Sam Griesemer) and Jerome LOL (aka Jerome Potter). In just over a year, the fledgling imprint has delivered ten releases from the likes of Todd Edwards, DJ Sliink, Floyd Campbell, and Myrryrs. Crisscrossing genre and style, the through line has been focus on club music in its rawest forms.
Based in Los Angeles, the two have toiled in the club scene for a few years; Griesemer has released low-end focused tracks for Trouble & Bass, among others, while Potter was (until recently) half of Internet-based duo LOL Boys.
During the summer of 2011, while facing a bit of down time, the two entered the studio to collaborate, without a specific sound in mind. Two weeks later, the pair had completed the five-track Stadium Status EP, under the tongue-in-cheek moniker DJ Dodger Stadium. The result is kinetic — all acid squelches, sinewy synth stabs, and hyperactive percussion — but it’s more a tribute to raw dance music than a pastiche of past styles.
Between the positive momentum from the studio and a frustration with the label landscape, Griesemer and Potter decided to release the EP themselves, on a label they’d call Body High. “We were sick of labels that used to be blogs,” Potter says succinctly. Of the decision to start the label, he adds, “It happened very organically. It was never forced.”
“It’s not that hard to run a label,” Potter laughs, to which Griesemer corrects, “It’s not that hard to start a label.”
Without a grand plan in mind, the pair soon decided that Body High could be much more than the home of their EP. “Very quickly, we realized it was tip of the iceberg for our friends and associates.” says Griesemer. “It wasn’t about uncovering stuff from far away: we just needed a better platform for our music, our friends, and club music. It’s about putting in work so we don’t have to compromise.”
“With Body High, we take a lot of inspiration from dance music history,” he says. “That classic stuff is mind-blowing. They’re doing so much with so little, and it’s so stripped down and raw. Something like [Cajmere's] ‘Percolator’: there’s so little that’s actually there, but what it’s so perfect and so dialed-in.”
“I don’t find myself listening to new music anymore. There’s good new music, but there’s such great old music that hasn’t been discovered,” says Potter. “As you get older, you have to put dance music in the context of the history, where it’s coming from, and not be ignorant of the culture. Appreciation is really important.”
While this reverence for the past permeates their work, it wasn’t always that way. “I hated dance music when I was growing up,” Potter admits. “But Baltimore club was just sped-up hip-hop that I could connect with: a sample, a kick pad, a clap. It was so raw and such a good vibe that I was like “I like dance music.””
On the importance of Baltimore club, Griesemer agrees. “It was exciting but it was simple enough. Not just for us, but it introduced a lot of hip-hop kids to house music.” He basically learned to DJ by listening to and studying a two-hour mix that Baltimore legend Scottie B recorded live at the famed club Paradox.
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