Bass Coast Sheds Light on Vancouver's House and Techno with Subversive and
Photo by Geo Anomaleye


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Bass Coast Sheds Light on Vancouver's House and Techno with Subversive and

With more four-on-the-floor than years past, Bass Coast pulls local talent from more than just the bass scene.

Now that the dust from Bass Coast 2015 is settling, any lingering perceptions that the festival's definition of 'bass music' is limited to dubstep, dancehall, and drum and bass have been blown away. (Technically, anything bumping through PK Sound's massive walls of subwoofers becomes 'bass music.') Curated by ace selectors like The Librarian and Max Ulis, this year's edition of Bass Coast hosted more house and techno acts than any year prior.


Dirtybird crew rocked the Main Stage, and the more intimate forested Pirate Radio Stage hosted instantly-legendary five-hour morning sessions by Max Ulis and Sabo. There was enough four-on-the-floor that even diehard purists could enjoy three days of dancing without exposure to the abundance of heavy syncopated breakbeats at Slay Bay stage.

In a classy nod to Vancouver's local techno cornerstones, both the Subversive and crews DJed this year. It was a first-time experience at the festival for each. Subversive (c. 2009) and (c. 2011) tirelessly promote techno events in Vancouver. Their events showcase both local talents and headliners from global hubs like Berlin, Montreal, and Seattle. Canada's Pacific Northwest holds its own on the global techno stage,'s Nancy Dru, Soolah Sound Explosion, Morris Kode & KAFKA; and Subversive's Daniel Naundorf, Myte, Caleb Fox, and Austin Phillips all being examples.

THUMP caught up with's Kafka, Subversive's Naundorf, and Nancy Dru (who identifies in both crews) to talk about the intersection of bass and techno—particularly at this year's Bass Coast.

Jen Pearson (Nancy Dru, left) and Richard Duggan (Kafka, right) at Pirate Radio Stage during their Bass Coast set. Photo credit John Paul Morrison.

THUMP: Had you attended Bass Coast before? How did it compare to your expectations?
Kafka: This was the first Bass Coast for both of us. I've always been more of an indoor festival-goer—dark techno likes dark corners in dark clubs. It definitely exceeded my expectations in music, art installations, and especially the community of people. I'm already looking forward to next year.
Nancy Dru: My expectations were blown away! I have to admit, I heard that past Bass Coast's were more focused on dubstep, which had kept me away. But my friends convinced me otherwise and then I saw for myself. Everything was well represented.
Daniel Naundorf: I don't usually camp. Weather Festival, Mutek, Decibel, Communikey are more "my thing" musically and comfort-wise. But Bass Coast was a trip down the rabbit hole. I didn't really know what to expect. The camping part was every bit how I expected it, but the rest is pretty weird and special and needs to be experienced to be understood.


Did you approach performing at Bass Coast any differently than at a more techno-centric festival?
Kafka: My live and DJ sets are generally pretty dark, as are Nancy Dru's. So yes, for Bass Coast we knew we had to change things up a bit. Our set was from 4-6 PM Saturday afternoon. It had just stopped raining, the sun was coming out, so we kept things lighter, more melodic, but definitely still techno.

Any specific highlights from the festival?
Kafka: Nancy Dru and I don't get many opportunities to play out together anymore, so the whole set was pretty special to me—being outdoors, the sun, the crowd. That was the most fun I think I've ever had behind the decks, there was lots of laughter.
Nancy Dru: Seeing so many friendly faces in the crowd and then having a ton of strangers come up after saying they liked our set. I was pretty nervous so that was good. And of course, getting to play with my old buddy.
Daniel Naundorf: Tyler Stadius exceeded expectations and blew my mind. I enjoyed Detroit Swindle too, and Basic Soul Unit and ESB. Also, I was ripped on acid— that could make anything seem pretty fucking magical.

Are there any regional sensibilities that you feel distinguish techno from the Pacific Northwest? Any signs to you that techno from here is receiving a greater appreciation worldwide?
Nancy Dru: I think that we tend to be a little dreamier and dubbier, not so clinical as some places. But not always [laughs]. I have friends here, The Automatic Message, who have played Berghain in Berlin twice now as of this summer, so that's a pretty good sign. Also, the Silent Season label from Vancouver Island has been getting mad press, which is well deserved!
Daniel Naundorf: I don't think there is anything particular that distinguishes techno in the Pacific Northwest. People like to dance here more than most other places, save maybe Berghain. People here feel the music and drop the attitude, which is pretty special. Nearly all of our international guests remark on it.


What does the relationship between techno and bass music mean to you?
Nancy Dru: I think that they are both complex and often nuanced forms but in very different ways. Techno is a bit more about the space between the beats, to me.
Daniel Naundorf: I don't "get" most bass music to be brutally honest; but, Daega Sound breaks those barriers for me in that they make music that sounds very beautiful to my ears. There are other tracks by other artists that also do that for me, but they are few and far between.

Any events or people in Vancouver that you think are making good headway in bridging the bass and techno scenes?
Nancy Dru: I think Max Ulis has done a great job, and New Forms Festival definitely has an eclectic programming mandate.
Daniel Naundorf: Must we build a bridge? I rather like the solitudes. To each their own. There are other bridges I'd like to build and I'm working on those personally.

What are the most current or upcoming releases of original productions by members of your crew?
Kafka: I just had an EP CASTLES come out last month on Concrete Records out of Italy, as well as a companion EP More CASTLES that we put out on our own netlabel, Body Politic Recordings. And I have my first vinyl release coming out in September on a Reclaim Your City compilation out of Berlin.
Nancy Dru: The ambient duo I am apart of, X4, is releasing an EP in August on Toronto's Basic Sounds.

Kafka will perform a live PA/AV set with C130 at DAT Festival, Montana on July 31. Nancy Dru will DJ the opening for Chicago's Black Madonna at Vancouver's Fox Cabaret on August 1. Subversive hosts San Francisco's Honey Soundsystem at Vancouver's Beaumont Studios on August 2.

Kafka is on SoundCloud Nancy Dru is on SoundCloud Subversive is on SoundCloud