Mix, Dance, and Listen at Subspace ATX: Two DJs Open Underground Electronic Venue
If you plan on seeking an alternative to the downtown electronic music scene, there is hope on the north side of Austin and potentially an emblem of growth and music appreciation. While the bar-hopping culture of our city influences a channel-surfing logic among patrons, Subspace ATX-located in Windsor Park-wishes to encourage active listening, provide audience interaction, and power the music appetite of underground artists. Subspace founders, Christian Justo and Robert Tisdale, really emphasize these missions with the project.
“Not to knock any of the artists that work downtown on the regular-I know many of them and they are incredibly dedicated and hardworking, and I respect everything about that,” Justo commented, “but I feel the catch twenty-two of working downtown is the necessity to cater to people that aren’t necessarily coming in to appreciate the music, or even realize how much time, effort, and energy those performers are putting into their form.”
Subspace ATX opened its doors in early September 2015 and has already hosted open house events, as well as weekly meetings and jam sessions. Currently, the business is used by a physical therapist during the day, so the exercise machines for his clients rest against the wall. Yet, they can serve as props for character and aesthetic.
“We want to cover this with white sheets or blackout cloth to allow us another surface for audio/visual projection and to improve the vibes,” Tisdale said. Justo also adds that he and his partner will continue to modify the environment as they go: “We’ve got a bunch of plans lined up for Subspace including implementing electronic access controls so that our members can have more access to the space during off hours as well as getting a production station setup for Creator level members to come out and collaborate on music projects as well as production/DJ classes.”
The venue is specifically a private venue for members, except during the weekly open houses. There are two memberships: Listener or Creator. The Listener can enjoy all of the same perks as the Creator, except for voting and hosting events. Each member can bring up to two guests to events, but the member must be physically present.
“Becoming a member is pretty simple and is outlined on our website,” noted Tisdale. “You should be twenty-one years of age, live within one hundred miles of Austin, and love electronic music. After that, you pay your membership dues and join us for one of our weekly member meetings so we have a chance to say hello.”
Tisdale and Justo are not only handling logistics, but they are also creators themselves. Tisdale is a producer and DJ, specializing in Jungle, Liquid Drum and Bass, Future, and Melodic Trap while Justo delights in many genres as a DJ and comes from a drummer background. These electronic enthusiasts hope to alleviate some problems in the music scene, such as fragmentation, oversaturation, and perhaps simply the lack of time and space for underground development.
“I think we have a lot of talented producers, DJs, and MCs in Austin, but I think we have issues with fragmentation,” Tisdale said. “I don’t see a lot of cooperation between the different crews in town, and this is especially true when you start looking between genre lines. I think we also have too few places that are really bastions for music-places that people go to really enjoy the tunes instead of just getting plastered.”
Justo continued: “I think in regard to the scene we can help alleviate some of those problems. We want to encourage beginners and seasoned creators to come out and share and collaborate in an environment that they know is safe to do so, where they won’t be judged or expected to play something that’s not within their channel of expression.”
In Austin, certain venues invite EDM greats and electronic innovators-Disclosure at Stubb’s in February 2014 and ACL 2015, Machinedrum at Elysium during SXSW 2014 and Empire Control Room and Garage in December 2014-and these and other venues certainly do maintain a full roster of local performers. However, this constant flow of artists is in the palm of Austinites’ hands, and the beginner artists have to immediately bypass the learning stages in order to be up to par with established acts. Indeed, venues are feeling the pressure to stay relevant and drive revenue to pay for leasing costs, so the bar-hoppers are high priority. Consequently, the oversaturation continues, while active listening plummets.
“There is a massive amount of electronic music being released daily but most people only encounter music on the radio or downtown, so they get a lot of the same poppy mainstream stuff,” Tisdale remarked. “We want to show those people genres like Future R&B, Liquid Drum and Bass, Footwork, Tropical House, Garage, Jungle and any other of the dozens if not hundreds of different sub-genres that aren’t in the mainstream conscience.”
Perhaps Austin listeners still maintain that electronic music can only encompass common dance music as opposed to wonky beats, (Flying Lotus), creative soundscapes (Floating Points), jazz and R&B (Thundercat), or trip-hop/atmospheric (DJ Krush). Whatever the case, listeners and creators can come together in Windsor Park, the corner neighborhood of 290 East and I35, to mix, produce, learn, discuss, and grow as a musical community.
“I want our members to feel free to jump outside of the box and explore creatively,” Justo concludes. “I don’t want people to have to worry that they wont get another event because their last mashup wasn’t totally on point or they mixed from genre to genre in a set. I think making mistakes is a huge part of growing, and I really want us to encourage the idea that sometimes you have to get a little dirty in order to make something really amazing. I’m really stoked to hear the new styles and genres that come out as a result.
Presently, memberships are $15.00 for Listeners and $30.00 for Creators. More details on membership can be found at https://subspaceatx.tidyclub.com/public/memberships/new, and more details on the venue can be found on the main website at http://subspaceatx.com. Please visit the venue’s social media pages as well: Subspace ATX on Facebook, @subspaceatx on Instagram, and @subspaceatx on Twitter.