Saturday, February 23, 9 p.m., $10-$12
The Pinhook, Durham
Not all great beat music stems from solo genius. Thanks to the internet-music trope of the mysterious, low-bio electronic producer, we often think of these artists as staunch individualists who emerge radiant and fully formed out of the wilderness. More often, though, there is an invisible, sprawling, cross-pollinating infrastructure that quietly got them there.
“Raund Haus brought together a lot of people from Greensboro, Charlotte, Wilmington, and outside the state. I think that is extremely valuable,” says Nick “Gappa” Wallhausser, cofounder of the label and collective. Based in Durham, Raund Haus has done an admirable job of connecting the dots between producers around the state and beyond, through event bookings and releases on its label. In a spotty, spread-out electronic scene like North Carolina’s, something that straddles the IRL-URL divide like Raund Haus is very needed. It’s easier to swap music gear when you aren’t SoundCloud messaging someone’s enigmatic deejay brand.
From the vantage of its three-year anniversary party at Pinhook on Saturday, February 23, the Raund Haus origin story is relatively inauspicious. In 2016, a disparate group of Triangle beat heads formed a collective, including Wallhausser, Randy “Trandle” Maples, visual artist and clothing designer Blaine Carteaux, Daniel “Drozy” del Rosario, Kathryn “awaymsg” Liang, and David “Hubbble” Huber, among many others. It was initially conceived as a single live gig centered on their shared interest in the lysergic outer rim of beat music.
Within a few months, they had expanded the concept into a regular series of offbeat shows and events, usually at ramshackle DIY spaces and slightly more aboveground rooms, including Durham’s now-shuttered jazz emporium The Shed. Hank Stockard, a marketing employee for Hillsborough record distribution company Redeye, eventually helped realize Raund Haus as a proper music label.
Though he lives elsewhere now, Huber was instrumental in organizing the early days of the crew. He had resided in Los Angeles in the early 2010s and spent many nights soaking up sounds at Lincoln Heights club The Airliner. At the time, the influential Low End Theory night was in full swing there every Wednesday. For several years, the event had fought valiantly for a new paradigm between high and low—between the flourishing subterranean sounds of melting SP-404 samplers and the sleek rap-and-jazz-informed sounds slinking around in pop. Flying Lotus made his name there, as did other well-known beat-world names, like Nosaj Thing and Tokimonsta.
“That event and their label arm Alpha Pup Records, where I interned, undoubtedly had an effect on how we organized the events and curated the label side of things,” says Huber, who brings but one of the distinct, wide-ranging musical perspectives that define the crew. Wallhausser resided in Nagoya, Japan, for a number of years, frequenting Japanese hip-hop shows, and cites Japanese artists like Ramza and labels like AUN Mute as early inspirations for his musical passion.
Liang, a Raleigh resident who records spirited synth adventures as awaymsg, says she crept into electronic music through her love of European bands. She fell into indie staples like Radiohead’s Kid A and the French band Air.
“[Air] is one of my all-time favorites,” she says. “I remember listening to Moon Safari and feeling like electronic music could be absolutely anything. The genre can feel like the frontier of music.”
Sylvan Esso beat virtuoso Nick Sanborn is a high-profile supporter of the label. Early on, he offered his mastering services to Raund Haus releases like OG Senpaii’s [Headspace] and Trandle’s hi key low key.
“Nick is a completely supportive and giving musician, and he has continued to help us when he is around, no matter how successful he is,” Wallhausser says. “In the early days, he was like a secondary member, helping us set up DIY spots to play and supplying equipment before [Sylvan Esso] hit the road hard.”
As a whole, the crew’s tastes are diverse enough to have something for everyone. Trandle’s hi key low key particularly speaks to this populism. A supremely enjoyable listen, it’s a gnarled piece of forward-thinking beat-making, where the jagged rhythms of juke, dusted Dilla-esque chillout, noise, and other genres all slam up against each other. Wallhausser is gushing about Trandle’s unreleased next record, which will hit the Raund Haus catalog in the near future, and the imprint recently launched a singles series on its Bandcamp, releasing exclusive tracks from rising area musicians like Sunset Palette, Calapse, and Axnt.
Los Angeles producer Dibia$e is headlining the anniversary celebrations at the Pinhook, which makes a lot of sense, as he came up in the same late-2000s, early-2010s West Coast scene that Huber saw such promise in. Asked what he thinks of collectives like Raund Haus, he’s quick to note not just the value of scene-building, but also the perils.
“Collectives can serve as support systems for producers, especially in small towns,” he says. “There is good and there is bad in those. They can cause cliques and promote elitist attitudes that can close producers off from one another.”
It’s a sentiment with which Raund Haus would agree. “I don’t like necessarily thinking of Raund Haus as a collective, because those place borders on who can be a part of something,” Wallhausser says. “It is more about simply providing a diverse stage to allow people to experiment.”