Kir’s Live Hardware Mixtape 


Maison Fauna, Jan. 1

Can we get a UK garage revival already? Mixmag asked last spring. And lo and behold, a new Durham record label comes through.

Kir (Sarah Damsky) has been putting in work in Durham for a minute; you might have caught one of her regular Monday-night sets at Quarter Horse with her DJ partner, Swung (Simon Briggs), or at Raund Haus’s recent New Year’s Eve party at Motorco

Now the pair is venturing into releasing local electronic music, a needed endeavor, and its first release is an enticing hint of things to come.

On New Year’s Day, Kir & Swung—with Nick DeNitto and Joe Bell—quietly launched their new label, Maison Fauna, with a one-take live-hardware mixtape by Kir. While focusing on Durham artists and encouraging them to release prolifically, they intend to plant their label’s flag in UK garage before branching into adjacent genres. This release tidily accomplishes step one.  

You don’t need a PhD in electronic music to recognize the shuffled, syncopated strains of UK garage, which have been ramifying through dance and pop music since the ravey nineties, sowing choppy claps, scudding bass, and time-shifted samples all over the place. 

Kir’s one-channel Korg sampler recording may be more of a mission statement than a canonical release, but don’t let “one-take” fool you—this thing is surprisingly polished, and it slaps. Her sound has an elegant gleam, clasping space clearly yet tightly, and she plays samples lyrically against the beat, rather than letting them be engulfed by it. 

The dubby opening reaches melt into an alien pop march; sweeping drum-and-bass architecture rises under chords that hover like UFOs before a playful, almost jazzy finish. This isn’t just a breakbeat workout; these are detailed, engaging compositions. On their evidence if a label is just someone’s taste with a title, then Maison Fauna promises to be tasty indeed.  

Correction: Damsky and Briggs are not the sole proprietors of Maison Fauna. They’re launching the label with Nick DeNitto and Joe Bell.

Contact arts and culture editor Brian Howe at

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