The Joy Of Text

24 March 2012 | 1:07 pm | Staff Writer

Melbourne may be divided culturally, as well as geographically, by the Yarra River, but next month's Best Of Both Sides festival, held at Lucky Coq and Bimbo Deluxe, is all about transcending that. And local DJ/producer Darius Bassiray, who lives in Brunswick, couldn't be a more aptly ironic ambassador for the South Side, having recently been “totally surprised” by the great vibe at techno parties such as Onesixone's Fluidlife Lunar. “I always had a preconception, or a stereotype, that that side of the river kinda wasn't really as musically engaging as the other,” he confesses. Bassiray will perform live with Paul Beynon as Text Book Music at Lucky Coq's Melbourne Techno Collective (MTC) bash.

Bassiray is known in electronic circles as half of the DJ outfit Rollin Connection with Daniel Banko, but the sometime Sunny heroes have quietly called it a day. “That finished, I think, about July last year.” What's more, after nearly nine years, he extricated himself from the promotional company Darkbeat, Banko again his partner. “I felt like I'd taken it as far as I could with the brand,” Bassiray says, alluding to creative differences. “We both felt it was time to part ways. We're still great mates – [there's] no animosity there.” Among other things, Bassiray wanted to focus on his label, Text Book Music, which he runs with Beynon's help. He launched the concern in 2010 with his ethnic-flavoured tech-house EP El Camino, which, promisingly, both Hernán Cattáneo and Laurent Garnier supported. Bassiray and Beynon then decided to develop a live act, also called Text Book Music, premiering it at Kubik (Shop Local) in Birrarung Marr last November. They're progressing on a studio project. “We're just about to write an EP, which is based on what we did for the Kubik live show,” Bassiray says. “It's very weird, abstract electronica with some tech-house. There's some deep house, there's some techno, there's a lot of different things.” He continues to DJ. “I still DJ, I still love to DJ and that's still one of the things that drives me musically – but that's solo, just me.”

Post-Darkbeat, Bassiray began going out anew “as a punter” – and crossing the river to Onesixone and Revolver. These experiences have inspired him to introduce a niche party brand, Electric Owl, with choice international guests. Bassiray has controversially – but admirably – chosen to not announce set times. He'd noticed that patrons would typically turn up five minutes prior to an international. “I was trying to break that mould by saying, 'It's not about when the international is on, it's more about enjoying the locals – and also enjoying the party as a whole'.” So far his team have thrown three parties, the first with Funk D'Void. “It's really invigorated my belief in the scene in Melbourne.” Coming up is this week's Border Community showcase, an Easter party headlined by the iconic Moodymann, and then another Electric Owl with Ghostly International's L'usine, whom Bassiray proclaims to be one of his favourite artists.

Bassiray has long been associated with Melbourne's progressive house movement and he cites Phil K as an enduring influence. But today he himself straddles prog, techno and deep house. That Text Book are billed at an MTC party surely proves that Melbourne's electronic underground is less tribal now than of old. “Those guys have the same mentality as me – good music is good music,” Bassiray asserts. He admires MTC founder Matt Radovich who, as 'Mike Hunt', moonlights as a hip hop DJ. “It's all about showcasing something that's individualistic and that represents you.”

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Bassiray, who's lately remixed a track for ex-housemate Mike Callander, admits that he isn't prolific. In two years Text Book Music has had just four releases, including one from Atlanta's Habersham & Absence Of Essence. Again, it's about maintaining standards. “We're taking our time with it,” Bassiray says of the music. “I like to get it right – and I like to make sure that it's exactly the way I want it. With Beatport, and the internet, the quality control is a lot less, so I'm quite happy to take my time with it.”