IOMix013 // Teakup

If you’re the kind of techno head who appreciates the Ohio twist on the Midwestern sound, you need this essential update from insanely talented up and comer Teakup.

Not everyone is up on the further reaches of the Midwestern techno sound beyond Detroit. Maybe if you’re into 90s US techno you’ve comes across Woody McBride, who was operating out of Minneapolis, or heard about the legendary Even Furthur Festival in Wisconsin where Daft Punk delivered a live set in 1996 way before the robot helmets and global super stardom. There’s a particular vibe to that Midwest sound, where toughness, roughness and funkiness go hand in hand, but the stuff out of Ohio spearheaded by the triumvirate of Archetyp (aka Charles Noel), Titonton Duvante and Todd Sines had its own spectacular twist. If you don’t know, get to digging. There’s some gold out there for those with open ears.

Obviously this is all coming from a place of personal appreciation – we love that stuff here at IO, and that’s exactly why Teakup’s tracks caught our ear even before we found out the emergent producer in fact hails from Columbus and has even been aligned with the likes of Duvante in something of an intergenerational passing of the baton. His sound isn’t a carbon copy of what came before, but rather an exciting update of a particular techno essence which comes from that part of the world. We strongly recommend you check out his releases on DATA DISK, Shut Off Notice and his own TKP label, but in the mean time you can get a full feel for the approach he takes as an artist on this incendiary entry for the IO Mix series. As standard, read on for a Q&A that sheds a little more light on this most essential of new techno artists.

IOMix 013 Teakup

First off, thanks so much for recording this mix for us! Can you tell us a bit about it?

I’d lately been thinking to record another mix so my ideas for it just flowed out. I recorded it at home on my Tec 12s and Xone:23 mixer. I did add a bit of post-production delay here and there to ease some of the transitions that felt a bit lacking. I wanted to represent the sounds that have influenced me lately with a big focus on techno. The mix is about trial and error, meeting the void, finding meaning from noise and chaos. I’d say it’s pretty representative of how I’d play a dancefloor show.

It would be great to learn a bit more about who you are and where you’re coming from — are you Columbus born and bred? 

I was born in Kuopio, Finland, and my parents moved us to the States when I turned six. I was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Columbus in 2007 to go to college. It was there I started getting into electronic music, eventually started collecting records and trying my hand at producing. I also concurrently played in a band called Stella Research Committee (fka Stella) as their drummer. That band was a mix of post hardcore, post punk, into noise and no wave electronics. We ended our run this year, which has allowed me to focus on electronic and dance music. I was heavily into digging online for electronic and experimental music and that’s how I met Tony Fairchild who runs is/was, Terrafirm, Data Disk. He also happened to be involved in the Midwest Fresh party series. I started going regularly to that party around 2015 and that was my introduction to rave culture. I have met a few of the Ohio greats through that — Titonton, FBK, Plural — and much of the next couple generations of DJs/promoters, but a lot of others I’ve never actually met. I’m not sure but I think they tend not to go out anymore, and I don’t blame them for that. 

It feels like your sound takes certain cues from the particular vibe of Columbus / Ohio — a different vibe to Detroit or other parts of the Midwest, but still with that gritty, underground attitude which seems to naturally occur in music from the region. Is that something you agree with?

The true depth of the Columbus heritage has only dawned on me in the last few years, and I find it quite serendipitous that I ended up here and I can hear the clear musical connections in my sound. Columbus on the surface is a pretty ‘regular’ American city but has a really vibrant underground with plenty of queer, weirdo, noise, dance things going on. The landscape and lifestyle is Midwestern, but there’s a lot of population growth and a lot of college kids that bring fresh influences. That environment tends to reflect in the music being a really nice combination of Midwest functionality, Columbus fuzz and outside-the-box ideas. I do take a lot of influence from styles like glitch, ambient, electro-acoustic/concrete music, but it seems my most successful music has those influences peppered in with a club focus. You can’t really forget the global influence with the internet though, and I see most niches that I’ve come across online represented here, however small.

It seems like you’ve had some support from the Ohio elders like getting released on Residual and is/was – are those figures very much active in the scene and supporting newer generations of artists? 

Some of the elders are still present in the scene and play in town regularly, but since the pandemic their role has sort of been overtaken by younger people, especially in terms of releasing music and promoting parties. I’m very grateful to have gotten tracks released on Residual and is/was. Tony has actually been my longest-time supporter. He put out my first record in 2018 and also my latest this year, and is helping me out with my own new white label series (more on that later).

What is Columbus like as a city to live in now? What is the scene like there – is there one to speak of? 

Columbus is a pretty chill city to live in. The larger scene here is very focused on EDM/mainstream, garage and indie rock. The underground is small and still feels quite saturated, and as I said earlier, is vibrant. I’m not playing out much lately. There’s not a lot of opportunities, and finding the right venue for my own thing and building a local following has been challenging. I’ve been happy to be able to focus on producing because I think I generally enjoy that a lot more. I’ll be trying to throw more events eventually. There isn’t really a free party scene I’m aware of, and the rave scene has nearly died out since the pandemic. I’m involved in a small crew called Public Services that’s trying to keep that tradition alive. We’ve had a few successful late night parties this year. There are a lot of other crews trying to do that, or at least having parties at bars that can be a great time. Several worth mentioning: Headcleaner, Deepfield, Fever, Restart; all the club music peeps with their dizzying array of events like Live Laugh Love (lol), Tiff, Blessed up Gang, Stasis for dnb/160; Techno Kills homie doing the hard techno. These are all the parties I go to and wholeheartedly endorse the vibes. Artist-wise, there’s a whole hell of a lot of unknowns and lesser knowns here that will be worth following in the future. I have some friends that have started labels to remedy that, namely Chris with Shut Off Notice, and Torin with Class War Collective. 

Beyond the Columbus connection are there any other scenes, styles or other non-musical influences which guide your production?

I did mention a lot of influences beyond the dancefloor before and that’s definitely worth expanding on. I’ve had phases where I’m really fascinated by early electronic and electro-acoustic — big favorites like Xenakis, Parmegiani, Stockhausen. That influences my sound design, and I’ve also been able to read about their conceptual approaches, which has been revelatory. These guys were truly visionaries and I think the avenues they opened up have a lot more room for exploration and discovery. Another main influence lately has been the West Mineral/3XL/Motion Ward ‘nu-ambient’ universe. It’s like a pure enjoyment of sound and texture that can be really captivating. There’s some rhythmic noise and modular that sort of falls into the same category, really singular artists like Parsa. Non-musical and conceptual influences include mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, Taoism, Dadaism, surrealism, and various other intellectual and philosophical ideas I dabble in. 

What’s your approach to making music? 

As far as production methods go, I’ve mostly been in the box until the past year. My workflow in Ableton is really smooth. I use a lot of samples from a large library, software synths and resampling, rearranging, and warping my own beats and recordings. I have started to add stems of unquantized hardware recordings – mostly Eurorack and the Microkorg. I really just love arrangement and composition on the computer. That puts me squarely in the new-school, but I love ‘putting on’ old-school aesthetics. I tend to record a wide variety of sounds and textures, then resample, arrange, and whittle them down into tracks. Subtractive editing is a powerful skill to develop. I’m generally pretty slow and steady but my backlog of material makes it seem like I’m prolific. I think a lot of my newer tracks can be traced back to recombinations of older ideas — it’s been a snowball sort of effect.

So far you’ve slipped out some stand-out releases on different labels – have you been aware of the music getting picked up on anywhere in particular? 

I’ve had a handful of releases on various labels and I think a good deal of people know of me, and some DJs play my tunes, but it hasn’t seemed to really pick up steam yet, which I’m actually grateful for. I’ve had a lot of time to develop my production chops and ideas and really just follow my whims and that has resulted in building up a backlog of high-quality material. I decided about a year ago to start releasing my own music as white labels and digital. I really owe that idea to my friend Chris, who essentially started his vinyl label Shut Off Notice on his own and figured out how to do everything. I wanted to leave a more physical trace of my music, and since the start I found white labels alluring. I put out the first one in May of this year. Number two is due out as soon as I finish stamping them all. I put a few tracks from that in the mix. I’m lining up a couple other records and have some tracks due out on Class War Collective compilations.

IOMix 013 Tracklisting:

  1. Strip Steve – Ultra Light
  2. Globex – Inversia 2A
  3. Teakup – Vapor Or Floating Stone
  4. Antenes – Fire Rises
  5. Archetype – Glyph 03 B1
  6. Plural – Shifting Forward
  7. Teakup – 3AM Drifter
  8. Yaleesa Hall x Malin – First Carol
  9. Marcel Dettman – State of Art
  10. Teakup – Felopzd
  11. Primitive Urges – Tools Edition 1
  12. Teakup – Track Oriented Cognition Remix
  13. DJ Rush – Marathon Man
  14. Resource Meets E.B.E. – Unleashed
  15. Question – 2nd Question A1
  16. Gigglatron – Thuddplunger
  17. Buttechno – Spectres
  18. R-Zac – Monotone
  19. Unit Mobius – Radar
  20. Subhead – Boiling Point
  21. Matrix – Red Film #2
  22. Denon Riktus – Hectic
  23. DJ Stingray 313 – Bioplastics
  24. irel.ier – ved
  25. Ulla – House
  26. Gladstone Deluxe – Structure B
  27. Teakup – Particle Jam
  28. Club No-No & SVN – SUED 009 A