Intricate and trippy techno from a pillar of the American underground.
Evelyn Marie Malinowski is a key cog in a long-running American underground that persists (and predates) waves of hype and fair-weather international attention. She's been DJing since the '90s, and has been a part of all sorts of bands and collaborations, from noise to post-punk to all-around experimental avant-garde stuff (and, of course, techno). She's best known as Experimental Housewife, a project that explores the full spectrum of techno and house, from intricate, microhouse-style rhythms to what she affectionally calls "stompers." It's a vision of dance music without limits or borders, simply going where her muse takes her, with a hungry, always-searching approach informed by her other professional life in academia.
Her RA Podcast is equally creative, a deeply layered, slightly psychedelic mix that locks you in for almost two hours. It's full of inventive triple-blends and deft, sleight of hand mixing moves, with a wide variety of music ranging from LSDXOXO to Fred P to Roman Lindau to Danny Tenaglia. It's a cliché, but it's one of those mixes—and she's one of those DJs—who basically creates her own tracks out of careful and complex layering, where you can't tell where one (or two) tracks begin or end. We could go on, but she outlines everything herself elegantly in the detailed interview below. So we'll just say this: Experimental Housewife's RA Podcast is one of the most intriguing, trippy and rewarding mixes we'll run all year.
What have you been up to recently?
Let's see, I had a track come out on Chicago-based Identity Spectrum Records headed by Jarvi, AKA Acid Daddy, who thus far has been focusing the label on the community-minded The Way Of The Rave series. In early December I self-released an EP, Do The Werk, and before that in the summer I released Quaggy, an EP I am still really pumped about.
My friend Chris who makes excellent ambient music as 555 Sounds put together a rad video for one of the Quaggy songs. This past fall (for my birthday, actually) my friend and collaborator Rose Cherami put together a beautiful music video for my track "E u r e k a" which appears on my album D i g i t a l B e a c h that Rose released on her label True Indigo in March of 2020.
I also just did a mix and interview for Cone Shape Top, an Oakland-based record shop and podcast entity. It's been joyous for me to connect with them, and I hope to steer more listeners in their direction. They've got such a cool thing going on!
As a gay, gender nonconforming woman, I'm focusing more and more on collaboration within my queer community and Bay Area-based advocacy. There's such an incredible, realistically unmatched history of queer and body empowerment from in and around San Francisco; it's become a priority of mine to continue to educate myself and participate in it with frequency.
Otherwise I have been endeavoring to finish my Ph.D., which I have been working on since 2017. I've had severe bouts of burnout and disillusionment, so the push-through itself requires more and more of me. Music and being outside keeps me balanced and positive.
How and where was the mix recorded?
I made this mix in my home studio on my at-home DJ setup: Pioneer PLX-1000s with Shure N44s, an old but sturdy Pioneer DJM600, Traktor for a few digital selections, and a Tascam recorder. Mastered by my talented friend Justin Kane at Innerspace Audio.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
This mix is a sort of wild ride into stuff that gets me excited. It's a blend of newish stuff I've been deeply vibing on, including some music from last year I was excited to play at gigs that got Covid-canceled, then there's some classics that still bang. I want to give some of these selections a little extra praise: DJ Slyngshot's Workshop record, a new one from Lady Blacktronika on Allergy Season (that Moby sample!), Kiyadama, AKA HVL, who I have been closely following particularly in the last year, and a ton of recent stuff from Fred P, who has not slowed down and is regularly releasing loads of perfect music. There's also Lemmi Ash, one of Martinou's collaborations. He's another producer I follow closely.
When I was recording and got warmed up, I started to do some layered mixing, with three tracks at a time here and there. Then I got pretty energetic and decided to bring out the stompers. When it comes to studio mixes, I get pulled into the direction of storytelling and curation, inspired to sort of create an album and not just a mix. In this case, I feel like I did that, focusing on the traumatic injustices and uncertainties of the last year, but I also nurtured some live, improv energy as well. The beast had to be unleashed.
I really believe in the transformative power of diverse dance music, and I believe it is precisely what keeps the dance floor diverse, engaging, and resilient. It is why rave will survive the pandemic, despite the very real cynicism some of us feel. DJs have a lot of power, and it's a good idea to really step into that power and push yourself to make beautiful things happen. So, with all that in mind, this mix was created to advocate for diversity and anti-racism through genre noncompliance, a style of DJing that dismantles narrow and even problematic approaches to underground culture, like genre purism. I hope there's a little bit for everyone in it.
You're also an academic and have said that you do both academic work and music in tandem. Does your academic practice and background influence the way you play, listen to or think about music?
Since I started working in music before getting official with my academic focus in cultural studies and philology, I believe my mind to be more sonically informed than it is academically informed. My approach to academics is mirrored in my approach to how I play (and vice versa) in that there's a shared methodology. Both jobs require doing research before putting an idea out there in an appealing, persuasive, and organized way. Sometimes I get caught up in certain patterns, rhetoric and synchronicities between my academic work and music, like a name or premise showing up in both jobs, even when it is not consciously sought out. That's always a pretty magical thing. Having said all that, my academic work is not musical, but my musical work sometimes seems academic; I integrated some sound studies into my Master's thesis, and there's definitely a good amount of sensorial and perspective studies in my Ph.D work, but the two support each other while remaining completely interdependent. The linchpin keeping things in tandem is the methodology—and the way my mind works.
Now that, in the US at least, we're seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, how was the pandemic period for you, and did it change your perception of dance music at all?
Because I was already part of an online performance community, and with my background in radio, the mass migration to streaming during Covid-19 was fairly fluent for me. I am extremely fortunate to have had a steady outlet with Ultrawizardsword; I also did a number of streams on friends' shows like Isolator + Friends and Club Bubble throughout the year.
But don't mistake me for a remote-only enthusiast! Though I think online live music creates general access for people who can't go to a club, I, like so many, have had some difficult days, cravings for playing in person, for experiencing the intensity of a good soundsystem again. As for whether the closures changed anything for me, I'm still taking it all in, suffice to say that the music itself has all the energy, all the attitude, and all the ecstasy that we pursue when we go to gatherings. The spirit is in the sound, and I relied on the sound to get me through the tough days. What else can you do? I have some in-person gigs lining up from the late summer and on, and I cannot wait!
What are you up to next?
I have material drafted for a new album that I'll probably finish later this year. Stylistically it might feel like the follow-up album to Place Writer, my full-length released on Jacktone back in 2016. I just finished a remix that will be part of a follow-up release for Jerod S. Rivera's incredible album Virgo. Next month I'll be appearing on Jerod's radio show, Adjustment Layer, on Internet Public Radio. More regularly I'm doing streams through Ultrawizardsword, an online community that has been broadcasting for 11 years (I've been part of the crew for five going on six). I've done a few Housepitality SF streams this year too, and I'm going to provide a set for their upcoming Pride stream (excited!).
And as always, I'm buying records like a maniac. Can't wait to take them out into the world when we can gather again!