Part of Sep 2011 by

Music Blowing Austin’s Eardrums This Weekend: Metro Area

There are plenty of music-related events going on this weekend; you know, with the ACL Music Festival and all of its bastard offspring… And, well, it is one of those bastard offspring gigs that really caught my eye (and ear) this week: the Learning Secrets Party on Saturday, September 17th at The Beauty Bar (RSVP here: Presented by Silverton Partners (and sponsored by Lamebook) the party’s main attraction is the headlining DJ set by Metro Area (also featured on the bill are Indian Jewelry, Rickey Jean Francois and Learning Secrets).

Metro Area — namely Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani — appeared out of nowhere in 1999 with their self-titled debut 12″ featuring the cult smash “Atmosphrique.” Not that Metro Area can be pigeonholed into any one particular style or sound, but “Atmosphrique” definitely served as a calling card for their uncanny knack for going futuristic and retro at the same time. Blending R&B, disco and boogie with newer sounds such as house and techno, Metro Area’s recordings became instant club hits.

In 2001, they released their Metro Area 4 EP which has sold over 16,000 copies to date, thanks primarily to the popularity of the feature track “Miura.” One year later, Metro Area’s much anticipated self-titled debut album finally hit the streets. Comprised of the strongest tracks from their 12″ series plus a handful of new tracks, the album made Rolling Stone’s “Top 50 Albums of the 2002” and BBC/Radio 1’s “Dance Album of the Year.” Then, 2004 saw the release of Metro Area 5; and Metro Area 6 came out in 2005.

Besides their work in the studio, Metro Area have toured extensively as a DJs — both individually and as a team. AdobeAirstream corresponded with Geist about Metro Area’s upcoming DJ set at the Learning Secrets Party. One of the subjects we touched upon is what benefits there are for famous (at least in some circles) recording artists to tour as DJs. Geist responded: “To paraphrase a pompous douche who lives in NYC and doesn’t own a car, recorded music is a loss leader for touring and merchandise.  We make much more from touring that we do from releasing music. Do we like this? No. We’d both rather be making music. Nonetheless, we still occasionally enjoy a DJ gig and we always try our hardest to give people a good night and, hopefully, open their minds to the music we love.”

I am a lover of vinyl, and I am always curious about what song format DJs are spinning these days. For Geist and Jesrani: “We both played primarily vinyl for ages. We have even been yelled at for it when promoters picked us up in Smart Cars or had to pay excess baggage fees. Now only Darshan tours with vinyl. I’ve been playing just CDs since last February, when I had a midlife crisis and bought a BMX bike and promptly herniated a disc really badly. I canceled 2 months of tours and recorded my records.”

The conversation quickly turned to their DJ sets and what their Austin audience can expect from Metro Area. According to Geist, their sets are “never pre-planned but you get into patterns when you tour often. There are lots of repeat tracks. I’d say I’m personally most guilty of playing “Dancer” by Gino Soccio — it’s a total hit track but it’s kind of a silver bullet for getting uptight, white and/or straight people (and lest that sound condescending, I’m all three) to let loose a bit to disco. I love the song and never feel guilty playing it, although I think it upsets people who prefer for us to play impossible-to-find private-press 12”s.” Geist goes on to explain that Metro Area’s own recordings rarely find their way into their DJ sets, “We generally play our own music only to test it on systems and crowds. There is too much great music by other people. We’ll play one under extreme duress. I recently played on in Romania just to make people stop bugging me.” Note: that is probably not an invitation to bug Geist to spin “Miura” at the Beauty Bar this Saturday.

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