As we tie the knot on 2012, it’s important to reflect on the events and musings that motivated, challenged, and inspired us throughout the past 365 days. It is no secret that my existence is heavily entwined in this electronic music culture; a culture where the mainstream and underground will always be at odds, tomorrow is up for grabs, and the only constant is dancing until the sun rises.
We are lucky to be in the greater Boston area, which, despite its many antiquated systems, has acted as an incubator and epicenter for EDM. The core of this movement is, of course, the people and crews whose passion and persistance drives the momentum forward. When the question arises about which crews have been instrumental in this early cultivation, Elements is, without a doubt, amongst the first to be mentioned. It’s been the longest running drum n’ bass night around, with residents Lenore and Crook amongst the upper echelon of local DJs. Before we kiss 2012 goodbye, I caught up with Lenore for a quick debrief of Elements’ memorable moments and dreams for the new year, which will begin with her midnight set to welcome 2013 at Together Presents: Resolution.
How long has Elements been officially running?
We are finishing our 14th year. The 14-year anniversary is next month, Jan 31st.
Who did you start it with and what sparked the idea?
Crook and I started the night. At the time there was no drum n’ bass party in Boston, and we felt there was definitely demand. We were both drum n’ bass DJs so it made sense. I made the pitch to the Phoenix Landing. We started two weeks later. I thought we were more like temporarily filling a niche. I had no concept or awareness or even aspiration that it might last this long.
Have you always been at the Phoenix Landing?
Yes, every Thursday night at the Phoenix.
Around the time of its inception, what was the local climate like in the electronic community?
Most of the electronic music nights were taking place on Lansdowne Street in Kenmore Square.
The Phoenix Landing opened up a new world by putting a big sound system in an Irish pub in Cambridge. The owners were into dance music themselves. They were one of the earliest influences that built the scene that exists today in Central Square.
At the time the scene was smaller. Since the mainstream wasn’t yet aware of underground dance music, we were a separate culture and we were pretty close knit. Most of the DJs who had club nights were answering the demand of electronic music enthusiasts in the area … the quality control in the rave scene had been generally declining in the later ’90s, so this had become the alternative.
How have you witnessed [the scene] evolve since?
Central Square has grown to be an EDM mecca.
This has only helped the scene, and I like that it’s in the non-corporate part of town (and of course it’s worth mentioning that Together Festival operations is based in Central Square). Lots of clubgoers are into multiple genres of dance music now, which is a bit different from before, where most kids were zealots for a particular subgenre. The demand at Elements has always been for strictly drum n’ bass, though, and while the music is constantly evolving, our scene maintains the same personality, though the characters often change. It’s been very familial.
What’s been the role of the city of Cambridge throughout your Elements journey? Did you ever think of moving into Boston?
We have it pretty good … bangin’ soundsystem, nice staff, 19+ admission, etc. That being said, I was asked several times to move Elements to upstairs at Axis, but I never really considered it. The corporate vibe on that street would have totally changed Elements, although Axis was good to us, giving us the opportunity to promote big dnb events in their main room occasionally on Fridays – Andy C, Fabio & Grooverider etc. In the end, it’s a good thing we turned down the offer to move the weekly there, since Axis is no more and so would be Elements.
What are your top five memorable moments in Elements history?
- Our entire 10-year anniversary, which went til almost 3 a.m. The cops came and decided that whatever was going on was too special to break up.
- One moment would have to be in summer of ’99 when Skynet dropped “Whiplash” by Future Cut. People went bananas. Also that was the same month that his and Stakka’s Blazin’ album came out, so it was a very relevant set. “Side Effects,” off that album, was an Elements anthem for years.
- Probably one of Dara’s “Holiday Party” appearances.
- Old School Set by New England legend DJ Overload.
- When MC Dynamite (who was performing with DJ Friction in 2011) announced that Elements is the longest running dnb night in the world. I didn’t hear it myself but people told me it gave them chills.
I wish I could ask them their top five favorite moments. I’m usually busy and have missed a lot of stuff.
Favorite artist who’s graced the tables?
This is way too difficult for me to answer! I know I’m probably forgetting some possibilities. I would have to say two DJ sets that stand out in my mind are dBridge and Jeremy from the Upbeats. There are so many others! (see below)
How has being a resident of Elements changed your own personal relationship and movement through music?
As a resident, you need to be an opening DJ a lot, so being sensitive and versatile is key. Setting a tone, drawing people to the dancefloor, figuring out what they want to hear etc. Ultimately, it makes headlining seem easy in comparison. A good DJ will listen and build or transition from the previous DJ. No set should exist in a vacuum.
Elements was one of the first local music nights I ever attended and I vividly remember the first night I saw you playing … I was so intimidated! How has it been for you to be one of the most prominent females in the local electronic music community?
Hah, thanks for the props. Well, I honestly never think of it like that in terms of occupying that seat. After gigs, I am usually critical myself. I only consider things like what I could have done differently, what other direction I could have gone in etc. I see myself as a “DJ” rather than a “female DJ” so it’s hard to answer that part of the question. I think it’s limiting to be categorized according to gender, although it happens all the time and I don’t think people mean anything bad by it.
How long have you been Dj’ing?
What’s been the single most difficult moment in Elements’ history?
Hm … maybe the first year, when the UK guest (DJ Fierce) showed up at the club at like 2:01 a.m. He missed his first flight; the second flight was late; and then he was stuck in the Sumner tunnel for over an hour due to construction. I was opening and ended up having to play the whole night. It’s hard to deal with crises when you’re behind the decks and the only promoter inside the venue, although people danced all night and luckily didn’t throw eggs at me or riot or anything. We ultimately made it up to them with an impromptu after-hours at a big loft in Charlestown.
What does your wildest dream look like for the future of Elements?
I think it has already surpassed my dreams, and has taken on a life of its own. I try not to do anything that might ruin it.
Do you have a special setlist to play as we ring in the new year during Together presents Resolution?
Nothing planned, but it will surely be appropriate for the first hour of 2013! It will also be a bit of a retrospective of some of the best tracks of 2012. IMO
The theme is noir. Will you go in black or white?
I’d bet on black. It dominates my closet.
Anything else you want to add?
Here are some other candidates for seminal artists who’ve performed Elements (I can’t leave anyone out
Wilkinson & Cyantific
MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS
480 MASSACHUSETTS AVE.