Techno is Rewiring Silicon Valley

Mary-Ann Ionascu
7 min readApr 5, 2018

Two months ago, my brain was rewired. The first thing I remember about the night it happened was hearing the tin rattle. I was in a part of LA that I would never find on my own again — indeed, a Neverland for artistic expression. As I approached a dimly lit desk, I noticed a sign that said “No Pictures Allowed”; this wasn’t the kind of spot LA bloggers flocked to for the perfect Instagram shot. The warehouse behind it appeared to be breathing — inhaling with each kick — expanding and contracting its metal frame. I wondered how I was going to survive the next five hours inside the belly of a beast that was so abrasive and monotonous on first impression. But I was aware of my own musical naiveté — and I knew that cleansing the crevices of my brain of its dependence on Western music would not happen overnight. In fact, if it was going to happen at all, it had to begin here.

I entered through a heavy door and suddenly realized how much sound it had been absorbing. The 10’ tall speaker stacks were pumping out a minimum of 125 decibels. I quickly popped in my earplugs to minimize the potential for hearing damage, but they did very little to mask the bass that I could feel thumping in the center of my chest. Kwartz, the first DJ of the night, was methodically waving his hands to-and-fro, and if I was deaf, I would have thought he was conducting an orchestra in 4/4 time. Behind him, moving visuals depicted two robotic feminine shapes dancing on a monochrome Tron-like grid. The dance floor was sparse — it was only midnight after all — but the people that were there were ready for their fix. Flanking the left subwoofer was a thin figure, dressed in black from head to toe, precariously balancing a cigarette in one hand and gently waving in time with the other. His eyes were closed as he gracefully swayed to the pounding compressed air waves. Five hours went by and he only broke his trance to light a new cigarette.

Given the nascence of the techno scene on the west coast, the opportunity to hear music of this caliber in a setting that was so true to the art was a cultural rarity. The artists were Spanish wizards producing under PoleGroup, a label created by Oscar Mulero in Madrid. They are well known in European dance music circles, but in America, where people think of Zedd when you say “DJ”, their music falls flat on untrained ears. It certainly…

Mary-Ann Ionascu

Tiny person building tiny computers.