RYBO, Lubelski, and Wyatt Marshall talk giving back to house music with Percomaniacs [Interview]
House music is currently going through a third Renaissance. The first took place in the late ’70s when the distinction between disco and house became clear. The four-on-the-floor beat diverged from the glossy strings and sequin outfits.
The second, around 1997 when the styles of Chicago that Frankie Knuckles and company pioneered became worldwide, with Daft Punk releasing their watershed debut album, Homework. By then, house music was a permanent fixture in the standard music vernacular.
The third wave is still in progress. As house music becomes more than just club music. As house artists begin to rival rock stars and mega-rappers in their global omnipresence in pop culture. Those who lived through the first or the second arm might look upon this association with mainstream culture and scoff—longing for the days when house was the sound of the outcast, the counterculture.
Jake Lubell, Ryan Bohnet, and Wyatt Eichhorn are three of those people centralized on preserving the housestoric legacy. To their fans, they’re known as Lubelski, RYBO, and Wyatt Marshall, and they’re giving back to house music through their record label, Percomaniacs.
Just recently, the trio hosted their very first label showcase. In addition to the three of them playing side-by-side for an extended set to a sold-out crowd, Dirtybird boss Claude VonStroke and Desert Hearts‘ own Mikey Lion and Porky showed up to support their good friends and colleagues in their mission that can only be dubbed, “addicted to drums.”
That’s right. These three house thanes all share an austere affinity for drums alongside an unequivocal chemistry as musicians and as human beings. Dancing Astronaut spoke to them just minutes before they took the decks at their branded first party to get an inside look at what “addicted to drums” really means, as well as how the three of them manifest that vision through sound.
How did the three of you come together, and how did you resolve to start something like Percomaniacs?
Lubelski – Rybo and I met at The Standard in Hollywood like five years ago. I was still in college at the time.
Wyatt Marshall – I’m the late add to the group. Met both of them a little later.
L – But we all just felt like we could talk shit to each other [laughs].
WM – That’s a big part of the dynamic.
RYBO – We had another record label going before [Percomaniacs].
WM – With like five of us right?
R – No there was like six of us, and there were too many cooks in the kitchen.
So it was a blessing in disguise kind of thing?
R – Yeah definitely
WM – But it was more of a natural thing because [Room Temp] kind of disbanded.
L – It fizzled off on its own. There were so many people trying to do it at the same time. It was too many decisions. Too many egos. So it just kind of dispersed.
WM– Things were going way slower and it just wasn’t serious.
L – It was too bureaucratic. So [ RYBO and I] decided to do it with just the two of us at first, but then we were like “Nah we have to have Wyatt as part of the crew. He’s too sick.”
And so as soon as the three of you started working together you knew things were different?
R – Yeah we had a full-on schedule. We were booked out five months in advance.
L – We decided we wanted to be at least half a year ahead before we even got started. We knew we had to do it with a plan.
What do the three of you do for the label individually?
R – I don’t do anything. It’s all Jake [laughs]
WM – I’m part of the label, but I just help out with random shit.
L – Wyatt’s just a cool factor.
L – To be serious, Rybo and I do most of the A&R and scheduling together. Wyatt does a lot of A&R for us. Finds cool artists —
R – And just releases a shitload.
L – Yeah he releases a shit ton of music. He’s our main resident.
This is one for all three of you individually. Percomaniac’s tagline is “Addicted to Drums” so I’m wondering what that means to each of you?
R – For me it’s all about the groove of the track. I’m really into percussion, bongos, and to me, the drums are what really get you moving and get people dancing.
WM – If you’ve noticed the progression of our productions throughout the years, we’ve all gone so far away from big buildups and drops and it’s just one groove all the way through. You take out a few elements and come back, and it’s all about the drums.
L – Less is more. Bongos not bangers. We’re not here to just fist bump.
WM – Say no to party-tech.
L – Yeah Say no to party tech. Stay addicted to drums. We love the old school stuff because it was never really about the massive manufactured buildups. It’s all got to be groove-driven. If the groove isn’t there it’s not a good track.
R – I could play on a drum machine for days.
Percomaniacs’ catalog is very diverse, including everything from Fleetwood Mac edits to minimal tech-house to more upbeat stuff. Given this wide range of sounds, what do you look for when signing a track to the label?
R – Really it just needs to make the people move.
L – Yeah and if it doesn’t feel manufactured, and it feels like it comes from the heart; if it feels a bit more real.
R – We’re open to any genre as long as it works and sounds cool.
L – Yeah we don’t need a bunch of big ass snare rolls. You can do something that is classically cheesy, but you can still do cheesy tastefully.
You say you’re open to any genre, do you see any hard-hitting 135 bpm techno having a place on the label?
R – Ghostea already released a track at 132 with us.
WM – Shit’s just getting faster in general. Even the groovier tech-house shit is getting faster. I just got a track from my homie Steady Rock that’s at 131 but you wouldn’t even know.
R – 125 seems slow now.
WM – 125 seems like 120 in the club.
L – I’m at 129 these days.
WM – I can’t even get under 127.
L – 126 used to be our shit. Now it’s way too slow. But Ghostea has a track coming on our next compilation that’s at 135.
Is it heavy or more groovy?
L – It’s deep and fast.
The three of you all have very strong ties to huge brands in dance music. Wyatt Marshall works at Dirtybird. RYBO works at Hot Creations. Of course all of you have ties to Desert Hearts. How did you take those influences and turn them into something unique like Percomaniacs?
WM – I think one of the reasons Percomaniacs is working so well is because we have role models that have done this shit. And people that we’re so close to and mentors that have all done it so the foundation is already laid out there.
R – We just wanted to make our own thing, and now we know how.
WM – Those guys are just our homies. Just like we’re homies. It’s no different. That’s why they fuck with us. That’s why we really like all them. Cause we’re all friends; just normal guys.
We’re sitting here at the first Percomaniacs party where all three of you are going to play back-to-back, and soon you’re going to do the same thing at Dirtybird Campout. Obviously there are some differences between those two environments. How are you going to approach that set different than this set?
WM – I would honestly say we’re not going to play anything different because it’s a Dirtybird party or this is a Percomaniacs party or we’re playing a Desert Hearts party or we’re playing any fucking party. If we’re all playing we’re just going to play records.
L – Although I will say we’re going to fucking bring it. We’re going to fucking bring it to Dirtybird.
WM – My only goal is to have both of these dudes look over and be like “What track is this” so I can say “You wish you knew.”
L – It is very competitive.
Where do you think Percomaniacs fits in the larger landscape of house music given the mainstream direction that it’s going?
R – I think it can fit anywhere really. That’s our goal: to really broaden people’s horizons.
WM – Be different.
L – Yeah you could listen to it on a massive stage or in a fucking elevator.
R – Or on Sirius XM.
So whatever phase house music goes through in the future, you plan on just maintaining the vision?
WM – Things are always going to be changing. Nothing stays the same forever, but if I look into the future I just see us three making records together.
**This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity and readability.
Photo Credit: 2nd Nature Photo