Podcast 646: Sepehr
Psychedelic sounds from San Fran.
Podcast 646: Sepehr
Psychedelic sounds from San Fran.
Shaytoon, available now via Dark Entries, is a milestone in Sepehr Alimagham’s young music career. Comprising eight tracks of left-of-center electro and sludgy psychedelia, it’s a debut album compatible with the dancefloor but cerebral in nature, paying homage to the 1970s Iranian albums that soundtracked Alimagham’s youth in San Jose, California. It follows Body Mechanics, Alimagham’s debut on the San Francisco label, in 2018.
The son of Persian immigrants, Alimagham discovered electronic music through psychedelic trance and hard house, but he developed his palette through high school when he’d travel to Berkeley and sneak into local club nights. He later became a regular at Compound, a San Francisco event that took him deep into the city’s historic music scene, driving him to relocate up the coast several years later. He now calls the city home, fitting in music around his work as a real estate agent.
DJing was the natural progression, firstly at local parties in San Francisco, and production came too. With time, his early “tech-house/booty-bass and wanna-be minimal hybrids” evolved into something resembling the sound he presents today, and the earliest incarnations appeared on Germany’s No Brainer Records in 2014. Through all his work, he finds himself drawing on the unalloyed joy of those early clubbing experiences.
He connected to Dark Entries at a time when a deepening affection for psychedelic acid techno was becoming more pronounced in his work. He sent a bunch of fresh tracks to label founder Josh Cheon, then on the lookout for contemporary dance music with a distinct nostalgia for San Francisco’s musical beginnings, and these become Body Mechanics, opening the door for Shaytoon.
Celebrating his debut album, Alimagham has compiled an XLR8R podcast that better resembles a live set rather than a DJ mix. At just over an hour in length, it kicks off with some low-slung beats before the pace picks up around the half-hour mark, and it’s sure to have you moving from there on in. What’s more is that the entire mix is made of unreleased Sepehr tracks, produced during lockdown and ranging from warped house and techno to heady electro, classic acid, and non-conformist atmospherics, unified by that Sepehr edge.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been trying to keep my mind off of the collapsing in real-time of society by making lots of new music, cooking, reading, and prepping my label imprint.
02. How has lockdown been for you?
The beginning of it was terrible, throwing away all the plans you had, etc., but it was a blessing in disguise for my creativity. I’ve been making more music than I ever have before. I’ve also been learning new skills like programming, design, and finally learned how to read and write Farsi. I really miss hanging out with all my mischievous friends. Also, there are people who deliver black market Micheladas in San Francisco, and I have been very much enjoying at least having those to look forward to.
03. Which artists, labels, or releases have you been listening to?
I have been listening to a lot of experimental/avant-garde/Musique concrète stuff and been really drawn to weird psychedelic and tribal music in general. As far as dance(ish) music, I’ve been really into labels like Ghost Zvuk, YOUTH, and a lot of late ’90s drum & bass.
04. You just released your new album. How are you feeling about it?
I am over the moon about it, and the feedback it has received. The concept I had been wanting to do for a long time now, and Dark Entries as a medium was a perfect harmony. It’s unfortunate that it came directly at a time where people can’t play the music out in clubs but I think it’ll stand the test of time. The album is a precursor for what is yet to come, and I am really excited to continue the name Shaytoon as a label of my own.
05. When and where did you record this mix?
I recorded this mix last month at my partner’s home in San Francisco.
06. These are all your own tracks: tell us about them?
I decided to go with one hundred percent unreleased originals since I have been having a creative renaissance lately and have so much unreleased material that I feel needs to be heard. The tracks are a really good snapshot into my musical mind as of late, mixing influences from all paths of my musical journey thus far. I’m excited about them.
07. How does it compare to what we would hear you play in a club?
I think it is a pretty good snapshot of the types of directions I would go in during a set at a club or an underground party. Parts that get slow and wonky move into some more accessible yet psychedelic dance music and then go into high bpm oblivion, if the mood is right and the drugs are strong.
08. What’s next on your agenda?
Try to weather this storm of the world as best I can, and take things day by day. I will be starting a label called Shaytoon in either late 2020 or early 2021. I’m really excited about it as it will be a vessel for all my unreleased music as well as a focus on Iranian/Middle Eastern artists in underground music.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Sepehr “Dystopia Arrives” (Unreleased)
02. Sepehr “Now That She’s Gone” (Unreleased)
03. Sepehr “Cloak of Flames” (Unreleased)
04. Sepehr “Divooneh” (Unreleased)
05. Sepehr “Static Dance” (Unreleased)
06. Sepehr “Usurper” (Unreleased)
07. Sepehr “Tribalism” (Unreleased)
08. Sepehr “Survivalism” (Heaven Mixx) (Unreleased)
09. Sepehr “Love Outbreak” (Unreleased)
10. Sepehr “Shimmering Wave” (Unreleased)
11. Sepehr “Crown Jewel” (Unreleased)
12. Sepehr “Eden’s Desire” (Unreleased)
13. Sepehr “Survivalism” (Unreleased)
14. Sepehr “Bodyism” (Unreleased)
15. Sepehr “Prince of Nowhere” (Unreleased)
16. Sepehr “Unintended Lie” (Unreleased)
17. Sepehr “Existence Rush” (Unreleased)