The story of G Jones and Eprom’s Disk Doctors project
An exploration of acidic timelessness
Photo credits: Tyler Hill (G Jones & Eprom / Eprom)
As if a new Shades album wasn’t enough of a high voltage collabo shock to the senses from Eprom in 2022, along comes Disk Doctors: another sonically head-bending, headliner-heavy link-up situation, this time alongside fellow US bass heavyweight G Jones.
Connecting over a shared love of formative 90s internet/computer aesthetics and some of rave music’s most fundamental ingredients – acid, breakbeats, stabs, more acid and probably a little extra acid thrown in for good measure – their partnership first made itself known to the world in 2017 with Acid Disk, a five track celebration of the dark art of rave agelessness and arcane bangersmithery that remains savage enough to induce a million Fantazias into submission five years after its release.
Their connective energy saved to floppy disk and stored safely while the two pursued their many other artistic missions and visions, G Jones and Eprom have reconnected this year with the equally forthright and late night Acid Disk 2. Released back in May, this time weighing in at six tracks, it was another electric session of total dancefloor armageddon… And set us up perfectly for one of the most hectic, detailed and thoughtfully constructed mixes unleashed online this year: Disk Doctors.
A ludicrously wild and wide-armed take on what Eprom describes as “rave music in a British idiom, but with an American accent”, it’s one of those mixes that reveals more on every listen.
Only 40 minutes in length, even its short form adds to its potency. Like floppy disks themselves – they’ve have found ways to store as much as possible into such a small space, even climaxing with a little 303-twisted patriotism on the finale.
Equal measures of flippancy, furiousness and absolute fire; a sharper take on the last 30 years of transatlantic rave/internet dialogue would be very hard to find. You can check it yourself right here and read on to find out more from the duo below:
Let’s get the Disk Doctors origin story… I guess this goes back to the first Acid Disk back in 2017 but maybe you go back further? When did your paths first cross? Was it 303s at first sight?
G Jones: Before I ever met Sander I was just a massive Eprom fan. At the time – 2010-2012ish – I was pretty much exclusively listening to dubstep, and the first Eprom track I heard was Humanoid (the original, not Humanoid 2.0), which is a heavy 140 BPM banger that revolves around this crunchy synthesized vocal sample and an arpeggiated chippy lead synth. I thought it was one of the coolest tracks I’d heard in a long time and felt like it was made specifically for my tastes.
Then I dug into his discography and started following him on Soundcloud, and he quickly became my favorite producer. The first time I remember meeting Sander was after a set he played at a small club in Santa Cruz (where we both went to college, albeit ~9 years apart), when I was in college just starting to play a few local shows and he was already an established touring act. I went up to him and gushed about how much I loved his set and music, then felt kind of embarrassed about it afterward, haha. As I began to DJ more regularly around California, we started getting booked at a lot of the same festivals and events, and eventually became friends and started working on music together.
Eprom: Yeah, I think we’ve realized as we’ve become friends that we share a lot of mutual interests beyond music, like the design language that informs the Acid Disk EPs and a lot of Greg’s visuals is kind of based on the seminal work of Susan Kare at Apple, which was really friendly and creative and inspiring as an early computer user for me personally. So the genesis of Disk Doctors goes back to before the music, even. I associate floppy disks in particular with this kind of youthful playfulness and utility. You could easily store an art project or a homemade Hypercard stack or a 1995-era website (at least the HTML) on a floppy disk. But at the same time, the storage was limited so you had to be creative about how you stored your data.
What’s interesting is that you’ve collaborated on two Acid Disk EPs but only a few actual production collaborations, right?
G Jones: Yeah, as far as stuff we’ve released goes, it’s just Warrior, Hysteria, Daemon Veil, On My Mind and Final Lap, so far. Now we’ve got this track called R.A.V.E. (the first track on Disk Doctors), as well as another track called One Foot in the Rave and our edit of Shellshock by Koreless. We have worked on several other tracks together, including one we played almost every night on our B2B tour back in 2017-18, but most are either rough sketches that we lost motivation to finish or are long live jams / sound design sessions that we haven’t bothered to make into tracks yet. We also had a few Shades (Eprom + Alix Perez) / G Jones sessions that yielded a few potential starting points for a tune, but haven’t really developed any of those ideas further yet.
Eprom: We tend to obsess over details and put in a large number of hours on a single song, so they get made slowly but with love and attention. That means we don’t make tons of tunes. We also both have our own projects, and spend a lot of time working on DJ sets. I would say R.A.V.E. in particular had the quickest production process of any of our collabs – I started the rough idea and we finished it over the course of just a few sessions.
Did you intend to leave it so long between Acid Disk EPs? In fact, did you ever intend to follow up to Acid Disk one at all?
G Jones: When we released the original Acid Disk EP, we had no plans to make Acid Disk 2. After we released the original Acid Disk EP and toured together, I got busy finishing my album The Ineffable Truth, and subsequently toured around that, while Sander was busy releasing the Shades album In Praise of Darkness and his AIKON EP. About two years ago we were sending each other unreleased work in progress tunes, and both of us had been working on new acid stuff that we had no particular release plans for. Then, after we made On My Mind and were thinking about a release plan for it, we realized we both had solo acid tunes that we wanted to release, and started playing with the idea of making Acid Disk 2. From there, we wrote a few more demos with Acid Disk 2 in mind, and it all started to come together nicely.
Eprom: I think it’s nice to come back to the influences that coalesced in Acid Disk (the first) and see how our lens on them has changed over the intervening years. Personally, I’ve been working in the same idiom of reinterpreting rave music (and somewhat less so the hip hop influences) for a lot of the music I’ve been doing as Eprom, including my next releases and remixes, etc. So Acid Disk 2 is right in the pocket of my sound right now.
Love the term of pocket of sound. Tell us about the mix. Was it done IRL together or sent back and forth online?
G Jones: I pitched the idea to Sander, originally thinking it would be cool to just put a mix together of all the tracks from both Acid Disk EPs and maybe a few other acid tunes we liked, and he was into the idea. From there it slowly morphed into what it ended up being (…what if it wasn’t strictly an acid mixtape but also had some of these rave stabby tunes we’ve been writing? …what if we included a few unreleased solo tunes as well? etc). We talked a bit about tunes we’d want to put in the mix and came up with a list of our own stuff as well as some other peoples’ music we might want to include, then we linked up in person and started piecing it together, over a few IRL sessions. Toward the end we sent a few edits back and forth, but we primarily worked on it together IRL.
Eprom: We originally wanted to do something to promote Acid Disk 2 but it kind of evolved and mutated into this beast of a mix, with edits, a bunch of computer culture samples, and tunes somewhat outside the central aesthetic of pure TB-303 acid. Typically for us, we tend to get obsessed with details and bake in a ton of changes and micro edits to keep things interesting, so we went back to some seminal acid tunes and did VIPs, new edits, etc. We did most of it together, but there was some online sharing too of course, where Greg would iterate on one aspect of the mix and I would listen on my studio setup, or I would send Greg a collection of fucked up samples to include and he would find funny places to weave them in.
The National Anthem bit in particular was composed on a whim, at the 11th hour, by both of us together. I did the rough ¾ to 4/4 acid conversion (the original is a waltz) and then Greg went in on the edits. Also, I think it’s just funny to encode a song that’s essentially about us Americans blowing up the English as an acid tune, fraught as that sound is with transatlantic rivalry.
[Cries in English / laughs in Welsh] Dating back to the very beginning of rave culture certain aesthetics such as acid and breakbeats have such a timeless allure and lend themselves to reinvention and re-manipulation. Why do you think this is?
G Jones: Speaking for myself, I’m obsessed with all of the super recognizable, borderline cliche sounds of 90s rave, acid, IDM and breakbeat hardcore- the classic rave stabs, breaks, acid lines and other classic Roland synth and drum machine sounds, etc.
So far I’ve figured out 3 reasons why I think this is… first, just a simple repeated exposure effect: I’ve been exposed to these sounds since I was first teaching myself about electronic music as a pre-teen, searching “techno” on Napster and reading every electronic music article I could on Wikipedia in the mid 2000s.
Second, I think when you work with recognizable samples or timbres, because of the audience’s familiarity with the original sounds and how they have been used in other contexts, anything creative that you do with them stands out and is immediately understandable. There’s a really strong “I see what you did there” effect when you do something unique and cool with the amen break, for instance, since everyone already knows what the original sample sounds like.
Third and probably most importantly, I have a really strong association between all of those sounds and the anti-ecstasy propaganda films I was shown in middle school, which were probably the first exposure I had to the idea of a “rave”; that there were these all-night underground parties where people would get together and listen to electronic music and dance, and where everyone was united by this shared ethos of inclusivity, creativity, self-expression and respect. Years before I was old enough to go to any kind of electronic music event, the idea of the “rave” took on this mythical significance to me, and I think these sounds subconsciously remind me of the feelings I had when imagining raves before I was old enough to go to them.
Eprom: For me, these sounds have always been inextricably linked to computer culture. I saw the movie Hackers when it came out in 1995 and that was my first exposure to The Prodigy, Underworld, etc. Shortly thereafter I discovered hyperreal.org (which is remarkably unchanged since then), IRC, Mondo 2000, Hypercard, and then the web just exploded.
I didn’t even go to raves. I bought rave clothes from the UK, you could mail order from Cyberdog (incidentally, they had their HQ in an old building in Camden market that was formerly used by The Clash). I didn’t do drugs, I just downloaded Acid Warp. I transacted my intersections with rave culture through the screen rather than IRL. I created tunes in an early DAW with whatever samples I could find online, imitating the sounds of artists like Dillinja, Roni Size, Grooverider, Rabbit in the Moon, Anthony Rother, Prodigy, Josh Wink, et al. At the time, the Internet felt vast and wild. This is why these sounds are always reinvented, because they are seen through the lens of the Internet, which for me has always been about collaboration and collectivism.
Wow, amazing and really insightful perspectives. Speaking of other artists. I feel a very strong influence of Squarepusher on the mix. Who, for you guys, are the modern day new generation Squarepushers?
G Jones: First of all, gotta give a massive shout out to Squarepusher as the definitive modern day Squarepusher. Dude is still pushing the envelope with every release and making music that inspires me endlessly. As far as other contemporary artists who are writing really exciting stuff, Skee Mask definitely comes to mind as an artist whose music exudes creativity and feels deeply inspired. We are also both huge fans of Oneohtrix Point Never, and I’d say he’s another artist whose music feels timeless and totally unbound by convention. Arca, MN-LTH, Kuedo and Lorenzo Senni are a few other artists I’d put in this category.
Eprom: Obviously we’re both massive fans of Koreless, who we’ve done an edit of for this mix. Personally I’m really into the new stuff from Money Lang, Objekt, ZULI, Logos + Mumdance, Shapednoise, Little Snake, Haider, Jensen Interceptor, HudMo, ERP, Nikki Nair and Colloboh, to name just a few!
All amazing names. So, finally…. Obviously you’re not actual Disk Doctors but if you stopped music to study for actual real doctorates, what would you study?
G Jones: Probably environmental science or energy policy, because fossil fuel emissions are absolutely wreaking havoc on the future habitability of Earth and we need as many people as possible working on policy solutions to help us transition out of our dependence on these extremely problematic energy sources.
Eprom: Great question. I’m laughing because I know Greg would be so good at that. I think for me personally, I’d be teaching English or studying languages in some form. I’m fascinated by linguistics, accents, and the evolution of language, especially American English and its many regionalisms, and how they relate to Britain. I suppose that’s somewhat apropos since we’re writing rave music in a British idiom, but with an American accent.