Offbeat: Clay Wilson

Clay Wilson’s debut, a six-track EP on grey, marbled vinyl, was put out just over a year ago, via Styles Upon Styles’ Bangers & Ash series.

Three ambient experiments were followed by three tracks of more straight-forward techno, and housed in 200 unique, hand-painted sleeves – as a debut record, it was about as impressive as they come. His next release is on The Bunker, New York’s legendary clubnight-turned-label. Hyponik spoke to Wilson from his home in Brooklyn, to discuss the new record, and his relationship with The Bunker more generally.

Wilson has been making music, in some form, for over a decade. He studied Jazz Performance and Composition until three years ago, when he began to focus on electronic music production. The artists and labels that first got Clay experimenting in this type of production – he cites Ras G and early Brainfeeder, DMZ and Rinse FM – left a darkness in his work that’s very much still present. There’s no gimmicks or obvious dancefloor fare, Wilson wants his ‘records to be half-way between club music and home-listening’, pandering to neither entirely.

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The Bunker, which recently celebrated its 11th anniversary, has been something of an institution in New York dance music. As well as celebrated residents, it has brought diverse guests to venues around the city and beyond, Unsound Festival in Poland and Panorama Bar to name a couple. Founder Bryan Kasenic said in an interview with RA that the label arm will revolve around a core group of artists, all of whom have been regular attendees at the parties or guest performers. Inaugurated in January by Leisure Muffin, it will next issue Wilson’s record, and then one from Voices From The Lake, the joint project of Donato Dozzy and Neel.

Wilson’s material captures Kasenic’s liberal interpretation of techno. While The Bunker is a techno party, the DJs have the freedom to play anything, from noise to easy-going house, and do. The events, especially live sets from the likes of Bee Mask, Tobias, Voices From The Lake, Atom™, Peter Van Hoesen and Demdike Stare, have helped shape both Wilson’s production and DJing, if only by eliminating all preconceptions of what is meant to be on a techno record.

The A-side of BK002 is 9 minutes of eerie atmospheres and a stuttering 4×4 kick, it is detailed with subtle percussive shifts and arranged for club tension. On the B-side, ‘Oizumu’ and ‘Sorocco’ are more offbeat, the former revolving around a drone, the latter a reserved melody. The record’s artwork, which will remain the same across all the label EPs, was designed by the Common Name studio. It shares the grid-style aesthetic that is used for the party flyers and podcast series.

Next for Clay Wilson is the launch of a hardware live set, which he will debut at Output, on March 14, opening up for Voices From The Lake. Then, his and Kasenic’s pipedream conversations of an album on The Bunker will begin to take shape.

The Bunker New York 002 is out now.

Photograph: Seze Devres Kasenic
Words: Richard Akingbehin