With clubland closed, Jackson Ryland is making dance music for everywhere else

Even when it’s designed for mass communion at max volume, most dance music enjoys a quiet second life outside of clubland. District producer Jackson Ryland knows this, which is why he hopes people might listen to his latest recordings on a bike ride, on a walk, around the house . . . and those are pretty much our only options these days, anyway. Is he cool with that?

“No, I’ve definitely had the existential crisis of ‘Why am I making this?’’ Ryland says on a sunny December afternoon during an unrelenting pandemic that continues to make the city’s nightlife feel like a shrinking memory. That said, you won’t hear any panicked energies on Ryland’s two recent EPs: his self-released “Acting Careless” and “Stealth Mode” on the 1432 R label. Instead, these new tracks pry open the gap between house and techno, creating a sense of capaciousness and composure — especially compared with the rhythmic wind sprints Ryland likes to run as a member of the techno duo Rush Plus.

The music feels roomy, but Ryland says he doesn’t visualize it spatially. “I wish I could trip while making music — seeing sound waves would be cool — but for me, it’s more like trying to hear what’s missing,” he says. “I try to drill down on the sounds I really like: Take a sound, splice it, reverse it, put a different pitch on it, or, like, slow down a high-hat sample until it becomes something totally different. . . . Then it’s about making it fit, like a Lego piece. By the end, it all has to feel like a running machine, but it also has to have a human feeling to it.”

Read more in the Washington Post.

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