Terre Thaemlitz on "All Things Considered"

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photo by Ruthi Singer-Decaipt

My dear pal and bOING bOING contributor Terre Thaemlitz — computer musician, transgender educator and activist — is profiled today on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Never one to disappoint, Terre puts on his (de)construction hat and hammers on gender identity, consumerism, and overly-optimistic "yes we can!" cultural criticism. From NPR (photo below by Bart Nagel):

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I'm standing in the middle of a large wooden dance floor at the U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C., waiting for Terre Thaemlitz to take the stage. The crowd is electric, buzzing to hear what the headliner is going to bring. Thaemlitz, playing tonight under the alias DJ Sprinkles, emerges and asks, "Are you ready to rock?" The crowd answers with a resounding yes, to which he replies, "Then go to the 9:30 Club, because this is a house show."

Thaemlitz grew up in Springfield, Missouri. When he was 18 years old, he moved to New York City to study fine arts. It was the late 1980s, and deep house was taking hold of the city's underground queer and transgender nightclubs. Thaemlitz became disillusioned with his studies and eventually started DJing in these underground clubs for a living…

Thaemlitz doesn't always make dance music. In fact, many of his works are elecro-acoustic and ambient. But in 2009 he released Midtown 120 Blues, a dance record. Thaemlitz says that word for the album traveled through channels closer than usual to the mainstream. Resident Advisor, an authority in the electronic music community, picked it as their 2009 album of the year, calling it an "emotionally and intellectually deep album."

For Thaemlitz it was a re-contextualization of house music.

"For me the roots of deep house music owe a lot to the queer African American and Latina communities. But in the last couple of years there's been a house revival," says Thaemlitz. "With the context of how this music is produced as well as played, there's been a real de-sexualization and re-territorialization of where the music was coming from and how it functioned. So I wanted to do an album that not only looks critically at how current marketing of the house scene relies on a fiction of what the past of house music was, but also something that is resistant to dominant marketing ploys and dominant culture."

"Terre Thaemlitz: Deconstructing Gender Politics In Dance Music"