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Juan Maclean and Beyond the QE2

Although he’s now a worldwide name on the electro-rock circuit, and an anchor of long-time friend James Murphy’s DFA Records label, JUAN MACLEAN has deep local roots. A Dorchester native, he was raised on Boston punk rock. " I spent every weekend at all-ages shows, particularly at the Rat," he writes from North Carolina, where he’s opening an LCD Soundsystem tour that ends Sunday at the Roxy. "What I took from that is a tendency to want to make music that is real visceral, that affects you physically and in a fundamentally emotional way. Mission of Burma has always been one of the biggest influences on me. I met Clint Conley once, and to me it was like meeting the pope."

Maclean went on to form the indie-punk group SIX FINGER SATELLITE, and after the band imploded, he spent some time holed up in the New York City underbelly. After battling a drug problem, he retreated to New Hampshire, which is where he recorded his solo debut, Less Than Human. (He’s since moved even farther north, to rural Maine, where his recreational activities include hunting, camping, and making robot disco tracks.) The secluded location "allowed me to live in my own head, which is sorta frightening," he says. "I just sat and made tracks that were purely inspired by the lineage of music that I am into."

Maclean’s taste in trad dance music has been a surprise even to fans of 6FS who remember that band’s chaotic keyboards-and-krautrock fixation. "From the beginning of 6FS I had the misguided idea of trying to make people dance, but I ended up frightening them more than anything else." He cites "No UFOs" by techno godhead Juan Atkins as one of his inspirations, both for Juan’s name and for his sound. And now American audiences seem to be catching up with Maclean’s taste for body-shaking house and punk rock. "Recently we toured the West Coast on our own, and I was stunned that in these indie-rock-oriented clubs people were dancing like mad. We barely considered playing in the United States because everyone was convinced that it just wouldn’t go over here."

On the road, Maclean performs with a drummer, a percussionist/theremin player, and a keyboard player; he himself does vocals and also keys. But the inspiration comes from the decks: the "songs are stretched out and the dynamics rise and fall dramatically, like a DJ set." It’s transformed his old material, and he’s itching to transfer the experience to a new album that he hopes to begin this winter. "What I like best about playing live [is] getting a reaction out of people. The overriding motivation has been avoiding playing in front of an audience of chin scratchers standing there with their arms folded."

Eleven years old and running, WZBC’s weekend dance-music show BEYOND THE QE2, which airs Sundays from 1 to 6 am on 90.3 FM, has hosted more DJs than you can name. The show’s godfather is DJ DUO, a/k/a Victory Bradley, who is also a full-time pre-school teacher. He and show mate CARLOS B enjoy the freedom of the format: "We can play whatever we want with no dance or night club telling us what to do." ’ZBC was early in streaming its programs over the Internet, and now Beyond the QE2 is getting picked up around the world: "People breakfast to our show in Europe and hear us before they go out on the West Coast." Check out MP3s of classic QE2 sets at www.qe2radio.com. This week’s guest is Boston’s DJ RNDM, who spins mash-ups with a twist: he creates them live, on the fly, with just two turntables. "My friend Josh [Randall], a/k/a Robotkid, told me about him. I’ve never seen him play, just heard his mixes. He’s all over the place in music, which I really like." Upcoming guests include a return from the "prime minister" DJ TEEP December 10 and a live set from Circuits favorite RAINBOW BRIGHT on December 17 . . . . Another week, another integrated promotional marketing show with DJs and graffiti writers hoping to capitalize on your hipness. This Friday’s "Beats and Treats Mongolian Dance Party" at the Paradise Lounge involves creating Puma sneakers on the spot straight from the canvases of local graf artists. Sounds weird, but the DJs will be off the [insert your rack or hook of choice here],with spins by Oliver Mak, a/k/a DJ MAKKO, plus SHUG WHITE, INVISIBLE BULY, and local party favorite PAUL FOLEY.

David Day spins Thursdays at Middlesex Lounge and Fridays at Enormous Room | circuits@squar3.com.

Issue Date: November 18 - 24, 2005
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