Rinsed Founders on Record Labels & Filthy Warehouse Parties [New Blood]
Welcome to New Blood, a series that highlights the coolest emerging creatives in NYC.
Somewhere out in Brooklyn, deep below the crust of the underground house music scene, something is shifting, and DJs Blacky II (Bobby Picciotto) and Dan Wender are at the epicenter of it. Since 2010, they’ve been hosting massive ragers out of tiny, dirty holes in the wall. The not-always-totally-legal but always jumping Rinsed parties were known for being conceptually ambitious and multi-dimensional, but it wasn’t long before the vision of the two DJs began to outgrow the confines of the loft.
And so The Umbrella was born, a new record label created to both eternalize these epic events, and to change the way we experience music, “blurring the lines between artist and consumer,” and ultimately challenging the status quo.
The Umbrella’s debut compilation, GOD Vol 1, features tracks from a healthy mix of house music legends, new kids on the block, and everybody in between. The release party—although, as they would tell you, the record was as much a commemoration of the party as the party was for the record—welcomed an incredibly diverse crowd to dance, worship each other, and ring in a new and electrifying age.
We talked to Wender and Blacky about the origins of the label, their house music philosophy, and what keeps their creative engines roaring on a daily basis.
Can you tell me a little about the origin of the Rinsed parties?
Blacky II: So, we worked together at the time for Mean Red. It’s like another party/event production company. And this was like the end of our run there, kind of like a going away celebration for us. At the time, if you were a band or a DJ and you were trying to break through, that’s the club you wanted to be playing at. A lot of indie bands and electronic artists from that time sorta had their first bigger shows at this place.
Dan Wender: It was just a really cool place. And the office that we worked at, Mean Red, was on the second floor of that club. And on that same floor there was this little loft, like a hundred-person loft that they rented out.
Blacky II: It was really small. So they had two rooms downstairs, and those were legal, and then the upstairs room was completely illegal. And it sort of ran this outlaw underground venue within their legal venue.
Dan Wender: Yeah, it was insane. Basically you just walked in past the normal line, and it looked like it was all part of the same legit institution, but then you’d walk upstairs and there was this dirty hallway where people lived—artists were living there, and we were able to spray paint in there. And the first Rinsed parties were, like, five bucks at the door, two dollars with a two-dollar bill. So much has changed in the past five years. It’s insane.
So was The Umbrella inspired by the Rinsed parties?
Blacky II: It was born out of Rinsed, but our vision for The Umbrella will [outgrow] Rinsed and [eventually] envelop it.
And what is your vision for The Umbrella?
Blacky II: The reason we called it The Umbrella, and not just Rinsed Records or something like that, is because we wanted it to be associated with Rinsed and referential of it. But for us, Rinsed has a very specific vibe to it. It’s like a gritty, sort of warehouse, filthy vibe.
Dan Wender: Just sweaty, warehouse, sort of illicit vibe. That’s what Rinsed is. And the Umbrella is sort of like an outlet to expand into other things, that are also funky and weird and crazy, but perhaps a little bit broader. And each record, instead of just being a download or a vinyl, will be 50 percent music content and 50 percent live event. Basically, [for] each release, the party [will be] as important as the record.
Why did you decide to call the first record GOD Vol I?
Dan Wender: Well, a buddy of ours sometimes helps us manage the parties, and we were driving to Newark to drop him off, and we saw this parking lot full of trucks that all said “GOD” on them. It was a really bizarre thing. We hadn’t slept in, like, five days, we had been producing the party nonstop. And we just ended up lost in Newark, in this GOD parking lot. And later, I realized that it’s a delivery company called Goods On Delivery, and they just call themselves G.O.D. We really liked the way that that sounded and the way that that looked. And then the concept of the record evolved from that.
You walk into a night club now, and the DJs are at the end of the room, and everyone’s staring at them, and sort of worshipping them. Blindly staring at them, you know? And we don’t believe that any one element of the party is more important than the other. The DJ is not more important than the people dancing. If the people who are supposed to dance don’t come to the party, it’s not a party. So the fact that we’re idolizing these artists, to us, is not correct. We should all be worshipping each other.
Blacky II: So the concept of the GOD record is to just basically say that none of these artists are God. You are God, we are all God, everything is God. And nothing works without the other thing.
I am so happy that this is a thing that you guys are doing, because it’s something I think about a lot, the sort of cult of the DJ. It’s a little mind-boggling to me.
Blacky II: Yeah, it’s silly.
Dan Wender: It’s like, why? You’re here to dance. The most successful Rinsed parties are not the parties we have big guests at. They’re the parties where there’s a fun concept, where people want to just come out and dance.
Can you give me a sneak peak of what’s to come for you guys? Any themes that you’re sitting on at the moment?
Blacky II: There [are] a few we have that we’re planning right now. We have a disco based theme that’s an homage to the original disco clubs in Bayridge, Brooklyn. There used to be this club in Bayridge called 2001 Odyssey. This was a legendary place, it’s like where my mom went to party when she was my age. Saturday Night Fever was filmed there.
Can you tell me a few things, non-music-related, that are inspiring you right now?
Blacky II: Dan and I both went to the SPRING/BREAK Art Show last week, and I was very inspired by that. And I know Dan was too, because he ordered some lights for the party the second we left, based on one of the installations we saw there. I’m pretty inspired by food as well. The way a cook or a chef can intuitively make the most out of simple ingredients. There’s this place we always eat at when we have our business meetings in Bushwick, it’s called Nhà Minh. It’s like, this guy just gets the freshest ingredients around and doesn’t waste a single bit of it. You don’t need the best, fanciest steak to make something really cool or really good.
Dan Wender: And you also shouldn’t be limited by what’s at your disposal. This guy is just working with what he’s got and making this crazy shit that we eat almost every day.
It’s funny that you say that because there’s this new noodle place that opened up near my work, and it’s completely ruined any other kind of noodle for me. You see them making it right there—it’s inspiring.
Dan Wender: Hell yeah, man! To watch anyone do something that everyone’s doing so much better and so much simpler—it’s like, how come everyone isn’t doing it that way? People overthink things a lot.
Blacky II: And people forget that they have a very strong, built-in intuition system.
Dan Wender: Bobby is totally right about the intuition. We’re animals that are made to adapt and made to survive and create fun and create experiences that we’re gonna learn from, and… yeah. Nhà Minh, dude.
GOD Vol 1 is available for download on The Umbrella’s website.
Stay tuned to Milk for more party people.