Tyrel Williams and Bai-ee together make up Secret Studio and Secret Studio Records, one of the most outstanding new labels to emerge in the last few years. Formed in the Bay Area by two guys with deep roots in Chicago, Secret Studio has specialized in a sound steeped in acid, jack tracks and the rawest House and Techno imaginable. Following co-productions with D’Marc Cantu, D-Wynn and Jason Kendig, their latest release, 2AMFM, was one of my three or four best releases of 2017. We’re proud to showcase a mix bookended by tracks from 2AMFM for the 49th 5 Mag Mix.

Secret Studio are playing alongside Secretsundaze and Michael Serafini this Sunday October 8 at Smartbar.

Secret Studio: A 5 Mag Mix

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Secret Studio: A 5 Mag Mix Tracklist

1. 2AMFM – Release Yourself – Secret Studio Records
2. Paranoid London – White Label
3. Secret Studio – Founders – Secret Studio Records
4. Vin Sol – Backside Club Lonely
5. AM Unit – Bang Dat – Music is Love
6. Zeta Reticula – Rotating Protostellar Cloud – Electrix Recordings
7. Privacy – Zero Value – Klakson
8. Ray Kandinski – Fragment
9. Secret Studio – Tunnel Vision – Secret Studio Records
10. Mattias Fridell – Egressing – Suspected
11. Henrick Schwarz – Not Also You
12. Mother – Mannequin Records
13. 2AMFM – “Pattern on the Floor” – Secret Studio Records

Secret Studio: The 5 Mag Interview

You’re both from Chicago, you put down some roots and migrated to the San Francisco or the Bay Area. How do you compare the two scenes?

Tyrel: Both scenes have their advantages and disadvantages. All parties have low and high points no matter where you are in the world. I love Chicago, it’s been our home for many years. I really loved doing Acid Test at Smartbar one Wednesday every month, but I felt as an artist and to really grow I could not do it any longer in Chicago. I feel like Chicago has a lot of love for the known acts, but as far as the people trying to make their way, not so much. On the other hand I felt like SF gave me a lot of support and love within the first few months after I moved here. I think it’s best for any artist to go to the place where they feel the support, so it opens up avenues for them to grow. I know I still have a long way, but it feels good to be in SF and surrounded by this community.

Bai-ee: I recently moved back to Chicago after six years in the Bay. No one in Chicago does it like Sunset Soundsystem, or the People’s Party out of Oakland. Likewise I went to Lil Louis’ listening party down the block tonight and you aren’t gonna catch a beating like that in San Francisco.

I remember talking to someone awhile ago about a mix, and he simply didn’t care about how the whole thing worked vs. how many peak hour tracks he could jam in there. He wasn’t from Chicago, because I think nearly every Chicago DJ I’ve met – even ones who just started pretty recently – seem to have this pride about “the journey.” I mean, this shit is universal, but I think it’s a hallmark of having been brought up here. Do you agree, disagree, or think I’m full of shit and misplaced civic nationalism?

Tyrel: Haha, well, for me when I first started listening to house music in the late ’90s, I was listening to tapes by Mark Farina, Miles Maeda and Derrick Carter. I’m not sure if I was thinking about the journey while listening to their mixes, but I definitely felt it. I started working with Miles once a month in the early 2000s when he would visit Chicago and thats where I learned about creating a journey in a mix.

Bai-ee: I just know that around here record shops are stacked with decades of 4×4 dance music. If you are inspired by the Chicago “sound” you aren’t playing just one kind of anything. The journey is about bringing it all together in a way that represents you as an area DJ/selector.

What’s the meaning behind the name “Secret Studio”?

The name Secret Studio was first conceived when we got our studio at Secret Studios in SF. Our goal was to have artists we were bringing in for Housepitality and Acid Test come to our studio and record some music while they were in town. If we clicked and something great was recorded, we would release the music. Hence, the releases with D’Marc Cantu, KINK, D’Wynn, and Jason Kendig.

How long ago did you start it?

Tyrel: Secret Studio’s first session track with D’Marc Cantu was released on 12″ in early 2014. He was out for Acid Test SF and we were able to spend some good time in the studio recording. Our upcoming release with KiNK was one of the first sessions we had at the studio.

Bai-ee: Separate of artist sessions Tyrel and I have always recorded our own jams resulting in the B sides on the D’Wynn, Jason Kendig and D’Marc Cantu releases (as well as our first 3 track EP as Secret Studio).

Can you describe the records you release? Like what’s the common thread? What sort of records inspire you? What’s the philosophy behind what SSR does?

Bai-ee: Ranging in aesthetic we release modern takes on Chicago Acid House. We aim to document on a DIY level creative machine music artists that we collaborate with, or are inspired by. We stay committed to tangible formats and release digitally only in a direct to artist/pre-sale context via SecretStudioRecords.com.

Tyrel: Right now, Coil, Alice Coltrane, and Muslimgauze records inspire me the most.

Bai-ee: I’ve been on a Colin Bender kick.

Is what you release different than what you play as DJs?

See question #2, yes… if its about the journey we have to. Regardless if we are playing separate or as Secret Studio the journeys we set out on as DJs are only dictated by time. So while hour-long sets might limit us to focus on what a party needs, give us 3, 4+ hours sets across two states (like our recent trip out east for Industry of Machines/Rizumu) and we will dictate to the dancefloor what it needs. Our journeys will span decades of music and string together a sane interpretation of why and how we landed on creating a label/production moniker like Secret Studio.

The first and last tracks here are from the 2AMFM release that I thought was phenomenal. What can you tell me about it?

This 2AMFM release came to us directly from D’Marc Cantu (the first session artist we released). He mentioned how they were sitting on an older track called “Release Yourself” and waiting for the right home for it. At the time we were looking to follow up the Circling Vultures and Josh Elle releases. They are both very raw and industrial if not warehouse inspired Proto-House. The label had been trending hard in that direction and what 2AMFM brought to us really spoke to it. It will finally be releasing in September along with a session with KiNK and the official release of our first EP as Secret Studio. These releases will be screen printed (not stamped) and distributed through D&P with everything cut by Dietrich at Complete.

Whatcha got coming up next?

Secret Studio w/ Kink – SCS08
Exillon – Double 12″ – SCS09
Secretsundaze vs. Secret Studio at Queen at Smartbar, Oct 8.
Secret Studio at Housepitality (SF)

You can see Secret Studio at Smartbar on October 8 2017 as Queen! presents Secretsundaze vs Secret Studio.