To set the stage, we thought we’d ask them five questions about the local music scene. You can submit your own questions here.
Sum up the DMV music scene in 2011. How did it compare to 2010, or even 2007?
Chris Richards: If you were a rapper or DJ in Washington, you probably had a pretty good 2011. Dance music and hip-hop continued to flourish in our city and it was really exciting to see communities continue to coalesce around these new sounds.
David Malitz: There are lots of exciting things happening in D.C. and I think people outside the area are going to start to take notice largely because it’s not just individual bands/artists floating around on their own now. There are mini-factions all over the place. Labels such as Sockets, Future Times, Windian. The Diamond District/Mello Music Group bunch, Board of Administration, 368 Music Group, the Moombahton Massive crew – power in numbers works these days and we’re seeing more of that.
It really wasn’t a surprise to see the Title Tracks album or Fat Trel’s “April Foolz” mixtape on many year-end lists, since both have been tipped for big things since last year. What artist(s) was/were the biggest surprise for you in 2011?
Chris Richards: The biggest surprise for me was the rise of Benoit and Sergio, two guys who have been quietly making world-class dance tracks out of Washington for the past couple years. I have very high hopes for the debut album they’re planning to drop next year.
David Malitz: My favorite local artist of 2011 was Outputmessage, who put out lots of great dance music over the course of the year with three different projects – his own solo EP, an EP w/his group Dmerit and a bunch of singles with his “supergroup,” Volta Bureau. His song “Game Over” was a best-of-the-year song, not just best-of-D.C.
Which local artist seems best positioned for the biggest breakthrough in 2012?
Chris Richards: I have to give this one to rapper Fat Trel. His performance at U Street Music Hall a couple weeks ago felt incredibly promising, despite a few rookie mistakes.
David Malitz: This is definitely Fat Trel. He’s the only local artist that I’ve had multiple national PR reps ask me questions about. It’s just a matter of time with him.
What’s the best concert you saw this year by a local artist or a national artist visiting D.C. ?
Chris Richards: Do Baltimore’s Dope Body count as a local band? I caught them three times in Washington this year and reflexively banged my head enough to need aspirin each morning after. As for the best national tour to grace our fair city, that honor goes to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne.” They barely edged out Sade.
David Malitz: I won’t cheat and pick not-really-local bands (Animal Collective at Merriweather, Wild Flag at Black Cat) but it sure is tempting to do so! Deleted Scenes at Subterranean A [a private home that hosts concerts] was a great band at a great venue. For a national tour, Watch the Throne was every bit as amazing as we could have hoped.
Of the new venues that opened in D.C. this year, from the Fillmore to Montserrat House, which is the best place to see a show, and which is your favorite? And outside of the usual clubs, what’s the best off-the-radar venue to see a show in the D.C. area?
Chris Richards: This one is kinda impossible to answer. I adore the sound system at U Street Music Hall. I think Red Palace is the coziest venue on H Street. I saw an amazing go-go mega-concert this year at the D.C. Armory. As for the best, most off-the-beaten-path spot, that’s easy: Subterranean A. I’ve spent all of my concert-going life frequenting DIY performance spaces, and this one might be my favorite for the ages.
David Malitz: I dig the Dunes, it’s very low-key and unpretentious. And I have to echo Chris’s answer of Subterranean A, although sadly I’ve been feeling a bit on the older side the last few times I’ve been there.