SXSW Music Review: DJ Paypal/DJ Taye/Madam X
Teklife footwork heroes meet a genre-bending UK ambassador
By Dan Gentile,
11:15AM, Fri. Mar. 15, 2019
I counted five pieces of Teklife clothing in the crowd at Scratchouse on Thursday night. Visiting fans of the Chicago-turned-worldwide footwork collective were here for it, jittering to the turbo speed BPMs of affiliates DJ Paypal and DJ Taye. One futuristic club soldier in all black even led his own personal mosh pit.
SXSW has a history with the frantic style, booking Teklife founders DJ Rashad (R.I.P.) and DJ Spinn in the mid-2010s, but the music doesn’t count a big community in Austin. Maybe that’s why the duo mixed like they had something to prove, performing a vicious back-to-back set of booming percussion, NC-17 vocal samples, and tranced-out melodic breaks.
Born Dante Sanders, Taye also hopped on the mic for a few songs, rapping in a shotgun cadence and commanding the crowd with the rapid-fire dance that coined the genre’s name.
Footwork’s a Chicago thing, but its DNA stretches across the pond to styles including grime, drum & bass, and jungle. Christiana Vassilakis, aka London DJ Madam X and label manager of Kaizen, built an international reputation for her encyclopedic knowledge of these UK styles. Taking the reins from midnight to 2am, her selections complemented the Teklife bangers, but with a British accent.
That ambassadorship bends genres, and at times her set veered into breaks and darker bass music. If Paypal and Taye gave a lesson in footwork, she taught a semester on UK club music. By closing time, the crowd had thinned, but everyone gave Madam X a cathartic round of applause.
And, of course, both Paypal and Taye rushed the DJ booth for a selfie.