Home / Guides / Guides / John Larner: Surviving House

John Larner: Surviving House

Plus: Phantom 45, JT Donaldson return

Jun. 4, 2008
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest
  John Larner earned his reputation in the 1990s under the guise of Cyberjive. More than a decade later, the multifaceted house DJ/producer says he still can’t shake his past.

  “Nearly every show, someone wants to hear tracks from the rave days,” says Larner, who now sets up shop in Indianapolis. “Back in the day I played a lot of Chicago house mixed with some techno and acid. It’s pretty much the same thing now.”

  For that reason, he says, the older cuts fit in just fine. Larner has made an easy transition in bridging the classic, soul-based vibe of older house tracks with the chunkier bump of the new-school sound. By fusing elements of jazz and high-octane base, Larner’s sets set floors off.

  “It’s been a while since I’ve played in Milwaukee—can’t remember, to be honest,” he says of his upcoming show. “This is the first time I’ve played Three, so that’s exciting. I’ve always heard good things about the club, so I’m looking forward to a good night.”

  The gritty charm of Three’s DJ-driven digs will provide a hard backdrop to Larner’s often gritty sets, which manage to strike a balance between fracture and fluidity. Some of his production work has echoed what some call the “fidget” sound—although Larner says the style is running its course.

  “The remix I did for Greenskeepers (Abracadabra) last year had the ‘fidget’ sound for sure,” he says. “I'd just gotten back from London and was feeling pretty influenced by what I was hearing over there. But that said, it’s been pretty much run into the ground. In truth, it makes me think of speed garage.”

  John Larner gets So Fresh! at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.) on Friday, June 6. Milwaukee’s TJK (Dae Recordings) opens the show. Music 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. No cover charge.

Classic Cut:Chicago drum ’n’ bass icon Phantom 45 is once again touring his sound across the states. This summer, he has plans to hit Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Diego and Philly.

  First stop, however: Milwaukee.

  “I keep doing shows because no matter how long I’ve been doing this, I still enjoying playing,” says Phantom 45, who also heads the music at Chicago’s Lava. The club’s weekly DnB party, The Seminar, is celebrating its 10th year, another homage to the validity of the artist’s sound, craft and style.

  Classic influences of U.K. producers such as DJ Hype and Andy C. continue to surface in his sets, which are laced with on-point mixing and scratch tactics.

  “I play a mix of old and new tracks, but lately I’ve been doing all old-school mixes,” he says. “People seem to enjoy the oldies from the rave days.”

  Expect a mix of top-notch jungle, DnB and breakbeats from one of its original innovators.

  Phantom 45 appears Thursday, June 12, at Three (722 N. Milwaukee St.) for Konkrete Jungle. Opening sets by Kruser, Bishop and Megz. Music 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. No cover charge.

Digging Deeper: Hugely influential in the first wave of new-school house, JT Donaldson emerged as part of the original “Texas sound” in 2003. Some five years later, Donaldson has morphed into a more forward-looking, deep house DJ. While fellow Texas new-schoolers went elsewhere—Lance De Sardi swam toward electro, Brett Johnson took on techno and DeMarkus Lewis simply backed away—Donaldson took it deep. Today, he has emerged as a skilled crossover producer and selector, effortlessly bridging the worlds of soul and new school.

 Friday, June 13, at Red Light (1758 N. Water St.). Milwaukee’s Marcus Aurelius (Organized Crime) opens the show. Music 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Cover charge: $5 all night.


Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

Getting poll results. Please wait...