“I have so many musical inspirations that I love,” says Halo (born Brian Varga.) For him, creative motivations are found everywhere.
Most successful dance music artists find that their career has them frequently working in all corners of the globe. This has been very much true for Halo - who has DJ'd in places like London, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Tel Aviv and Brazil - however, the place he calls home has seen him live inspired years in Chicago, San Diego, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
As a producer, Halo's music always seems to feature equal nods to the robotic and the organic. It's music that points in the direction of where sounds are heading while being rooted in the early dance floor sounds that its maker fell in love with as a teenager. “Being from Chicago, I still love the vintage drum machine sounds mixed with organic rhythms,” he says.
Such music, spirit and enthusiasm have earned him a top spot on URB Magazine's Next 100, a nomination for Best DJ in 2003's International Dance Music Awards (IDMAs), two Top 20 finishes in BPM's America's Favorite DJ for 2003 and 2004, and twenty years of making fans.
Halo's produced original works, collaborations, and remixes for labels such as MN2S, Large, Siesta, Yoshitoshi, Soma, NRK, Nordic Trax, Foliage, and Orion Music to name a few. However, before he was able to make a living in dance music, sixteen year-old Brian Varga was tagging his hometown of Chicago with the graffiti artist name “Halo.”
Growing up in the birthplace of house music (there's even a street called Frankie Knuckles Way), for Halo, the question wasn't if but when he'd be bitten by the dance music bug. The inevitable happened while still in high school, at a record store called Hip House that would later go on to employ him. He almost had to work there. When long time friend DJ Sneak offered him the job.
While the Windy City has long been thought of as a mafia town, in those days, the bosses of Halo's Chicago were dance music legends Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy. Their late night loft parties were full of defining Chicago house music. Day after day at the record store and weekend after weekend spent under the influence of Frankie and Ron, the foundation was laid on which Halo would build a career.
At Hip House Record store, Halo met a world's worth of visitors from the nightclub industry who were kind enough to listen to his mix tapes, and even kinder to book him to play their parties. He even took another job in music, a three year A&R gig with Moody Records. With the work experience, the musical inspiration, and a growing set of skills, Halo was ready to take the advice given to many Americans before him and “go west, young man.” Plus, he knew a tan wouldn't hurt.
San Diego, 2000
Sunny Southern California proved just right for Halo and great friend Hipp-E, with whom he formed H-Foundation in 1999. Together, they DJ'd, made records, and during that time Halo partnered in a Downtown San Diego record store called Siesta (named for the record label Siesta Music).
H-Foundation saw releases on labels like SOMA, Siesta, Low Pressing, NRK, Fabric, Yoshitoshi, and Camoflauge. While the pair quickly DJ'd all over, it was a trip to Miami that unlocked a new world. A year into their partnership, while performing at the legendary Winter Music Conference, Halo and Hipp-E were invited to play their first European gig at a new club in London called Fabric.
“It was probably one of the best clubs I've been in,” Halo said of that first trip to the UK and of the club that offered him his first foreign residency. The relationship between club and entertainer was quickly fruitful, as H-Foundation mixed the seventh CD in the now-long running Fabric mix series. Halo and Hipp-E still play the seminal superclub regularly, both as individuals and as H-Foundation. (In 2005, the pair decided to focus on their solo careers, though as of 2010, they've been back touring and making records as H-Foundation.)
Sin City would be the home for CityDeep Music, Halo's label aimed at high quality, cutting-edge dance music that has featured works from Franck Roger, Dennis Ferrer, Marlon D, Rocco, Andre Lodemann, and many more. Halo calls the label, that churns out release after release of deep house mixed with organic, techy rhythms: "mature music for the deeply minded". In Vegas, he continued producing, DJing, and wore the hat of club promoter with a regular party that brought class to a city whose bustling nightlife is known more for its love of the mainstream, rather than its deep house friendliness,
Return To California, 2009
Halo loaded up the U-Haul truck for his first term as a Northern California resident, and he would touch down in San Francisco for three years (though as of last year he's again a San Diegan). Surface Recordings has launched, a new record label run by Halo . The label will see releases from Tuccillo, DJ Sneak, Danilo Vigorito, Marasco, Sascha Dive, Russo, Lomez, Andrew Grant, Pezzner, and more.
In 2009, Halo's classic production, “Future,” was voted #95 on Resident Advisor's Best Track of The Decade. It hasn't left some DJ's record bags since its 2000 release. The accolades for this piece of music are fitting, because with Halo's constant search for inspiration, his constant growth, and his wearing of many hats - he's built a successful past and still has a bright future.
“I've been DJing for 20 years,” he says. “And I love what I do.”
"A full pelt wavering between tribal moments,& more modest slabs of Detroit-inspired soul. The crowd respond at every turn." - Steve McLay, DJ MAG Always sitting slightly off-centre, Jay Tripwire is an artist that walks the line as industry staple and ever changing innovator, releasing one standout release after another. His signature fusion of deep Detroit textures and intricate rhythms has led a career spanning two decades, with over 200 vinyl releases, 2 commercial mixed cd compilations, and four full length albums. He remains one of the most prolific artists around, with an average of 15 releases per year. He is an always an in demand remixer he averages 10-15 remixes per year. In 2010 Jay Was honoured by being named by Future Music alongside Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Charles Webster, Atjazz, and Tom Middleton as being one of the most influentual Innovators in house music for “The thoughtful minimal stylings of Jay Tripwire.” Most recently he’s completed a compilation mix for Steve Bug’s respected label Pokerflat – ‘Shaping Elements Vol.8’ which features a blend of deep house ranging from Detroit inspired textures to modern European house and tech house fusions, blurring genrefication. This follows releases on the label under his 8Channels name - a project that melds basic channel, cosmic soul and dub into a new hybrid soundscape of techno, deep house and dub. The moniker also appears on other highly regarded labels such as Ransom Note, Conya, NRK, Cinematic and Hallucination. Whilst the term ‘legendary’ is often bandied about with little thought, in Jay’s case we could say just that - his personal arsenal of re-edits and comfort in arranging extended DJ sets lasting eight hours or more certainly demonstrates a talent that deviates from standard fare. Jay also still supports,buys and plays vinyl, and actively seeks out records to play at gigs, when Tripwire is on the decks he plays a vinyl and CD set. Jay has made appearances in over 200 cities worldwide, and some of his most memorable gigs have been in his 10 years of bookings at Fabric London- a venue that has changed his approach to Djing, and production sound. Jay’s work has been featured on numerous compilations, notably from Cocoon, Fabric, Renaissance, Journeys by DJ, Ultra & Bedrock, and is supported by a diverse spectrum of dance culture from house luminaries such as, Doc Martin and Kerri Chandler to techno legends Steve Bug and Laurent Garnier and John Digweed With anticipated releases and remixes imminent, the Tripwire production wheel is still very much in motion, and on its way to a turntable near you. PRESS "Jay Tripwire is ahead of everyone else." - MUZIK "Delivers on the Promise..." - International DJ "A fantastic standout." - VICE "Essential."- MIXER "Really deep and funky" - Ministry "Plenty of twisted pyrotechnics" - XLR8R "With Jay Tripwire on the mix, expect something a bit special." - M8 "Jay Tripwire's productions are a DJ's dream packed with the finest tools from the trade." - URB 'When it comes to tech-house, Jay Tripwire is pretty much unbeatable right now." - MUZIK "Responsible for some of the most exciting underground house music to come out of North America in recent years." - DJ Magazine
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