The hardstyle legend DJ Isaac was one of the first artists to sample Eminem’s high-flying lyric, “Nobody Listens To Techno.”
While there were obviously people listening to techno both when Eminem recorded the line in 2002, and when DJ Isaac reworked it in 2003, from the outside it may seem like techno listeners from any time period wish that no one else would discover the nuanced and esoteric genre of dance music.
This is a genre dominated by artists who despise the spotlight and parties that are purposefully difficult to locate. A stark contrast to modern mega-raves that continue to increase in size whilst touting messages of inclusivity like Insomniac’s “All Are Welcome Here.”
Yet those familiar with the underground know that the ethos of “All Are Welcome Here” is just as essential within the realm of techno.
The dinginess, the obscurity, the intimacy. That is the culture of the sound, and the collective of event producers behind COMPOUND, LA’s largest underground techno party, honor that culture, but they welcome all to join them in that culture as well.
“At the end of the day, what we do is more than just a party. Community has always been at the forefront of everything we do,” says 6AM, and that spirit of community begins internally.
These are event producers with decades of combined experience working in the City of Angels. Incognito alone has been around for 15 years. Each brand produces events on its own or collaborates with one another various times throughout the year.
The four teams had never come together for one event until COMPOUND, but once they did they saw just what they could build by working together as a unit, as techno lovers, as members of the Los Angeles underground community.
“We wanted to form a four-way brand partnership to push the boundaries of what could be accomplished in Los Angeles,” says 6AM. “Each edition [of COMPOUND] has featured some of the top underground techno talent in the world, with a production to match and unlike anything you can find in any other underground scene… not just in the United States, but in the world.”
“Partnering with like-minded people who work incredibly hard is key to making a partnership successful,” says Dirty Epic.
The first COMPOUND took place in November of 2017 and continued as a seasonal event (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter) through the end of 2019. Headliners throughout those two years included stalwarts of techno like Answer Code Request and DVS1, and also saw collaborations with international techno brands such as Stroboscopic Artefacts.
Only the COVID-19 pandemic setting in back in March of 2020 could stall COMPOUND’s momentum, but even though underground events couldn’t happen for what would become 15 months, the COMPOUND community remained strong.
“The 15 months of lockdown were very hard on everyone, including us. We suffered mentally, physically, financially. But we made a conscious decision to remain connected with our community and to do our best to be there for our community during those difficult months,” says 6AM. ” We looked for ways we could connect and provide value to the community despite not being able to do so on the dance floor.”
Those means of connection included merch sales, mixes and premieres on Soundcloud, written articles, and modest email messages with subject lines absent of direct promotion. An email from 6AM Group sent out on June 15, 2021, features the subject line “it’s a painful reminder, but YOU need it.”
That same email begins with a quote from the late NBA legend, Kobe Bryant:
“This is the moment I accept the most challenging times will be behind me and in front of me.”
Not the most common note to begin a marketing email, especially one wherein an event brand announces the return to the dancefloor after over a year. This was the email that confirmed the first 6AM Group event following lockdown, and that event was an edition of COMPOUND no less.
Still, the minds behind this techno extravaganza took a moment to address their community as human beings. To commend them for the hard times they endured, but also to be realistic about potential hard times ahead.
Both of these prospects are reasons to gather as a community and dance to techno—to celebrate the return and enjoy the moment while it lasts—especially at a scene-driven event like COMPOUND.
“We truly believe that Los Angeles is one of the top techno cities in the world and our community deserves the experiences we can deliver united as COMPOUND,” the entire team unanimously agreed.
Following the return of COMPOUND in June 2021, there have been two more editions. First, this past November which was the rescheduled five-hour set from Pan-Pot. Then for New Year’s Eve 2021, the team produced the first-ever two-day COMPOUND on December 31 and January 1.
“NYE and NYD was an undertaking that was physically draining but turned out great once you saw people were dancing until the morning light,” says Incognito.
And for those who couldn’t make it out to the NYE/NYD celebration, the team resolved to keep their community sated by partnering with EDM Maniac for a replay of Pan-Pot’s set from COMPOUND Fall 2021, streamed live on Insomniac TV. The stream is now available for replay on demand on Insomniac’s YouTube channel.
Despite the vast differences in form between independent underground events like COMPOUND and the corporate-backed mega-raves of Insomniac, the team is proud to partner with Insomniac to expand the techno community in Los Angeles and beyond.
“It is a pleasure to partner with Insomniac for this stream. They began in the underground and while they are a massive corporate-owned operation now, we have great respect for the level of work they do,” says Synthetik Minds and the rest of the COMPOUND team. “We almost see it as a food chain, and as such Insomniac and their events are nothing but a funnel for electronic music fans who will later discover more underground sounds, when the time is right for them. To be able to bridge these two communities with this live stream is a great initiative.”
As it turns out, people who really love techno want nothing more than for other people to listen to techno, and the next time they would love to see new people on the dancefloor is at the first COMPOUND of 2022.
The four teams will come together on Friday, February 25, to welcome headliners DJ Nobu, Fanon Flowers, Julia Govor, and VTSS for an until-sunrise function once again fit for the Los Angeles community they love so much. Click here for tickets and more information.