Sleep Genius bands are pushing boundaries — and proving the Bay Area underground is alive and well
Alongside a DX7ii synthesizer and other assorted gear, we're huddled — Lukas, Madden, and I — inside his tidy Bayview District trailer. Other like-minded artists reside on the property, but his studio hasn't been completely set up since he was priced out of his old 18th and Mission space, after his landlord raised the rent by 40 percent.
"The cost of living here is so high. People funnel so much of their money into rent," he said. Having weathered two tech booms as an artist in the Bay Area — he's been here since 1998 — Lukas knows what it's like to sell CDs at Amoeba for "a brick of cheese."
His dwelling is, nevertheless, a cozy hideaway, well-stocked with cassettes and a pretty chill black cat. We chat about how his ties with Madden run deeper than just his influence over how she plays. For one, they spent much of 2013 together at the helm of The Lab, a long-standing visual and performance art space near 16th & Mission that has seen many incarnations over the years.
"There aren't a lot of spaces like [The Lab] in San Francisco anymore. When Sarah and then [Shannon] kept it active with shows and performances, it sort of compromised The Lab's role as a venue for visual art, but made it more important than ever as a performance space," he said.
Under their collective watch, The Lab hosted a variety of underground or emerging acts, like Wreck & Reference, Some Ember, Austin Cesear, Marshstepper, Disappearing People, and Dorian Wood.
Madden claimed the types of shows she was booking weren't "artsy enough" for a visual arts space to be left alone by the city's Entertainment Commission. Finding a platform for these types of acts is, she says, the bigger concern in the current "cultural economy" in San Francisco.
"People work high-paying jobs that require their brain. When they get off work, they wanna get shitfaced and hear Toro Y Moi. They don't wanna go deep in some experimental avant, industrial shit. They want their brains to be massaged and they want to go to sleep, wake up, do it again and eat some fuckin' food-truck food."
She notes Oakland is sustaining as an impressive platform for the underbelly of electronic music. "They have a fortified interest in outsider stuff." She hopes the culture in San Francisco shifts underground again, but in the meantime is happy to book at more traditional venues including Brick & Mortar, The Night Light and Elbo Room.
"It's not about the space, even as intimate as it was. I want to give the local bands the best deal that I can and not risk it getting broken up. Lots of rad shit's going to have to happen in a bar space."
Sleep Genius Presents: Ringo Deathstarr with Sleep Genius artists Bad News, Chasms, Never Knows, and Cry
May 10, 9pm, $10-12
1600 17th St, SF