Artist, photographer, designer, and DJ Bethany Shorb has a lot going on. She’s been working full-time in her bisected Detroit studio for almost seven years. In one half she runs Cyberoptix Tie Lab, where she’s hand-screenprinted over 80,000 neckties, and in the other, she’s been exploring a series of screenprinted works on metal, paired with reclaimed automotive emblem text, and a series of sculptural pieces made from deployed airbag fabric. Cyberoptix is located on the fabled “Techno Boulevard” at the edge of Detroit’s historic Eastern Market District; so, despite the fact that Bethany is an avowed workaholic, it should come as no surprise that she enjoys staying up all night and deejaying under the monikers Dethlab or Toybreaker. She has been published and exhibited throughout the U.S. and her musical alter-ego has performed in venues throughout North America, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival. Take a listen to the music turned up in her studio right now in this week’s Playlist.
What do you listen to while you work? Of course it depends on what kind of work we’re doing, but some manner of sound is always coming (loudly) from our workspace. Production work where energy needs to be kept high requires a much different soundtrack than the slower, more introspective creative process. When we’ve got to crank orders out, our tastes tend toward fast, hard, abrasive techno and electro. Our current rotation includes a lot of Black Asteroid, Gesaffelstein, Umek, Brian Sanhaji, Vitalic, and selections from our hometown favorites, Adult. Have you heard them perform Sharivari? They can command a room like no other.
If we have a gig coming up, I like to audition potential new tracks I may play out. (That’s more from the fast, hard, abrasive techno food group.) I also have a soft spot for Minimal Wave, post-punk, and coldwave. Newer artists like Creep and Light Asylum continue that feel but from a completely different, more goth-inspired direction. When we’ve been printing for sixteen hours, no matter how well-curated, we start to get sick of our own playlists (repetitive music starts to sound repetitive, imagine that!) and gravitate to public radio or other internet radio channels like intergalactic.fm. When I’m designing or writing, I prefer more ambient, melodic electronic music like much of what has been released over the last 10 years on the label Border Community: Fairmont, Nathan Fake, Holden, and Ricardo Tobar — they all produce perfect designing music.
How do you listen? In an old warehouse space, we have the extreme luxury of being able to be loud. We have a DJ mixer, reference monitor speakers, and a dedicated ratty old stripped-down Macbook that serves as an internet radio jukebox and playlist keeper. Thankfully for our neighbors, we also have thick brick and plaster walls. I personally loathe headphones and only use them when I have to — when deejaying or working out.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers? The “Murdurcapital” station on intergalactic.fm is not only perfect for our own studio music amusement, but a great source for finding new tracks to introduce into our DJ sets. I’ve been playing with Spotify to generate some playlists and find new material as well. I buy much of my music from Beatport or directly from artist’s websites whenever possible. Ghostly.com is another wonderful resource, especially with their “Discovery” iPhone/iPad app developed by o2 Creative Solutions, that allows you to select playlists based on mood. We listen to TED talks if we really want to break our brains!
Does music influence your work? Music is a huge influencer both as inspiration and direct content. We did partner with Ghostly International, working with our own version of their logo and making a custom, embellished necktie. We were also chosen to print a tie design for the Ghostly “Bento Box,” their commemorative 100th release. We’ve got a whole suite of circuit board designs, many being from vintage audio and microphone components, and an entire shop section dedicated to the “audiophile.”
On the artistic side, I’m currently curating an exhibition entitled “Synesthesia.” The theme throughout this exhibition series will be the intersection between music and art. We’ll be showing artists who may be better known by their work in the music field, but who are also equally accomplished at creating visual art.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste? Being a rabid consumer of music, when purchasing, I’m often sucked into the wormhole of “customers who bought X, also bought Y.” Their suggestions are often dead-on, and I end up buying Y, too. Go peer pressure! Soundcloud is another perfect place to find new music and listen to long mixes from other DJ and musician friends. Since my hands are always busy and usually covered with printing ink, it’s preferable to let something long play rather than fuss with skipping through tracks — messy! I follow a lot of producers on Facebook and Twitter and often look at their charts as a jumping off point to find new tracks.
What song or artist best represents the work you create? For something I aspire to — maybe anything by M83, as just about every song they write makes my hair stand on end. If just once, something I create whether it be an experience, piece of music, or visual art could elicit that sensation from a viewer or listener, I feel like I have done my job as an artist.
Ideal place to sit and listen to your playlist: On our vintage orange vinyl Eames Shell chair. The striking bright orange always ends up in our photo shoots. As our vintage piece is no longer in production, this Eames Molded Plastic Armchair is a great alternative.
- Chimeras, Tim Hecker
- Forest Fires, My Favorite Robot
- Corre Corre, Medio Mutante
- Days, Creep
- Dark Allies, Light Asylum
- Black Leather Gloves (Premier Rang Remix), Cosmetics
- Motorway Sparks (GD Luxxe Remix), Le Car
- Poppy, Avus
- Velora, Fairmont
- We’re Back (Vitalic Remix), Heartbreak
- Ruhestorung Plattenbau (Oxia Remix), Markus Lagne
- Speechless (Gesaffelstein Remix), Agoria feat. Carl Craig & La Scalars
- Lanicor, Umek
- Bad Robot Ace, Brian Sanhaji
- One Above One, Vitalic
You can hear more and purchase from Dethlab’s Beatport chart here.
Photos: Bethany Shorb; top photo: Achille Bianchi