Staring at the picture of Jose Buzzi’s last EP, Settle for Nothing, I think of the down-to-earth producer whose consistent, pummeling techno has been shaking up Brooklyn’s underground scene for the last couple of years. In the photo, a four-year-old Buzzi sits on his mother’s lap looking away as she smiles at the camera.
“She never settles for nothing. She never let nothing stop her. So I put that same attitude into what I do.”
After self-releasing three EPs and two singles within the last year, Buzzi is an inspiration for independent artists to keep doing what they love while shining a light on important topics like marginalized representation and getting paid.
One of the tracks on Settle for Nothing, "Kidz on a Warpath," a savage piece incessantly knocking at 150 BPM against a taunting melody, holds a significant meaning for Buzzi.
“That’s us. We’re the kidz on a warpath because we’re coming through,” he says referring to the underground techno collective, ALKHEMY, that he joined in 2017. The fast, industrial tastes of founders, Felton Cortijo and Christina Hernandez aligned well with Buzzi’s musical style and their mission to showcase more minorities behind the decks appealed to his passion to uplift his community. As a Cuban and Peruvian American from the Brooklyn-Queens border, Buzzi also felt strongly connected to the Latinx artists.
“We shared a lot of similarities,” Buzzi says remembering when he first met Cortijo at The Lot Radio in Brooklyn. “Our friends weren’t into techno, but we were. We were like outsiders.”
Being one of the few POC collectives in the techno underground, ALKHEMY is a visionary example of young and brown successful artists. Their infamous rave, The Black Hole, originally taking off in 2016, has helped develop the trio into exceptional DJs and promoters while also showcasing artists like Remco Beekwilder, WarinD, Umfang, Scan 7, Shyboi, and Victoria Mussi, just to name a few. So, the EP title doesn’t only apply to Buzzi’s strong mother, but also ALKHEMY’s strength to keep raging in the face of adversity.
Fueled by the inspiration for "Kidz on a Warpath," Buzzi presented a remix contest for the track on January 31 to give back to other producers, the winner receiving $250 and their remix featured on the EP.
“I wanted that track remixed specifically because I wanted to get other ‘kidz’ with us to be on that same path,” Buzzi says. Artists had the chance to show off their skills while also getting paid.
“A lot of times producers think, ‘I’ll just give these tracks to this label and I’m going to get exposure,’” he explains. “And that’s dope. Exposure is great, but at the end of the day, all this equipment, all this time, this is money. Some people don’t have money to give out stuff for free.”
It was inspiring to witness local friends and favorites like Auspex, Cmnd:Z and Vacate Order make the track their own, as well as techno warrior Plural and Argentine producers, Aprile and Tomas Kunkel, bring some industrial heat.
A week in, Buzzi made an announcement on Facebook encouraging women to submit, but unfortunately, none did. “I thought it was strange that I only got remixes from men,” Buzzi says. “I’m going to do it again though.” True to character, he remains positive and the friendly competition ended up bringing discussions on gender disparity to the forefront.
Though Aprile was the winner, all remix submissions were featured on Settle for Nothing, offering some eclectic range to Buzzi’s heavy, sped-up industrial bangers.
For such a responsible person who is usually asleep before midnight, one wouldn’t expect the complete insanity that comes out of Buzzi’s music. His September EP, Reshape, shows off his relentless and militant style with tracks like "A Visit to Planet X" providing a trippy sci-fi melody and speedy, quivering atmosphere. It’s a raver’s paradise...or hell. The heavy, but muffled beat in "Atomic Child" would have anyone stomping till 10 AM, distorted sounds moving around so fast you get dizzy.
Like Settle for Nothing, Reshape also uses cover art that is very personal, displaying a 19-year-old Buzzi whose face is completely cut up and swollen after being jumped on his way home. The unfortunate incident left Buzzi inside all day to heal but also forced him to delve deeper into producing.
“I was able to really experiment and invest more time and shape my sound, which is completely different now, but I was able to do that,” Buzzi explains. “That’s why I call it 'reshape' because it reshaped my life, but also my face was reshaped so it was all tied in!”
Buzzi’s connection and understanding of where he comes from shine through his music that is at once raw as it is refined. Experimental sounds are subtle, enough to surprise, but never taking away from the rapid and punishing narratives.
His last two singles, while still the speedy and repetitive style, couldn’t be farther apart in tone. "BK Acid’s" deep melody is much more buoyant. Acidic sharpshooters reverberate off jumping hi-hats for a really fun and fast ride. "Rush" on the other hand, is pure darkness. The bass is a furious and continuous stomp against crunchy transmissions and gnarled screams sampled from Nintendo 64’s Killer Instinct. It’s addictive and disturbing all at once.
More percussions and a revival of late 90s techno are what has Buzzi preoccupied now, inspired by artists like Thomas Krome whose continuous rhythms and loops were straight to the point. His collaborations continue as well, this time with a South American label, an endeavor Buzzi is excited for as it will open doors beyond more well-known scenes like Germany and France.
“I’m in it for the long haul. I want to make good music and if someone finds a good use for it later on then that’s great. It’s like you’re making something, you’re leaving something behind.”
As the revival of political techno disrupts the Brooklyn scene, Buzzi’s legacy is only just beginning.