With HEAT Records, Seattle’s Getting Spicier

The young imprint showcases local underground club producers with a penchant for bodied bangers.

Ca$h Bandicoot at HEAT’s first party at Venus Karaoke. Photo by Alan Danilo Ardiente

Despite the name of that dumb Tom Hanks movie, Seattle’s a fairly sleepy city. We drink lots of coffee, then smoke weed, then drink more coffee to counteract the weed. Music from here tends to reflect that languid, cloudy vibe—everyone makes drone, dark techno, dream pop, slacker punk, or cosmic, laid-back hip-hop. Music for reclining and ruminating, maybe doing yoga, or, at most, swaying.

The first time I heard a HEAT Records track, Xxsory’s remix of Tampa rap diva Thast’s “Stop Hatin’,” I woke the hell up. The Seattle-based party night and label, founded by local club producer Korma at the end of 2015, has spent this year releasing tracks and remixes from underground local producers that run in the complete opposite direction of the familiar Northwest palette. These are sonic 5-Hour Energy shots—thunderous, banging body music that grabs your ass and hoists it in the air for you. But it’s ass music with a brain. HEAT’s built its identity on piston-like, cyborg percussion and wild, lithe rhythms that gyrate far, far away from your typical 4/4 fare. Guaranteed, HEAT tracks always pack plenty of bite.

“From my perspective, the HEAT releases are following a trend of heavy sampling, metallic sounds, damp and extra-wet FX, short reverbs, and lots of compression,” HEAT producer Ca$h Bandicoot tells me. “Weirdly enough, I think what binds all of HEAT’s artists together is that we each gravitate toward current mainstream rap and perhaps this popular gothic, Atlanta-style wave.”

Ca$h Bandicoot, aka Paco Mejino, has been DJing around Seattle for two years playing and producing Baltimore-, UK-, and Jersey-influenced club tracks, and in that time he’s also released one of HEAT’s standout records—the gloriously sleazy nocturnal workout of “All Night” from HEAT003. Mejino takes the lead again on the upcoming HEAT005 with “Bells,” an excellent track he collaborated on with Portland-via-Atlanta producer Xemnas (who also takes his name from a PlayStation character) after the two discovered each other via SoundCloud algorithms. The eerie tune kicks off with that trademark industrial clangor before the atmosphere breaks loose into a mutant party beat—something you might hear bellowing out of a haunted factory. Part of the fun of a HEAT record is listening to the lead track, then hearing that tune get broken down and reconstructed in the four or five remixes that follow—a treatment Mejino made global on “Bells.”

“I was really stoked to have reached out to artists from Sydney, London, Mexico City, and Atlanta [on HEAT005] and still retain the HEAT aesthetic,” Mejino says. “For me it’s an incredibly dope thought that our sound can be heard in major cities that I’ve never stepped foot in before.” HEAT 005 release party. Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave., 709-9797, vermillion seattle.com. Free. 21 and over. 9 p.m.–2 a.m. Sat., Sept. 10.

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