Two:Tone's Thomas AllEN: "Drum and Bass Music is as Strong as it's Ever Been"
By Wanz Dover
Drum and bass music has enjoyed a solid foundation in Dallas since the late '90s. Even when dance music trends veered into other directions there has always been a healthy fan base for the genre locally. Founded in 2007 by Thomas AllEN, S.O.U.L.jah, and Alyx Caceres, drum and bass crew Two:Tone have played a crucial role in holding down the roots of the genre in Dallas in the years since. They have moved around to a few different venues in that time, but currently host the night at Wits End in Deep Ellum.
Thursday night Two:Tone celebrates its seventh anniversary with Los Angeles scene boss Machete headlining on the decks. Machete has been a fixture in the Los Angeles circuit since the early '90s. For the past 15 years he has been the driving force behind Respect, Los Angeles' longest-running drum and bass night.
Local support comes from longtime Two:Tone resident Norm3, MC Etiquette of the even more established Battletech crew and Werm of the Everyday Jungliest blog. A special treat on this bill comes in the form of local house music hero Demarkus Lewis making a rare appearance under his Drum and bass alias Dizzle.
Current members of Two:Tone include AllEN, Norm3, Mass Destruction, MC Astro, and NoSo. AllEN took some time ahead of the anniversary party to chat with DC9 about the crew, the anniversary and drum and bass in Dallas
DC9 at Night: How did you get started in drum and bass music?
AllEN: I personally picked up DJing when I was 17 [in 2000] with two Technic 1200's, a Gemini mixer and whatever records I could get my hands on. I learned on Vinyl and I'm so thankful for that. We still play vinyl D&B the first Thursday of every month.
Before that I was really big into metal, alternative; whatever you want to call it. "Rock." I didn't really understand electronic music that much at 17. We would go to 3 room raves. I would always end up at the side stage and that is where I fell in love with drum and bass (a natural progression for anyone into metal that finds EDM, I think). A couple friends of mine when I was 18 told me about a weekly called Battletech which was at the Royal Rack on Greenville Ave. and I would say that is where D&B really sank it's teeth into my everyday life.
How did Two:Tone come about specifically?
Two:Tone started as a collaboration between myself, Alyx C. and S.O.U.L.jah. We started off next door to GotHouse?, which was an established house weekly at Whisky Bar on Greenville. If not for GotHouse? we may not be celebrating a seven-year anniversary. House next to D&B is how S.O.U.L.jah came up with the name Two:Tone. We later moved upstairs to the roof deck patio above GotHouse? and that's where Two:Tone became an established night.
What are some of your favorite guests you have hosted over the past few years?
The list is really too long to remember everyone because anyone we've booked we've been a fan of. Some of the highlights include Dara, AK 1200, Concord Dawn, Total Science, Klute, Ink, Artificial Intelligence, Bachelors of Science, Icicle, Sinistar, Ben Soundscape, and Dave Owen to name a few. A couple that stand outs for me personally are Gein, the first major show I booked at Red Blood Club; Sage, the first headliner we booked at Whiskey Bar as Two:Tone; and Seba, who played the night my son Connor was born.
What have been some of the highlights since you started seven years ago?
For me Two:Tone is the highlight. I've had the chance to meet people from all over the world and open and close for some of the most talented producers and DJs in the world. I would have to say last year's anniversary show with Dara and AK 1200, "The History of D&B Tour," stands out as one epic night.
Do any members of the Two:Tone Crew also produce?
NoSo & MC Astro are both working on ttunes. NoSo has been collaborating with Vital (who's on the label Fokuz) over the last year and plans on having an EP available in the fall or winter of this year, and should have some singles out this summer. Astro, also of Intergalactic Space Thugs, has been a major force in the scene for years and has multiple releases as well as a full album (with Poor Vida). He's currently working on various projects due to come out soon with some reputable names.
Are there any local drum and bass DJs or producers that have inspired your crew?
Of course, but if I answer this question I'm going to miss a ton of people in the Dallas scene. Typecast, Squirt, Phooka, Katalyst, System, Demarkus Lewis, MC Astro and MC Leo-J had a big influence on me personally.
How did you meet DJ Machete and how did he end up headlining your anniversary?
I believe how I first met Machete was through Battletech. What they do at Respect on Thursday in L.A. is huge for the Stateside scene. We're looking forward to bringing another piece of the Stateside drum and bass scene to Dallas' Deep Ellum and hope to see some old heads as well some new ones there.
What is your opinion on the state of drum and bass in America today?
I think it's as strong as it's ever been. I've been a fan of D&B as long as I've been in the electronic scene so maybe my opinion is a bit biased. Drum and bass is this weird culture that pushes forward and is always there either on the side stage or on the main stage. Its roots are deep and it has never really seen the same mainstream popularity as say house, hip hop, trap or dub, but it's always there right behind the curtain and I don't see it going away any time soon.
And what about in Dallas?
As far as it's status in Dallas just look at the upcoming Doc Scott show at It'l Do. That is huge. Then you have Battletech and Subpoint in addition to what we're trying to bring to the table. The drum and bass scene in Dallas is as strong as it's ever been.
What do you have planned for Two:Tone in the near future?
We love our new home at Wit's End in Deep Ellum. For a week-to-week vibe it is great. We'll be bringing local talent through every week with no cover. We'll have national and international headliners coming through as well. We're going to stay the course and keep pushing forward. Join our Facebook group "Two:Tone DTX D&B" to stay current on the next headliner and weekly local guests.