Steven Seuling, a.k.a. Centrific, is the connecting thread of Twin Cities dance music.
Currently living in northeast Minneapolis’s Holland neighborhood, the DJ and boundlessly energetic promoter (Communion, Black Mass, Intellephunk) has been at it for 22 years. “I have lived here my whole adult life,” he says, “but I was born in Chicago, and raised in the north woods of vacationland Wisconsin, with a little bit of Florida beach town tossed in there as a teenager.”
During the low ebb of dance culture, locally and nationally, in the 2000s, he was putting on events and making things happen when many of the others who’d matriculated in the ’90s rave scene had wound down. He encourages young DJs and producers and consistently gives new talent a shot. Even DJs with multiple slots around town feel anointed when Centrific offers them a Sunday slot—and better yet, they deliver.
Black Mass, the fall-winter Sunday party at downtown Minneapolis’ Pourhouse, leans toward harder techno than its summertime obverse, Communion. It’s also generally a showcase for DJs other than the promoter. But on November 17, 2017, Centrific turned 43, so he played four hours by himself, titling it on SoundCloud after his birth year, 1974.
(The set is in two parts—three hours followed by 50 minutes; the recorder had malfunctioned “so we lost like a 90-second gap,” he explains.)
When I asked what kind of music he played, Centrific responded, “All kinds stripped-down, mental tunes.” He added: “I tried to cover a lot of ground, the BPM starts in the low 120s and clocks out around 138. I tried to make this one real dark and cold like the Minnesota winter. Lots of Minnesota artists like DJ Slip, DVS1, Doubt; quite a few Advent tracks. Ends with Autechre and John Carpenter.”
One of the good things about Black Mass is that Centrific turns nearly all the lights in the Pourhouse off; the shadowiness suits the music. (It’s the other way around during Communion, which takes place in the building’s musty closed alleyway/garage and encourages a lighter but similarly groove-focused selection.) But the birthday set does more than just bound moodily around, though it does plenty of that. It’s tempting to call the first 90 minutes a long build—though the tracks fit together tightly as one thing, there are multiple builds within. But the mood really does become lighter around that point, even when the tracks get dank and weird, which is frequently.
Sets like this one have become rare as Centrific concentrates more on putting parties on than playing them. “Trying to space out my sets a lot these days, I don’t have anything announced in Minneapolis currently,” he says. “There will be some very special events coming this spring.” Including sets like this, let’s hope.
Are you a Twin Cities dance-music DJ? Michaelangelo Matos wants to hear your latest set. He writes about recent mixes by local DJs (and DJs making local appearances) every Thursday for City Pages. Tweet to his attention: @matoswk75.