Photo: Andy Egelhoff

Justin Cudmore’s first release could not have had a bigger impact. His Crystal 12″ for San Francisco’s HNYTRX instantly but the New York-based DJ on the map as a cunning producer with a knack for the acid sound that had been forged in his former hometown Chicago more than three decades ago. Ever since, Cudmore has more and more made a name for himself with releases on The Bunker New York and other rave institutions. Read our interview with Justin Cudmore and listen to his mix for our Groove podcast below.


You started out as a jazz drummer, then discovered digital production tools and started working on music around the year 2009 – seven years before your official debut record was released. What did it take for you to feel comfortable putting your music out there?

Well, I used to put songs on Myspace, but I think with any creative outlet it takes time to perfect your craft and feel confident in what you’re making. Dance music, at least for me, is also about learning the history, the references… I believe you need to have an understanding of the past to contribute something new. Also I’m still learning! I just completed a four-week mixing class here in New York. 

When you started college, you began to immerse yourself more seriously in electronic dance music, and soon after joined Steve Mizek’s seminal Little White Earbuds blog, where you worked as an ad manager. What did that time mean to you as a DJ?

It was a highly influential time for me. The coverage on Little White Earbuds opened my world to a huge swath of the underground. I also built relationships with different promoters around the US, specifically Bryan Kasenic of The Bunker New York. Also around this time, age 21 to 22, I started becoming more comfortable with my sexuality and came out to my family. Those three years in Chicago really shaped me into who I am today. 

Your own productions draw heavily on the sound of Chicago – namely acid house. How were you introduced to this particular genre?

Gramophone Records in Chicago played a big role in my education. Then, after my three years in Chicago, going out to parties in New York like The Bunker and No Way Back helped cement my love for this kind of hypnotic, repetitive vibe. Acid also can have this playful energy to it which I love. 

New York has been your home now for a while. In 2017, the infamous Cabaret Law has been repealed. In your view, what impact did that have on the New York dance scene? 

There were raids at certain venues that were stopped, but it was also an important symbolic gesture. It came at a time when a new wave of dance music in New York was starting to bubble up. There’s been a big surge in parties, and I think it helped solidify a very healthy scene in New York. 

Together with Mike Servito and Gunnar Haslam, you form the DJing trio Hot Mix. What characterizes your sets, which sometimes last all night?

Since moving to New York six years ago, Servito has been my close friend and mentor. Gunnar was a longtime friend going back to Little White Earbuds, so our close relationship made us a logical team. Usually we’ll each play for 30 minutes and then do a true b2b at the peak of the party until the end.  

What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast? 

I wanted to show off a more aggressive way that I’ve been playing, but also try and make something that worked for home listening as well. I’ve been digging for a lot of music to prepare for this summer, and the mix also features some unreleased music from friends!

Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future and what are your plans as producer?

I’m spending the month of July in Europe, starting with Love International in Croatia and ending with pride at Panorama Bar, which I’m so excited about. As far as production, I have a remix coming out this summer on a label called Dark Circles and I’ve been working on a longterm collaborations project and I hope to share the details on that soon

Stream: Justin Cudmore – Groove Podcast 215

Tracklist:
01. Funk D’Void – Odessa 
02. Dan Curtin – The Fundamental Mind
03. Leftfield – Dub Gussett (Maas Remix) 
04. Claudio Coccoluto – The Horse Running 
05. Simic – Nine Tailors 
06. Cari Lekebusch – Spindizzy (Luke Slater’s L.B. Dub Corp Remix)
07. Perdu – Changing Worlds 
08. Tony Thomas, DJ Debra – Like It
09. Jesper Dahlback – My World (Night Drive Mix)
10. Detune – Maple Fever 
11. Percy X – Lady Killer 
12. Avus – Fancy Arse (James Holden’s Sunday Night Extension)