Some scenes take time to develop; others, not so much. Wave music has been finding its home in different cities across the globe for the past few years now. Los Angeles, for example, is one of the wave hot spots in the States. After all, it took Loss Combinator and his Tears in the Club showcase series less than a year to become a household name in wave spaces.
With the third edition of the showcase on the horizon, we took some time to chat with Loss Combinator about his journey as a “wave evangelist,” as well as his music and any lessons he’s learned as a new underground electronic music promoter.
Read on to find out how to follow in Loss Combinator’s footsteps, and more.
In Conversation with Loss Combinator of Tears in the Club
Ambur Masen, The Electric Hawk: Hi! Thank you so much for joining us. Would you please take a moment to introduce yourself to our Electric Hawk readers?
Loss Combinator: I appreciate the invite to chat! I’m Loss Combinator, but you can call me Loss. I’m a producer, promoter, DJ, and engineer/physicist currently living in LA. I spend my daylight hours building spaceships and my evenings and weekends proselytizing for wave and wave-adjacent genres of music.
AM: Last summer, you put on the first-ever Tears in the Club showcase out in LA, which highlights “cutting-edge, emotive electronic music,” like wave, neo-grime, and related genres. What was the electronic music scene like in Los Angeles prior to that? Were you able to easily find shows featuring this sort of music, or was your choice to start a showcase series your way of filling some sort of void in the local nightlife?
Loss: You nailed the key question here with respect to the inception of Tears in the Club.
I first started listening to wave in late 2018, early 2019. I finally learned the name of the genre just in time to stumble upon the announcement for the first Arcadia festival in early 2020.
Wave had already had such an impact on me that I realized failure to attend was not an option, and I immediately planned my trip [to Russia]. The event was life-changing, and upon return to the States, I sought out every wave event I could find.
My first was in Austin at a transcendent Brothel show put on by Electric Realms.
Two unforgettable shows…
Loss: In the time between Arcadia and the creation of Tears in the Club, I attended wave shows in Austin, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and London. I also had the opportunity to experience wave in Los Angeles, but the only dedicated, full wave event I’ve seen in LA outside of Tears in the Club since before COVID was an amazing event in Santa Ana put on by AYDO8 and artshop.la.
Brownies & Lemonade and Soul Food Music Collective also put on a number of events featuring wave artists, but a dedicated wave event in LA proper was entirely lacking.
Essentially, every wave event I attended felt like it might be the last. I didn’t know when or where the next one would be coming from. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and remedy this by founding Tears in the Club.
Don’t get me wrong – the electronic music scene in LA is amazing, but I also feel like it can be a bit risk-averse. It didn’t feel like anyone was ready to take a major risk on wave, so I figured I would just pick up the torch myself, and I have zero regrets.
Some of the feedback from attendees has been mind-blowingly generous. We’ve drawn comparisons to the mythical Low End Theory events–which, whether deserved or not, absolutely flatters.
Some have even said that Tears is the best bass music event they’ve been to in years.
AM: Between your first show in 2022 and now, what sort of things have you learned as a promoter?
Loss: If there’s anything I’ve learned as a promoter, it’s to roll with the punches, plan for the unexpected, and have a backup plan when possible.
We’ve had some issues with last-minute lineup changes due to the pandemic, amongst other factors. Finding replacements and making sure that the fans and attendees are happy and fulfilled has been a stressful undertaking, to say the least.
I’ve had the huge honor over the last year of meeting the eminent and infinitely gracious ONHELL and LEViT∆TE, and they actually stepped in quite late in the game for Tears in the Club I and II, respectively, to fill for artists who experienced last minute issues making the event.
While stressful in the moment, I think the silver lining has been that heavyweights of the experimental bass scene have been exposed to the potential that wave has for the club scene and cemented themselves in wave history, creating a thread of continuity for the event that wouldn’t have existed if everything went to plan. That turns those obstacles into huge wins.
I also am just really grateful and honored to have the privilege of creating a space for the wave scene in LA to coalesce around.
AM: In terms of spearheading Tears in the Club, is there any advice you’d give your past self—or to any underground promoters who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Loss: I think my biggest piece of advice is just to do something. Don’t wait.
The world needs wave, and wave needs people who are willing to step up to the challenge and make moves. Electric Realms has been a huge inspiration to me here. They started very small, but their events still stand out in my mind as some of the best wave events I’ve ever attended.
I’ve been very fortunate to have some auxiliary funding to go bigger with Tears in the Club and transform Los Angeles into a recognized wave hub quickly – but don’t be afraid to start small. Find some community and get something started.
This has proven successful with the CODE event (organized by Gastah and Real Tears) in London, as well as events thrown in collaboration with Crystal Orca in Athens, Electric Realms in Texas, Bassphase in Brussels, Ever Eternal in Denver, and others. Mexico City and Johannesburg are probably up next for local wave community members to start throwing club events and I’m excited to start seeing more of these organic local uprisings in the States and abroad in 2023.
This week in wave…
AM: Tears in the Club III is coming up soon, right? What would you say makes this particular line-up special?
If I’m being honest, Tears in the Club was designed around the basic goal of “transporting” Juche’s Moscow Arcadia performance to Los Angeles, so this is really going to be something special.
I also consider SAGE, Wevlth, Juche, hxyashi, Nick Neutronz, and ADMRL all good friends, so it’s extremely special to feature them all on the same lineup.
Rapture 4D is also arguably the godfather/founder of neo-grime, so having him here for the event is a huge honor, as neo-grime has been personally very impactful and inspirational.
He’s our guest of honor, so to speak.
AM: What does Tears in the Club’s tagline, “The Future Is Emotional,” imply?
Loss: I think the world has been characterized by an unusual amount of turmoil, upheaval, and uncertainty, as of late–at least for anyone born in my lifetime. We’re literally haunted by the simultaneous specters of nuclear war, rogue artificial intelligence, global warming, fake news & information warfare, and worldwide pandemics.
A common response to these pressures is to tune out or switch off.
Tears in the Club is intended as an antithesis to this, and to be a safe, community-driven space where exploring and expressing emotions is not only accepted but encouraged.
The eyes-wide-open approach to modern calamities is certainly not easy, but wave and its associated genres function as a healthy and bond-strengthening medium for catalyzing and exorcizing the emotions evoked by modern existence, without requiring one to suppress or run from them.
Wave is simultaneously the apex sonic distillation of post-apocalyptic, cybertech, dystopian angst and the mode for transcending and conquering that imagined future – one that is resembling our own present more and more every day.
Dancing is forgetting. Crying is embracing.
Tears on the dancefloor is transcendence.
Check out Loss Combinator’s music on Spotify:
Sleepless nights, but a dreamer nonetheless.
AM: Balancing multiple roles is always tricky. As someone who is a producer as well as someone that works in the industry, I was wondering if you’d be open to talking about how you keep yourself inspired and making music – but also keep yourself from burning out?
Loss: To be honest, I just don’t sleep.
Seriously though: just don’t sleep and you’ll have plenty of time to pursue < 1% of the things you’re passionate about.
Really seriously though, music has been the only force that has carried me through what has been, in many ways, a very difficult life. Investing this much energy into music feels like a positive feedback loop.
When I’m feeling too burnt out, I just slow down.
Except during Tears in the Club week.
The reality is, the only deadline I’m working against is my own expiration date, so if taking a break for a few days or minutes or moments adds some years back to my life, it seems like a win.
AM: Much like yourself, the wave scene at large has been incredibly busy this year; we saw numerous compilations drop throughout the winter, as well as the massive Barnacle Boi x brothel x skeler “Wave Tour” announcement. Denver’s Ever Eternal showcase series launched back in January, and you’ve been quite busy with Tears in the Club, as we’ve discussed. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. As someone who has been doing the work to push the scene forward, I was wondering: where do you see wave ending up by the end of this year? What would be the ultimate – but attainable – goal?
Loss: For the wave scene in general, I think my biggest aspirational goal is to see the scene, particularly in the States, set itself apart and establish itself as a standalone, self-sustaining movement.
We have dubstep and experimental bass and trance and house and techno events, labels, festivals…
I look forward to a future where those events have wave analogs.
Wave has enough innovation, crowd appeal, danceability, and uniqueness to set itself apart as a new and differentiated musical movement, which I strongly believe it is.
While I’d love to see wave artists succeed in bigger, multi-genre, or adjacent genre platforms, my fundamental goal is to see wave remain and strengthen itself as a unique and self-defined electronic music revolution that evolves into a competitive alternative to those other genres in the coming years.
AM: And what about you? What’s on the calendar for Loss Combinator and Tears in the Club this year? Is there something that you are most looking forward to?
Loss: My ultimate personal goal is a sold-out Tears in the Club event by Tears in the Club IV or V – both of which are going to have some insane lineups.[Personally], I just had two releases with Soul Food Collective and The Games We Play UK, both of which I’m very proud of, along with a guest spot on the vibe.digital radio show. I’m working on more releases and will continue to push out my own music, but my central goal in producing, DJing, and promoting as a wave disciple, continues to be pushing the wave scene forward and exposing as many people as possible to the music I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
I’m also really looking forward to more Tears in the Club collaborations with other labels and collectives – the crossover Limit Break event earlier this year with Club Evil was a huge hit. I can’t wait to see how those types of collaborations evolve.
Beyond that, I’m really hoping to witness an up-and-coming neo-grime scene being firmly established on the West Coast. Between myself, Skot, Jato, ADMRL, Yama, and some others, I’m hoping that we can really start to push the envelope here.
Curious about what a Tears in the Club show might look like after getting to know Loss Combinator?
Find tickets to the Tears in the Club III showcase here.
Curious about the vibe? Check out a mix Loss Combinator curated for Drone Collective on SoundCloud, below.
If you’re looking for new music, keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Whether it’s the newest tracks from Loss Combinator, something new from your favorite artists, some old school, or underground—we just want you to hear it.