Abe Duque is a veteran artist and producer with a career spanning more than 2 decades, he has been teaching production since 2011 at Dubspot in NYC.
With a career that started in the early days of house and Techno at New York’s notorious Limelight, Abe Duque has been at the head of the acid-house and underground-techno table since his earliest releases way back in 1992.
His first tracks were influenced by the madness of the Limelight’s club-kid audience, later publicised by films and books like Party Monster and Clubland Confidential. From muscular and melodic techno to cocktail jazz and ambient interludes, his early tracks on his own labels Tension and Hollis Haus, his releases under pseudonyms like Kirilan, Super Secret Symphony and his releases on others’ labels like Disko B, Rapture!, Morbid, and Tresor captured a particular period of clubbing history bought to a sudden halt when the Limelight was shut down.
Duque by then had a thriving European and worldwide touring schedule, and musicially he still had roots in the underground. Abandoning the glossy, high-fashion style of Tension and Abuse Industries, Duque’s next sets of releases were on anonymous, vinyl only stamped with catalogue numbers like “ADR40″ [Abe Duque Records 40] and etched on one side at the pressing plant with strange, hand-drawn messages from the man himself.
In some ways Duque was turning his back on the New York style, and on his previous successes. As he describes it, “I wanted to prove that my music spoke for itself”. It did. Despite the secrecy about who had actually written the ADR releases, this second part of Duque’s career was a run of increasingly massive 12″ hits like Champagne Days, Cocaine Nights; Acid, Disco Nights, and in 2004 his monster smash with Blake Baxter, “What Happened?”, the track that launched Duque and Baxter out of the underground and into the spotlight. That track’s call for a turn away from safe, unchallenging clubbing sold 25,000 copies on vinyl alone and in 2009, it was the focus of a rare remix competition on ResidentAdvisor – despite Duque and Baxter’s refusal to market the track by signing it to any the 100s of compilations on offer.
Having been dragged out of the underground, Duque found himself feted by the mainstream, delivering hugely successful remixes of acts like the Chemical Brothers, Moby and Pet Shop Boys while continuing to work right across the techno world. There, his brutally funky basslines and acid influence were – and still are – hugely in demand for remixes of acts such as Miss Kittin, Remute, Chloe, Savas Pascalidis, Knart IV and Daniel Meteo – as well as DJ Hell, with Duque becoming a regular on Hell’s Gigolos label. The two had met moving in the same German and NY electronic circles since the Abuse Industries days, and so Duque was asked to produce Hell’s infamous album NY Muscle in 2003 and in 2006 to helm the well-recieved “American Gigolos II” compilation.
The highlight of this period, though, was Duque’s first album under his own name, “So Underground It Hurts”. The title was yet another example of Duque’s ambivalence about succcess and its trappings, but the album was undeniably a techno event. Reviewed in the fashion press as influenced by Gigolos’ German electroclash style, but the album was understood by the music press as something quite separate and self-contained.
Duque was again striking out along his own path. Part wild acid, part dark house and all leavened with Duque’s dry, quiet stoner humour, the album also provided a launchpad for Duque’s return to wild live performances – a whiskey bottle in one hand and a 303, drum machine, two PCs and a microphone operated by the other.
It was the start of Duque’s second, endless round of watching the world through the windows of a hotel and moving restlessly between his flat in Berlin and his spiritual home in Queens. Several years on the road with his stable of vocalists – Blake Baxter, Tijiana T, Acid Maria, Virginia, and occasional appearances by Abuse collaborator Andy Orel as “Sin” meant that Abe released only intermittently on his own label, Abe Duque Records. There, new tracks like the darkly funny It Moved Me, Whose Got the Flave, and a singles collection on CD When the Fever Breaks added to Duque’s reputation as the producer’s producer.
Eventually, though, Duque had had enough of continual touring. In 2011 Abe was invited to join the staff at Dubspot, an invitation that would make great sense to him. He had always had a passion for teaching and here was an oportunity to share all he had learned.