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Staying In School: Outputmessage

By Raven Baker | Posted 3/26/2008

This Saturday, March 29, Bernard Farley, the Washington D.C.-based electronic musician and DJ known as Outputmessage, returns to Bmore Electro's monthly More or Less party at the Depot for a night of melodic electrohouse obscurities. Well-known in the IDM scene, the 24-year-old self-taught musician boasts an impressive résumé of releases and production work. While he initially broke out in his late teens when Ghostly International released his track "Bernard's Song" on its 2003 Idol Tryouts compilation, Farley got his start a decade ago.

Farley bounced around during his childhood--he was born in Queens, N.Y., but moved to New Jersey during his early adolescence before his family settled in Richmond, Va.--but music was a constant in his life. His father played sax, violin, and keyboard, while his mother sang and introduced him to disco and R&B. As a young teen living in Jersey, friends turned him onto Aphex Twin, Orbital, and Underworld. Under this matrix of influences, Farley, then 14, started making his own music after his mother brought home a computer. "I was pretty much on that thing all the time," he reflects via e-mail. "I knew barely any music theory at all, just the notes on the keyboard, but I had so much fun experimenting with things. Eventually, I taught myself a lot of theory."

His first big break came just weeks after starting his freshman year at Virginia Tech. There he was introduced to Jeff Robidoux, a childhood friend of Ghostly International head Sam Valenti. Robidoux passed on Farley's demos to Valenti, leading to Ghostly's release of his 2002 remix of Dabyre's "Hyped-Up Plus Tax" and, in 2003, "Bernard's Song." Valenti later turned David Copper, head of the Melodic label, on to the burgeoning artist, leading to the 2006 release of Farley's debut album, Nebulae.

While plugging away to earn both bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics, Farley continued making music--and connecting with yet another label head: Miguel Lacsamana of D.C.-based Echelon Productions and the band Stamen and Pistils. While opening with a DJ set for Crystal Method at a Virginia Tech show, Lacsamana spotted Farley in the crowd. "He saw me dancing and immediately noticed something about me apparently," Farley says. This encounter led to the release of the Oneiros EP on Echelon and collaborative works between the two, including a new venture called Demerit that Farley describes as "geared right for the dance floor." Recently, Farley has contributed some production work and remixes to Lacsamana's electropop Person project, which has an album due out this June on Echelon.

These days, Farley is finishing up his second Outputmessage album for Melodic. "It'll be the IDM I was doing before but infused with dance and pop," he says, adding that he'll be singing on some tracks. Also in the wings is New Models, a rock-influenced dance collaboration with D.C.-based musician Mark Herbkersman, which Farley describes as "kind of like Postal Service with balls." New Models will have an EP out soon on Cincinnati-based Race Car Productions.

Listen:

Outputmessage Marquis DJ Night Mix (11.29.07)

Outputmessage Marquis DJ Night Mix (10.25.07)

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Tags: Electronic, outputmessage, IDM, ghostly

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