IN THE COURSE of a half-hour conversation, John Kammerle—the local DJ and producer known as Rap Class—discusses the inspiration he's found in a number of different places: a '70s power-ballad mix, a 15-year-old 7-inch from house producer Armand Van Helden, the Ultramagnetic MCs song from which he took his name. Over the past decade, Kammerle has been establishing himself as a mainstay of the Northwest DJ and electronic music communities. But as his broad taste suggests, he doesn't stick to a single genre or scene. His 2012 debut, Greatest Hits, was an acclaimed album of instrumental hiphop released on the local Dropping Gems label. But in the years since, he's been building up a house and disco record collection alongside an arsenal of his own house tracks.
While working toward a release of this new material, Kammerle got a handful of offers from labels, but instead decided to put his next record out through his roommate, Matt Ortega. The idea of avoiding the promotional pressure that comes with being on a label appealed to him, as did the ability to be a little playful with it. So, with this freedom, Kammerle went decidedly against the 12-inch single format of DJ culture—for the novelty of it, he pressed it onto a 7-inch and themed the graphics around a legendary issue of the skateboarding magazine Thrasher.
He calls the new 7-inch "a placeholder"—something to represent where he's at as a producer and for "what I like to do in my sets." For Kammerle, his recorded output always takes second place to the live experience. He doesn't pay attention to what the people have come to expect from him in the past.
"I don't care about what's on the internet; I don't care about what you read. I only care about what happens when you come to see me DJ," says Kammerle. "Because it's like making something out of nothing." To that end, he has grown into an ecstatic force live, and his sets are high-energy, unpretentious affairs that travel through decades of electronic music.
So what are we supposed to think about a former hiphop producer releasing a skateboarding-themed house record without a label? "Don't think about me," Kammerle says. "Just have a good time."