Tajh Morris AKA Turtle Bugg is a jack of many trades. You can catch him behind the decks. You may have attended a Sublimate party, including their campout Smangtasia in upstate New York. And in recent years, Tajh has become a regular contributor to Resident Advisor and DJ Mag. At each step, he uses his platform for activism, challenging the status quo, and championing diversity in the booth and on the dance-floor.
We were first introduced to Turtle Bugg when we co-produced a party with Chez Damier at Public Works, and since then we’ve become a huge fan of his regular podcasts and writing. Since his move to Detroit from NYC, his output has only gone deeper and more conscious. His Ground Level podcast for us is no different. Please take a moment to read the interview as he takes you on a journey with his beats.
AYLI: What local projects (events, crews, labels, and beyond) are you involved with?
At the moment I am reassessing my place within the electronic music scene. The global pandemic plus new parenthood has changed my outlook on what is important. With that being said, my label, that I run with my childhood friend Chung (we DJ as Soul 2 Seoul), Basement Floor is back in production. We recently put out a cassette mix by Ciel and a 12” from Sweater on Polo. In Detroit I have started a semi residency at UFO Factory called Buggin Out. Labels and collectives that I fuck with are Portage Garage Sounds, Waaajeed’s Underground Music Academy, Traxx’s Unlimited Nation family and the Freakish Pleasures crew.
AYLI: What makes our local community special?
Without a strong, supportive local base there would be no “scene”. Many seem to hold intercontinental travel as the apex of a DJ career but building something for the immediate people around you is the key to longevity. American artists are the root of this global culture and that fact needs to be stressed consistently. Everyone needs to stop spending all their dough on Euros to come here. There is plenty of talent on this side of the Atlantic.
AYLI: With the Covid-19 virus impacting society, an activated social justice movement, and the economy in tatters, there’s so much uncertainty in the air. What do you hope to see happen going forward?
To be honest I thought the shutdown and protests would lead to a moment of reflection that would culminate in solidarity, community and education. From what I can see there has been 0 or even negative movement in these aspects. Everyone seemed eager to just “get back to normal”. The normality of the late 20th century is dead. There must be an honest discussion about neoliberalism, the death grip of capitalism over the planet and identity politics being used to maintain the status quo.
AYLI: What’s the inspiration behind the mix? Would you mind sharing the tracklist for your mix?
The ecological crisis that we have grown up fearing is here. From monsoon-like conditions along the Hurricane hub of the east coast that is slowly sinking Miami and NYC, to the fires and smog that blanket California and the West coast; capitalism’s chickens are coming home to roost for all of humanity. Michigan had record levels of rainfall this past year that caused extensive property loss, infrastructure damage and even put some of the major highways under water. My studio had some minor flooding. Luckily not too much was ruined, but over 100 records did get water damage. It took about two weeks for me to give them an initial clean and dry.
So I decided to make a mix using records that were affected by the flood. They have yet to receive a deep rinse, so they have a bit more surface noise than usual. In a world that pushes digital ownership and metaverse living ,this is a statement against the artificial clean and sheen world that is projected by the trajectory of our society. I hope that more people try to engage in analog life while they still can.z
As George Clinton said, “Think! It aint illegal…yet.”
Abolish the State,
Demolish the Prisons
& Free the Land!
Reading is Fundamental:Black Socialists in America: https://blacksocialists.us/
Ecology and Revolutionary Thought: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/lewis-herber-murray-bookchin-ecology-and-revolutionary-thought
Social Ecology: Communalism against Climate Chaos: https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/social-ecology-communalism-climate-chaos/2018/01/16?cn-reloaded=1
Let Malibu Burn: https://longreads.com/2018/12/04/the-case-for-letting-malibu-burn/
Julius Papp – Groove Gravie
Davis Galvin – Dew
Pharaoh Monch – Mayor (Remix)
On Stage – Hooked On Your Love (Alternate Mix)
Brenda Gooch – You And I Together
The Force – It’s O.K., It’s O.K.
Wicked Witch – Fancy Dancer
Moze Pray – No Tears For You
First Mode – Contact
Black Meteoric Star – Me & My Rhythm Box (Live Version)
The Method Actors – Bleeding
Jason Hogans – Favorite Coffee Mug
Madvillain – Pi
Arabian Prince – Now You Have To Understand
Shigeto – Ringleader
Funkadelic – Holly Wants To Go To California
Belle Farms Estates – Puddin
Sweet D – Turn It
Omar S feat John FM – Cadillacs & Dinosaurs
Vernoza Bowers Jr. & Jah Roots – To Touch the Spirit
Various News Reports