Some of the most cutting edge dance music this year is coming from Pittsburgh, and its creators are two self-proclaimed mensches.
Isaac “B-Tips” Goldszer and Danny “Longarms” Lanoff met last year at a meeting of the University of Pittsburgh organization Pittsburgh Electronic Musicians, and they’ve been making music as Tranquilizerz ever since.
The two young Jews — Goldszer, 24, originally from Detroit, Lanoff, 21, from Miami — are quickly becoming forerunners in an entirely new genre of dance music: moombahton, which fuses reggae-influenced dance music with more straightforward dance club music. Their remix of the summer radio hit “Party Rock Anthem,” by LMFAO, has already garnered almost 20,000 hits on YouTube. Their Facebook page boasts that Tranquilizerz are “the best thing to happen to Pittsburgh since the immaculate reception.”
But while the duo creates music that seems perfect for a wild night out, when they spoke with the Chronicle, it was time to get to work.
“We’ll be up working on music until at least 1 a.m.,” said Goldszer from his Shadyside apartment. “Most of [the] fun comes when we’ve finished something.”
And as hunger is the enemy of productivity, “We both love bagels, so when Danny comes over to work, I won’t let him in unless he brings bagels.”
But bagels are a far cry from the energy produced by Tranquilizerz — the duo’s music hits a lot more like a Red Bull.
Weaving together fast, pounding beats with samples from popular hip-hop songs and laser-bright synthesizer melodies, Tranquilizerz’ take on the burgeoning moombahton movement is energetic and tough not to dance along to.
Though Goldszer always admired dance music, his first show as a DJ happened almost by accident. Preparing for a party at Pitt’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, Goldszer realized a near-fatal flaw: There was no music.
“Either we couldn’t afford a DJ or he didn’t show up,” he said. “So I thought, ‘I could do that.’ I had a copy of ‘Thriller’ and a few other records, and we played the hell out of those things.”
That first gig quickly bred more, and soon Goldszer was one of the most sought after DJs on Pitt’s campus. In 2009, he was DJ at Pitt’s Dance Marathon fundraiser, a 24-hour dance party.
“It was by far the biggest crowd I’d ever played, and I loved staying up all night and making people dance,” he said. “But I still wasn’t very good. I played one song and literally only one person was dancing … in a room of 700.”
That big-room mentality is what drew Lanoff to dance music in the first place.
“Dance music is about the weekend, the party,” he said. “It’s about experiencing life and hanging out with other people. Jazz, say, might be a solo activity. This is about connecting people.”
In a musical landscape where anyone with a computer and iTunes can call themselves a DJ, Tranquilizerz aim for a higher common denominator.
“One of the pieces of advice I tell everyone is that if you want to do it, invest in it. Buy the gear,” said Goldszer. Investing money is one thing, but investing time may be equally important, he said.
“There is so much great music that I’ll never be able to hear all of it, even if I never listened to anything after 1985,” Goldszer continued. “Exploring music, for me, can be disheartening in a way. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to add to the soundscape that already exists. Maybe it’s not fair to the people who’ve already recorded all these gems. But still, on my good days, I believe there’s a chance that I’ll create something that’s as good.”
With a CD release (the independently recorded and released “Jaguar Milk”) under their collective belts, Lanoff and Goldszer are hard at work to push their music to the public, from plastering Brooklyn with stickers this month to regularly playing around Pittsburgh and promoting their music on Facebook, Twitter and other social and musical networking sites.
“Sometimes it seems like people don’t want to hear you unless you’re established,” said Lanoff. “It can be hard to get a foot in the door. But people will ultimately recognize good music.”
(Justin Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)