Yann Novak Revisits His Midwestern Roots With Exclusive Mix of Rave Anthems From the ’90s

From Chicago to Minneapolis by way of Wisconsin
Yann Novak in 1996 // Photo: Miranda_Hyslop-Garza
Words + Mix YANN NOVAK

I grew up in the Midwest. It’s a place where you are taught a kind of cultural modesty; one that tells you not to rock the boat and more importantly not to take up space. Dominant culture reinforced this by telling us that the Midwest was not where cultural production happened. That production was relegated to the coasts and the Midwest was just for flying over. So when we were teens starting to explore identity through culture, most looked outside the Midwest for influence because clearly we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Unknown DJ at a day rave // Photo: Yann Novak
This however was not the case for those of us who were part of the Midwest rave scene. To be part of it was to participate in very real cultural productions. You had techno emerging from Detroit, house from Chicago, hardcore from Milwaukee, a signature style of hard acid from Minneapolis, and in the middle of all that was Madison, WI. At that moment — for me, 1993-97 — we got to be at the cutting edge of something, to create our own space and shape our own culture. 

Because the region was a convergence of all these styles, no party could or would ever be just one thing. You could go through house, techno, jungle, hardcore, and trance in a single night and still be able to catch your breath in the chill room, playing ambient elsewhere in the warehouse. These convergences offered us the freedom to explore different identities and experience different states of consciousness.
All these different styles and expressions were catalogued in zines like Massive Magazine magazine. Every other month a new issue would hit the record store with upcoming party listings, mixtape reviews, and articles or interviews with major figures in the scene. These zines would introduce me to so many artists, some of which are still relevant for me today. Issue #8 had an interview with Prototype 909 (Taylor Deupree was a member); Issue #12 is where I first heard about Terre Thaemlitz (she jokes about who would ever want to hear her make deep house); and Mark Verbos had an ongoing gear column, to name a few. 
Massive Magazine Issue #8 (a friend from high school pictured center top)
I think the knowledge I gained from my experiences in the Midwest rave scene is that we all have the capacity to create culture. If the culture you want or need does not exist or is not available to you, then work towards making your own. Use it as a beacon to amass like minds and include them as fellow creators instead of participants. If we all become the collective authors of our own culture then it can’t be taken away from us because as long as we persist, so does our culture....
Yann Novak with friends // Photo by Miranda Hyslop-Garza.
The following mix starts with Chicago house, then moves through a number of tracks frequently played by my favorite Madison DJ (Mind Drive or Mindrive, depending on the flyer). Then I had to include a Plastikman track because it frequently got played, and in a '98 Mixmag article he named Madison his favorite place to play. I end the mix with an acid track from Minneapolis and Chicago that was released by a Milwaukee label and promoted by Drop Bass Network. I also tried to clock in just under 90 minutes in honor of my favorite mixtape length. In an attempt to mimic the style of the period I used Ableton Live’s composition view and just mixed the back and forth between two decks, with long mixes and slightly looser beat-matching than today's software can provide.
DJ Sneak - U Can't Hide from Your Bud [1997]
Gusto - Disco's Revenge (Mole Hole Dirty Mix) [1995]
DJ Sneak - In Da Clouds (Da Original Dub) [1995] 
Thomas Bangalter - Ventura [1995] 
Sourmash - Pilgrimage To Paradise (Hardfloor Remix) [1995] 
Lemon 8 - Model 8 [1993] 
Slam - Positive Education [1995] 
Acris Abeyance - H.A.P.P.Y. [1994] 
Barada - Glue [1994] 
Plastikman - Spastik [1993] 
Mark Verbos - The Nation Of Acid [1994] 
Hardfloor - Lost In The Silver Box [1993] 
Teste - The Wipe (5am Synaptic) [1992] 
F.U.S.E. - Substance Abuse [1993]
DJ ESP Woody McBride - Health Kick [1994] 
DJ Hyperactive - In Between [1994]
DBX - Losing Control [1994]
Yann Novak's new album, 'Slowly Dismantling', is now available through Room40.  It also explores "his formative experiences as a queer youth in middle America" and how on "acoustic and social spaces [can be] zones of liberation within which a spectrum of identity is formed."

Stream it in full below, right alongside a roundup of flyers from Goldenyearz's Midwest Rave Portal th
at were Novak personally selected and captioned. 
This was the first rave flyer I saw.
This was the second rave flyer I saw.
This was the first rave I attended.
I have almost every set from this event on tape. They are some of my favorite mixes.
This was the first time I saw Richie Hawtin DJ.
I remember it was below zero outside, but inside the ceiling was dripping with condensation from all the heat generated by the crowd dancing.
I ran a smart drink bar with my friend Michael at this party.
I was asked at the last minute to be the opening DJ.