It is by no means an easy task to make a name for yourself in the music scene, especially when that music scene happens to be New York City. Year in and year out, artists come and go. While some grow, others drift and eventually quit. In the world of electronic music especially, DJs and producers are here today and gone tomorrow in the blink of an eye. There are a lot of trends in electronic music, so it takes something original and interesting to actually stand out. Horizon Wireless is an example of an act that has continued to grow and evolve over the years, and my apologies for the redundancy but, the best part is that the best has yet to come.
The brain-child of music lover Harrison Waxenberg, Horizon Wireless has been on a journey. While there is an incredible amount of history and lore behind the whole tale that would be impossible to cover in just on feature, we can start here.
He began this incarnation of his career in New York connecting Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Paltz, Binghamton, and beyond by laying down seamlessly inter-weaving, multi-genre, and psycho-spiritual dance sets in a variety of atmospheres all across the state between 2010 & 2011. It was when he added a drummer into the mix, things started to get really interesting.
The early stages of the project included the accompaniment of Sol “Monty” Montoya on the kit. By cosmic circumstance, Monty had actually been the drummer for the first electronic band that Harrison had ever seen, Digital Frontier. Together they threw down numerous mind-melding warehouse, venue, and festival sets for two and a half years. Critically acclaimed sets such as their City Bisco 2012 after-party at The Blockley and a heated throw down in the Barn at Mint Green Music Festival in 2012 were just a few of many turning points for Horizon Wireless. A standard had been set, and new heights reached.
Not every show included a drummer, so the ones that did became increasingly experimental in bridging and melding the gap between the two of them. That same summer included a cerebrally explosive sunrise (or “Zonrise” as it eventually came to be known) set, as Harrison played for the (literally) “wireless” Camp Bisco closing ceremony on Silent Disco headsets.
2012 also marked a historic show for both Horizon Wireless and The Capitol Theatre as Harrison became the first DJ to ever play the iconic venue, which had recently been bought and restored by Peter Shapiro. Besides being an avid music lover with a knowledgeable background, Harrison is also exceptionally good at marketing himself and others due to his solid networking prowess, as well as his deeply rooted spiritual, technological, and even corporate understanding of promotion.
After a huge year for Horizon Wireless, the ride continued on as he made enormous strides into the next frontier. Consistently laying down their unique blend of intelligently layered live sampling DJ/Drummer improvisational tech-funk & house music, the name became familiar to more and more people in and around the northeast music scene. The reach actually spanned cross country due to winning the Grassroots California Mixtape Competition in as early as 2011, and Horizon Wireless continued to lock down shows in well-known venues and slots at popular festivals. In 2013 he played Gathering of the Vibes for the first time at a Silent Disco on the beach.
The musical journey continued on with a number of shows being played without a drummer for both scheduling and logistical reasons. Harrison never took a step back from the action, though, and continued to deliver strong shows at every gig. Familiar and new faces would show up to support Horizon Wireless every chance they could. This proved that not only was he developing a “following,” but more importantly he had grown a widespread and loyal core group of friends who were all connected in one way or another with each other (whether or not they knew it yet), a la “Welcome to the Network.”
His biggest set took during the final night of the year. To ring in 2014, Harrison directly supported his favorite band, The Disco Biscuits, at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden while Phish was simultaneously playing upstairs in the Garden. I was there, and it was awesome. I can only imagine how it must have felt for him. Horizon Wireless warmed the venue up nice and proper by mixing samples from interviews with Jon Gutwillig over minimal house. Once he had our attention, he took us on a smooth and constantly intensifying journey before ending with a progressive techno storm in which he blended his own vocal remixes while mashing up Shem-Rah-Boo, Mindless Dribble, Aceetobee, Hope, Spacebirdmatingcall, and Highwire. The Disco Biscuits came out after and absolutely crushed three sets into the early morning. It was a night that I won’t soon forget.
A gig like that was one that he had dreamt of playing all his life. After it, Harrison decided to get a serious job in Manhattan, and take a break from playing too much during the beginning of 2014. He was feeling tired of the lifestyle and needed a mental reset (any and every musician/artist feels this at some point in time). It was necessary and proved to be positive in the long-run, as he came back to Horizon Wireless with a fresh head and new appreciation for the music.
Monty had gotten a full-time job doing sound at Verboten, and was pretty much done playing drums at shows. Harrison played a few select shows that he felt would be fun, including Francois K’s Deep Space at Cielo with Gaudi on a Funktion One soundsystem, and the incredible “Sex on the Beach” set at Gathering of the Vibes 2014 right after The Disco Biscuits ft. Billy Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead’s headlining set. His second time back at the Bridgeport music festival (which grows more each year as one of the most popular gatherings on the east coast) was a straight up silent disco dance party – fans from all over got down to his spacey, hard-hitting beats and whimsical sampling.
The musical journey continued with a number of sets being played without a drummer, but Harrison continued to deliver strong shows at every gig. Shortly after he was booked for the return of Mint Green. It was cool for him to return as it was the site on which one of their best sets to date took place. With Monty now working full weekends, he had a feeling that he was going to end up doing the gig solo; the set two years prior was so special because that’s when the live mixing/drumming improvisation between himself and Monty really first clicked. In came the universe to the rescue.
Solaris’ drummer Dan Lyons contacted him out of the blue asking about guest-list spots. Harrison knew this would be a fun opportunity. In fact, Dan and Monty had been friends for many years prior, and Dan had been studying Horizon Wireless since day one. Dan accepted the challenge, and they turned out to be a perfect fit as they absolutely crushed Mint Green, reading each other like they had been playing forever while dropping tightly knit rhythms for an awesome crowd.
Mint Green 2014 was the first page to the next chapter of Horizon Wireless, the start of the new and improved Horizon Wireless v2.0. From there, the duo supported Electron at B.B. Kings and The Westcott Theatre – both shows further proved to Harrison and Dan that they had something unique, evolving, and fresh. They got great feedback from music fans in New York City and Syracuse, so the new duo began finalizing their plans to push this project as far and hard as they possibly could. Horizon Wireless took another giant leap in the right direction and Harrison was ready to continue to push the limits.
2015 has undoubtedly been a huge year for Horizon Wireless. The addition of drummer Dan Lyons has proved to be more than solid. The two have begun to create chemistry between themselves and the crowd as they take us from lounge-like intros to bouncy house beats, g-house & techno, tech-funk, psy-breaks, and even drum n bass grooves, all the while interweaving elements of pop and underground culture live. Lyons is a sick drummer with locked in precision and long lasting stamina. The duo has a palpably fun time together, and their tastes in music complement each other perfectly. An evolution of sound is taking place as they continue to throw down to packed rooms in the northeast, spreading their DJ/drummer experience for anyone who wants to come. Both are die-hard fans of the Disco Biscuits and have been seeing them for years, and while they’ve known each other for a while, their relationship is really starting to flourish on stage. Both of those aspects are important; they’re the two reasons that their set at Camp Bisco was so special. It took place during STS9‘s set, which would be a bummer for most artists their size, but for them it wasn’t an issue at all. They had a more than substantial crowd during their entire set as they completely shut down the Steamtown Stage. It was the first time that Horizon Wireless had a full live stage set at Camp Bisco instead of a late-night silent disco Zonrise set. They brought Mike Nasser and Manny Newman on to do their visuals, and it was an all-around success in every sense of the word.
The galactic monorail continues to speed down the tracks, onward and upward. Horizon Wireless has solidified itself in the scene and Harrison is truly ecstatic that Dan has joined him on this quest. The duo talked to me about how the process of producing their own music is going (stay tuned for the release of the new Horizon Wireless & Space Jesus track, trust me) and really expanding the enigma of Horizon Wireless as a whole.
They’re hungry and ready to prove themselves to anyone who isn’t sold on the project already. Harrison Waxenberg and Dan Lyons are going to come across your radar in the future if they haven’t yet, I have no doubt about this. The duo is dynamic in every sense of the word with a common goal of having fun on stage and connecting the crowd at every single show. Lyon’s drumming adds a whole new layer to Horizon Wireless. He truly is an educated and hard working player with a phenomenal ear. If you know Harrison, you know that he wouldn’t pick a drummer that rushes or drags – especially if you were at their Camp Bisco set. The evolution proceeds the past as this new chapter continues to prove how entertaining the Horizon Wireless v2.0 really is. If you haven’t seen the duo of Harrison Waxenberg and Dan Lyons perform together, make sure you do soon; I have a feeling that there will be some epic shows in the near and distant future.
– Zachary Franck
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