" One of techno's true underground heroes, Function (Dave Sumner) has been DJing and making music for over 25 years. "
One of techno’s true underground heroes, Function (Dave Sumner) has been DJing and making music for over 25 years. He is a founding member of the Sandwell District collective, Berghain resident, Ostgut recording artist and owner of Infrastructure. Hailing from New York, he was seduced by techno when Jeff Mills held residency (as well as his own first) at Limelight in the early 90s. Producing from the mid-90s onward, he released his first 12″s on Damon Wild’s Synewave and his own Infrastructure imprint. A chance meeting in 1996 brought him together with Regis (Karl O’Connor). The two worked as Portion Reform, releasing uncompromising music on Downwards, making him the only non-Birmingham producer to appear on the label. He later moved to Berlin in 2007, still working with Regis, and now Silent Servant (Juan Mendez), putting his focus on Sandwell District. Since, the label come collective, skyrocketed into cult status – decentralizing the artist ego, blurring the lines between the artist, label and dj; re-arranging the DNA of modern dance music.
Initially releasing records under their own identities, as the label’s success grew, it came to be seen increasingly as a collective entity, releasing tracks and albums anonymously partly in revolt against the increasingly celebrity-oriented DJ culture of the time, culminating in its 2010 collective album Feed Forward. Their sound has been highly influential across the following generation of techno musicians, and has informed a major shift in world techno. By the time the label announced its “glorious death” in 2012 (continuing only as a performing act) the American Billboard magazine would write that “Sandwell District’s influence on underground techno can hardly be overstated.” The move to Berlin proved successful, bringing both Function and Sandwell District to enigmatic status. Headlining festivals worldwide, his sets at Labyrinth, Japan from 2009-2011 became things of legend; Sandwell closing Sonar’s main stage in 2010 proved their impact, with regular Time Warp, Awakenings and Dekmantel appearances (to name a few), combined with frequent club appearances at Berghain, Berlin; Fabric, London; and The Bunker, New York, and other key techno clubs/parties around the world, Sumner’s status as one of techno’s most important figures became evident.
In addition, in 2014, he collaborated with Vatican Shadow on Hospital Productions, releasing Games Have Rules, a beautiful full length ambient affair. Feeling the need for a platform to explore developing new artists and an outlet for solo material, he then decided to relaunch the 9 years dormant, Infrastructure New York, in 2015 – releasing a string of beautifully crafted 12″s and albums, developing a camp of new exclusive artists; Campbell Irvine, Post Scriptum, Mariano DC and Function/Inland, as well as involving techno classics such as Steve Bicknell and Altern8’s Mark Archer (Trackman). Going on to release the quadruple pack vinyl/CD label compilation; Infrastructure – Facticity, in 2016. Heading into 2017, Function has already established a new residency, being the only international resident at, Bassiani, in Tbilisi, Georgia. He is also celebrating nearly 25 years as a recording artist, preparing two retrospective compilations for the newly formed Ostgut Ton off-shoot; A-Ton, as well as preparing a new Function artist album and performing with Luke Slater and Steve Bicknell as LSD.