When Percomaniacs label heads Rybo and Lubelski embarked on their first full Florida tour supporting the imprint in February, they had to get creative. Both of their credit cards had been hit with fraud alerts, and the DJ duo was stranded at the Tallahassee airport without a way to rent a car for their journey to Orlando, Tampa, and Miami. The quick-thinking beatmakers eventually discovered that U-Haul accepts debit cards for rentals, and soon enough, they found themselves steering a 20-foot box truck across the state.
This kind of resourcefulness and ceaseless commitment has underscored Rybo and Lubelski's career as DJ/producers and has helped to position their record label as a curatorial force for house and techno music in their native California and beyond. Before their current label took off, longtime friends Ryan Bohnet and Jake Lubell — AKA Rybo and Lubelski — had been collaborating on music for years. Although they'd previously founded a fledgling label alongside four other Los Angeles cohorts, a fateful trip to Coachella's 2018 edition spurred the idea of starting Percomaniacs.
“We were driving home after watching Jamie Jones absolutely slay Coachella, and we thought to ourselves that we needed to be our own bosses and not have to answer to anyone,” Lubelski says.
The Los Angeles neighbors went straight to their studio and started stacking enough original material to launch a proper imprint. The label’s name is a nod to their shared love of percussion, and their “Addicted to Drums” mantra can be heard across their smattering of house and techno releases. Rybo coined the phrase “bongos, not bangers” to succinctly explain their passion for groove-driven tracks with staying power.
“We’re not just looking to make people pump their fists; we also want to make something that has replayability and substance,” Lubelski explains.
“We like to make our own trends,” Rybo adds, “and put out timeless house music.” He and Lubelski will revel in their drum-oriented brand of dance-floor heaters Friday, November 22, when the two will go back-to-back for an extended set at Floyd.
Rybo and Lubelski's commitment to championing their sound can be seen (and heard) in Percomaniacs' release schedule. The label puts out new music every three weeks, and although much of the material is produced by the label’s cofounders, its output also includes contributions from DJ friends and rising underground stars. The label has given a platform to artists from New York, Miami, and Chicago, as well as international acts from Berlin, Australia, Japan, and Serbia.
The duo releases only tracks they would personally play in DJ sets, and they have a self-imposed rule about collaborating only with artists they admire and respect.
“Even if someone’s music is good but we don’t like that person, we wouldn’t sign their music,” Lubelski explains.
Percomaniacs' tracks have received plaudits from dance music heavyweights including Pete Tong, Fatboy Slim, Gorgon City, and Guy Gerber. In September, Percomaniacs hosted its first label showcase in Los Angeles, a sold-out affair that saw surprise sets from Dirtybird founder Claude VonStroke as well as Mikey Lion and Porky, two of the ringleaders behind the Desert Hearts collective. VonStroke was one of Percomaniacs’ earliest supporters and connected with the imprint via the label's A&R and resident artist, Wyatt Marshall, who doubles as VonStroke’s studio hand and radio show producer. VonStroke dropped Percomaniacs’ inaugural record, “Mi Casa,” on his radio show The Birdhouse in summer 2018 and booked Rybo and Lubelski for a label takeover at the Dirtybird Campout Festival in Northern California this past October. Rybo, Lubelski, and Wyatt Marshall spun back-to-back-to-back for three hours, the longest time slot of the weekend.
Similarly, Desert Hearts has also been integral to fostering Percomaniacs' growth. The West Coast-based house and techno crew helped usher Rybo and Lubelski into the national limelight and placed the pair on opening duties during their takeover of the Terrace at Club Space in February.
Rybo and Lubelski's triumphant return to Miami will see them spin an all-night set at Floyd. Because the speakeasy-style Miami hang rarely hosts open-to-close performances, Rybo and Lubelski look forward to sharing their preferred format with attendees who might be unfamiliar with the thrill of marathon dance-floor workouts. According to Lubelski, he and Rybo thrive when given free rein to play what they want for however long they like, and they relish the opportunity to indulge in more left-field sounds and a wider range of genres than what traditional two-hour DJ sets allow.
“We get to play the music that we love and the weirder music in our catalog that we may not necessarily play in a shorter set,” Lubelski says. “If people are still there by hour four, they’re clearly feeling it, and we can try to stretch their minds a bit.”
Rybo thinks of extended sets as an opportunity to tell a story through their song selections, with all of the peaks, lows, and surprises that come with any good tale.
“We vibe off of the crowd, and we’re always trying to find the next song that will be a good fit for the last one, and it naturally evolves,” Lubelski explains. “We’re only as good as the crowd’s reaction.”
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The two never discuss in advance what they plan to drop in their DJ sets and rarely feel the need to speak to each other while mixing. Instead, they feed off each other’s picks and arrange seamless transitions that reflect their palpable chemistry as selectors. Even though they're refraining from mapping out their forthcoming Miami show, they're excited about the prospect of switching up their sound more liberally than usual.
“We love to play in Miami because it’s such a fun city and also because of the huge Latin influence,” Rybo says. “We can play a ton of Latin vocals and percussive-heavy, tribal tracks.”
For however adventurous their set may turn out, that quality will be less apparent in their travel itinerary: Rybo and Lubelski have traded I-95 and U-Haul trucks for the friendly skies and will arrive in Miami by plane.