Saturday, 29 August 2009
Seth Troxler Interview
Here is an interview I did with Seth Troxler recently.
So you played Fabric this weekend. How was it?
It was really good, I played before Steve Bug. It was a really good lineup, Steve Bug, Hearththrob, Slam, Nathan Johnson, and Room 3 was 2020 Vision so it was really a mint party, it was packed early and Fabric was really going off.
And do you like Fabric?
Yeah it’s super, it’s my favourite place to play.
Yeah, yeah, in the UK for sure.
Because Ricardo offered his Fabric Mix as a gift to room one and it’s a place that gets a lot of people excited.
Yeah I played once when Ricardo was playing and it was really amazing.
Yeah because I saw you at the Berlin Beach Break event with Ricardo Villalobos, did you have a good time, what did you think?
Yeah it was great an amazing time, super fun. The Club Der Visionaere people put it on, and we have our night right now, and it’s a really nice family thing.
I wanted to ask you, because you mentioned that you were here with a bunch of Americans and there is a history of Americans in Europe, not specifically in music but talking more generally in the arts. In the 20th century people like Gertrude Stein, TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, do you see yourself as part of a coterie, or perhaps as a continuation of that?
I mean, we do have a lot of the North Americans in dance music all moved over here, you know and it’s really right now in the arts all around, there’s something about here (Berlin) that’s really rubbing us up the right way. It’s a really great community and art seems to have really had an explosion. I think it’s the rents, the raves, no one really has a job at the moment so…
But do you see yourself as part of a community, or a coterie, here of Americans?
I definitely see myself as part of a group of Americans and we’re trying to create some concepts and make some new ideas, but all of them are not located here, however some of them are.
So is it a geographical thing?
Well, it is a geographical thing, you know with the Wagon Repair guys, and the M_nus guys, and there’s a lot of other Americans. I’d say we kind of have our own kind of thing going here, like Mike Shannon and those guys, and we’re a community for sure, and we’re branching into all working with each other more and more. So you can think of it like that, but to be modest, it’s best not to think of it like that. If something comes out of it in the future, in an art historical sense and people look back, and think wow that was a really great time period that’s for them to decide.
So do you think that perhaps a sound could develop out of it, or do you think the idea of you guys being over here, coming from Michigan, a sound could be born out of that?
I think we all od have our own sound, and I mean, it’s kind of different from Europeans. I’m not saying it in a negative way but culturally and how we grew up with dance music and our ideas of dance music, and how we play, is just a different sound. In that sense it’s very tight knit.
You don’t see one developing though?
I don’t know, there has been a lot of cross-pollination of helping out with ideas, but with developing an entirely new sound I don’t know. With the Wolf+Lamb crew, and our crew, we are trying to develop a new sound. But each group is separate. I mean with Berlin in general you have the advantage of being able to work with people and develop ideas who are doing different sounds which is beautiful, each different pieces of art, and everyone has their own different group or crew, doing what they want to get involved with.
I also wanted to ask you, because I mentioned earlier that my father is Colombian so I grew up at home with salsa omnipresent you know, meringue, salsa cumbia, and that has definitely filtered into my music tastes subsequently in overt ways and less overt ways, and so I was wondering if you could maybe tell me a bit about your influences because I know dance music in America is not necessarily something people might have been exposed to from a young age.
As a child you mean?
Well my parents were into house music and reggae.
So you came from that heritage already?
Yeah my grandfather was into jazz so I was listening to that from when I was really young, and then got into classic rock, and my parents’ music, reggae, and 80s pop you know, and also rap and RnB and my dad had a radio show, and that had a huge effect on me, just having that music around me, shaping what my musical tastes are today.
Do you still make room for other genres like that?
Yeah definitely, I’m always looking for new music. That’s the thing for me that is so amazing you know when I can find something new, like fuck yeah, I can’t believe I’ve missed this for this long, how did I not know about this, it’s really exciting. Like I really just got into a lot of late-70s, early to mid-80s indie rock you know, like the early Rough Trade stuff, Young Marble Giants, Silver Jews (who aren’t on Rough Trade) but that kind of sound, and it’s really blowing my mind and I’m trying to create more of a crossover sound right now – well not crossover, I hate that – but I’m trying to make stuff that has more of a (hesitant) a pop side in some ways.
So pop is something you are interested in?
Yes pop is something I’m interested in but not traditional pop, more contemporary dance music mixed with more of a pop influence kind of like early dance music, early Detroit music where they were kind of like these dance pop records you know with these vocals with great hooks and I want to move into that more and writing songs rather than just dance tracks.
Well some of your remixes now are definitely becoming more pop orientated like the Fever Ray stuff. Not pop per se but that spectrum.
Yeah that spectrum exactly. It’s really fun for me and right now I think it’s a bit different to everything that is coming out. There are so many beat tools, and it’s like, let’s make something that I’m really interested in, and there’s no need to follow a trend, and it’s cool do what you’re interested in and if people get into it then cool, if not then whatever. It’s all kind of a game of luck anyway.
One thing I’m curious about, and I guess this is to do with your personal development, is do you feel that maybe you need to do that pop or crossover thing to get a wider audience?
I think it’s just for myself. It’s something I’m really enjoying right now I always want more or the most out of any experience and right now with doing this I want something more, I want to broaden myself and what I’m making musically, and it’s really fun for me. I’m not trying to restrict myself but it’s so much harder to actually write a song. To write a beat track it’s cool, it’s like bla bla bla, but to actually write a song it’s like ‘Fuck this is hard’ you know, really difficult. But it’s making myself think more and I’m really excited about that.
In terms of DJing vs producing , do you have any personal preference? Is it the buzz from the crowd that gets you going?
I started out as a DJ, I love DJing and that’s why I don’t play live. I enojy being a studio producer, and I love making tracks at home during the week and working on projects with friends, but I love going to parties, you know, I’m 23 man, I like the good times.
I wanted to ask a bit more about Berlin. How long have you been here?
Two years. I’ve been coming here since I was at high school, my junior year was the first time I came here so when I was 17 and I’m about to be 24.
That’s quite uncommon though no?
Well, I came over here with family when I was 17 and 18 after I graduated from high school I came over and played and hung out, and started coming out every summer ever since, and then I moved.
How’s the German?
Oh not so good. Sadly.
How about the rest of you guys?
Um, Shaun can speak some German, but he’s been here for 5 years. You know with travelling so much and hanging out with that group of all Americans has made it more difficult to learn the language. The people are so accommodating, like if you live in other German cities like Munich or other places they’re a bit more strict on you learning German but here everyone wants to practice they’re English with you, which isn’t really helping so much.
So it’s the summer and that means summer anthems. I wanted to know if there is someone you are really feeling at the moment – someone who’s really getting you going or a track in particular?
Oh wow. Right now my friend Benoit is making some amazing music. He just started a new project wth Bruno Pronsato and it’s also kind of like on the pop side. I’m actually a litte envious I didn’t make a couple of songs as well. It’s kind of like New Order mixed with Bruno Pronsato.
So it’s kind of like a side project, like Audion and then Matthew Dear?
Well Bruno and Benoit started this group, Notre Dame and the Fear, and they’ve got this other project with Sergio Giorgini who has also released for Wolf and Lamb which has blown my mind away with some new tracks he’s written. Him and Ryan Crosson just made a new track which is like Perlon and New Order, which is kind of like the perfect mix.
And where do you see yourself in one year, and then perhaps five years? Or where do you want to be?
Well, still making music, and I have a few projects I’m working on now like a blog and radio and some other, more interesting things for myself, and I hope to keep interesting people. I’m really interested in being a culturalist in some ways and keep making parties, but not just straight up parties but cultural events.
So like curating parties?
Yeah we throw parties, one in Zurich, one here at Weekend, and the Need I say More party in Detroit during the festival and we’re going to try and open up with some other American promoters and create not just parties but things which are like wow, an experience. You know, expanding the idea of what is a party, what are people’s ideas of musicians or the whole idea of what is dance music culture and what it can be. This is something our group of friends is really trying to – well not tryng to work on or trying to mould – but make into something we are interested in.
So bigger than the music then?
For sure, for sure.
Bigger than just a lifestyle choice then?
Well that’s where it gets a bit weird because it is a lifestyle choice but I would like to connect more things of our lifestyle, or my views on life with the music so people who believe in our music, can see that and understand what our lifestyle choices are.
But more than that at the same time?
Yeah exactly. That’s something that right now is, that needs to be noted, that the lifestyle of some of the people in the underground, the people who make music, Perlon, Spectral, Playhouse, M_nus, all the labels like this, Wolf+Lamb; the people going to these parties and listening to this music, aren’t like the normal dance music crowd. You know, they’re a lot more educated and more fluent, and there’s a lot of people working in that who are also working in the arts and if there is some way that we can make those two points known, I think this musical genre, the music that we are making, in the future will be looked at in a broader sense.
As like a cultural artifact?
Yeah exactly and somehow making it a cultural artifact by doing your best to document it, or make it something that is documentable is a goal I think not just for myself but for this music as a whole.