Friday, 17 September 2010

Deetron Interview

Music has always been a constant in Deetron's life. From his childhood listening to his father's Jazz records to his discovery of Hip Hop during his teens and his love of Gang Starr to hearing Todd Terry's productions for the first time and then being mesmerised by E-Dancer's seminal 'Pump Up The Move'. DJing seemd to be a logical step.

Deetron, aka Sam Geiser, was born in Bern, Switzerland and once the turntables became part of his furniture, the gigs started to slowly happen from venues around the country.

Production followed in the late 90s with a track appearing on the now defunct Axodya label (later to become Phont) and then he began an association with legendary Belgium imprint Music Man releasing a string of 12"s and even a Fuse compilation, an honour bestowed on only some of the great techno DJs like Adam Beyer, Dave Clarke, Technasia, Hell, Joris Voorn and others.

The best thing about Deetron is that he is still around, changing and adapting his own style to the new flavours of House and Tech, even incorporating vocalists in his latest productions.

You've seen House/Techno and everything in between over the past 20 or so years? What are your thoughts on where dance music is now?

Because of the new media for music and the amount of releases coming out every week, the scene has become very short-lived. You have to work a lot harder these days in order to stand out and make yourself be heard.

It's really been the past five or so years that has totally turned the industry upside down. Have you embraced the technology and changes?

For sure, most significantly. I changed my setup in the studio. Whereas I used to work with analog equipment mainly up until a few years ago, large parts of my production are digital now. I do sample a lot as well though and the mixdown is still done on a real mixer.

Do you miss the vinyl culture? How do you DJ today?

I'm still in love with vinyl to this day and record shopping is one of my favourtie pastimes when I'm travelling. As far as DJing goes, I am playing vinyl and CDs at the moment. I tested the first ever Final Scratch when it came out a long time ago and recently got a copy of both Traktor Scratch and Serato but I haven't really fallen in love with it. The physical aspect of the media is very important for me and it's just the most spontaneous way for me to DJ.

Have you still got all your records? Have you ever thought about digitizing them?

Some of them are stocked at my parents' place but I still have them all. Those few ones I wouldn't mind getting rid of are worthless anyway so it's not really worth the effort trying to sell them. Also I could never trash a record which I bought either which is a bit neurotic I guess.

Do you ever stop yourself talking about the 'good old days' to people? Do your early days still hold a special place for you?

No, I don't mind too much about what was in the past really. I'm much more interested in what's coming up in the future.

Let's talk about your youth. Your father was a Jazz musician. What a great start to your career? Was your house surrounded with records? Did he encourage you into a musical career?

Yes, it was great having my father's record collection and his taste and knowledge of music around me. Even if I only came to appreciate it when I was in my teens. When I was really young I used to listen to Michael Jackson and Prince as an act of rebellion against my father though. His taste for music was very purist and elitist at that time and he would only let me listen to those things in my own room. He didn't exactly encourage me to work on music but he always supported me in everything I did thankfully.

Did you love Jazz as much as your father and if so what do you like about it?

I only really got into it later on, when I was listening to a lot of House already. We actually even did a record together during that time where he was playing the double bass which was released under the name of Procreation on Compost Records around 2000/2001. The idea of improvisation is very appealing to me.

You delved into Hip Hop in a big way. What got you into that?

We used to go to this community youth club where I grew up and they had turntables and a mixer. In the beginning we were playing Top100 parties up until a friend of mine (he later became Swiss DMC Champ) came up with 'Daily Operation' by Gang Starr. 'Take It Personal' has been my anthem ever since. I still listen to it regularly. It holds the essence of Hip Hop for me.

How big was Hip Hop in Switzerland?

Huge, and it still is very big. We also have a very big Swiss Rap scene.

What did you love about it? It was a good era for it in the early 90s.

It was something completely different, a shock for me almost. Very rythmical and bass-driven music, latently agressive, repetitive and intelligent . The culture as a whole with the four elements fascinated me as well.

How did you get in to 4/4 dance music? Was there one song that changed you?

It actually was a particular song which got me into it completely. I had heard some early stuff by Todd Terry already which sounded like fast Hip Hop to me at the time. I stumbled across a copy of E-Dancer's 'Pump The Move' in a local record shop and I think I must have been jumping up and down for joy at the listening booth.

Chicago House and Detroit seemed to have been a passion. Were there producers that you followed religiously?

I think I own literally every Kevin Saunderson production from his early days and I still follow each release by Carl Craig until today of course.

Tell us about when you started playing out. Why did you want to DJ?

In the beginning I was really fascinated by the Hip Hop DJs and their technical approach to DJing. I was bugging my parents to buy me a 1200, and got them to buy me one eventually. The first time I ever played to a crowd was at the aforementioned youth club and then I started to slowly play gigs all around Bern and Switzerland.

Was the scene thriving in the 90s in Switzerland? Where were you living and playing?

There were a lot of really big warehouse parties and raves going on in the early 90s which would always have a floor dedicated to Techno. The scene became quite big for our music in Switzerland around 95/96 when clubs like Rohstofflager in Z├╝rich opened and started to book international DJs every weekend.

The Swiss are known for their Techno. Why do you do you think that is?

Are they? Well I suppose it's due to the Street Parade and raves in the late 90s and early 00s. And also there are a lot of great producers from Switzerland, like for instance Ripperton, the Drumpoet guys, Jagged etc.

How did you get into production and how were you writing back then?

It just got to the stage that I felt the need to make my own music rather than just playing records. I got hold of an Atari Commodore 64 with a very early version of Cubase on it and a Juno-106 as well as a little mixer and started fooling around with it. A little bit later I got my first 909 and a 101 and started building my own bedroom studio.

Tell us about Phont Music and how your first track came about?

Stefan Riesen, the guy who founded Phont Music, came to the record store I used to run in Bern on a regular basis. He used to run a label called Axodya at that time where he released my first ever track on a compilation with tracks only by artists from Bern.

Music Man is legendary now and you really have been associated with them throughout your career. Why do you think they have lasted so long?

They never really jumped on a certain trend I guess and have quite a clear vision of the music that they want to release.

How has your music changed over the past ten years? What software do you use now?

My music has become more musical, with a lot of vocals as well. I really enjoy working with vocalists. It gives me a lot of inspiration in the production process. I'm using both Cubase and Live at the moment and countless plug-ins as well.

Is there any chance of a new LP in the near future?

I'm currently working on new material for an LP but I am not sure when it will see the light of the day just yet.

Do you still love DJing and what is it about it that you still love?

It's all about the instant interaction with the crowd and the energy that builds throughout a set. It's a great way to test out new material as well and being able to share the music you love with others.

Are there any new producers that you like? New music style that you are getting into?

There's a lot of great music around these days, some really young guys like Kyle Hall or Nicolas Jaar, The Soul Clap guys. I'm into the a lot of the music that people like Shed or Redshape are making as well.

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