Firstly, we’ve read in detail of your involvement in San Francisco’s vibrant scene, which we understand you entered into as an artist at the age of 16.
Can you tell us a little bit about the scene in SF and how you found yourself becoming more ingrained in it as time went on? How do you compare it to other electronic music destinations within the USA?
Yes, of course! So I actually moved up to San Francisco for college when I turned 18, and had already been a ‘bedroom DJ’ for several years before that, starting from when I was in high school. Once I moved up north from my childhood home outside of Los Angeles, it didn’t take long for me to ‘get my foot in the door’ in SF. My first gig ever actually happened in 2014 in San Francisco, the same year I graduated from high school, and it was the result of me entering a DJ contest for a popular deep house event there at the time. Although I didn’t win the contest, I still caught the attention of the promoter and a couple weeks after, I was asked to play last minute, probably about 3 hours before the show…and I’ve never stopped since! After that, I began to play more regularly and picked up a residency with Robot Ears and was with them for more than 6 years. I consider San Francisco to be the city that really helped me develop my sound and just myself as an artist in general. I feel the closest connection to the SF scene, despite being from LA, just because of how much time I’ve spent living there and being part of / contributing to the scene there.
As for how I’d compare the scene in San Francisco to other places, I’d say the more niche / underground / heady techno scene is generally smaller, but I feel like it’s been growing over the years. When it comes to the bigger names in techno, there’s usually no issue with attendance in SF, and it’s probably this way in most major music destination cities in the States. I’ve been fortunate to play in Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Diego and of course Los Angeles too and have had amazing times in all those places; however there’s still a lot of places in the US that I haven’t experienced! Over all I’ve been impressed by the different scenes in the cities I’ve experienced and played in. Detroit and Minneapolis are always standouts to me when I play there as far as the vibe and overall event quality. My hometown Los Angeles is absolutely crushing it with their warehouse parties, and the scene in New York is so awesome as well! I feel like all over the States, techno is on the up-and-up. I’ve noticed more people are becoming open-minded to it, discovering it for the first time and sticking with it, and more festivals and bigger clubs are starting to book techno than when I first was getting started for sure.
One of SF’s premier techno destinations in ‘Robot Ears’ was a venue you held a residency at for six years, whilst you have also become a member of ‘Direct to Earth’ in recent times – a collective that seeks “to cultivate a positive impact…on earth via sound waves, and experimentation in altered atmospheres”.
Undoubtedly playing alongside some immensely talented artists, how did you benefit from holding that residency for such a lengthy duration? For DTE, what was it that led you to become a member?
I learned a lot of valuable things during my residency, especially because I was just gaining experience playing gigs. Some of the things I learned were how to better navigate the industry and local scene, how to play an appropriate set for whatever situation, and eventually I worked my way up in the collective – first managing their social media platforms, and then I was given more responsibility. So I learned a lot about booking and event management, artist hospitality, dealing with logistics, talking to agents, etc. During the last few years of Robot Ears, I was handling nearly everything on my own when it came to bookings, and things just kind of came to an end with that crew as a result of the pandemic.
With DTE, things kind of just fell into place after the crew and I attended The Great Beyond in Franklin, Minnesota together last summer. It’s always been a joy working with them— I had collaborated a bunch with DTE for events in the past and also fundraising streams for our home venue, F8, during lockdown in 2020, as well as playing b2b with DTE head Max Gardner a few times and really enjoying it. It just made sense to finally officially join forces! Working with them so far has been great; it’s always a dope feeling working with a team of like-minded people and being part of pushing the techno we believe in, plus having it be received so well by The Bay Area.
Much has been said of your ability to weave in a collection of different genres and musical stylings to create a unique atmosphere of sound, which carries through to your productions since you crossed over into that field.
Was this variety something you always utilised or did it become this way after discovering different areas of music? What made you cross over into the realms of production and who has influenced you thus far?
Before finding techno, I listened to a variety of different styles of music from my background with punk / alternative, rap / hip hop, dubstep, trance, house, DNB, ambient / electronica + more before really settling into my style now. I’ll still find elements from many of these genres that I am inspired by and try to utilize them in my productions and sometimes in my sets as well.
I started producing not long after I began DJing. I believe I bought Ableton when I was 17, but it took me a little bit to get more serious about it and actually put in time to make anything of substance. At San Francisco State, I switched my major from studio art to BECA (Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts), which includes audio production and engineering as soon as I was able to. By the time I started taking audio classes there, I was already familiar with producing and being self-taught up until that point; but I only improved from then on. Here I got to really learn so many technical aspects of recording, producing and mixing of music—we would often record bands or work with previously recorded reel-to-reel tapes.
Things really started to click for me while studying audio at school, and I went on to release my first solo EP in 2019 on the label Ascetic Limited. My first piece of music out was actually in 2018 and it was a remix I made on headphones while living in my dorm in Stuttgart, Germany while studying abroad! Additionally I wanted to mention that I studied sound design for film in school, and I retook both that and Advanced Audio just to get as much hands-on experience as I could. Pretty much all aspects of sound are interesting to me and I love learning / mastering new things. I even won an award for Excellent Leadership in Audio in my department and went on to do a bit of live sound engineering for bands and DJs after I graduated!
I’ve had a lot of influences over the years as far as techno and electronic music but some of the more current ones are Oscar Mulero, Luke Slater / PAS, Nørbak, Rene Wise, Evigt Mörker, Setaoc Mass, Inigo Kennedy, Tensal, Kaiser, Drumcell, Abdulla Rashim, Marcal, and I could just keep going on and on!
You’ve already played at a host of cities and venues around the world, but some key highlights were playing at the iconic Tresor in Berlin and Gate Club in Georgia.
How did it feel to you being able to exhibit your artistry at venues graced by so many talented individuals before you? Are you someone who prefers performing overseas or in your own city/nation?
It’s always a crazy feeling playing in booths that so many inspirations and legends have graced before me. Tresor was probably the most notable one for me; it was my first gig in Berlin back in 2017 and I still trip out at the fact it all happened! It feels a little different to perform abroad for me; but in Germany in particular I feel very at home because of getting to know a bunch of people there and also from majoring in German language / culture. Back in 2017 I also got invited to play at Lehmann Club in Stuttgart – where Chris Liebing used to hold his CLR nights – which was pretty sweet!
I would say that I love both performing home and abroad for different reasons—for me, playing where I’ve really built myself and the connection with the community is where I probably feel the most at ease. However I equally love getting opportunities to play for new people in new places, getting to experience new cultures, sharing moments on the dancefloor and begin to build those same relationships and connections with people in the community.
Though you’ve already amassed a multitude of releases, 2021 saw a significant landmark for you in that you had your first track appearing on wax – your remix of Nate Manic’s ‘You Will Not Ruin Me’, which is a really nice track by the way!
What did it mean to you to have your music immortalised (in a sense) on something tangible as opposed to being in the cloud of music that we now typically source from? Can you tell us about how this release came about?
Oh thank you!! It was honestly surreal; sometimes I still can’t even believe that something of mine is on a record! For me it was a huge milestone moment, and something that my parents were extremely proud of as well, which means a lot to me. It’s definitely always been a dream of mine for as long as I’ve been producing, to someday have a release on wax, and I’m pretty proud of myself for making it happen at age 25!
Music is so abundant digitally these days and people have such a short attention span and are onto the next thing so quickly (I’ll admit I can be guilty of this too); but I perceive the whole culture of collecting vinyl to be different. Generally I feel like vinyl collectors are more into buying things for the long-run and records that stand the test of time; plus it also has to really be worth spending the money on. This is another reason why I was just so honoured and humbled to have been offered to be part of this remix package, because someone felt my music was good enough to touch vinyl and be there forever!
The release came about when Nate Manic, former Booker of Spybar in Chicago and head of the label Quaint but Extra reached out to me online and asked if I wanted to remix his single, ‘You Will Not Ruin Me’ of his debut album. I listened to the track and it had more vocals than I’m usually used to working with in a techno track, but I was up for the challenge and quickly came up with something I loved. I really tried to make something timeless, something worthy of being on vinyl and that would still kind of ‘go’ with the other tracks on the record as well as still fitting with my own style; and I feel like I achieved that! Nate also mentioned who was going to be part of the vinyl – Derrick Carter, Justin Cudmore and Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts, and of course I couldn’t turn that down!
Lastly, we gather that you have your first solo vinyl EP coming out in the latter half of 2022.
Would you mind please giving us a bit of an insight into what we can expect from this release, in terms of musical style? What emotions and feelings are you seeking to convey through it?
It turns out that I actually have 2 solo vinyl EPs in the works right now. The first one is going to be released via a New York-based label and consists of 4 original tracks. The A-side will include my tracks ‘Magnetic Field’ and ‘Rotating on an Axis’ while the B-side will have ‘Pulsar’ and ‘Pulsar (Tool)’. These tracks are pretty true to my style of driving, hypnotic, and of course a bit spacey.
I would say that side A is a bit more heady and banging while side B has a little more groove and is definitely great for the dancefloor, offering 2 cuts of ‘Pulsar’ where the tool can be layered or played alone. I’m always trying to convey feelings of disorientation with my music, and stuff that is rhythmic and hypnotic, making the listener get lost, but still maintaining that groove or lushness with texture / melody. As for my other vinyl EP in the works, I won’t give away too many details, but I’ll just say it’s going to be a 3-tracker with 2 remixes!
Written by Jeremy McCarthy