“If you like it, share it”
Having moved across time, land and sound, Deepchild is still forever a staple part of the DJ landscape. Having cut his finely chiselled teeth upon Australian imprint Future Classic, the house, now techno stalwart has been unleashing bangers upon Thoughtless Records, and soon to be embellishing the platters of Caduceus, accompanied with a demonic MRSK remix. Following on from a successful Australian and US tour, DJB caught up with the wise man of techno to find out what's changed for the producer and his new, cathartic sound. Read on to find out and more and to download this week's DJB podcast.
Deepchild has been getting murkier and edgier, what's inspired this?
Murkier and edgier, indeed. My sound has definitely been shaped by having lived in Berlin for several years, and by having the pleasure of being exposed to the radical spectrum of musical diversity here. As with most places, it's the people and politics of a locale which shape the way you 'hear'. The seasonal changes here cycle so drastically, uncompromisingly, in the context of an extremely 'urban' cityscape and, especially as winter descends, there's an 'audiological' as well as literal darkness which can only really explained via direct experience.
My music remains, in some way, just a 'filter' for my lived experience, as well as something of a reaction to certain forces. In a deeper sense, as I mature as an artist, I'm more interested in 'music as catharsis' - in exploring the shadows, the hidden places, the detritus and angularity which contemporary music often seeks to sterilize. My love of hip-hop and RNB remain ever-present but as always (particularly in an age of heavy-censorship) I'm more and more drawn to dirt, detritus, erosion; that which cannot be erased from our public experience, from our technologies. How do we expose the 'ghosts' in our machines? They still live, thankfully. I guess I've also come to enjoy the experience of music which frightens me a little. As dance-music becomes part of our shared lexicon, it's time to re-introduce some anomaly into the language once more, to keep the conversation going, to stay alive, to feel our own pulse. This is my goal, fortunately I have a lot of fantastic teachers.
How does the new Deepchild compare to the old one?
I like to hope that the new Deepchild is perhaps a little more self-assured than the old one. I'd like to hope that the new Deepchild is a little better at not getting lost in the details. I've definitely rediscovered a deep love of directness in both my original-material and dj-sets. I've been revisiting a lot of old, heavily percussive techno - not so much lush, immersive material, but raw, machine-music. I'm re-trawling through parts of my own history which I'm making sense of, and this is being reflected in how I'm performing, curating and thinking about sets. I'm trying to be gentler, and at the same-time, more good-humored, more confident, more reckless.
Who is really inspiring you at the moment?
Primarily, I've been falling deeply in love with a lot of contemporary-classical and sound-track music, reflected in my semi-regular Diversions podcast-series. Curiously, this journey has led me far from the club-realm into film and interview territory. Its been astounding, and wonderful, for example, to see the way a fascination with Burial's music might lead me to a Hans Zimmer Score, which will then lead you to an interview with George Bush, or a host of artistic-voices critical of neo-conservative politics. I'm experiencing music as a series of conjoined histories, and after an extensive tour, this web becomes tangibly clearer in a pretty uncanny way. Secret and not-so-secret communities. Music has become very political to me again, irrespective of genre. Once more, I want to stay part of the conversation - the dancefloor is a breathing, temporal, vital space for change and communion.
More specifically, my ears have really been drawn to everyone from Clint Mansell to Rihanna, Forest Swords, Vondellpark, Blawan, Boddika, Robert Hood, Burial, South London Ordinance, Sandwell District, Benjamin Damage, VVV. LFO, Joey Beltram, MRSK, Skudge, Dens & Pika. Labels like Appollo, R&S and Turbo have all been enjoying a wonderful renaissance too. Seems that the genre-waters are becoming wonderfully muddies once more. Newer imprints like Swamp 81 continue to inspire.
How would you classify the new sound that you're creating?
Presently, I'm trying to hone, edit, pull-back, reduce my work to fundamentals. It remains the single biggest challenge for me. I'm shooting for a sound which is a little more urgent, spacious, reductionist take on loopy dub-techno. I'm trying to work with a more restricted pallate, but, as always, I'm fascinated by little smudges in production, where a plugin is overloading, or an element drifts out-of-time. Try as I might, Ive never been able to get over my deep love for classic dub. I remember hearing music like King Tubby for the first time, where elements in the mix REALLY jumped out unexpectedly, or drifted out of time.
I used to think it sounded SO audacious, so HUMAN. I want to hear music where you see a human wrestling with a machine, and occasionally being beaten by it. I feel deeply suspicious of music where the beast has been tamed - because it feel like it's innately dishonest. I have very little interest in being a 'musician' or an 'artist', but I enjoy stealing good ideas, and hurling them against the wall.
Is there an actual connection between your mindset, physical well being, and the crushingly repetitive techno that's being produced?
My physical and mental well-being tend to oscillate fairly drastically, although at the moment I'm feeling far more positive, clear and content then when I released Neukölln Burning. When I feel fit, healthy and rested, I feel like making crushing repetitive techno, and I feel it's reflected in a certain more 'confident' production sound. When I feel less positive, I drift into rather more maudlin, slightly obsessive material; I get lost in the details and claustrophobia, rather than feeling 'space'. One thing which remains common, is the drive to make music which makes me feel slightly 'uncomfortable' to listen to.
How is your live-set evolving?
I'm a firm believer that the mythology used to sell music-technology, that of 'endless possibilities,' is a complete falacy in terms of being innately helpful for the creative process. In my live-set, I want LESS options, but i want my options to be well-chosen, helpful, flexible, intentional and tactile. I want my live-set to possess the directness and efficiency of picking up a guitar and singing, but also maintain enough flexibility to degenerate into guitar-smashing chaos. With this in mind, I've been streamlining my setup, and returning to a rather 'old-school' analog desk-mixing approach. 3 or 4 channels of dynamically programmable Ableton instruments and clips, fed into an outboard desk, and 1 or 2 external hardware synths. As always, I adore the directness of using my Roland SH-101 in live-sets, programming sequences live. Sonically, things seem to be becoming more urgent, percussive, distorted, rhythmically tighter.
What content do you have coming out?
There is a great deal still in the pipeline this year. Next up I have a EP called Bethania coming out with Swiss imprint, Caduceus Records. It features a couple of amazing remixes from MRSK and LAD. After this is a very exciting EP called Haiti on Tim Xavier's new label. Tim's been amazing in helping me to really tighten and improve my mixdowns, and this should be something of a techno weapon. Towards the end of the year I have a 2-tracker on Thoughtless Music, which is the long-awaited release of Dirty Thief, a steppy banger of a track which I've toured extensively.
You recently toured the US and Australia - how was that?
The recent tour was, to be honest, brilliant, smooth and exhausting. It was the first tour in some-time where a vast number of shows were sold-out, which blew me away. I have nothing but thankfullness. Every year these extensive tours get more easy to sustain and navigate - this last one felt like a small triumph. I was incredibly impressed by the responses in Canada and Australia - the scene in Australia has grown incredibly. I'm deeply impressed, and very thankful for the support.
Finally, what happened to Australia?
Australia, I fear, drank the Koolaid served up by Rupert Murdoch, and the quaint revisionist hysteria afforded by isolation and political imbecility. One only has to watch Australian parliamentary Question Time to see how politics have degraded into mud-slinging and immaturity. It's a deeply distressing state of affairs, and I feel desperately sad to see the way this avalanche of right-wing support has crippled any rational conversation on how Australia might extend it's kindness toward the global-community. I'm baffled, deeply so. I can only hope that Australia may come to realise it's position of privilege in the global community, and celebrate incredible prosperity with kindness and dignity.
For now, however, we have a right-wing neocon attempting to take the reigns. It is what it is, and I know that my Aussie friends are slightly shell-shocked. What can we do, then, but to try to model the Australia we might have dreamed about - wherever we are in the world.