On the video “Bromance Does Mexico” on YouTube you said that Mexico's people are really educated musically... how do you notice that in a crowd? What do you read of them to feel that?
That's a good question; I guess the easiest analogy is a conversation with someone you don't know very well. If I'm playing a Vegas pool party I'm not going to talk about the spiritual element of astrophysics, or psycho-geography because it will bum everyone out. Certain crowds will respond better to 'deeper' sonic ideas and when a crowd likes to be challenged, rises enthusiastically to the weirder stuff, it usually means they are open minded and educated musically, and can be a delight to 'converse' with.
Why is your long time friend and collaborator Maelstrom your favorite human?
He makes me want to be my best self because I think he sees it and believes in it in a way that I didn't before we started working together. I hope I do the same for him. RAAR is a result of this.
Is Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Ch Change in any way related to Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes?
Haha, it wasn't intentional but I love Bowie a lot so why not?
Are your lyrics always personal or is there a sense of fiction to some of the themes?
They're always personal. I want to get better at invention but what else am I supposed to do with my feelings? This is where I put them.
Is there a writer that you could say influences your lyrical style? Or someone that has helped you discover your own voice (both as a language and as an instrument)?
What an interesting question! An ex of mine who is an author, Julian Feeld, really inspired some of the world building strategy I put into my work. I don't want to describe it; I want the listener to experience what I'm talking about, if that makes sense. Paul Auster, Patti Smith and Frank O'Hara have also been big influences.
In your interview for DJ Mag you talked a lot about sexism within dance music. What daily situations with your peers and other professionals in your industry have you come across sexism? (Please take this as a chance to unload your opinion about specific manners, ideas, or attitudes that you think should be rethink and change by your colleagues, pairs, and the whole industry).
Look at any festival lineup, any club calendar, any top ten list. Look at any booking agency or management roster, any comparison of fees paid to men and women in this industry. This is a daily, often invisible interaction with an archaic patriarchy that it is my business to chip away at. It's not just about some asshole groping you in a dark club, though that is also a horrendous affront; it is an institution that will take focused energy, time and work to dismantle. Ask that question to the promoters, agents, managers, talent buyers, boundary-less handsy douchebags and maybe we will start to get somewhere.
In an interview with Thumb you talked about how your music is about touching “.. the darker stuff and not be afraid, while maintaining an attitude of awesomeness and gratitude” Could you expand on the description of the attitude of awesomeness and gratitude? How do you practice it?
For me it takes quite a lot of concerted effort to be able to stay with the darker stuff, and use it to create ('awesomeness and gratitude') and not self-destruct. What this looks like in practice is a morning and evening review and gratitude lists - things i'm grateful for, and also taking note of where i've been self-seeking, fearful, dishonest, afraid, resentful. It is part of my spiritual practice to pray that these that stand in the way of me and Love are lifted so that I may be more useful in this world. I will tell someone if I've fucked up majorly, make amends where necessary, and perhaps most importantly, turn my thoughts to someone I can help. I find the real root of the destruction comes from self-centered fear, so if I can kind of surrender my darker parts with an effective spiritual practice (instead of burying them more deeply and pretending they don't exist), they can actually be used to help someone that's struggling with the same thing. Instead of living in isolation and shame, it is this kind of work that allows me to be in the world as a flawed human and become grateful for my 'defects', allow them to connect me to others and learn compassion.
You mentioned that your music fits with Bromance because of their sinister style which is also an adjective that works to describe techno music. How do you handle the coexistence of your light in an environment that is so much about darkness?
It is impossible to have light without darkness; these things may seem like opposites but they are actually complimentary forces.
You told DJ Mag about past addictions and your path to recovery and spirituality. Some say an addiction is a phase before finding your true purpose and journey. How closely do you think this aligns with you personally?
It's tricky; I am grateful for my disease of addiction because unless I hit rock-bottom, I never would have been forced to seek a spiritual path. It is not always easy, however, to live with this time-bomb brain that just can't seem to get pleasure out of moderation and balance. If it's not very extreme, it's not that interesting to me. I can definitely use this as an artist, but it is really about a daily reprieve contingent upon spiritual growth. This means, rather terrifyingly, that success cannot be about career or prestige or ego-based pursuits, but on how free I really want to be today.
What personal journey are you on now?
That's a pretty broad question. I recently overcame a pretty gnarly bout of depression following a challenging winter, a break-up, challenging work stuff. I feel like I'm out of the woods of despair today, so I am trying to be present with that, not wait for the other shoe to drop, meanwhile really tasting the gift of all of this, not taking it for granted.
Congratulations on founding your new label RAAR. Could you let us know about how it all came to be and what we can look forward to in the future?
Mael and I wanted a place to release the stuff what we were making that wasn't built for Bromance, and had talked about starting a label...it felt like a much more distant plan but everything kind of fell into place in a way that allowed us to push off powerfully much sooner than expected. We are getting to release work from our heroes (Dave Clarke, Black Asteroid, Mr Jones as Roijacker, rave legends Somatic Responses, Manu Le Malin and Electric Rescue as W.LV.S), plus peers and friends and newcomers (Erson Rybod, Specialivery, JoeFarr, Jlin), and also raise the level of our own music together. We recently spent a few days together doing live sessions and it is the most exciting, natural recording experience I've ever had. The first listen of the unedited tracks makes me quake with delight . It feels like we are just getting warmed up.
Collaborations and doing guest vocals seems to be something you enjoy doing. Do you have any coming up we can look forward to? Any new musical projects in the pipeline we should know about?
I love working with other artists as it pushes me outside my comfort zone and is always a learning experience. Right now I've been focused on writing some stuff with more of a pop sensibility; not going to be specific on for whom - yet - but I'm pretty excited about it.
How excited are you about coming to China?
I've never been, it's always thrilling to check out a new territory, especially somewhere so different from what I know. Really looking forward to having horizons forcefully broadened.
The Bromance guys were here recently and Maelstrom has come a few times before, have they passed on any tips for Shanghai?
They all say rather mysteriously that it's wonderful, and to trust STD to take care of me. I'm counting on you guys!
What can audiences expect for the show in Shanghai?
No matter what I will bring my all, so I expect them to do the same.
Event info here.