Spending half an hour in the company of Seth Troxler’s sparking imagination is always an exhilarating ride. Buzzing with ideas, theories and analogies when we meet to discuss his recent ‘DJ Kicks’ compilation, the topics range from a widely publicized spat with Dutch EDM DJ Dyro to recently completing an artist album — a grandly ambitious project about which more will be revealed in due course.
Today though, sitting on the sofa in his living room beneath a giant neon sign that says ‘Fuck It’, matching a tattoo he has on his arm, we’re here to talk about Seth the DJ. Adding to past mix compilations for Bpitch and NRK, his entry into !K7’s iconic mix series is a typically sweeping affair.
Butch’s ecstatic jungle disco vibes, from his own Play It Say It label, sit next to vintage house from the likes of Mood II Swing and Derrick Carter, while the acoustic folky strum of Niki Nakazawa’s ‘Should It Be’ — a track forthcoming on another of his labels, Soft Touch — sets the early mood, and Afro-futurists Sun Ra close out the mix. In short, it’s as unpredictable as the man himself…
Rumour has it that you’ve calmed down. When was the last time you had ‘DJ Kicks’ right through the night?
“The other night we went to DC10 [in Ibiza], then went to Cocoon for Rich and Sven and Dubfire — all in one night. I’ve never seen Amnesia with so many people — it was crazy. I’ve been hanging out with these kids in Ibiza called Lumartez.
I even got a tattoo. It means Monday and Tuesday mixed together, because that’s where the magic happens. They are the best crew to hang out with, they’re all Spanish worker kids. I don’t like the after-parties becoming exclusive in big villas. It’s not cool! Also, the people there aren’t really cool compared to hanging out with real people doing real things.”
Jackmaster seems to have taken over the party reputation you once had. Were you living with him over the summer in Ibiza?
“I couldn’t live with Jack! I love him to bits, but, yeah… I live the domesticated life. Jack is living the dream, though. There are few real rock stars left in the world. If you look at the idea classically, they’re people who are really into their music, so they have the credibility, as well as being a complete lunatic.
I like the idea of saying ‘Fuck you’ to society a bit. Someone who’s just like, no, I’m not politically correct. I’m going to go out and fucking have it because I’m young and I can.
“People need that image. When we were kids, we had rebels to look up to on TV. It wasn’t cool to be a conformist. But now all of the media and everything is basing the idea of conformity to be really cool. Look at the Kardashians.
They set this new precedent of what is to be aimed for. In the ’90s, ‘80s and ‘70s it was about going your own way and doing something positive. It was about not being that way, no. Fuck being High Street.”
Part of your success is standing out in what you say and do. But you’ve got to deliver the goods, too, which you’ve done on this mix. It takes in a surprising amount of sounds, from New York bitch house to cosmic jazz…
“I play a lot of different music. It was partly a dedication to [legendary NYC promoter] Rob Fernandez, who had passed away. He was the king of New York, really. The Byron Stingily track on there I found in a 1990-something chart magazine. Rob was in there saying it was his favourite song, or one of them.
“A lot of music journalism focuses on what’s new. It loses track of making critiques on music and society and what’s just good. Things don’t always need to be new to be a classic — like a flannel shirt [gestures to his own].
How long have they been making these shirts? A long time. How long have they been comfortable? A long time! You wanna make a mix like that. I mixed it by hand, there are mistakes. It’s not made on a computer. I didn’t spend weeks making each mix perfect. I did it in one go in my nightshirt.
“I always get in trouble for saying this stuff from my manager, but I woke up in the morning and I took a micro-dose of hallucinogenics. I had some stuff on my mind, I was trying to get in the mood. Sometime you just need to sort your mind out, and sometimes tripping helps.
I walked around London and just got inspired. I was on my own, I listened to some music. I just opened up some different passageways in my mind. I came back home, put on some candles, set the stuff up on the table in my living room and did the mix, like any kid reading this would probably do. It was cool, it’s just honest I think.”
Are psychedelics the inspiration for the Sun Ra track at the end?
“We’ve been ending our Tuskegee sets with that, The Martinez Brothers and I are really into Sun Ra. That was actually the Record Store Day release of ‘Enlightenment’ but it’s a nice ending. ‘We do invite youuu, into our spaaaace world…’.”
Last time we spoke to you, you said you wanted to become the Jay-Z of techno. How’s that going?
“’I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man’. I always liked that quote. Really? I guess it’s going OK. I recently learnt some lessons…
“It’s cool going from being a street hustler to being a business man. I recently met with a financial advisor. I don’t know if it was the tea with milk, because I’m lactose intolerant, or just looking at my life, the planned goals I have… literally he had it mapped out till I’m 93-years-old, my life in front of me. At some point I felt sick. Is it milk and tea? I don’t know! It’s so scary, but it’s becoming an adult, you know?
“Nearing 30-years-old, you should start to try to become a boss. That’s the greater goal of your second half of life. Spend your twenties having fun, then from 30 on you work it and hit it hard. I’m really fortunate to be in a position where my career has taken me to where it is today. Now it’s about taking it to the max and doing the most I can for positive change, just to create new ideas and do things for people. That’s what I think it’s about now for me.”