Exclusive Interview With Shaun Reeves
“The success and being able to share with so many people is great, but at the core of the whole thing it’s simply about friendship and passing on that vibe and influence that we all share, no matter how big the circus around it has gotten or will ever become.”
Shaun Reeves is an internationally-acclaimed DJ, producer and label owner who was brought up on a diet of house and techno in his native Detroit, refined his craft in Berlin and now resides in Ibiza, where he continues to evolve and develop as an artist. A founding member of the trailblazing group Visionquest, his influence reaches far beyond the cities he has called home and stretches around the globe, from South America to Russia, Australia and beyond. With his sterling reputation within the contemporary electronic music world already well established Shaun is now set to push things even further with his sights locked firmly on future endeavours.
Shaun’s history is well documented, from his legendary loft parties in Detroit, to his formative years with close friends Seth Troxler, Ryan Crosson and Lee Curtiss. In 2004 he upped sticks and relocated to Berlin, where he became one of the key protagonists in the resurgence of house and techno music. His deft touch as a DJ won him fans on dance floors from Panorama Bar to fabric, DC10, Cityfox, Robert Johnson and countless more highly influential underground clubs. Combined with his time on the road with Visionquest, Shaun has covered much of the globe over the past decade. In tandem with his DJing, Shaun has maintained a consistent level of production work, releasing on labels such as Wolf + Lamb, Eklo, Catwash, No. 19 Music and his own Visionquest imprint.
What was your first introduction to electronic music?
I grew up in very small town in Michigan. The same state as Detroit, but about 150 miles north from there, so I didn’t catch the radio programs that were influencing a lot of people in the 80s and 90s and didn’t have a chance to go to rave parties every weekend. I was instead exposed to the music and scene around the time I was graduating from high school, in 1999, as it was trickling down to me from older friends who had moved to Detroit after school or to the universities around where there were parties happening and the music was being played and circulated. I was already interested in electronic sounds and such, well before then, listening to Nine Inch Nails, Chemical Brothers and many more but when I got hooked up with this other level of music, Aphex Twin, Plastikman, all the Detroit and Chicago stuff. It was love at first listen and I haven’t stopped digging deeper and deeper by the day ever since.
Where are you based these days? How is it?
Its hard to say haha. I left Detroit for Berlin in 2004 and have been there for the better part of the time since. This past winter though I needed a break, so I’ve been holed up in seclusion at my house in Ibiza, where I’ve been spending summers for the past 5 years or so anyway. Add to that a lot of time spent back in the States touring and its a very confusing situation.
Spending this time in Ibiza has been great for getting my head straight after a few crazy years. This has also been good for shutting myself off in my studio where at the moment I’m being the most productive that I have ever been. However I do need to be connected to civilization, and most importantly my friends. Again, sooner or later so its not a permanent solution to remain on the island at all times.
I believe you’re playing in Rotterdam soon. You must be pretty familiar with the Dutch scene at this rate. What’s your take on it all?
Yes, I’m very familiar and fond of the Dutch scene. This will actually be the first time that I’ve played in Rotterdam though. Mostly I’ve been to Amsterdam and a few of the festivals, like Mysteryland and most recently, Awakenings.
I have been well aware of the Dutch scene since my days in Detroit long ago. There’s a history of really good Dutch techno and electro music, so playing here is a real treat as its a music oriented and educated crowd about all else. They also know how to party when its appropriate so its a good combination. Basically they are ready and willing to go on a proper journey. I remember one set in particular at Trouw a few years ago, with Seth and Ryan, that might have involved acid (music and substance). That is definitely a musical highlight of mine. Top 5 moment.
How different did you find the European scene to the US scene when you arrived here first? Was it a culture shock of sorts?
This was 11 years ago now and yes, it was quite a shock. The first day I set foot in Europe I went to Fusion festival in Germany. At the time this was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Even now that particular festival is quite far out of what I consider normal so yes, big shock. Berlin was also a big eye opener. What I saw going on there around that time, I couldn’t have imagined possible without seeing it. The parties for days with music that seemed from another world. Club der Visionäre, New Kids on Acid, Beat Street, all of this was just…wow.
How has the scene in the US changed since you first became involved then? What’s your opinion on the whole EDM thing?
When I first got into the scene I was in Detroit, 15 years or so ago. Thats a lot of time when you think about it, so obviously the changes are many. There’s been at least two or three rounds of changed faces in the scene and now with the vast popularity of commercialized dance music, otherwise known as EDM, there’s really no comparing. Now what needs to happen is a bit of trickle down of those listening to the more mainstream down into our deeper realms. Its bound to happen that a certain percentage of these kids will do their home work and grow into the history of the music. So yeah, can’t knock the EDM (even if its not something I’m not listening to myself). We must coexist with them and keep our doors open, at the very least so that our own scene can thrive well into the future.