On Burning Man, you have been there, especially with Robot Heart, for quite some time. What is it about the Burning Man atmosphere that makes you want to return year after year? Have you noticed any change in the atmosphere of Burning Man over the years, especially given the influx of attendees (particularly privileged West Coasters)? How do you think I will survive the “cool” factor bestowed on it recently?
It’s hard work getting there and staying there so after all the bucket list life experience tourists have ticked that particular box it will survive and continue in the same way it has for many years already. Many people have said “it’s not like it used to be”. I always think they should really add on the end of their bold statement, “for me”. Nothing very much ever stays the same. I feel it’s somewhat the point of that particular event. It’s always in flux. I like that. No year is ever the same and sometimes it’s really where your head is at that changes the experience. This year will be my eleventh year and I keep going back as it always surprises me. I’ve seen and done a great deal in my life but that place always gives me something new. It can be a new person I meet or seeing art that makes you think “HOW!!??”. It also always reminds me of the important things in life that drift away as you move through each year. One being that there are beautiful, talented, kind and wonderful people out there. Also, that it’s wonderful to give rather than take. That you don’t need a phone or to be online 24/7 (it proves that for most the world goes on just fine without you for a week). Every year it fills me with a glow that takes ages to dissipate.
Aside from your sets, there are many artists who are known for their Burning Man sets. Coming to mind now are DJ Three, Damian Lazarus, and Francesca Lombardo. Who and when have some of your favorite Burning man sets been by?
Harvey. Thievery Corporation. Hoj. Mike Khoury. Sometime in the last ten years is the closest I can approximate.
Has Burning Man influenced the philosophy behind your own All Day I Dream concept? You also have a very specific list of ADID acts, including the likes of Hoj and Matthew Dekay (your ADID co-hort), how open and willing are you to add to this roster?
I’m always open to bringing like minded and talented artists onboard. That said though I decided from the beginning that I didn’t want the kind of label that signs fifty artists and either just makes me or the label look good. That it only helps the artist for second until the next release comes along. The whole thing kind of started backwards with the party being the main part of the concept before the label came in to being. Burning Man did have an influence on me in some ways. Wanting to create a community of people who would be a part of making ADID what it is at it’s core. I also wanted to create an environment, both with the music and the decor, that transport you somewhere else. I remember seeing the way material flowed in the wind out there and it stuck with me. It’s been a part of the events look since day one and forms super cool shapes when the weather chooses. When its still it’s great for shade.
I was there at the All Dai I Dream Brooklyn kick off event in 2011. Why was Brooklyn the place you launched this concept, especially looking back at its expansion, where you could have seemingly launched anywhere?
New York is a very important and wonderful city. I have a deep affinity with it and many friends there. I’d played at clubs and one off events around 2009/2010 and, to me, there was always something missing or off slightly. Instead of complaining about it I decided to inflict my own vision of what makes a good event on people. Europe is so full of events and promotors and label parties already that I chose the states instead. There was a small crowd of people there who were already aware of what I was doing out at Burning man as well as the whole EDM scene becoming so huge at that time. With commercial music scenes there’s always a bleed down effect of people who evolve from that music and search for other sounds when it becomes less interesting to them. I just felt like the timing was right in the US to add a place for them to discover….hopefully. I figured I could always export the whole thing back in to Europe if it worked in NYC. People do pay attention to you when you talk about New York. I remember the economy was kind of tanking at that moment and I felt, as music and parties are always an escape from the stress and worries many people experience, that it would be cool to do something nice for people. The event was inexpensive to get in to. Drinks were cheap. The crowd (and nothing has ever changed here) were really the best. I chose Brooklyn as I love industrial grey backdrop juxtaposed with the colors of the decor. It, in a totally different way is a super cool blank canvas to work with. Being an industrial area I was lucky to get away with playing music at such high volume. One thing I was adamant about was the sound had to be the best and we’ve always stuck with that. The musical concept doesn’t rely on banging it out for a reaction. It’s more delicate and intricate. Blissful. You have to hear and feel the music. Oh, one last thing in my reasoning to start in NYC. New York dance music fans in the past had been brought up listening to DJ’s play long sets. Think Danny Tenaglia. This, for some reason, has become way out of fashion in Europe with clubs and promotors choosing to pack a line up with artists that then only allows for really short sets. I thought I’d bring back the musical journey which is why in the beginning I played the whole eight hours.
With a career coming well over 2+ decades, and with an ever-evolving sound, have you identified any commonalities that bridge or bind your music over the years?
It’s actually a thirty four year career at this point. Wow. That was fast. Obviously my boyish features and lack of wrinkles fooled you. I’m going to pick melody as my binding substance. Subtle melodies.They’ve always been in there. They make you ‘feel’ something.
Finally, what are you most looking forward to over the rest of 2016? It doesn’t have to be an event or gig, perhaps something personal, or even a holiday…
Snowboarding. Learning to cook more diverse dishes. Getting a bicycle.
“Stand Up Right” is available 23 March (vinyl)/12 April (digi) on Get Weird