Wednesday, 24 March 2010
INTERVIEW: DJG [Pushing Red/Surefire Sound]
Having hit DJG up with a successful pitch to helm one of our mixes months ago after hearing a couple of rips of ‘Avoid The Noid,’ our correspondence fell by the wayside, caught in the midst of conflicting schedules and missed myspace messages; he recently got in touch admitting a pang of guilt at his failure to seal the deal. Delivering what he’s nicknamed his ‘Deep Rave Tape’ on the eve of a string of awesomely assorted releases has only really made us love him even more; and I can confirm we’re super stoked, proud and excited to be able to bring G’s Sonic Router Mix - the 40th (!!) in our ongoing series – to the internet’s attention.
Can you provide those who may not know you with a bit of background info?
Gladly, my name is Dean Grenier and D.J.G. are my initials. I’ve been making dubstep since 2007, inspired early on by DMZ and N-Type’s Rinse.fm show. I was born in San Jose, an hour south of San Francisco. I’m a middle child. My mother is from South Africa and my father is from Sri Lanka. My favourite fruit is watermelon. My astrological sign is Gemini, and my Myers-Briggs Type is INFP.
Outside of music who are you? What do you do on the daily?
I’m a workaholic and thrive off doing too many things at the same time. Predominantly I split my time pretty evenly between making music and doing freelance graphic design. Creative work is all I’ve ever been good at. I also help run the Surefire Sound record label, consult a San Jose-based shoe company called PLSTK, and travel a lot for DJ gigs. I live in the Lower Haight district of SF and as far as daily… lately I’ve been redoing my kitchen and living room cause my girlfriend and friend Ryan Comma just moved in to my apartment!
How did you first get into making music? What was it that infected you to do produce?
I’ve been making music all my life. Some of the earliest memories I have are playing the violin. I was in punk and industrial bands as a teenager and started messing around with samplers, sequencers and computer-based music about 11 years ago. Probably more than anything I think what inspired me to make dubstep music is going to the DMZ 2 year anniversary in March ’07. In all honesty I probably visualize the inside of Mass at least once every time I build a track.
What’s your production set up like?
Well it used to be quite a bit more exciting sounding because I have a background in using gear in my studio (also known as “my bedroom”) like old mixing consoles and hardware compressors and effects and synths. A few years ago though I ditched just about all of it and now solely work in Logic with an Apogee Duet and a simple midi controller. It just allows me much more freedom to work how I need to at a given moment without physical constraints, while adding the benefit of greater control over the sound of my mixdowns.
Where do you take inspiration from when making music?
This is a difficult question to answer for me; when I start to think about all the music that has inspired and affected me over my life I get overwhelmed and could probably write a short book about it all. Aside from my friends and peers I would say I take inspiration from the city, San Francisco; the nature, the ocean, the trees, the culture, the food, the insane people, the crackheads, the beach, the hippies, the hipsters, the romance, the moodiness, the weather, the magic. This city kind of has it all and it’s a daily source of inspiration. And in sort of a reactionary way I also feel inspired to write the kind of deeper dubstep stuff because I’m one of very few people in America doing this sound - the role of subversive or renegade suits my anti-social side very well hahahaha.
How would you describe your sound?
I’m gonna steal XI’s answer to this same question: manic depressive.
What draws you to the deeper, melodic, rolling end of the dubstep spectrum?
It’s really just what resonates with me as an artist; it’s not much more complicated than that. I just love emotive music, music that is personal and expressive, but I also have such a strong love for the energy of a dark room full of people dancing to bass music through a massive sound system. These two things propel me to make the music I make. I often am just trying to blend those two vibes (to varying degrees of success).
There are some tech-ier elements to your sound, does that come from a profound love of techno?
Yes I would say I have a deep love of some styles of techno, both conceptually and sonically. Obviously I find a lot of the emotive tension and sort of tribal repetition - within a dance-music context – inspiring and I tend to draw from those ideas. My techno education begins with Berlin, and through all that back to Detroit. Most of the stuff I like though is 10 or 15 years old now. A lot of the newer stuff feels a bit rehashed.
What’s the scene like over in San Francisco, who’s representing?
I would say that the dubstep scene in San Francisco is pretty vibrant. Like the rest of the States the drum & bass influenced ‘brostep’ sound has sort of taken over the big shows but there are a few nights like the monthly Surefire Sound event where experimental sounds get support.
You’ve done a few collaborations (Headhunter, XI and Jus Wan spring to mind), how did they come about and how did you work together?
Those all just came about through friendship and mutual respect. I generally always like to have one session in the studio then I like to work on my own. A lot of producing is just tedious busy-work and experimentation which is best suited for loners like me.
Are there any other collabos on the cards?
You’ve got a positive glut of releases hitting wax and shops imminently. Can you take us through them?
Indeed I can. In the last three weeks three records of mine have come out, after almost no releases in 2009. My 12” for LoDubs (‘Obsessed’/’The Gate’), Surefire Sound 002 (‘Putney Says’ w/ XI) and my Pushing Red 12” (‘Avoid The Noid’/’Duality’) are all out in the shops now and selling quickly. In the next few months my 12” for N-Type’s Wheel&Deal label (‘Pressure’/’Spacecake’ w/ Headhunter) as well as a 3-track 12” for Headhunter’s Transistor label (‘Time Is The Fire’/’Lost Time’/’Escape Pod’). I’ve also contributed my track ‘NYC’ to a Various Artist album N-Type is putting together.
What else have you got coming up?
The most over-used word in music today: album.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix, what did you just have to put in there?
Well I really just wanted to try and capture the kind of set I’ve been playing in the dances and raves over the last 12 months. I made the tracklist as I went along, though it did take two takes to record as the first one was just too sloppy! I recorded it with turntables, so it’s not really surgically perfect or anything but I enjoy hearing that to be honest. It’s not very conceptual, but I think it does present a statement about what I do with dubstep, and features a lot of my own tracks which was important to me. I wasn’t able to get everything I wanted on there; I sacrificed quite a few tunes by other people so that I could fit more of my own stuff. In a way I approached it less as a DJ mix but more of a presentation of the kind of sound I’m feeling - heavy deep rollers.
Have you got any words of wisdom for our readers?
DOWNLOAD: DJG – Sonic Router Mix
01. DJG – Is This Blue To You? – dubplate
02. J:Kenzo – Counteraction – Argon
03. Daega Sound System – Land In Motion – Immersed
04. Asusu – No Kya – dubplate
05. Jus Wan – Coma Wall – dubplate
06. Asusu – Weight – dubplate
07. A Made Up Sound – Closer – A Made Up Sound
08. Scuba – Minerals – Hotflush
09. Headhunter & Gatekeeper – Jellyfish – Transistor
10. Mayem & Distal – Frozen Barnacles – dubplate
11. Dhyan Moller – Lost In 3s (DJG remix) – Blipswitch Digital
12. DJG – Avoid The Noid – Pushing Red
13. DJG – Avoid The Noid (HEADHUNTER remix) – Pushing Red
14. DJG – Augmental – dubplate
15. DJG & Headhunter – Spacecake – Wheel&Deal
16. DJG – Duality – Pushing Red
17. DJG – Escape Pod – Transistor
18. Scuba – You Got Me – Hotflush
19. Addison Groove – Footcrab – Swamp 81
20. Djunya – Full Circle – Brapdem
21. DJG – Pressure – Wheel&Deal
22. Headhunter – Ghannti – dubplate
23. DJG - Time Is The Fire – Transistor
24. DJG - Roots – dubplate
25. Peverelist - Clunk Click Every Trip - Punch Drunk
26. DJG - Lichen – dubplate