Over the past few years, Seth Troxler has built up a strong reputation as a creative and innovative house and techno DJ to the point of becoming a household name among clubbers worldwide. Chosen to lead the proceedings at Brazil's first ever Circoloco, the infamous Ibizan party transplanting itself from the White Isle to the other side of the Atlantic, Troxler is part of a series of events blessing Rio's Carnival with an electronic twist for 2013. We were fortunate enough to catch a few moments with the boy from the intrigingly-named Kalamazoo, Michigan, and hear his thoughts about life, the dance music industry and his aspirations to star in a Brazilian soap opera...
First things first, how does it feel to knock friend and fellow DJ Jamie Jones off the top spot in Resident Advisor’s 2012 DJ poll? You can go wild!
Funny, I’m not that competitive and as Jamie is a close friend we both just laughed about how much people seems to care about these polls. The whole top DJ thing is a bit stressful, I think my mom was the happiest about the whole thing. As far as going wild, I’m planning to launch a cat orgy foundation group for wealthy cat lovers, called the Wild Meow. It’s all about having something to fall back on once the DJing fades.
I grew up listening to the Beach Boys, ABBA and the Grease soundtrack. I imagine your early aural selections and tastes were of a somewhat different thread?
Not so much, I love ABBA, a bit of Grease, I kind of grew up listening to Steely Dan, Prince, a lot of R&B, but I guess where we differ is when I started listening to house when I was about eight, so that is a bit abnormal. I hate rap, I don’t like to use that word but I hate what it promotes.
Tell us a bit about your early beginnings as a DJ.
Well, I moved to Detroit when I was 14, met some kids and started raving, Within months, I got some turntables and started DJing. It was crazy because before then I never heard this music, in that environment. Through the years I picked up some shows, started doing my own parties and playing records and by 18 I was playing in Europe. I moved over there when I was 21, joined (London label) Crosstown Rebels and the rest is history I guess!
What was your one game-changing clubbing experience? I remember mine vividly. It was in Edinburgh and James Zabiela and Maya Jane Coles were on the bill…
Well, about a decade ago, there was this party in Detroit, Control2, part of a series by Richie Hawtin. It was 2002; he played back to back with Ricardo Villalobos. It was right before both really became huge and it blew my mind. The memories of that night still blow my mind. They played for about 15 hours and I’ve been trying to relive that experience ever since.
Your collective label Visionquest is known for its ethos of pushing boundaries with new and challenging sounds. What do you make of the direction that dance music is currently heading in?
Well I’m a bit put off by the commercial end of what electronic music is becoming. I cannot stand the term ‘EDM’ (Electronic Dance Music), it’s like trying to package up something that is very dear to me so it can be easily shipped to the masses. That term is evil and breeds short-termism in the market. There is a lot of money and new ideas coming into this scene that don't share the ethos of what this whole music was founded on. I think people are becoming more complacent, and less innovative: a trend pops up and then every track for the next few years sound the same. When I was a kid, I got into electronic music as a way to be different, a way to express myself, now I get the feeling that as a whole, those boundaries aren’t being pushed. At Visionquest we’re trying to take a stand on what can be not what is or already was.
You seem to have a very open outlook on life and you tend not to go into things with any expectations. So without expectation, do you think you are rarely disappointed and get to treat every success as a surprise?
Exactly, I don’t have expectations in life, because it breeds disappointment, success is a funny monster, when you’re trying to be successful it takes over your life, you’re so hungry, then when you achieve success, you realise maybe it wasn’t what you wanted the whole time. You put less value in it. Now things happen and I’m surprised, and just say “cool”. I really don’t get too excited about anything except food, even then I think I’m happiest after the first bit, same with music, if I’m going to play a huge club or festival, for the first time I try not to think about it until it’s done, if it goes well then I’m like “Wow that was amazing ! Can’t wait to come back!” Like at Warung. Now I go and I’m excited because I know it’s going to be amazing, once I know it’s great then I’m not expecting anything.
You share a special affinity with island and revellers-haven, Ibiza. Would you say that Ibiza is every clubber’s essential destination?
Ibiza is amazing; there is a vibe on the island that’s nowhere else. When I land on the island, I just feel different; there is a magic there that’s unexplainable. I think it’s the vibe of the whole experience that makes it an amazing destination: the air, the food, the music, all make spending a season there so special.
How excited are you to play the first ever Circoloco in Rio de Janeiro? What was it like the last time you played here? Did you manage to check out the city and hang out much before you were whisked off to the next gig?
I’m stoked, Circoloco is my family, and any time I do an event for them I’m always at ease. There is a incredible restaurant I went to last time I was in Rio called Nova Capela, I’m very excited to go there, also to see the city in Carnival, it’s a really special time of year to be in such an amazing city!
What is your favourite city to play in? Who are the more surprisingly receptive crowds?
Honestly, I think everywhere has something amazing to offer, whether it’s England, Italy, USA or Japan. I have to say right now I’m really, really in love with Warung in Itajai: the crowd, the people, the energy really make it a top destination for me at the moment. I hope Rio offers the same.
What keeps the fire burning in your disc jockey belly?
Taking chances keeps me going, pushing boundaries, and eating in different countries every few days. Lots of acid reflux. Honestly I love this music so much, I don’t think I can even love a person as much as I love this music, I want to push the development of this scene so much and to make experiences for people as special as the experiences I enjoyed. Because at the end, these experiences changed my life, how I live my life and interact with people. I want the best for everyone, and if I can give an outlet for people to experience something new, take them to a different place show them a world different from their everyday life or what they previously knew, then I’m truly happy… it makes me hot baby!
At the risk of sounding like a job interview, where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Too personal! No just kidding, I think I’ll be more involved in music from behind the scenes. I’m really not into DJing for, like, 50 years, I want a family, to own a restaurant. I love music, it’s my life but I don’t want it to be my whole life, I want this to be a period that was amazing, but I want to do other things, to experience all that life has to offer. We’re so blessed to be alive, why pigeonhole yourself? I say do it all, or at least what makes you happy. Travel really takes a lot out of you so I don’t want to be traveling like I do my whole life, ask me again in five years and we'll see if it’s the same. I’m a Libra so the balance is off and on; I guess "we'll see" is the best answer at the moment.
What is the one thing you would do before you die?
Well outside of the cat orgy foundation, I’m really looking forward to visiting all the great wonders of the world, training a monkey to answer my emails, and possibly doing a cameo on a Brazilian soap opera… I think all those are really achievable! At the end we can only hope, it’s part of my intergalactic prosperity strategy, I picked it up in a dream I had... Or am I dreaming now..?
- Seth Troxler plays Circoloco at The Week on Friday, 8 February. His remix of Matthew Dear's ‘Fighting Is Futile’ is out now on Spectral Sound/Ghostly International and is available to buy on iTunes.