DJ Seinfeld on Family, Success, & DJ-Kicks
DJ Seinfeld carved some time out of a busy tour schedule to discuss his latest DJ-Kicks album and mix. He also reflects back on last year’s debut album release and gives some insight as to what the future may hold for this uniquely ascendent artist.
Before we chat about the new DJ-Kicks album and tour, can you talk about how you got into production?
I had been into electronic music for quite some time, sneaking into some clubs here and there and I had some friends who sort of urged me on to try producing for myself. I was doing my undergrad degree in Edinburgh and I wasn’t very social, so I figured spending some time making music could be a good excuse for that––better than any other alternative at that time I felt.
You studied business in Barcelona before making the switch to production. What made you decide to take the leap of faith and consider producing full-time?
Yes, I did my masters in economics in Barcelona, but I didn’t really consider pursuing producing full-time until I was working there a bit later. The thought started creeping up on me once that ”U”-track got some traction, and people started inviting me to play at their events. Over time I became more and more convinced that I could maybe give it a shot without risking too much, and since music had been the only thing I ever felt could be reliably ”there” for me when I needed it, it started seeming as a natural decision to take.
Are there different “meanings” behind your various production aliases’?
Well, behind Rimbaudian is the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose best work came from him when he was a 17-year-old libertine, notoriously wild and brilliant. My impression from reading about him was the complete opposite to who I was when I was 17; I was shy, careful, too serious. And I just felt having that juxtaposition there as an outlet was interesting. The DJ Seinfeld thing was far less planned, and originally just a less serious little therapeutic excursion into me dealing with a breakup. I had no intention of pursuing it very far, but it sort of, well, became a bit bigger than I had ever thought. Having different aliases felt like the most natural way to circumvent expectations people can attach to a name. It was quite a liberating realization and something I suspect a lot of up-and-coming producers struggle with.
How did you feel about the critical & fan reception towards your debut LP, “Time Spent Away From U”?
I think I had a rough idea of what I could expect, and more often than not the reviews were in the ball park of those expectations. It was a very quick and rough album, something unintentional and retroactively assembled. The story of it was quite obvious, the execution of it followed the type of urgency i felt during that time. Most of the tracks had already been posted online so I think for the fans it was quite expected, but the reception from them was still (surprisingly) great.
Do you think the intended emotive message was conveyed successfully?
I am happy how it ended up, and though I would have done some things differently now I am quite content with leaving it as a mark of a certain time and place.
How did your friends and family react to hearing the album? The driving creative force behind the record was a breakup with a longtime girlfriend, but did you draw any inspiration from them?
Well most of my close friends knew the story, my family too, but it wasn’t until quite late when they saw things getting wider attention that I think they realized fully how draining and intensely that period of time was experienced for me. So most of the inspiration didn’t come from them, but perhaps the albums’ various little glimpses of optimism did. They did play a big part in me sorting myself out.
Speaking of your family, the DJ-Kicks album is dedicated to your father, who’s currently recovering from a stroke. You moved back home to be closer to your parents during this time; could you speak as to how this experience may have influenced the resulting album/mix?
It’s difficult to say, I think re-hashing a sort of sad and melancholic vibe was not something I was interested in doing, though it might have appeared like a natural thing when something of that nature happens. I fought that urge partly because I saw that my father was the furthest from being unhappy or sad. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t seen him smile so much in a long long time. Something traumatic had happened, and it of course set my family back a lot, but knowing how hard he’s working to not only stay alive but to improve himself every day was incredibly inspiring. Ever since I’ve been doing my best to follow his lead, not to be consumed by the tragedy but rather find some strength in that, despite it all, it could be worse. That’s why I felt the mix could be what I more or less originally intended on it being; something more thoughtful and less centered around those emotional extremes.
What were your feelings when !K7 contacted you to participate in the DJ-Kicks series? What does the series mean to you, both as a DJ/producer & music fan?
It was a huge honor, and to be honest I felt like I was a bit out of my league. It goes without saying for anyone who’s grown up with this type of electronic music that DJ-Kicks is a huge thing, and there are several of those mixes from the past that truly has left a mark on the industry. So yeah, nervousness, excitement but mostly an incredible honor.
Every DJ-Kicks record is a chance for the chosen producer to shine a spotlight on sounds and individuals important to them. Did you have a “goal” in mind when choosing who to include in your mix?
I chose people I admire and who all have played a fairly particular part in me getting excited by new music. Most of them are fairly new to the scene, like myself, but I believe that those people will have incredible futures. It’s also nice to do these things together in a way.
What was the most challenging aspect of recording the DJ-Kicks LP & Mix? How did you determine which tracks would make it onto the vinyl pressing? Is there something you would’ve done differently in hindsight?
It was a combination of finding enough music to get a cohesiveness and excitement around it. I love mixes that play with tension, that eschews the need for tonality and beautiful harmonies to tell a story. I felt the mix had those elements in them, and I’m not sure I would have done things differently. As for the vinyl pressing, I saw it more as a traditional album-structure, and to be honest that side of things were not something I put much thought in until very late when the mix had already been wrapped up.
Let’s talk about your current DJ-Kicks tour. Where have you been, and where are you going? Is there a particular gig you’re especially excited about?
Oh gosh, I get jet lag just looking at it (laughs). But it’s great, I’m so lucky to get do it! In fear of leaving out any places, I’ve just been to some places in Europe thus far, and staying here until October and November when I go to the US and Australia again. I think the one that I have a lot of excitement for at the moment is the Village Underground (London) show in November. Another all-night set and already a bit nervous for it.
Is there a place you haven’t performed at yet that’s on your proverbial “bucket list”?
I had a dream where it was me and DJ Boring playing in a hot air balloon. However, we were extremely scared of heights so it was more like a nightmare, but when I woke up that felt like a fun thing to do. Otherwise I’m not sure, Berghain would be fun to do one day.
After the tour madness dies down, what’s next for DJ Seinfeld? Some new projects or perhaps a shift in focus to the other aliases?
I am jotting down some ideas, I have been toying with the idea for a live set but that’s still quite a bit down the line. However I think a new album would be an interesting challenge to attempt once more.
Check out a selection of DJ Seinfeld’s favorite tracks, personally chosen exclusively for TIDAL:
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