Seth Troxler’s meteoric rise to the top of the house music spectrum is as colossal as his personality.
Seth Troxler has become perhaps the biggest personality in dance music in the shortest imaginable space of time.
In what could be described as a monumental one-man PR and gigging effort, Troxler has been propelled into the house music limelight in a way that has left his name on the lips of anyone with half an ear for a 4/4 beat. But what is it about Troxler that elevated him to the lofty heights of third in the prestigious Resident Advisor DJ of the year poll for 2010?
To put this achievement in perspective, the two DJs above him are Richie Hawtin, techno’s foremost technical pioneer and avid supporter of Troxler, and Ricardo Villalobos, who continues to be perhaps the most innovative creator and selector of techno of the last 10 years. Troxler is in lofty company.
While some might scoff at the perceived gulf in innovation between Troxler and the two luminaries above him, his latest mix CD offering for The Lab series may just turn a few heads. Darker than the more straight-up trendy house affairs he may have become associated with in his DJ sets, and more ambient and progressive too, the 2CD mix sees Troxler wandering firmly into odder electronica territory, not a million miles removed from his outstanding Boogybytes release last year. This is Troxler operating at an intelligent and highly commendable level.
“I’m always making something different, y’know. For this compilation I wanted to make one side that was more experimental. As a DJ you should always play to that space and the environment, and on The Lab compilation it was definitely time to try something a little different.
“The guys who do The Lab series asked me and I had some time, but it still took me a year to do it. I was convinced it was a cool project. It took me a while to find the right music I thought was cool. Being so busy in the last year made it harder and harder to complete the mix. Finally I did it ahead of schedule, actually.”
In a world that can take itself very seriously, Troxler’s magnetic personality has without doubt been a factor behind his success. From his playful good looks and infectious enthusiasm behind the decks for the music he champions, Troxler’s ability to transfer energy to his legion of supporters has made him a true fans’ DJ. A direct antidote to faceless techno and house DJs, for many, Troxler has been a colourful explosion in a far-too- often austere electronic world.
This has, most notably, manifested in a number of interviews in which Troxler has verbally and physically exposed himself. Exhibit One: An interview at the Miami Music Conference 2010 in which Seth, wearing his girlfriend’s hot-pants, steals the show with a four-minute ramble that features Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas quotes and his opinions on the forces in the galaxy, presented in a high-pitched, slightly nonsensical squeal. Try taking your eyes of it. A one-man tour de force, watching the interview is like going on a trip into the bizarre recesses of someone’s mind. It went viral.
Exhibit Two: Parklife festival in Manchester this year. Troxler, looking suspiciously like he may have been indulging, proceeds to expose his left testicle to the camera after conducting a patchy interview in which he can’t really keep still. The video went viral again, before being promptly taken down.
There’s no denying the amusement factor of either of these. Seth was candid in his response when Crack asked him if such appearances added to his aura and reputation as a personality and DJ? He giggles, “I guess it’s definitely added to my persona, but it’s also a play on the question: ‘Is that really me or not?’, y’know? I’m just blurring the line between fantasy and reality.” Or maybe Seth was just off his tits? A crime we certainly aren’t going to hold against him, especially considering the incredible set he played in The Crosstown Rebels’ tent at Parklife.
It’s a lifestyle that it’s hard to comprehend. Crack had the pleasure of enjoying his back-to-back set with Jamie Jones at DC10 in the summer, a headline performance which confirmed the place of both Jones and Troxler as the foremost darlings of house music’s glitterati. Party after party offers temptation after temptation, and it’s this schedule, inherent to the industry in which Troxler finds himself, which is surely primarily responsible for any kind of ‘party-boy’ reputation. Yet despite all the adulation and the lifestyle, there are signs Seth Troxler circa-2011/12 may be a tad more grounded than his previous misdemeanours would suggest.
He explains: “This last year has been a total whirlwind, it’s been a effort trying to keep everything together, while at the same time maintain a normal social life. It’s been hard to try and just be me instead of the DJ or whatever. It’s been crazy travelling all the time. Right now I’m in London for a day and a half, but I haven’t been here for a month and a half before that. Having to get used to living a separate life on the road is certainly the most challenging aspect, but it’s amazing to be out and about in these new places and do a lot of cool things, and I’m totally blessed and happy about that.
“I have a fiancée who doesn’t travel with me so often and I don’t see as much of her as I’d like. It makes it hard to properly maintain the relationship and keep it cool. It’s hard to spend enough time at home with her and have a normal relationship. She’s a ballerina and a really healthy sports person and she keeps me in check.”
The relationship between a world-class, perpetually touring house DJ and attempting to build a family is doubtlessly one fraught with difficulty, however it’s obvious Troxler seeks to surround himself with the right people. From his immediate circle of friends from Detroit who have formed Visionquest (Shaun Reeves, Ryan Crosson and Lee Curtiss), to his relationship with those connected with Crosstown Rebels, with whom he frequently plays, the supportive building blocks for his every success remain close.
Visionquest in particular have enjoyed a stunning fledgling year as a label, with a number of highly lauded and successful releases, a new Fabric mix CD ready to drop in December and a number of marathon DJ dates in which all four members play. This is set to continue into 2012, where Troxler will be taking a more heads down approach.
“Getting my own productions and remixes out there is going to be my main focus for next year. Right now I’m working on a remix for Maceo Plex and a load of new stuff for Visionquest. Next year it’s all about making music, I’m going to be taking some time off and really trying to spearhead that.”
“It’s great that all of us (Visionquest, Crosstown Rebels) took the initiative to push those labels and make them the best that they can be. We’re really pushing hard to put out some new music, and we’ve got some great stuff coming out next year. The Footprintz album is going to be huge. It’s out of control. We’ve also got a new record from Tale Of Us which is going to be great.
“We’re all just straight-up friends. Art Department, Soul Clap, everyone like that, there’s no competition, everyone’s just doing their own stuff, we all go and have BBQs and it’s great. Maybe on a smaller level, like the scene in Bristol, everyone’s just crew. Everyone’s just happy for everybody else. I think in other scenes of music, people are often a gift to each other in a way, in that they are kind of friends but also competitive. With us this isn’t really a factor.
“I just got back from the super imagination adventure land that is Burning Man. We had the whole crew out there and everyone had a great time. There was just that extended crew with the Crosstown guys and Jamie (Jones) as well as the Soul Clap guys and The Wolf + Lamb guys. We had so many experiences out there, I’ve just tried to use those experiences back here as a main focus. We try and re-create the essence and the atmosphere of those parties and build a submersive environment. We are going to do a series of parties next year where you go into the party and it’s a completely different world. Like turning a warehouse into something completely different for the night and something that’s far more memorable.”
It’s this close-knit group that have formed the foundations for innovation in 2011. It’s hard to remember a period in recent times where quality parties and house music stars have been so closely knit and united in their ethos. It’s led to a huge resurgence of the house sound in clubs, festivals, private and public parties and any festivities that finish very, very late or very, very early. While there is always a wealth of poor commercial offshoots, the way this current crop of stars select the parties they play and conduct themselves means there is a quality control safety net around them. Good people, making good music tend to be a bit more protective of its exposure. This is no group of David Guettas.
Troxler’s own productions have taken a back seat due to his relentless DJing schedule, which is a real shame because the charismatic, spacey and interesting style he employs on standout tracks such as his wonderful remix of Fever Ray’s Seven, is a reminder his work is of an equally high standard as his DJing. His latest mix CD makes it all too obvious what a studious selector he is.
Very few producers and DJs have had quite the rise in the last three years as Seth Troxler, and aside from all the rubbish spoken about him and his lifestyle he, at heart, remains the most refreshing and captivating of the new wave of house producers currently ruling the roost. Now he’s grown up a bit and back in the studio, the combination could mean a killer 2012 for Seth Troxler.
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