1. Age and occupation
I'm 28, I'm a songwriter and vocal producer for the European club music scene. You can also find that out from my web site.
2. Where do you consider home?
More or less my home is my studio. It's about 12'x16', but that's big enough for me.
3. How do you get to work?
Usually I walk.
4. In 1999, you co-founded NATOarts (www.natoarts.com), an organization which, according to its charter, sought to "promote global security and stability through the exhibition of works of conceptual art." Soon after, your Icebreaker International released the critically acclaimed album "Distant Early Warning." I don't know how you feel about Tom Ridge's announcement last night, but I have to ask: Where is NATOarts now, arguably when we need it most?
Unfortunately I can't comment on NATOarts; after the program was shut down when Bush took office, we all had to sign these complex nondisclosure agreements which more or less prevent us from even talking about it. But I can say that Icebreaker International just released an album on Morr Music, a label in Berlin.
5. According to a recent Village Voice article, "New York's dance music scene is undergoing a brain drain, and Berlin is one of a few European cities to which local DJs are fleeing. You've worked with labels all over Europe, and have spent a good deal of time in Berlin, but your home base is here. So what do you think of the Voice's claim? Do you think art like yours is more appreciated overseas? Why?
This is a complex question. I did see this article, and of course dance music is so much bigger in Europe right now than it is in New York, but I have my own views on the reasons why this is the case. In Europe, dance music a big thing, and there are big hit club tracks that cross over to the mainstream radio and TV, all the timeseveral times a week, in pretty much every European country. Here in New York, it all seems so far away and confusing, and although we do have our scenesthe guys coming in from Jersey to the big trance clubs, the house scene, the progressive Manhattan types, the electro crowd, etc.really these are all fringe activities, and while sometimes these scenes produce good songs which can make it onto the radio, it's nothing like the situation in Europe.
There are a lot of theories that are bandied about on this issue, most of which I consider to be complete and total nonsense. One of the most fashionable theories is that since dancing isn't allowed in bars, or is being banned in bars, or whatever it is, then people have stopped being interested in dance music. This theory, although repeated pretty much every time pen is put to paper in this subject, is easily refuted when comparing the state of dance music to its crotchety old unclerock music. Rock clubs are closing left and right in New York City, but it doesn't seem to be damaging the rock genre, which between corporate coal shovelers like Nickelback and revivalist-rock fashion bands from Brooklyn, isn't show many signs of wear and tear.
I just think club music went through some kind of crest in the nineties, and now it's fallen back a bit. Maybe it will keep falling back, or maybe it will come up again. In any case, the fashion-designers-turned-DJsor the DJs-turned-fashion-designers or whoever they arecan move to Berlin and feel happy that they are playing at the cool parties, and for people who want, there are also still big hit dance tracks being made and loved by millions all over the world, just not so much in the United States, thats all.
6. So have you had any hits?
In America, no, but in Europe, yes, the last couple years have been pretty good. My biggest hit, Destroy She Said, did cross the Atlantic and was categorized with the Electroclash thing in the US, but its American play was still sort of blip compared to the penetration it had in Europe. Mostly my chart positions have been in Germany, but now increasingly also in the Netherlands, the UK, and elsewhere. For example this week a track I co-wrote is at #2 on the Dutch club charts: Ton TB 'Dream Machine' on the Amsterdam label Black Hole.
Writing songs for producers is really good fun, and at this point I've been fortunate enough that my name has gotten around as a songwriter so a lot of producers, especially in continental Europe but also a bit in the USA and the UK, email me every few weeks looking for new songs to work with.
Remembrance of Things Past, or three tried and true, with thanks to Andrew Krucoff:
7. What era, day, or event in New York's history would you like to relive?
Actually I find New York history be some something of a snooze. Basically it was a big hunk of dirt, and then some people showed up from across the ocean, kicked out the natives, started selling imported goods and trying to evade taxes, and it's more or less continued along the same lines since then. I'd rather go back to 1500 and check out Tenochtitlan.
8. Best celebrity sighting in New York?
I don't do celebrity sightings.
9. Medication: What and how much do you take?
Marijuanagenerally in large quantities, and usually with non FDA-approved delivery devices.
Just for the heck of it:
10. In 1971, Professor Marvin Zuckerman of the University of Delaware published a Sensation Seeking Scale questionnaireasking such questions as whether you LIKE to dive off the high board, or whether you get that funny feeling in your stomach and would rather come down. On a scale of 1 to 40 (40 being Evel Knievel), where are you on the scale? Why?
Pretty close to one actually, with perhaps an allowance made for those times I feel the need to get stoned beyond all reason and spend 45 minutes wandering around the vegetable section of Whole Foods.
11. What's the last thing you tried to read but didn't finish?
Actually I just read half of a Murakami book that everyone told me was great, but after a while I got bored of it. I did however just finish John Toland's The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, which I would recommend to anyone. It makes Al-Qaeda look about as dangerous as a Wesleyan ethnomusicology class on a field trip.
12. What are your plans for the Republican National Convention?
Primarily I intend to do a lot of drugs and listen to a lot of really aggressive, morally ambiguous dance music, and possibly I'll write a couple songs. Beyond these actions I intend to leave the election of up to a handful of obese, television-addled undecided voters in states without cold-water coastlines or decent book stores.
13. So did you vote in the last election? If not, why not, and when's the last time you voted?
I voted for Ralph Nader, but I made sure to do it for all the wrong reasons.
14. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "overrated"?
See question 8.
- Interview by Sarah Robbins