Troy Pierce Talks Soundtracks for Substance Use and His Square One Side Project
Indiana-born, Berlin-based DJ/producer Troy Pierce is one of the great
dark horses of contemporary techno. "Dark horse" meaning his rise
through the international ranks in the last decade has been
surreptitious, but also "dark" in the sense that he boasts one of the
gloomiest and murkiest sounds in EDM. Louderbach, his acclaimed side
project with vocalist Gibby Miller, is straight-up, self-described
"gothic techno." And although carried by propulsive, funked-up grooves, his live sets are awash in shadowy and sinister atmospherics.
Despite hooking up with Minus label stars Richie Hawtin, Magda, and Marc Houle
early on, Pierce landed in Berlin as a relative unknown in 2002. But it didn't
take him long to conquer the city's burgeoning minimal techno
scene and put his mark on esteemed imprints like Bpitch Control, Get
Physical, and of course, Minus. His latest side-project, Square One, has
seen Pierce partner-up with Minus producer Heartthrob, both in the studio and live. The duo will be alighting at the Electric Pickle this Sunday night for a world-class
booking courtesy of LINK.
We caught up with Pierce in advance of his Friday night performance to
talk about the pitfalls of music trends, making it in the EDM game, and
his live M.O.
New Times: How did a rural Indiana boy end up at the forefront of the Berlin techno scene?
Troy Pierce: I
ask myself that question every once in a while. A little bit of luck, I
think, is part of the equation, but also I was really committed to
making it happen. I moved to Berlin almost seven years ago with next to
nothing and put in a lot of hours in the studio and touring, trying to
have fun, and stay focused.
You boast a really dark sound and visual aesthetic. Are you generally drawn to gothic or dark wave themes?
guess you could say that. I am definitely interested in music that
moves me and that ends up on the darker end of the spectrum.
lot of former minimal DJ-producers have jumped on the deep house
bandwagon in the last couple years. As a techno purist, do you think
this is just a passing trend or does it reflect people's genuine desire
for a return to more melodic and soulful dance music? Does minimal ever
Boring music bores me and any bandwagon has its
pitfalls, I suppose. I am a little disappointed or maybe confused when I
hear music from a producer whom two years ago I really liked and now
their style has morphed into some generic flavor of the moment. I think
it's a stretch to call dance music soulful -- bongos and a choir of
African kids chanting or some sample of a forgotten Spanish crooner
hardly qualify in my opinion. To each his own, though. Styles change,
people's interests or influences evolve. At the end of the day, it's a
soundtrack for substance use. That may sound a little cynical, but that
is really why people go out: to get wasted and have fun with their
friends. I hope at least that the music I play and
make can be a welcomed addition to the journey.
enjoyed fruitful personal and professional relationships with some of
the major players of international techno, e.g. Richie Hawtin, Magda, and
Konrad Black. Do you think making it in the EDM game
depends on who you know? How have your relationships in the industry
shaped your career?
I think there are a lot of factors that
contribute to "making it" and who you know is definitely one of them.
But it also takes a large amount of talent, hard work, perseverance,
luck, and a positive attitude. That being said, Magda and Rich are
incredibly talented and creative artists and great friends. We have known
each other for more than ten years and our friendship was rooted in our
interest in dance music and a shared aesthetic that went beyond techno.
It was never about "making it," we had fun hanging out and the
"international EDM" success came much later.
How did Louderbach come about and what is the status of the project these days?
and I met in New York in 2001. We started working on music casually a
few years later. We were into the same musical style. But [we were] from different
camps, I guess you could say. Gibby came from a more
post-punk/industrial sound and I was obviously more into techno. But both
of our ears were tuned to the darker edge of the genres. After
two albums, we have started working on some new music and video material
that we will be putting together as part of a live show and installation.
year you've spent a lot of time in the studio with Minus label producer
Heartthrob, with whom you're also sharing the bill as performance duo
Square One on Friday. What can you tell us about this collaboration?
have been working together since we both lived in New York, actually.
We had a gig in Baltimore of all places, like nine years ago. Laptop jam
session, nothing was hard-synced, just pressing start at the same time.
I am sure it was a mess, but it was fun. Since then we have gotten a bit
more organized and tech-savvy. We started working on new music while on
vacation in Hawaii. We have fun (I
think) in the studio, taking the piss and making weird music.
What is Square One's live M.O. and how do these performances differ from your regular DJ sets?
think what separates this from Heartthrob's live performance and my normal
DJ set is that we play off of each other, adding or subtracting elements
to give space or accent to the other. It's a similar concept to the
Contakt shows we did last year, but obviously with less people. We use
two laptops, one with Traktor and the other running Ableton Live. We
also use Maschine for drum programming and the entire set up is synced
over an ethernet connection.
What have been some of the highlights of 2010, and what do you have going on for the rest of the year?
the EP with Jesse [Heartthrob] felt good, we worked on it for quite a
while and I am really happy with how it came out. I also have some new
solo material that will be finished in the next month but won't be
released until next year I imagine.
What can Miami expect during your gig at Electric Pickle?
An intoxicating bongo-free soundtrack, devoid of soul but full of sci-fi darkness.
Square One (Troy Pierce and Heartthrob). With LINK residents. 10 p.m.
Sunday, October 3. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Ages 21 and up. 305-456-5613; electricpicklemiami.com
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