| September 21, 2016 | 8:31am
Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.
DJ, producer, blogger, party promoter, label and A&R manager — Andrew "Lovefingers" Hogge has worn practically every hat there is to wear in the underground dance music industry over the past decade.
But if one thing has driven his myriad professional endeavors since the beginning, it's the love of sharing music — pure and simple.
An unwavering passion for crate digging and a penchant for those more esoteric, cosmic grooves have seen this West Coast native emerge as a revered selector and tastemaker among discerning international listeners. And Hogge brings the same deft curatorial hand to DJing as he does to his esteemed ESP Institute imprint, a global touchstone for genre-bending experimental dance fare from the likes of Tornado Wallace, Young Marco, and Moscoman.
Ahead of Thursday's highly anticipated Miami debut at the Electric Pickle, we caught up with Mr. Lovefingers himself to chat about the roots of ESP Institute and his evolving quest to push sound forward.
New Times: How did ESP Institute first come about? Did you already have a concept in mind for the label before you set out to launch it?
Andrew Hogge: Yes, it was very deliberate. I'd been doing an edits record label since the early noughties called Blackdisco as well as constructing a 999-song mix with one song per day on [the Lovefingers blog], an outlet wildly popular as a fountain of beautiful music. I loved sharing and turning people onto that. But in contrast to edit culture and its increasingly homogenous sound, I decided to end with the 999th song on New Year's Day 2010 and turn all that inspiration into something forward-thinking — the ESP Institute — which would champion only new artists and music from that point forward. The whole label is very considered, starting with the artists — their music and attitude — and following through holistically with our aesthetic and the language used to speak about them. Now, 65 releases later, I still am very set on each release telling its individual story as well as being a part of the label's overall story. When the ESP Institute is seen from a bird's-eye view, there should be an impactful message with a wide range of emotions and endless moments to explore that stands the test of time.
Please read web version for embedded content
"Eclectic" is probably not an apt enough term to describe ESP's catalog, since so much of the material you put out defies genre or categorization altogether. What is your criteria for hand-picking artists to sign and records to release? Are there any particular aesthetics or elements you are looking for to define the ESP sound? What makes a record ESP material?
Honestly, there is no format. I trust in my instinct and don't listen to anyone else. Some of the music that comes my way is already perfect, yet with others I get deeply involved in writing, mixing, and production. If there is no personal connection to the music for me, then I can't include it in the family we're building here. I never release music based on what's going on outside, and certainly not for financial gain. I believe in art, and while some releases are more lucrative than others, that doesn't necessarily say anything about the music but more the listeners and their context.
As a DJ and simply a music lover, what turns you on musically the most? Are there any specific sonic ingredients you look for in records when you go digging?
Drums and rhythms are first, then melody. If there is no obvious melody, that's fine as well, but usually I find some melodic essence whether it's only implied or even unintentional. I know that sounds strange, but it's similar to hearing music in nature — it's there if you listen. But all my hippie nonsense aside, I look for strong rhythms. I like for production to sound genuine and for the tools used to take a backseat to the music they make — no matter whether digital or completely analog, the artist should be driving the music, not the technology or lack thereof.
So what's going on with ESP next? Any forthcoming releases we can look forward to?
We're focusing on albums for the moment. We have Moscoman's album out in a few weeks, then three more really excellent albums before March 2017. I like to see how people react to certain types of music and storytelling — full-length versus singles during different times of the year. Everyday life affects us differently throughout the span of a year — the weather, annual events, etc. — and I'm curious if we can more closely offer soundtracks to these parts of life — music for moods, whether subconscious or not.
We're looking forward to your Miami debut on Thursday. What can we expect? Do you have any special tricks up your sleeve during this summer tour?
I always have a very mixed bag. I try to keep things interesting and dynamic, so I don't really play any one style all night long. It's always hard to answer questions like: What type of music do you play? Because the answer is different all the time. I think of it as adding bricks to the house that Jack built — pushing new sounds forward, but always incorporating music that laid the foundation. And, of course, the occasional curveball. I try to have a dialog with the crowd, throwing things at them to gauge their reaction. I know the Pickle crowd have been highly educated musically by some great DJs over the years, so I’m really looking forward to playing for them and in Miami.
Camp Cosmic presents Lovefingers. 10 p.m. Thursday, September 22, at the Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-456-5613; electricpicklemiami.com. Tickets cost $10 to $20 via residentadvisor.net.