It wouldn’t be quite accurate to describe DJ/producer Joe Seaton — better known to clubgoers as Call Super — as a techno artist. Although the London-born, Berlin-based musician is often affixed with the label and is certainly a pupil of the genre, one would be hard-pressed to find any simple or straightforward bass drum-led, hi-hat riddled numbers in his discography. Rather, the sound of Call Super is the sound of possibility, reflecting half a lifetime’s worth of clubbing and a voracious musical diet. That is to say he’s prone to sonic experimentation on his records, and despite his particular approach to producing, Seaton will throw down just about anything — ranging from reggae and jazz to moody, diva-influenced house — while manning the decks.
“When I'm DJing I play all sorts of music, I like to keep my DJing fun; I don’t worry too much,” Seaton says with a laugh. “If there's a track I like and it's not produced particularly well, I don't care. It's primarily about this kind of immediate experience in the club. And the way I approach sound design on my albums or 12’’s, I don't really think about that stuff when I'm choosing tracks that I play out- it would certainly remove too much music that I love.”
Speaking to New Times from his parents' farm in the Andalusia region of Spain, Seaton is taking a well-deserved rest following what he calls “a long, fairly consistent release schedule for about five years.” Now he's embarking on a brief U.S. tour that will bring him to Floyd this Friday, April 20, where he’ll be playing the Space side room’s monthly Extra Credit party.
Besides “occasionally changing planes in the airport,” tomorrow will not only mark Seaton’s first Call Super set in Miami, but his first time in the city for an extended period. As a learned student of dance culture and electronic music, Seaton is quite aware of both the diversity of sound in Miami’s after-hours affairs as well as the rich legacy left by the heyday of Winter Music Conference.
“I hear [Miami] is quite mixed, from big room stuff to more interesting, smaller parties,” Seaton says. “It's something I'm looking forward to seeing and experiencing for the first time.”
Given his meteoric rise in reputation over the last few years, it’s surprising it took this long for Seaton to reach our shores. After initially garnering attention for his EPs and memorable club cuts such as “Black Octagons” and “Acephale II” — songs that earned him the early categorization as a techno producer — Seaton’s breakthrough moment arrived in the form of his debut Call Super LP, 2014’s Suzi Ecto. Rife with ambient textures and comprising mainly of moody soundscapes, Suzi Ecto solidified the musician's status as a premier electronic experimentalist, earning his place alongside the esteemed likes of Nicolas Jaar and Four Tet. Seaton’s second Call Super full-length, last year’s Arpo, runs with the left-field rhythms and tone set by Suzi Ecto, featuring clarinet and oboe pieces recorded by his father mixed in with his atmospheric productions.
According to Seaton, the distinction between his propulsive singles and EPs as opposed to his more patient LPs is largely due to the creative possibilities only lengthier albums provide.
“I don't really think of albums as individual tracks – to me it's a way of thinking about a complete vision,” Seaton says of Suzi Ecto and Arpo. “Now of course a club track might fit into that. When I sit down and start to execute the ideas that I've had for those two albums, the club doesn't factor anywhere in my mind. I come at [full-length records] from a more kind of open-minded, technical perspective, which allows you to execute whatever ideas and visions you have for this 30 or 40 or 50 minutes of music as a whole.
“If you think of dance music just as music to dance to, I think there's lots of stuff there that I certainly feel is dance music, but it's not this highly calculating club tool or DJ tool, which sometimes parts of my 12’’ catalog are.”
Seaton’s considered approach to his music is in keeping with his multidisciplinary background in the arts, along with his time spent studying international politics at University College London. It helps that he’s had a long time to refine his thoughts and philosophy surrounding electronic music and its accompanying culture, having begun his ventures into nightlife from a very young age.
“When I was very, very young, the first places I could get into in London tended not to be legit clubs, they were more kind of squat raves and venues which were illegal,” Seaton recounts, adding that his passion for this world clicked for him around the age of 15. “I definitely had many coming of age experiences in those kinds of places with this music, the kinds of communities that were around those places, and the way people looked after each other and came to find or be themselves.”
Seaton’s formative experiences were informed in part by his initial encounters with ecstasy. Although conversation surrounding the drug has become increasingly fraught as of late, with MDMA being perceived chiefly as a means to party and nothing more, Seaton is refreshingly sincere and upfront about the impact ecstasy left on him.
“It opens you up; you start to understand things about friendship, community, yourself, and the relationship you may have with music through those experiences,” Seaton says. “I think [ecstasy] changes a lot of people for the better. The way people often grow up, it can be quite sheltered or cloistered, and suddenly in your mid-teens or late teens or early 20s, or whenever it is you have these experiences... these things are exploded. And for the vast majority of people, that's a wonderful thing.
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“And sure, life kind of goes back to normal,” Seaton snickers, “but I think there's a part of you that crosses a bridge that you can't go back over, and that's a good thing.”
But even with his ideas on dance music and its adjacent culture’s possibilities for enriching people’s lives, Seaton is quick to add that at the end of the day, music only means whatever you make it to mean. It just so happens that for him, like so many of his listeners, it means everything.
“We have to map whatever we think and whatever we want to put forward onto the music; the music is just the music.”
Call Super. With Michael Mayer, Andres Line, Terence Tabeau and Klauss. 10 p.m. Friday, April 20, at Floyd Miami, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 786-618-9447; floydmiami.com. Tickets cost $10 to $15 via ticketfly.com.