If you're a real house head, you've probably got love for Loco Dice. You're more than likely to have a few Timo Maas records in your collection. And you just may harbor a serious music crush on Martin Buttrich.
Not only is he a decorated electronic producer in his own right, with an illustrious original and remix catalog, boasting a Grammy nomination for his work on Tori Amos' "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas," Buttrich is also the man behind the curtain on a lot of house music's most seminal albums.
Through the years, he's watched as dance music grew from a purely underground phenomenon to highly profitable mainstream trend, and he's currently marking 20 years in the biz with a very special worldwide tour, #9414, featuring cameos from some of the scene's most beloved DJs.
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The key to lasting success? It's different for everyone, but Buttrich thinks a large part of staying sharp is challenging oneself and one's audience.
"I always try to keep open what I'm doing and not get put in the drawer of one genre," he says. "Otherwise, after a while, you're not able to move left or right anymore, because people won't be able to accept what you do."
You can make a lot of music in 20 years, and Buttrich has pushed himself to do as much as possible. With roots in acid house, he spent the '90s experimenting in trance and then progressive house. From there, he moved into deep house, then classic house, and now techno.
"In my career, there's been always been a little change," he says. "But it was important to me, in order to cleanse the senses."
And for Buttrich, electronic music has never been anything less than art, even if it wasn't always seen that way by outsiders.
"Growing up, my goal was always to have serious electronic music," he says. "Not serious in the sense of dark, but something that's just well-respected, even by finer jazz musicians."
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Buttrich and producers like him, as well as some help from certain hard-working promoters, the world of dance music has indeed become better regarded and much more lucrative. Yet while DJing has become a more profitable business, it's now difficult, he says, to earn a steady income on the production of new music alone.
"About 12 or 15 years ago, I was easily able to live off just making music in the studio," he recalls. "But it's getting harder.
"Now I have to do the gigs in order to afford to make music. But it's also, for me, something I really needed to get more experience. I realized, in order to make the music even better, it's good to have the experience of knowing how things work on the dance floor. Then, on top of that, I kind of got addicted to it."
Still, his true passion will always be the studio, whether it's working on his own album or helping write for someone else.
"I'm working on so many different album projects, and everything I'm doing with the people I'm working with, I'm thinking this is the right direction," he says. "It's important to work more on long play, because you get more expressive. While you're just working on an electronic EP or an underground tape, it's something just for dance floor. With an album project, you can express everything that's on your mind."
The #9414 tour is quite symbolic. For one, it's the year he released his first record up against the present. No matter how you look at it, 20 years is a hell of an achievement in the tumultuous music industry, and he's brought a bunch of his friends together with him on the road for what he lovingly calls "basically a celebration of me having not given up."
"It's always a little bit of an extra highlight when you go to a town and you know you play with people that are your friends and you appreciate their music," he says. "It's basically, you're not alone in the club by all those crazy people."
Miami is quite blessed to have Buttrich joined by his good friend, the legendary Pete Tong. Of course, when you come to Miami, you've got to bring the big guns. Miami and Buttrich have history.
"When the rest of America was maybe still sleeping in terms of electronic, Miami was always a place where I felt welcome," he says. "This is my people, where I always played. For me to return with some people to those places is to maybe give a 'thank you.'"
Always working, Buttrich will release an album around the tour, Collaborator, featuring all-new original tracks composed in the studio with many of the #9414 guest DJs. It's hard to get all those busy schedules to collide, but it's worth it to Buttrich to take the time and do it right. You can trust him with the job. After 20 years, a Grammy nomination, and a boatload of celebrated song-writing credits, he knows what he's doing.
"I always try not to look too much in the past, always to the front, because you might get eventually a little bit too cozy too quick," he says. "I'm still in the middle of the tour and everything so far was great, but time to reflect? I guess I'm going to have this time if and when I go on to holiday at some point - maybe."
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#9414, Celebrating 20 Years of Martin Buttrich, with Pete Tong. Wednesday, December 3, at Trade, 1439 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Ages 21 and up. Open bar until 12 a.m. The party starts at 10 p.m., and tickets cost $15 to $30 plus fees via residentadvisor.com. Call 305-531-6666 or visit trademia.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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