Manchester has been the breeding ground for Joy Division, New Order, the Smiths, Chemical Brothers, and Autechre, among many others.
And David Wolstencroft (AKA Trus'Me) is another proud Mancunian. Since the late 2000s, the DJ, producer, and Prime Numbers label chief has been banging out some of the most soulful and sonically rich cuts in house music.
As a producer, he's a consumate traditionalist, throwing back to the golden era of US garage when live session musicians, vocalists, and analog recording were essential to studio production.
We caught up with Wolstencroft on the cusp of his WMC performance alongside DJ Harvey at the Electric Pickle to talk about his hometown, eclectic musical influences, and how he works the floor.
Crossfade: How did growing up in Manchester shape your musical development and sound?
Trus'Me: It shaped my whole sound. Living here, you were exposed to all kinds of good music. It was never that Manchester was following a trend, but they were creating a scene and that's the difference to living in other cities. You would as easily find Chicago or Detroit house as you would hear Stone Roses or Slum Village in any bar in Manchester. So when I began to produce, these sounds were already in my head and in my thoughts. I never tried to emulate a sound but instead tried to create music I loved and knew best. My DJ style is vast and this again I owe to growing up in Manchester. How can one not be influenced by listening to the likes of Mr. Scruff, the Unambombers and the Eyes Down DJ? How could I ever stick to one genre? I would get bored very easily. I like to tell a story when I play, but I only realized how regimented house or hip-hop was when I began to travel. You really can't mix both without somebody saying "oh, he's a freestyle DJ". But for me, it's all the same -- music to dance to.
When did you first start producing and how has the process changed over the years?
I took the educational route, by studying at the School of Sound Recording here in Manchester. It gave me a whole new understanding of music or sound, as you could say. The course helped me break down the elements of sound and structure to the point it kinda ruins the pleasure of listening. Instead you separate each element of the music, the bassline, the drum patterns... and for the first time, if the music doesn't just come at you, you become a critic. I very much started with a hip-hop mentality, sampling everything that I felt I could flip into soul or house music. I would combine this with live drummers and bass players with mainly Juno 106 layering over the top for my first LP release "Working Nights." I realized after working with local Mancunian musicians that I would like to complete a more musician-based LP. Working on "In the Red", I performed with musicians such as Amp Fiddler and Paul Randolph, also making boogie with Dam Funk. Now I'm currently working exclusively with a drum machine setup, all revolving around live takes and producing strictly for the dancefloor. You could say more tracky!
So what's your usual approach to working with live musicians in the studio?
I approach it like sampling. I have the musicians jam and then I take the bits where it grooved best. So, not dissimilar than taking the sections of a record where you began to smile. (Winks) Working with musicians can be a much longer process but it has its rewards and a different sound. Although I'm working with drum machines exclusively now, so read into that what you will.
You're a bit of an old soul when it comes to bringing back the vintage sounds of '70s funk and soul. Where does this appreciation for the past come from and where do you go crate digging?
I just love soul music -- the real stuff. I dug a lot in NYC when I was younger, and also at King Bee records here in Manchester. Again, I just like variety there is no particular genre I would not sample from. I'm as happy sampling Afro to Brazilica as I am sampling '70s funk. Something in those recordings from the past, you just can't capture today -- the level of musicianship and the rooms in which this music was recorded have been lost forever. By sampling you can bring a little of this sound back to the future.
You've claimed to be a DJ first and foremost. What are the key ingredients you look for in music, and what sort of experience do you aim to provide on the dancefloor?
There are certain records that just grab an audience's ear. It doesn't matter what genre or what vibe, they just make you get up and dance. I try to only play those records and no fillers. I want each and every record to affect you in some way from slow and soulful to fast and erratic. If I can make you change your dance pattern more than once but still keep you dancing, then I'm winning, I feel. DJing is all about trust. If I can win you with music you don't know, then when I drop one on that you know, well you can imagine how you will react on the dancefloor. These days I love to produce as much as I love to DJ but my taste and style as a DJ will always surpass my production capabilities.
What prompted you to launch your own label Prime Numbers?
If you want to do something right, do it yourself. I have control of the sound, the look, the feel and I can put my own imprint on every release of mine and other artists I push like Linkwood and Fudge Fingas, etc. There is a completely different satisfaction you can receive by people dancing to music you pushed to as opposed to music you created.
What is Disco 3000 (D3K) all about and what's the status of the project these days?
The idea was to be a collective of music lovers who don't just love one genre. There is a selection of genres like boogie, soul, disco, house, techno, bossa, Brazilica, Afro and hip-hop that fits all in one pocket. It's hard to describe, but I guess you could say there are groups of people all over the world who just understand good music and have no restricted view of what should be played at a festival. We are currently working on a new site to hopefully bring something back for 2011.
What else do you have going on this year?
For the label there are new LPs from Fudge Fingas and Linkwood as well as new projects from myself. I'm currently touring in Australia and continuing to play my sound around the world. I can't complain.
Having played in Miami before, how would you say Miami's crowd compares to the ones in Europe and elsewhere? What can we expect during your WMC performance alongside DJ Harvey?
I threw a party last year with Juan Atkins, Metro Area, and Wolf and Lamb, was fun times. Miami like the house! So there will be heaps of it this year from me as well as the usual lashings of disco and curve balls -- the usual story-making of boogie to disco to soul to house and beyond. As It's Harvey's party, I wont be holding back. I will be playing vast and wide as you don't get opportunities like this every day to really let go to a crowd that came to hear that.
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Trus'Me with DJ Harvey. Friday, March 11. Electric
Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. Call
305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.