DJ T Interview

A renewed vision in house...
DJ T
“House music is a feeling.”

This is a well-spun and oft-heeled quote that rings true for many hedonists and party people the world over. Few forms of music casts itself in such a spiritual light, bathed in emotional manifesto, yet house music has been warming, healing, fusing and elevating minds and gliding limbs now for an impressive amount of time.

Co-founder of Germany’s Get Physical label, DJ T has been a main proponent of this scene’s more recent output. Yet his magnitude in what ‘House’ means and what it should do is getting magnified through epic amounts of shit minimalist dance music swarming around his native Germany and beyond.

We caught up with DJ T – we had to, given his second album ‘The Inner Jukebox’ has been a mainstay on the Clash stereo for some time – and talked aesthetics, backlash and historical moments. His beloved genre is a considered format, and its nuances have helped educate and influence ever since New York and Chicago’s dance floors and lofts seeped their strange sounds over 20 years ago.

Pull up a chair… The man has a point.

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Your new album seems to be a reaction against minimalism… would you say you are part of a wider backlash?
At this point one can quite happily say that, since this summer, the minimal hysteria has finally become a thing of the past and it is truly no longer a sensation. It is inconceivable that, and with unbelievable speed, people who over the years have programmed the coldest and most sterile grooves are now suddenly attempting to produce house and to bring funk into their tracks. At first glance, it appears as if everything is house. The new formulas, largely, are being pushed with the same narrow-mindedness as with minimal before them – out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak. I am happy to admit that I really hated minimal – less due to the music itself, and more due to the dogmatism and ignorance with which this movement was staged by its followers and by many of its protagonists. Minimal was not just an aesthetic misunderstanding, but also a movement that was a fashion statement and a pose. This led to a totally unconsidered reaction to the music and to the associated protagonists. I hope very much that this new phase of musical openness will last as long as possible.

If your pursuit of the essence of house music is a driving principal for your second album, then whose teachings are you using?
Whoever has read the text of my album promo in the following way - i.e. that I, as a ‘keeper of the Holy Grail’, wish to present the ‘one true house sound’ - has clearly misunderstood. My album is just one of many other new interpretations of house, which have become possible once again. A great many people are currently working on a further development of traditional house, and they do it in a much more authentic way than I do. For me, it was more about packing the widest possible range of what I currently play in my sets into this album. However, I wanted a central theme running through it, and this central theme was to be house. Additionally, I have tried not to curry favour with my sound, but instead have tried to find my own language.

What for you defines true house music, opposed to passing trendy noise?
I admit that the transitions between the kind of minimal that uses organic sounds and more traditional house - that has the heart to make use of more contemporary, minimal drum programming - are fairly fluid. There is a large grey area between house and minimal, and it is up to individual subjectivity to decide where the divisions lie. There is the wonderful statement: “house is a feeling”. And this feeling has a great deal more to do with soul. In most current productions that follow the most successful house formulas – let us label them as ‘minimal loop percussion house’, so that everybody knows what we are referring to – it is exactly this kind of soul and deepness that is missing, and which I associate with house. To illustrate this with a current example: I have the greatest admiration for the Motor City Drum Ensemble’s work. His music clearly does not belong to this minimal house consensus, but even in his beats there is an inherent sexiness that all the ‘loop house’ people, with all their vocal and percussion samples, cannot begin to achieve. He is just 24 years old and comes from Stuttgart – and we will be hearing a lot about him in the next few years.

Do you fear that its historical moment has passed?
If that were the case, I would not consider it something to fear. But if one wishes to see it like that, then that is a very difficult question – it depends on one’s perspective. Having thought about this a long time, I would say: no, house was always there and even if it was pushed onto the sidelines by other styles at some moments in time, I would still say that it appears to possess more strength for renewal and more timelessness than any other form of club music. For example, I don’t think that there will ever be a phase where all of those ‘90s techno tools will sound as up to date as the way in which many house tracks from the ‘80s and ‘90s sound today.

Should house music be an eternal ideal?
From the bottom of my heart, I can only say yes. I remember the beginning of Larry Heard’s ‘Jack Manifesto’: “In the beginning was Jack, and Jack had a groove – and from this groove came the groove of all grooves”. For me, house music is the source of all electronic dance music – and viewed in this way, techno is just one of the thickest branches on the tree. For me, electronic dance music is the carrier of many ideas and ideals that I can agree with. House music transports all of this in a better and more deliberate way than other styles do. It has to do with a certain form of spirituality and contemplation, in combination with excessive dancing and body workout – right up to a state of trance, throwing off the bonds of everyday life, tolerance of homosexuals and other minorities, or fans of other music styles, non-violence and non-aggression, the abolition of differences in class, race or age on the dance floor – and ultimately it is about celebrating and transcending human existence. It is non-verbal communication and a merging together with everybody else to become whole and using the language of music and of the body. That possibly sounds a little elevated, but for me all of this is present in house music’s message. Whoever does not see it in exactly the same way, has in my opinion not understood what the originators were thinking about more than 20 years ago.

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DJ T’s new album ‘The Inner Jukebox’ is out now on Get Physical; find him on MySpace HERE.

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