Seth Troxler DJs in Montreal this week

Photo by Brian Park

Seth Troxler does music on music’s terms

An interview with the Detroit DJ/producer about long sets, chips, vibes and why he can’t go home.

According to a friendly management-type named Jonathan, Seth Troxler has been “catching a vibe in the studio” as we wait for him to join our call one afternoon earlier this week.

If there’s one thing the Detroit-bred DJ (who has resided in Europe for the last 13 years) is known for, it’s how to create a vibe.

He brings the vibe, and his Coming Home tour, to StereoBar this Friday night. Montrealers will be among the first fans in the world to hear some of the material he worked on while he was back stateside for a few months this winter.

Here’s what he had to say during our brief but lively call.

Seth Troxler: I’m eating a cracker. How are you?

Darcy MacDonald: I’m good, thanks. What kind of cracker are you eating?

ST: It’s a bagel chip.

DM: No soda crackers for Seth Troxler today!

ST: No, I’m on the bagel chips! How are you doing?

DM: I’m good thanks, man. I understand you were on a vibe in the studio. How’s it going in there?

ST: Still on a vibe, just trying to help you out as fast as we can and keep that vibe going.

Seth Troxler can’t go home

DM: So you’re back in North America for the Coming Home tour and you’ve been living in Europe, Berlin and whatnot for the past several years.

ST: I’ve lived there for 13 years. I’m staying in New York for like, three months, but I’m not coming back to live in America for now. Not until Trump’s out officially. Then I’ll consider it. I don’t wanna like, move into a shitshow, right?

DM: Why do a club tour in North America now?

ST: I’m actually here for a couple of months working on a new Lost Souls of Saturn album (with musical partner Phil Moffa) in our studio here in New York and I was just like, I kinda wanna be back home gettin’ the vibe and take some time to visit my homeland. It’s so easy to just kinda get caught in this thing of staying around in Europe of chilling and taking it easy rather than flying overseas. Basing myself here makes it really easy and accessible for me.

DM: What’s it like when you, like, move stuff creatively over from one part of the world to another?

ST: Well, I create all my music, all the music I really make, I make in America. I find America to be really inspiring in a way. The tension here is really good for me, and the madness and vibration of the country really turns me on. There’s a darkness in it but there’s also some other kind of nostalgia points that really help me making music. Up in Berlin and living in Europe I hadn’t really been making a lot of music and every time I come to New York and Detroit, a lot gets done. It’s nice to have that creative centre. Maybe it’s something about being born here, I get to plug in to the matrix and we’re able to talk to aliens and be part of the globe, I guess.

DM: What’s it like to watch the sort of social decay of Detroit from overseas? Is it tough to watch? 

ST: I think it’s sort of watching the social decay of America. Detroit’s actually kind of on the ups! (laughs) It’s better than it’s been in 30 years. The real decay we’re seeing is the moral decay of America, in politics and socially. It’s kind of going backward in a lot of ways and it’s sad to watch my country falling back in that hole, I guess.

DM: Is that something you find yourself stuck in conversations frequently in places like London and Berlin?

ST: No, not really. It’s so fucked up people don’t even care anymore. They’re just like, “You guys are fuckin’ idiots,” right? Outside of that, that’s also why I sort of wanted to come back and see people and sort of feel what it’s like to be here during this time. And try to give back some feelings and ideas. Give back some good and some support.

Long-set Seth

DM: I know you’re good to go on super long sets. When you’re doing club tours — and like in this case at StereoBar where it’s not an afterhours — how do you moderate yourself?

ST: My thing is, I’m never prepared. Did you watch the show The Witcher? They keep saying this thing: “I invoke the law of surprise!” (laughs) And I really believe in that. I mean, I prepare kind of but my whole thing is, I play one song and then another song and let the cards fall as they do, and figure it out. When I play really long sets I’ll bring a lot more records, and throw some stuff in there that I think will work over a long time, transitionally. But generally it’s just about the vibe and my mood. 

I wish I had something better for you, but I’m really maybe the laziest DJ. I say it’s my Wu Tang ninja style, where it’s really the law of surprise. Like life, once you try to drive it too much, you don’t get the best results. When you let it fall and let the cards fall as they play, you get in a singularity with it. You gotta be a passenger rather than a driver, and enjoy the ride. ■

Seth Troxler (All Night Long) at StereoBar (856 Ste-Catherine E.) on Friday, Feb.7, 10 p.m.–3 a.m., $20.

Check out Seth Troxler’s mixes on his Soundcloud.

See more music and nightlife coverage here.