<b>DVS1 - Addicted Podcast #6</b>
Zak Khutoretsky is of a rare kind of modern club performers who still put DJing above anything else. Having been brought to global attention by Berlin’s own Ben Klock, Zak (or DVS1, as he likes to call himself) quickly found his way to dj booths at some of the most prominent clubs in both US and Europe. The latter includes Berghain where Zak’s epic sets commonly last far longer than usual couple hours. In order to present what his work within a dancefloor context looks like (and sounds like), DVS1 has kindly provided us with this cut from a recording of his recent club set that took place previous month at the 'As You Like It' event in San Francisco. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.
- Everybody knows it took you many years to become an internationally-touring artist and you went through several ups and downs during that time. Haven’t you ever had a thought of living your life without being involved in music scene? Please share some of the crucial moments of your life-long musical journey with us (some stories are commonly known, but maybe there is something else worth being mentioned).
- I can't imagine my life without music! Long before all of my current success, I was always involved with music… from promoting events (Hush Production), owning a nightclub (Foundation), running a sound company (Hush Sound) and even renting studios (Hush Studios) to musicians. I was always working within music but never thought of it as the steps towards where I would end up today. I just did it because I loved music and the experiences I had within it.
Kind of a funny story that I recently re-discovered though my mother... When I was around age 12 (circa 1989), I was sent to a summer camp for a few weeks. The camp was a French language immersion program so you weren't allowed to bring in anything American (books, music, etc). At the end of the 3 week camp we had a “dance party” and the music could be selected from all the cassettes that the camp had taken from the kids when we arrived. Somehow I got myself the job of organizing the music for the dance. So for 1 week, I spent a few hours a day listening to all the tapes, copying and making the mixes for what was to be our final dance of the summer! I didn’t realize it then, but that was actually the beginning of my DJ career.
- You have repeatedly described yourself as a DJ first and foremost. Do you consider that kind of thing a missing element in today’s techno scene, as everybody strives to start releasing music firstly nowadays? How would you describe your DJing style if you had to?
- I do think this is a MAJOR problem nowadays. The reality is that there are 2 different roles in electronic music, the DJ and the Producer. The Producer makes the music that other DJ’s play out in their sets. The producer is NOT necessarily a performer. The problem is that most producers can’t make a living on this, so they decide to become performers and learn how to do the basics as a DJ in order to get out and tour. Although I understand the need for this, I do NOT agree with it. The party needs to be in the hands of a skilled DJ to keep it interesting. Don’t get me wrong, not all DJ’s are that great either… some of them are terribly boring as well.
My belief is that a great DJ will have spent an equal amount of time on the dancefloor, digging for music, and playing to crowds to actually understand the role the are playing at the party. The DJ hopefully has spent years perfecting their craft. The biggest thing that I think is missing these days is the natural filter of the 90’s era for DJ’s/producers etc. Let me try and explain…
Before the advent of digital interfaces for production and performance, a DJ had to sacrifice a lot to get the tools (buying turntables, mixer etc) and would have to spend hours or even days shopping for records at the record store every week. We would literally give up our money, our freedom and our ability to have a normal life in pursuit of finding the next amazing record. You would spend years practicing and then finally spend a few more years playing opening sets before you ever got the chance to play a peak time set. You became more skilled because of the time you took to learn the process. For a lot of us in the States, that also meant throwing events yourself, as our options were much more limited than in the EU with clubs, parties etc… All of these things allowed you to see the music from so many different perspectives and in the end gave you something that a lot of these younger producers nowadays don’t have…TIME and EXPERIENCE.
With technology came the ability for someone to just download a cracked program, some tracks and call themselves a DJ/performer etc… In the same breath, I will say that technology has allowed some great talent to find their way to an audience that would never have found them before. The most amazing aspect of technology to me, has been for the people who live in remote parts of the world that would never have been heard before… It gives these voices a chance to be heard and a chance to reach others. The unfortunate thing with technology is that it makes most people just plain LAZY!
- It’s not a secret that all of the tracks you release have a loopy kind of basis. Why are you keen on the idea of a loop as a basic element of a track? Can you recall any roots/influences of this approach? Does this have something to do with the software you use, as we’ve heard you’ve been using Fruity Loops up until now?
- I don’t use Fruity Loops… I use Reason. I like Reason because it’s a self contained program. It doesn’t use any VST’s or plugin’s and the basic idea of the program is just like an Analogue set up. It’s a bunch of drum machines, Synth’s and effects… You can wire anything in any way and if it makes a sound you like… You use it!!
It’s really simple to me why I like the loopy style tracks more. Although I like songs as well, as a “classic” style DJ, I prefer tools to use in my sets, basically each track has moods/colors. I use everything as a part of the whole and it is only intended to be that, a part. Sometimes the beauty of the track isn’t even realized until it’s in the mix with another one... Some Dj’s prefer to let the music do the work for them, I prefer to control the music and make it do what I want! DJ BONE once said it best, “do you get funky with the machines? Or do the machines make you funky?”
- You have just started your own label called HUSH which represents the same brand as you used to use as a promoter/DJ/etc. How many releases you already have in the pipeline? Are there any boundaries that define what you can release on HUSH and what you cannot?
- Hush, the label, was created to celebrate 15 years of my company. The goal of the label is to release all original material from myself. I realized that I've been doing too many remixes for the last few years and I really wanted to focus again on my own productions, so HUSH will be the outlet for that music. Of course I’m open to other people’s music as well, but for now that’s not the direction of the label. Ben Klock did the same thing with his Klockworks label until we met, then he released my first record as #5 on the label. So I’m not opposed to releasing other music, but it will have to be a perfect fit!
- Let’s talk about your Addicted podcast. This is a recording from the party, right? Please let us know what the occasion was.
- This recording is 1 hour of a 2 hour set from a party in San Francisco on March 9th 2012. The party was to celebrate the birthday of the founder of “as you like it” promotions group.