PodIUmix #21 – All the Hits with DJ Speculator a.k.a Willie Burns – English Version

5 יול

It happened about two years ago while we were burning the midnight oil and when music tends to sound a bit different. The set playing in the background had the cryptic name "Like the Wind". It was a journey which began with summer-sounds and moved on to Italo-Disco classics. And then during the set's 21st minute a new track appeared that sounded as if it was created in a different galaxy and caused our hands to be covered with goosebumps. It was a 'Grackle' track, a yet-unknown artist for us. A short search revealed William T. Burnett as the name behind the alias and also behind this new episode of PodIUmix. 

Since that moment Burnett was marked as a name we have to watch. As time passed we discovered more and more musical creation made by more and more aliases of the same person. Using these aliases he released excellent original music and above all proved to be a funny and somewhat unusual guy who lives on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. You could call it luck or alternatively call it destiny, but this 21st minute in the set gave birth to the 21st chapter of PodIUmix hosting a super-talented artist and a rising star. With him we are happy and excited to begin the 3rd decade of PodIUmix episodes, through which we express our beliefs, not only in music but also in the people creating and playing it.

William Thomas Burnett’s name may not be familiar but chances are if you haven’t yet come across one of his alter-egos you soon will. We thought of the best way to introduce him to the unsuspecting crowd and came across a paragraph written by Lina Goldberg as part of an interview conducted with him during September 2009 for the ‘Infinite State-Machine’ blog.

“Burnett is the sort of guy who keeps his coat on in nightclubs, rarely making conversation with anyone that isn’t also a DJ or musician. Blond, bespectacled and quick with the crabby remarks, he seems like the quintessential elementary-school nerd cum skateboarder all grown up. He responds to most statements about girls with words like “gross” and is generally found with a smirk on his face.”

Press PLAY for instant relief

And now after this introduction, we asked William a few questions:

1. You moved to Brooklyn during 1999 and remain there until this day. How have things changed, scene-wise and musically in New-York since then? What are the main shifts you have witnessed over the years?

Uh…I don’t notice much change. New generations come in all the time and keep it fresh, but overall it’s pretty much the same. Maybe it’s a little more corporate and there is definitely less freedom and maybe a little bit less mixed, but there are still your fancy places and underground places and good and bad crowds. I think it will take a lot to change NYC. Only the clubs and faces change.. not the city.

2. It seems like some emphasis was put on the W.T releases’ covers, artistically speaking. Is there some special meaning to the art as it relates to the music, or is it just a tool for standing out?

Well originally I wanted the musicians to have full control over the release and have it exactly the way they wanted but that didn’t always work out. Most of the time it still does. The recent change in art is because I realized that there are so many plain jackets and unmarked sleeves to look through in a record store that they all blend together. Art is part of the package so if you’re going to take the time to press a record and just make it blank then you are lazy and cheap and cheating the customer.

3. What’s with the Monikers? Did Willie Burns manage something that Speculator and Grackle didn’t? Who is or what is Black Deer? Are they completely different individuals or is it just you under different influences and moods?

Speculator was my first moniker and will probably be around longest as its my DJ name. Grackle was my first attempt at producing some electronic ’weirdo music’ that wasn’t necessarily dance music. Willie burns was when I got the ‘SP-12’ and made a conscious effort to try to make House/Dance music with a ‘boom boom boom’. I’m not sure if it worked but yes, they are all different. Black deer is more of a Kraut weirdo thing with guitars and stuff. I’m even starting a new one called ‘Phobian’ that will be very simple techno and I have the idea to start experimenting with breakbeats as well.

4. In the same subject, you also have a couple of collaborations with other artist, such as ‘Galaxy Toobin’ (with Eliot Lipp), and ‘PG&S’ (with Professor Genius aka Jorge Velez). Do you find anything special or challenging in working with somebody else?

I like to collaborate. You learn a lot by watching how other people work. Eliot is in a completely different world than me and working with him was very helpful in narrowing down my setup. I think he really helped me the most in becoming productive. With Jorge its more of a ‘get together’ and do something and every time it’s kind of different. He doesn’t like to listen to music before he works and that is the complete opposite of me. I also recently collaborated with ‘Secret Circuit’, ‘Suzanne Kraft’, and ‘Torn Hawk’ so i think I will continue to do that. It’s a different challenge than working alone.

5. can you tell us about your connection with Legowelt and your special projects – the Skywatcher and Duneman Soundtracks?

Ha! Well that was a time when i was visiting the netherlands a lot and hanging around so we decided to make some short little movies to pass the time and get out of the house. ‘Skywatchers’ and ‘Duneman’ were the results. It was just fun stuff. I’ve been friends with Danny (and the whole ‘Bunker’ team) from when they came over to NYC in 2001 for a tour. It’s just something we did to fight the boredom.

6. You’ve been creating music for almost twenty years now and djing since the dawn of the new millenium. What (or who) were your influences which lead to these two milestones?

Yeah, I was in a band when I was 16…weird…I never thought of it like that…I have no idea. I like music, I like records and thats all. Not quite sure what lead me here.

7. In today’s musical and cultural scene the global migration towards Europe is getting more and more prominent. Haven’t you ever thought of moving outside the states to…let’s say Amsterdam or god forbid – Berlin, or are you happy exactly where you are?

Of course i thought about it. There was a phase in the early 2000’s when I thought maybe I would go to Barcelona but that passed; Then I was thinking about Duesseldorf of something like that a few years ago, But no way i would live in Amsterdam or Berlin. I’m happy in NYC now. Something about it is really special. As crappy and difficult as it is sometimes there is just no place like it. Personally I feel like the American market is more important to break into. Europe is easy; just press some crap with no art or names, tell people it’s cool and then you are in. America is different and also a huge market. It’s a great challenge and I like that.

8. We can only guess how big a part plays music and production in your life nowadays, but would you mind sharing with us what W.T.B. does in his free time and when he doesn’t fiddle with music?

Ha…nothing. I go to work either at the record store or at the pool (I’m a swimming teacher) or I eat or sleep. I really don’t like hanging around in bars or stuff like that. I did that already and I’d rather work on music stuff. Normally I wake up and do emails and shipping and eat breakfast…then I go to work…come home and sleep a little in the early evening…go have dinner…then I come back and have coffee and turn on the machines or listen to records. then repeat the cycle.

9. Looking at your label’s roster, there seems to be no real connection between the artists and they seems to vary. How do you pick the artists to showcase in the label?

I just meet people when I travel or have friends or get demos. It’s all different. when I hear something I like I find a way to put together something that the artist and I are both happy with and then go from there. It’s just a matter of what I feel like releasing at the moment and what I cross paths with. There is no real plan except to make a product that the artists and I are happy with and proud of.

10. What do you think of the direction electronic music and the dance culture in general is going? Would you change anything if you could or is it fine as it is?

Uh…nothing has really changed, just maybe a little more hype from the media machines. Other than that it’s still the same. There are still crappy DJs and good DJs and good records and bad ones. Wishing for a change seems kind of silly. The way I see it, if you don’t like the way something is, it’s up to you to do something else about, otherwise you are just complaining and that isn’t gonna do anything.

11. The sun is rising and you’re outside playing. The crowd goes berserk but you have just one final track to drop as the sun comes up. Anyone in particular?

This depends on where and who is in the crowd and what I have left in my record bag. I’ve been more into pop stuff lately so I guess ’Everything But The Girl’ or something similar. Haha! Something for the girls to sing along…I don’t just want a bunch of bros being all techno in my sunset.

12. Please complete the following sentence: “In past life I was _________ “

Ha! What is this? Therapy? Never really thought about that.

*********************************

Together with the PodIUmix episode, William also sent us another mix he conceived. This bonus set is not ordinary, nor should it be consumed the way other sets are. Think you're up to it?…

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  1. Glenn Holmes 05/07/2013 בשעה 23:29 #

    I don’t just want a bunch of bros being all techno in my sunset.

    made me laugh!
    Great interview!
    gonna listen to it tomorrow

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