Purveyors and pushers of L.A. techno for the last ten years, Droid Behavior is a name to be reckoned with. Started by brothers Vangelis and Vidal (aka production duo, Raiz) alongside producer, Drumcell, the idea was always to bring proper techno to the fore in L.A. and beyond, where it had previously been ignored. Raiz spoke to Helen S to coincide with the duo's exclusive podcast for Pulse.
Pulse: Hello Raíz . Where are you now and what are you up to? Raiz: We're currently shaking sand out of our ears and gear from a beach event we helped organise and play at. We're also getting ready for another sunkissed weekend with gigs in MPLS and the island of Cozumel, Mexico. In the studio we're wrapping up remixes and releases for Hidden Recordings, Historia y Violencia and Droid. Also, a project we're very excited about is a collaboration EP with Truncate, which is almost done and should be released soon.
You grew up with a father who was into Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. What other musical influences did you have in your younger lives? Our dad had a few crates of vinyl that we would rummage through where we first discovered artists: Vangelis, Led Zeppelin, Jean Michelle Jarre, Le Orme, Deep Purple, Genesis and other progressive acts from them 70s and 80s. His younger siblings also had a collection of 80s
vinyls and cassettes that included Dead Kennedys, PIL, The Clash, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and too many others to name. This music was also played on the radio during that decade as well as Latin Freestyle, electronic disco, and early Hip Hop, so it was easy to absorb these sounds.
Where was your first gig and how did it go? We hosted several house parties, lugging around 2 PC towers and CRTs, which eventually lead to our first gig out. It was a house party on Y2K and turned out to be a turning point for us. Some mutual friends who knew about our musical interests created a chance meeting with Mohamed aka Drumcell that later developed into a partnership we call Droid Behavior and Droid Recordings.
As brothers, was there ever any competition between you DJ or production-wise? Initially, there was definitely a bit of friendly competition. We would track all night, separately working on something new, then we'd play them in the mix the next day in practice and vibe off each other. Although the songs were rather simple and crude, these production exercises laid down the foundation for what we do today. We learned a lot from each other and at the same time would try to show each other up by experimenting quite a bit.. Nowadays, we take turns leading the way on projects in the studio and have worked hard to channel this rivalry into a cohesive production. During our performances there are some aggressive mixer tactics which may be perceived as competition by the audience. It creates a bit of tension that leads to some interesting and unique combinations and transitions.
You started Droid ten years ago out of frustration for the lack of decent techno on the scene in your native L.A. Do you feel things have improved since then? The L.A. techno scene has been through a lot of changes since then. With a lot of work educating partygoers, Los Angeles came to embrace this music. The worldwide popularity of the minimal sound, also helped immensely with accepting and understanding Techno in this city. The bubble of that sound has burst, possibly for the better, along with a string of raids by the authorities, the gap has widened between the underground and above-ground for electronic dance music. The popular stuff will always be the popular stuff, but considering the current musical climate, we're optimistic for what the coming years will bring.
Tell us about some of the bigger DJ's and producers you've brought through in the last ten years. Every Interface we have produced has been especially memorable. Booking A/V artists, Speedy J vs. Scott Pagano, Surgeon vs. Mrs. Surgeon, and others have had a strong impact on how this event series has matured. The artistry they exposed us to pushed us to raise the bar and try things that no one else was doing at the time, especially in the underground. We often surprise our guests with the caliber of the event and how hard we work at creating the Interface environment which, in the end, means everything to us. We have also
championed experimental artists Richard Devine, Otto von Schirach and Jimmy Edgar in LA which demonstrates a keystone to our booking philosophy, non-compromising. Some of our favorite moments from the last 9 years include; Dan Bell at Interface 2 whipping up the crowd into a wall-sweat dripping frenzy; Ben Klock leveling the dancefloor in an intimate club to a room bursting at the seams; Chris Liebing finally coming on at 3am after a wild night of drama, getting shut down by the fire marshall and a last minute venue change at our 7-year anniversary. Those fortunate enough to find Part 2, were so hungry by that point for Liebing, the room exploded (as well as a few minds) when he dropped the hammer.
What in the world of techno is really exciting you right now? The sense of free experimentation that lured us to Techno in the first place in the 90s, is alive and well. After enduring nearly 10 years of being caned over the head by one dominant style, whether it be hard tribal or Minimal, it's very refreshing and inspiring to be active in the current musical landscape. Post-dubstep producers are embracing elements of 4/4 House and Techno in their music and vice versa with Techno/House producers. In a sense it feels like the early days of
Rave where the lines were blurred between sub-genres and you would hear the same samples on a record produced in Detroit, Chicago, Belgium, and the UK all released within the same month. Music tends to come in cycles, with certain "styles" eventually becoming overly formulaic and predictable. But for now, Techno and electronic music is much more eclectic and diverse than it was 4 years ago, we're in a good place and there's something different for everybody to vibe to. Growing up, many different genres of dance music piqued our interest for a short while, but Techno has somehow been the constant all this time. Unlike some other genres, it's constantly evolving and re-inventing itself, and this is why we've stuck it out with Techno for this long.
Where next for Droid? What are you working on at the moment? A few vinyl releases scheduled for the rest of the year Including material from Raíz and Luis Flores. A goal, is to develop the site to include global content, sourcing from the full international network we have built over the last 8 years. Aside from the label and our 2 main events series, Prime and Interface, we also have our own podcast series, D-node, which has been in existence since 2003. We are reaching out to a diverse selection of both established, and up-and-coming artists that we feel deserve an opportunity to be heard.
You've very kindly mixed us a podcast for Pulse. Run us through the ideas behind it. This mix is a one hour segment taken from our five hour set that was recorded at Berghain on May 7, 2011. With such a long time to work with, we were able to span many of our techno influences from the past 15 years to the present, with slow dub, to hard jackin and acidic favorites. We cooled back down the last 30 mins after a long and intense stretch of musical mayhem which you can hear in this excerpt. We have been patrons at Berghain several times over the years and decided to experiment a little bit with surprise selections on the main floor from dj duke, shed, drexciya, etc. It's a big risk but when it works, it makes the night that much more memorable for audience members.