Desolat head honcho and DC-10 hero Loco Dice is returning to Australia to play Stereosonic this November following a successful tour with the festival in 2011. Pulse's Morgan Richards speaks with the ex hip-hopper turned household techno and house name about, erm...hip-hop and house and techno, his roots and getting into adventures.
Pulse: Hey Dice! Where are you at the moment? Describe it to us. Loco Dice: I'm here at the office/studio building of Desolat. It's a nice place. We've had it now since two and a half years or something. I just finished building my studios in the cellar, so they're ready. I’m busy producing some cool tracks, I hope! I just finished my EP, the 'Toxic EP', which will be released by the end of the year on Desolat. And, yeah... we've got a couple of artists here right now, we've got Crack-T, Martin Buttrich. I can see them upstairs hanging out. And the sun is shining and it's a good day!
You and Buttrich have been working together for a long while now. Yeah, we've been friends and partners and brothers for a long, long time.
How did that start out? I got to meet him through Timo Maas. We met each other and clicked immediately. He's also a hip-hop kid, he's formerly a skater, and we used to hang out before even going to the studio and make just beats or something. We'd just hang out and have a lot of fun. And then when we went to the studio, it was just, "bam!" -- Fat Dope Shit was born. And since then it's a partnership. We have a lot of fun, we understand each other, it's great.
You mentioned hip-hop, that was a huge part of your life for a while. Saying "it was" is wrong, I’m still hip-hop! You can't take out the hip-hop! [Laughs.] I grew up with this culture, I grew up with this music and I grew up with this lifestyle. I’m still transporting many things from this hip-hop to my style now, if it's producing, if it's DJing, if it's what I wear. Back in the days, I was lucky to grow up in the golden 90s and golden 80s of hip-hop, where hip-hop was, let's say, kinda real, kinda honest. Not so "fashioned", you know? I took a lot of inspiration and a lot of knowledge with me until now, and I’m really happy and proud about it.
Do you have a favourite track of 90s hip-hop? De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest? I can't name just one track! Maybe start with De La Soul, go over A Tribe Called Quest and finish with Ice Cube and Ice-T. This era had so many amazing artists. I mean now, you've still got new talents which are great, but this era was just unbeatable.
I suppose we'd better get onto some house and techno questions. How did you first make that bridge from hip-hop to electronic music? It's quite simple for me. When I was playing hip-hop in those days, in Germany and Europe, we had hip-hop clubs, but also many times we had to share the clubs. You had MTV doing a party, or a radio station doing a party, and the main room was techno and the second room was hip-hop. For me it was always, hey, let me have a look, let me go to the other side and have a look at what's going on. Also I had a lot of friends from techno, and I got to know them at VIP stages, or at parties, and I was more and more interested. I was diving more and more into this world, and I was fascinated by electronic music - how a DJ could combine different styles and sounds together. With a hip-hop DJ, it's very stiff. You gotta deal the dancefloor, you gotta play a record every two minutes. With electronic music, some DJs played epic sets where I just standing there like, wow, how can you do that? This is how I got in touch with electronic music and this is when I got involved in it.
Any hot new releases on Desolat that we should be looking out for? Yeah, there's plenty of stuff coming out! We have a new Benny Rodriguez coming out soon, we have Francisco Allendes and Paola Poletto coming out soon. We have my EP coming out soon. We have a couple of tracks by tINI, by Yaya, by Hector; all the artists. We have a Premiesku album, very fresh right now. The list goes on and on! We try to have a nice output over this year.
Your family is from Tunisia; did traditional North African have much of an influence on you growing up? Oh yeah, big time. We have a lot of styles. Of course Tunisia is North Africa, but because we have the Arabic language, you have quite a huge pool of music where you can go through. But my style is more the Tunisian old-school style called Mezwed, which is based on drums and horns. I grew up with this music. My mum, my father used to play, used to listen to this music. When I went to Tunisia for summer holidays, I heard this music. I find all these elements in what I’m doing now, like in a nice drumbeat by Brothers' Vibe, where I find the African/Latin American drums are very similar to what I was growing up with.
What are your other inspirations, outside of music? Outside of music is always the world, the cultures. I’m glad to be a DJ travelling all around the world. I catch all the cultures and I catch all these cool people around the world that I get to meet. Everyone inspires me in their own way. The other thing which inspires me a lot is movies. When I watch a movie or something it gives me an idea of a story, of a beat, of something. I can't tell you how it works, but it just clicks in my head. I’m in Columbia or I'm in Australia and I come back from such an amazing time and go into the studio. This is how I try to rework what I felt and what I saw into the music.
What was your last trip down here for Stereosonic like? I was in Australia last year, touring with Richie and Sven through all the cities. I remember everything was simply amazing. I remember one party we had in Perth; a huge afterparty in a garden of some friends that I don't know. It was a very very long night/morning, let's say! [Laughs.]
So you still do manage to get into a lot of adventures, even with all the management and planning? Do you know what I mean? Oh yeah. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Man, it's always an adventure. Sometimes it's just around the corner, just out of Germany, and it's still a huge adventure. Sometimes you don't know where you are, who picks you up, where you're gonna land, where you're gonna play. Sometimes it all sounds very professional, and the people behind you try to make everything already planned, but for me as a DJ, I don't like see it as planned so much. I like to dive into things and see how it reacts, how it works. So there's always kinda adventure. But of course, you have some real adventures, like when you go to South America…this is when the adventure really started. [Laughs.]
It seems like you live up to your name, that idea of leaving things to chance. It's real, behind the name. [Laughs.]
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