Growing up in the quiet farm town of Muncie, Indiana four hours drive from Chicago and Detroit, it was hard to ignore the rich sounds emanating from these House and Techno strongholds. Troy Pierce was among the first to pick up on DJs like Derrick Carter, Jeff Mills and Richie Hawtin and was always out and about at parties in Detroit, Ohio and across the Midwest. Strangely enough though, he never thought about picking up a pair of headphones himself, preferring to leave the DJ duties to his friends. This way he could fully immerse himself in the music, especially the experimental ambient tones of the after hour chill outs.
This all changed in 1994. He moved to New York to study photography and like every student worth their salt, blew the remainder of his cash on a pair of turntables. He'd been toying with the idea for a while and as luck would have it his flatmate was also the manager of Temple Records so there was an endless supply of quality tunes on hand from labels like Perlon to satisfy his growing vinyl addiction.
Troy eventually hooked up with Magda at the Detroit Music Festival in 2001, who in turn introduced him to Mark Houle six months later. An immediate chemistry developed between the three of them and although Magda was now in Berlin, Mark in Windsor and Troy in New York they started swapping music files over the net. By the time the Run Stop Restore project finally crystallised into their debut release in early 2003, Troy had already moved to Berlin. It was a big decision to leave but somehow New York no longer offered up-and-coming musicians the same freedom of expression it used to, while Germany and Berlin in particular was setting new standards in minimal electronic music production.
Since touching down in December 2002, he's been letting his music do the talking. As a relative unknown, it's never easy staking a claim in a new city, especially one with such a rich musical heritage but sure enough, through a string of successful gigs and a mixture of impressive releases on Minus (Run and Slacknoise), Underline (Louderbach) and Mo's Ferry Productions, Troy has been attracting the right kind of attention and is now a regular performer on the European circuit.
2005 was the year when it all came good. The release of the Minimise to Maximise compilation and the accompanying tour left a lasting impression on clubbers at such centres of excellence as Robert Johnson in Offenbach and the Paradiso in Amsterdam but perhaps the real turning point came in August at pop.com. All those endless nights on the road and solitary days in the studio came together in one heart stopping set at the Watergate club. Taking the game to an expectant crowd including fellow producers and industry types, his uncompromising mix of minimal house and down beat, funked up techno announced, in no uncertain terms, that he was here for the long haul.
As a DJ, attempts to categorise his style pose more questions than they answer. Minimalism in its purest form is a tag he more freely associates with labels like Consumed - 'super sparse, difficult and totally out there'. Troy on the other hand, has developed a dance floor friendly hybrid sound that takes the best from the 'little movements and micro trends' that constantly spring up, helping electronic music to evolve. It retains the mechanical, futuristic sounds of techno but is slower and less abrasive allowing him to work between the lines, exploit the space between the beats and push out into the third dimension that epitomises the Minus sound.
Like his label mates, Troy is a strong advocate of cutting edge technology like Ableton Live, Final Scratch and sample tools like Cyloop. The ability to shift between these sound sources offers him unparalleled flexibility as a DJ but the benefits don't just stop there. He recalls road testing a new track one night in Berlin, getting the thumbs up from the rest of crew but then receiving puzzled calls the next day because the track didn't sound quite the same; he was of course looping in samples 'on the fly' and it was this spontaneous improvisation that really set the dancefloor alight. Needless to say these overdubs found their way into the final mix.
From a production point of view his tracks normally derive from experimenting with his Machine Drum or expanding outwards from the dark, atmospheric vocal elements that play a pivotal role in many of his productions. Inspiration often comes through choice regarding the effects he uses, rejecting standard, tried and tested settings in favour of unique percussive elements designed to challenge and intrigue. The result is a montage of scratchy subliminal textures and grinding beats. It's edgy stuff driven by dark funky bass riffs that get right under the skin, the perfect tonic for any after hour as sleep deprivation starts playing tricks with the mind.
As it stands, 2006 promises to be an even busier year than 2005. Having provided the backbone of their releases so far, Troy will wrap up his work for UK label Underline with the eagerly anticipated Louderbach LP. Alongside this, his growing status as a remixer (check out his version of Ellen Allien's Your Body is My Body) will see him reworking the likes of Lawrence and Donnacha Costello. There's also another Run EP in the pipeline but maybe the most interesting development is the conception of a new label - Items and Things - together with Magda and Marc Houle which should take flight in the spring.
If that's not enough, there's a full-on, five week Minus tour of the US on the horizon. Richie, Magda, Marc and Troy will set off in May (complete with monster tour bus) for what can only be described as a next generation magical mystery tour during which they'll take in 25 cities. They probably won't be stopping in Muncie but it's a sign of just how much his stock has risen over the past couple of years and confirmation that a solid work ethic, positive thinking and a total dedication to the cause always bears fruit in the end.
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