Jon Gooch, better known as Feed Me, describes himself as "outrageously bleak" in his Facebook bio but that couldn't be further from the truth. His talent as a DJ and producer has led him to issue a series of well received releases including his recent debut album 'Calamari Tuesday,' tour the world extensively, and start his own label, Sotto Voce. He shocked fans back in May when he announced via social media that he was going to take a break from DJing since he felt like his production career was taking a "back seat" to DJing. Feed Me is known for regularly speaking his mind and his critiques of the EDM craze and the "glitz and plastic celebrity that surround the DJ image" are refreshingly honest. We had a chance to catch up with him and ask him a few questions about his social media engagement with fans, some people he finds inspiring, his criticism of the "plastic rockstars" in the EDM industry, and some of his crazy stories from the road.
Your debut album ‘Calamari Tuesday’ came out a month ago. As an artist who has been producing under this moniker for five years, why was now the right time for your first full-length album? I don't really count all that time. Until I brought it to the forefront, it was more a curiosity to me and a background project. The right time was just a case of being full to bursting with music and ideas and not being able to pull enough downtime together to invest in bringing it together. I booked time off, and spent every second finalising and analysing and finally got it complete. It was a task and feels a huge relief to get out there.
You’ve got great social media engagement (over 480,000 fans on Facebook, 160,000 on Twitter, 170,000 on Soundcloud, and 26,000 on Instagram). With so many people jockeying for attention, likes, follows, etc., what do you think is the key to maintaining this relationship with your fans? I don't pay much attention to peers really. The longer I've gone living as Feed Me the more I've felt legitimised in being my own thing and unrelated to any boxes I get categorised in. It's information orientated, I enjoy speaking my mind, and you've got this gigantic instant interface with your own fanbase, 24 hours a day. The more I show myself online and keep things honest and unfiltered, the more I'm met with positive responses, so I find it encouraging all around, and self-perpetuating. Label-fuelled promotion and ad-banner based album campaigns are looking increasingly dated now I think. I love graphics and media and advertising, but hopefully with my image it's centred around me being quite direct and not fronted by a machine.
You mentioned that you were working on a short film among other things during your hiatus from DJing. How’s that coming along and can you tell us a little more about the project? Not as fast as I want. It's another step in fleshing out things I've imagined for a long time. It's new ground in terms of tech for me but hopefully we've got the right people involved. I've never felt like a musician only so it doesn't at all phase me to move between differing types of media.
We’ve been reading through a massive amount of your recent interviews and we’re pleasantly surprised with you candor in the Beatport reviews. Who have been some other artists that you feel to be particularly sharp and inspiring? Most recently Kanye West and Russell Brand. Entirely different interviews throughout this year with varying objectives and motives, but there's something engaging about articulate direct undiluted opinion. There shouldn't be - it's just become rare. No one does it - everyone's avoiding everyone else's toes. Why be so nice? Deadmau5 has an enjoyably unfiltered way of projecting his thoughts also. Anyone who's willing to use their platform to really speak out honestly and without fear is doing it right, especially in an age of censorship, conspiracy and corporate sponsorship. It's refreshing to understand first hand that you really can say fuck the system and do it your own way. You can connect that thought directly to the fans now, without anyone being able to put a hand on your shoulder and say 'are you sure that's a good idea?' I love the rawness of that.
You said in an interview with Vibe that Feed Me is “highly skeptical of EDM.” Does this coincide with your criticism of the celebrity image of some DJs and DJ culture in general or is there more to it? I like rockstars. But there's a lot of plastic rockstars in the electronic music scene. If you can get the lovely wide angle Rukes photo with your hands in the air, and your magnum of Grey Goose that's actually full of water (I know I've stolen them), with the flares going off and the crowd all like ants in front of you, you're there. There's your plastic rockstar photo you can use to promote the next shows and make sure people know you're big. You can throw in some video of you looking really tired in an airport to make sure people know you slave for your art too and it's not all fun and games.
Come on. Bands were cramming whole stage setups into VW campers and wearing the same clothes for months, falling to pieces mentally, almost dying for their cause. When you look at the lengths people who are genuinely deeply connected with what they are writing will go to, to get it heard or seen or played - a lot of this current scene looks weak, well fed and made of paper. Not to say there's not people out there really giving themselves to it, I think I'm just too involved and tied up in it all to connect with this fashionable pantomime side of things though. If I'm thrashing around on stage it's because it's the frustration and energy that went into that track and being able to finally just hear it passively in public and let go. I hate being shown video of myself live, it's just the one time I'm totally away - I think Iggy Pop put it well; 'you couldn't feel anything, and you wouldn't want to either.'
If nothing else I can say any stupid, outlandish, inappropriate or dangerous behaviour I've partaken in as Feed Me I did because I was hugely hyped up on exciting music, raw and energised fans and this feeling that I was really projecting my art how I'd always wanted. I look back and it's this blinding rush of colour and warmth.
You also just started your own label Sotto Voce. What is your vision for the label and what will separate it from all the others out there? Initially it's my own platform, somewhere to house Feed Me and also create a community. I want interaction with people on the label. I like helping other artists define or refine themselves and their sound. It's inspiring to me and I have a level of success where I can genuinely help put them out there. I also love brand management and making product, and I've always been completely involved in my merchandise, designing it all and such - so I'd like to see Sotto Voce as more of a lifestyle beacon than just somewhere I can throw some music out under a name.
What can we find you doing in your free time when you’re not producing or working on anything for Feed Me? Playing guitar or piano. I just got back from karting - I like anything with an engine. If I'm online I'm usually reading up on something. There just doesn't seem an excuse for not understanding something anymore. I've got a weird collection of antiques and curiosities in my house which I like adding to. I'm back in the studio full time now though.
What is one of the weirdest or funniest stories from one of your shows? Just off the top of my head, this summer we found a large red wheeled sofa in the staff car park of a festival and rode it around at speed until we crashed it quite heavily into a security guard's car. Then they let me go-kart drunk in the dark providing I lied and said I hadn't been drinking, as the venue had an unlit track. I won, yaaay.