Alan Oldham, the gentle yet hard-hitting techno DJ, producer and comic drawer hiding behind the futuristic moniker T-1000, time-travels with ease. Having mastered this skill to perfection, he is able not only to totally recall the past but transform the present into the future. Upon having witnessed true craftsmanship by no other than Jeff Mills in his native hood of Detroit in his early days, Alan felt deeply inspired and consequently had the cosmic force to find his own path, leading him through drum-fuelled sets around the 130-bpm-benchmark, productions on celebrated techno labels and… beyond. Moving back and forth between the two complementary poles Detroit and Berlin, the man eases out a bit, paints a lot, and gets on the going. His label Pure Sonik Records, started in 1996, is still around, and gets joined by a new outlet DRS. read on to catch the whole drift.
Hey Alan, how are you? Thanks first of all for your brilliant mix, I think it really shows where you stand as an artist and where techno’s at right now for you… what were your thoughts and your intentions when you made it?
Well you specifically asked me for a DJ T-1000 mix, then I had the idea to feature my new album in the mix, along with an advance listen to some remixes I commissioned. Those will be out soon.
The are quite a few tracks taken from your new album on there, can you tell me which ones they are (as I am not sure if I can put the whole tracklist into the interview text), and what their story is…
Whoa, mostly the whole mix is my new stuff! “Drums and Weapons,” “Cockblockin’ Beats,” “Know Your Enemy,” and “Head Down” are all off the album, and the “Drums and Weapons” (Paul Mac’s Ravetastic Mix) and “Drums and Weapons” (Justin Berkovi’s Nightrax Remix, along with two other remixes, will be out in the near future.
“Drums And Weapons” is quite a bloodthirsty name one would think… is this cos your nation is constantly at war?
No, they are DJ weapons to rock a dancefloor! Don’t politicize my music.
I could see from your comments in Facebook where you stand politically… what do you think about the current situation? What is your stance on where your country is heading, and what was your feeling throughout your child-and adulthood…
I just had a heavy political discussion with a friend of mine earlier tonight. Politically, I feel hopeful. I am a strong supporter of President Obama. Nobody else could have handled all the crises that have arisen since he was elected, especially with now maybe 48% of the country against him, mostly for racial reasons. Yeah, I said it. Most of his promises have been kept. Would McCain/Palin have been able to fix the US economy by now if they’d been elected in 2008? And if almost half the country and the opposite party tried to block their progress? I don’t think so. And remember, Mitt Romney lost in 2008 to McCain, who lost to Obama. I look forward to the GOP getting crushed again in November, and to four more years of President Barack Obama.
You are also a Berlin resident, moving back and forth between the two cities that resonate Techno in its purest form,… how did you get to find your place in the two of them?
The business had evolved (or devolved) to the point where you had to be in Europe in order to play gigs. In the 90s, promoters would just pay for overseas flights, so you’d just fly over, play one gig, maybe two, then go back. No more. So I got a flat in Berlin and started to stay longer to tour. I’d go out between gigs, made a lot of friends, learnt a little German 😉 and I came to love Berlin.
What do you like about them?
Chicago is a great place to relax and spend the summer. Cook out a lot and get fat. I DJed a gig quite recently here with Tim Baker that was the first time I’d played locally in years. I had a lot of fun, so thanks to him!
Could you imagine living somewhere else?
If I won the lotto, I would jetset between Berlin for music, L.A. for art and writing, and maybe the Caymans to chill. A condo in each. My dream life.
How and where did the album come about, where is it released?
After my last tour, where I played Shanghai and the Philippines for the first time, I came back to the States energized to make music. I made “Drums and Weapons” between late October 2011 to April of this year. It’s available in all digital shops now. Vinyl coming soon with the fans’ help!
You are a man of many trades, please tell me more about your other passion, drawing comics...
I started out doing comics even before I learned to DJ. In recent years, I’ve been coming back to it. I’ve kind of evolved a bit from comics to paintings on canvas. I did an art show in Amsterdam in 2010, and in Berlin in 2011. I’ve been trying to build up work for my next show, but people keep buying the art off my Facebook page! A good problem to have.
Who is your favorite super hero?
I don’t have a favorite, but I’ve been loving all the Marvel Comics movies of late!
How do you balance the two creative outlets you have, making music, and drawing, and how do the two complement each other?
It’s not really deep. When I get bored making music, I do some art, then vice versa. Especially when I’m in Berlin between gigs, that’s when I work on comics
How do you produce music? What’s your studio like?
All machines. I only use software in post. Editing, multi-tracking, EQing, etc. I am spinning on Traktor now, though, with the X1 and F1 controllers. I love not being at the mercy of decks and needles anymore.
What inspires you?
Everything. Movies, TV shows, art. I saw the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit earlier this summer here in Chicago. Very inspiring!
Who do you collaborate with? I heard you used quite a few tracks by some English techno heroes, like Ben Sims and Justin Berkovi…
They’re my friends and make great music. Paul Mac, too. Plus, they’re the only ones who still make tracks at 130 bpm and over!
Who is blowing your mind at the moment?
A lot of newer guys. Nino Sebelic, Plural, Kevin Gorman, Bodyscrub, Jason Fernandes, Developer, Alberto Pascual, Sigha. Angel Alanis is an old name, but he’s releasing a ton of new cats on his labels, and his remixes are on fire right now.
What would you like to make, next?
I’m working on my Detroitrocketscience project right now. I’m touring Europe as DRS next month. My first-ever tour with no vinyl. Old news for a lot of people but new for me! I play more minimal when I’m Detroitrocketscience, not hard.
Detroitrocketscience. How did this come about, and what’s the story behind this project? Same about DRS…
Detroitrocketscience is to me what Raudive is to Oliver Ho, or Traversable Wormhole is to Adam X. A fresh musical direction and purpose. DRS is the new label. “Laws of Anti-Gravity”, 10-inch is out now.
You are based in Chicago but sound-wise you re Detroit, how did you come to find your sound, how did you get immersed in DJing?
I started DJing in the early 90s. First on radio, then I learned to mix in clubs. I left Detroit in 2004, but am still a Detroiter 😉 Even though I have a base in the Chi, I don’t claim the Chicago sound at all.
Oh and last but not least, it seems as if you did enchant an entirely new peer group with your mix as many MEOKO listeners were not familiar with your sounds, what do you think about this… about electronic music having so many branches and stems right now, that one does not interweave with others any more at all? Is this evolution?
The reality is that Detroit, Chicago etc. are less and less relevant as time goes on. The new generation has its own set of heroes that do not overlap with ours. Remember that night we went to Club der Visionaire? And it was Seth Troxler and all the young guys. Me and you were the only old-schoolers there 😉
Is techno the dinosaur genre amongst them? Or: how does this genre reinvent itself?
I’m trying to do that right now. I’ll let you know 😉
What is 2012 for you???
A ton of artwork and paintings and a whole new business! A lot of releases, too. 2013 will be back to touring basics.