There are many techno producers whose works are devoid of the subtleties that would suggest a wider musical competency and understanding. Then there are those whose grooves are infused with painstakingly produced little details and a sense of wonderment that reaches beyond mere dancefloor functionality. Whether he’s producing thumping techno or downtempo chillout, David Gtronic’s sense of musicality always shines through.
1– Hi David, thanks for taking the time out to chat to us. We wanted to start by chatting to you about Vatos Locos. How did you first end up hooking up with these guys and what does it mean to work so closely with such brilliant artists?
It all happened quite naturally to be honest. I first met Chad and Randall in Orlando, Florida in 2011 while I was studying sound engineering. Randall was just making the transition from Hip Hop to electronic music and Chad was the local favorite. We developed a close relationship by sharing music and inspiring each other in producing it.
I met Hector two years later, in Summer 2013, at Space Ibiza. We got along right away when Randall introduced us; we spent a lot of time talking music, hanging out, and making jokes. He liked my music a lot, and of course I was already very familiar with his. He then invited me to play for his birthday party at Hoppetosse in Berlin along with Randall and this is basically the first time we ever played together.
During this time, I was also introduced to Sece, with whom I’ve developed a close friendship with, and we made the move to Berlin together at the end of summer. Hector was living in Berlin as well at the time, and so we all started hanging out more and more. This is basically how it all started and our family kept expanding with more incredible artist such as Javier Carballo, Hanfry Martinez, Mahony, Pinto, Jamie, Hito etc.
2- What do you feel Vatos Locos stands for and what do you see as the advantages of running with such a tight label?
Vatos Locos symbolizes brotherhood, friendship, family, loyalty and no ego.
3- Obviously you guys are from different places. Aside from music, do you have similar personalities too? And how often do you get together and what’s it like when you do? Is it like a real family atmosphere?
We have similar personalities but in our own unique way. Lately, we have been getting together at least once a month. We are lucky enough to be able to tour together, even if is not an official showcase, promoters love to book us together and this a wonderful thing because there is nothing better than traveling the world with your best friends. When we all get together it feels like a big family. It almost feels not even so ‘work’ oriented, it was all about jokes, eating good food and sharing amazing experiences.
I just got back from our tour in Japan, where I met up with Hector, Chad and Randall. I have to say it has been of the best trips I’ve had. We met up with Dubfire, where he took us to a very unique Omakase dinner by incredible chef, Nobutaka Ohashi. We tried over 10 different types of ramen and got to explore Tokyo and Osaka together like a big family. It truly felt more like a vacation than a tour of gigs and work.
4- Going back, at what stage did you decide to start taking music seriously?
It became serious from an early age. When I was 18 years old I was already releasing some decent music, which was getting support from some big artists like Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Dubfire, Loco Dice etc. This is when I knew I had to keep it up and give it my everything to keep pushing boundaries. I was also studying sound engineering at that moment, so my whole life was revolving around music. It wasn’t until I took the next step and left everything behind in United States to make the move to Europe when I was 20. That is the moment when I started touring frequently and making a living just from my production and DJ gigs.
5- And what would you say was your big break for you? Did you have a mentor of sorts?
One of the big breaks I had early in my career, was the ability to work with some incredible artist like Mr. G, Reboot, Santos, Livio & Roby who did some remixes for me back in 2012. Another big break was in 2013, when I was able to participate in The “tINI And The Gang” parties, which started to open up the market for me in Ibiza and Europe. Once we started the “Vatos Locos” events with Hector, he gave me the freedom to express my artistic vision not only as a DJ but, participating in the development of the events and sharing our own ideas for the brand and how the event should be.
6- Now, let’s chat a bit about the EP on Black Wood. It’s a new label, so how do you know the guys on the label? And can you talk us through the vibes on this EP you were going for?
I met Alvaro and Marcos in December 2016 when I played for their event in Madrid at Reclub which was a Blackwood showcase. I truly think this is where the label took off. They asked me if I had any free music for their new project; I really enjoyed their vision and what they were doing so I sent them some of my new music. Sequence was the first one they chose, so I immediately had an idea in which direction to take the project. Stripped back minimal with simple rolling beats and thick basslines.
7- What does it mean to have the support of labels such as Black Wood? Are you very picky about where you sign your music to these days? What do you look for in a label before you sign your music there?
In my opinion, the market has changed a lot in the past few years. Before, I was always chasing the big labels and DJs to play and release my music, but I found it very stressful to have to wait for months or even years for a decision to come. Now, I mostly make music for close friends and vinyl-oriented labels even if it’s a brand-new project as Blackwood. It is very important for me to have a physical release especially now that vinyl sales have increased dramatically over the last two years. Sometimes the digital market is so saturated with releases that the music can get lost.
8- And would you ever start up your own label? What’s stopping you with doing so?
It’s funny you ask because I actually own two vinyl-only labels as well as managing the digital label for the Capadi Rebels. I also manage all three of the Vatos Locos labels as well, which are VL Recordings, Vatos Locos Limited and the new one VLack.
I wanted to keep the two labels I own as a secret for some time, to allow the music to speak for itself rather than having me promoting it as my ‘new label’ etc. It’s not so much of a secret anymore. ‘Tervisio’, one of the labels, made its first release last year named ‘Cheska’ ,which then was followed by a collaboration between Guy From Downstairs and myself on 002 as ‘Unknown Artist’ and Tommy Vicari on 003.
I am stoked to release 004 which is a collaboration between my good friends Guti & Roustam plus a remix from the very talented East End Dubs. The second label is still a secret with all the releases by ‘Unknown artists’ so we will keep it like that for now.
9- You’re actually a qualified sound engineer. How important do you think this is to your understanding of dancefloor dynamics? And do you notice a difference in the techniques and quality of music that’s produced by qualified as opposed to non-qualified, DIY musicians?
I think today it is very easy to learn anything by yourself with all the knowledge that is scattered around the internet. I know so many talented artists that taught themselves everything from watching tutorials, reading manuals, and learning techniques from different engineers. That being said, I think there is definitely a difference in quality from producers that considers themselves engineers and sound designers, compared to producers that don’t look into it this far… Having a deep knowledge of how sounds are engineered, helps you decipher subtle differences and similarities between tracks when djing, allowing you to weave them together in more interesting and seamless ways.
10- Does how you listen to music differ when you are qualified in it or is it very much still a case of, ‘if it moves me somehow, it’s good’?
It differs when you are trained in critical listening and observing certain frequency ranges, as well as space in a mix. When you are not so experienced you can enjoy the music as it is, rather than judging everything you hear in a way that naturally happens once you have a background in sound engineering.
11- And how’s everything going in Berlin? Is it hard to keep restraint there and how have you found the winters?
Berlin is amazing but as I always say, what I love the most about it is that there is always a good balance. If you want party from Thursday-Monday, there is always the option to do that, but if you want to get into a proper routine and work in the studio every day, you can do that as well… Especially sometimes in the winter when the last thing you want to do is go out. For me it’s perfect, since I’m always traveling, every time I get home to Berlin I just want to relax, eat healthy and make music. Once the weekend comes, that’s the time I get to have fun and party.
12- Aside from this release, what else are you excited for in 2018?
I’m excited for 2018 in general because all the music I’ve made in the last 3 years is just now coming out so you can expect a lot of releases from me this year. In March, I have an EP called ‘Kshama’ on Dubfire’s label Sci+Tec which will be available for vinyl and digital release. Dubfire has always been a big inspiration for me, so to be able to work with him this year has been a great opportunity. Aside from the production and releases, I have a very good tour schedule coming up; I recently did a tour in Japan as I mentioned before, I have a South America & US tour coming up in March, and an Australian tour is currently in the works… Also maybe an Ibiza residency again this summer… I definitely think this year is shaping up to be one of my best yet.
13- And what’s keeping you busy aside from music?
Well I’m so busy with music that this is usually my main focus, and my work ethic doesn’t allow me to get too sidetracked… I do always try to take time to enjoy the simple things in life, which are also the most important; family, friendship, food, music, and art.
14- If you could lastly let us know about some of the tracks you’re playing at the moment that’d be really great.
– Traumer – Mezon (All inn Records)
– David Gtronic – Kshama (Sci+Tec)
– Ricardo Villalobos – Lazerpresent
– David Gtronic – Break Away (Rich Nxt Remix)
– Bernard Badie – Love Explosion Underground dub)
– Sakro – Omnipresent (Vatos Locos Limited 002
– Barac – Maintain Eye Contact (Uvar)
– Guti & Roustam – ReIntroduction (Tervisio 004)
– Omar – Thanks one thousand
– YYY 750 – A Side
– Ravi Mcarthur – Another Crap Night Out In Eltham
Thanks a lot again.