by Jason and Sabrina Weil
We met up with D:Fuse when he was in Atlanta for Pleazure's Zodiac IV in November 2000. We chatted about Texas, blatant self-promotion and progressive music.
Lunar: Where are you from?
D:Fuse: I'm from Austin, Texas. I've been in Austin for the last 15 years. I moved there and finished high school there in Austin. And then went to school at Southwest Texas and moved back to Austin. It's just a great city. That's basically how I found myself there.
Lunar: And how did you get started DJing? How did you find yourself in the scene?
D:Fuse: I basically was into the live music scene in college and doing the college circuits. I played the drums. I've been playing the drums for about 20 years, and I was real into rock and roll and live music. And for me, it kinda ran its course. And that's when I started discovering industrial music.
I formed a band called Culture Industry, and we hammered that to death for about four years. And that's where I got a lot of electronic experience working in the studio and also touring a little bit and doing a lot of live shows. And basically kinda getting into electronic music altogether.
After that project broke up, it was a real turmoil for me because I thought the band was going to be my outlet for music, and the band was falling apart. And that's when I started clubbing a lot because I was really wanting to just get out. And that's when I really got into progressive music and into techno and into house and into breakbeat...and discovered the whole club family vibe which was just amazing to me.
>From there I started buying a lot more music. I picked up a pair of turntables about six years ago. And then started buying records, and it just moved from there. I discovered trance music and progressive music, and it was all over at that point.
Lunar: Is that the genre of music you started spinning?
D:Fuse: I started spinning techno, breakbeat and speed garage. Especially in Texas, there weren't a whole lot of places that had any kind of progressive music. It was a lot of really raw house and hard techno, and a lot of drum and bass, and a lot of breakbeats. And I don't know what my first trance record was, but I remember when I'd hear these records and not even know what they were called, really...and I'd go "Oh, my God...this is amazing." And I'd buy it. And I just found that that was what I was into, that more produced, progressive sound. I basically just combed Texas and any time I was out of town visiting or whatever, I would buy trance records. And pretty soon the music form started taking over, and it was a lot easier to get the material.
Lunar: When was your first gig, and how did you get it?
D:Fuse: I couldn't get booked anywhere as a DJ so I basically started my own event called Sunday Massive. It was a Sunday night event in a place literally no bigger than this hotel room. I mean if you got ten, fifteen people in this place you were doing pretty good. We would charge a dollar at the door, and it was just a place where me and my friends could go and I could throw down some records and everybody could go and have a good time and some drinks. And it just grew from there.
I didn't know any DJs in the scene. I didn't know anything about the scene at all except that I really liked going to parties and I really liked going clubbing, and so I just started my own thing. And it was basically an outlet to hear progressive music. There was noone playing it or promoting it that much, and that was kinda where it all stemmed from (even though that was not solely what we played). We generally played the whole board of stuff back then, and it just grew from there.
Lunar: How did you find yourself going from starting your own night to get your first gig to touring with Paul Oakenfold?
D:Fuse: Well, that's a long story...how long do you have? I started my own night and things happened and then I met Oakenfold and started touring with him. [pause] No...I'm just kidding. [laughter]
One thing that always helped me was I always promote my own events. Sunday Massive ended up growing into quite a phenomena. We were getting anywhere from 60 to 200 people a night on Sunday nights. We did it for two years straight and then that gave us enough clout to take over a pretty nice club and start a Thursday night event. And so we really just kept handling that...I mean that was a big part of getting me out there as a DJ 'cause we booked DJs like Chris Fortier and we would bring Kimball Collins, Jerry Bonham. And you get to know these guys, you book them, and all of a sudden you are on a first name basis, you are hanging out with them and you are trading records and whatever, and that really helped to get my name out there.
At the same time, from the very beginning I've always released CDs and given them away. My first CD was 500 copies, and after that I pressed a thousand of two more releases. So I had three releases and I would just give them away. At a rave I would bring 30 or 40 and just hand them out like candy and that really helped educate people and help them understand what my sound was and at the same time understand what progressive music and what trance was. From there my name just grew. With getting the word of mouth out through DJs coming to town and also getting the CDs out, and people coming to the show, I started to get booked at a lot of the raves.
The thing that I think really helped me more than anything was going into the studio and doing my own production. Under the name Expansion with my partner Shane Howard, we went to a studio in San Marcus and just hammered out two tracks and released them ourselves on our own startup label called Liftdream Productions. Went to the music conference and shopped the hell out of that and ended up doing a show with Moonshine that year in Texas. That's where I made the Moonshine connection, met those guys and ended up getting a record a deal through them. So everything just kinda...you know...you plant seeds everywhere and hopefully everything grows and that's what happened.
I was in San Francisco doing a show there I don't remember what club it was and there was a guy there, and they were like "This guy is really connected, he knows a lot of people in the scene, you should give him a tape." I happened to have one on me, and I handed it to him and we started corresponding. I started sending him every CD I would release. If I would just mess around in my room I would send him a CD of that. He knew Paul Oakenfold and knew Paul was looking for someone to tour with at that moment, and it was just the right place at the right time and went from there.
Lunar: How long have you been playing trance now? Or do you call it progressive house?
D:Fuse: I would easily say I started with trance. If anything, you would call it trance. It was definitely a lot of breakdowns and buildups. I've never been into the bubblegum trance or the circus trance, even though I did love "Gouryella" and tracks like that. It seems like that style got kinda washed out really quickly, but in the beginning it was definitely straight up trance.
I think now that the music has changed...you know, I call it "progressive" because you can't really define it anymore. It's gotten so specialized. You've got tribal elements coming in, you've got breakbeat elements coming in, you've got straight up house elements coming in, you've got trance underlying the whole thing. So you're always wondering what to call it. It's like, "This is a tribal progressive kind of breakbeatish track" or whatever. You find yourself stripping it down so minutely that it's like...I just call it progressive now. It's definitely not trance and it's definitely not just house and it's not just tribal. When it comes to that [type of music], I'd say I've been spinning it for about probably 4 years. When you say "trance" or "progressive" music, probably about 4 years.
Lunar: Do you see progressive music going in a certain direction? Are you trying to aim your music in a certain direction?
D:Fuse: I think right now it's reverting back to house. I freak out, because I think music right now is the best it's ever been, in my opinion. And I've talked to Jerry Bonham about this, who's been spinning for, like, twenty years, and I'm like, "Man, what do you think? Isn't right now the best music that's ever been out?" And he says, "You know, man, every year I've always said that. Every year I say the same thing." If you're out there looking it up there's always great music out there and you always get excited about it because it's constantly evolving.
And I think right now, it's really exciting for me as a DJ personally because trance was really spiritual, but it lacked energy in my mind. It was something that you danced to because you loved the melodies and everything like that, but the syncopation and the high hats and the way the energy moved in the track rhythmically, to me never really got your ass up dancing all the time. It was kinda sterile, it was kinda like...in a grid, you know? [makes repetitive high hat sound] Now it's incorporating all these interesting elements and making it just move where when I put on a cd I've made or I hear a DJ that's playing really good, progressive, deep tribal stuff I just can't help but shake my ass. And at the same time, it's very spiritual, and it's getting more subtle, it's not as obvious like big melodies and stuff it's getting a lot more subtle which has taken it to a deeper form. With everything combined, I think it's a great time right now. I get at least six to ten good records a week, and that is so much more than I really need. I mean, I keep having to rotate records out of my set all the time because there is so much new stuff coming in.
Lunar: Who are some of your favorite producers right now?
D:Fuse: Timo Maas would probably be a good one...he's amazing.
Lunar: He's a machine.
D:Fuse: The guy doesn't sleep! Max Graham. Max Graham I think is probably the best producer we have of our time. I think he is amazing in the fact that his versatility is there and his production is second to none.
I'll name some record labels. I think Hope Records is really good. I'm really bad about knowing my labels because I get a lot of white labels and generally don't know what is on the back of them. There is a new record label called Sag that is doing excellent music, they are really innovating things. Of course, Red Parrot Recordings, Hooj Choons...they have completely switched gears and gone to this deep tribal progressive sound. I think everything they are releasing is just amazing.
Lunar: Most of the stuff coming out of Europe?
D:Fuse: Yeah. U.S....producers I would say Chris Fortier and Fade have always been at the top. [lowers voice to imitate cheesy infomercial salesman] Of course my project is really good...
Lunar: What else would you like the readers of Lunar Magazine to know about you?
D:Fuse: That I am a Scorpio and I'm 6'2"...
Lunar: And engaged! [laughter]
D:Fuse: The only other thing I would like to say is that I am really really happy about where I am at right now. This time for me with my fiancée, with my lovelife, the friends I have, the place I live in Austin, and above all being able to actually make a living creating and writing music and performing music is like heaven on earth to me right now. I'm just really happy to be here and I feel fortunate every day I wake up.
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