German DJ/producer Loco Dice started out as a hip-hop DJ before switching to techno, and he really made his name in the mid-noughties from his part in the minimal explosion via his groundbreaking sets at DC10 in Ibiza and tracks such as 'Seeing Through Shadows'.
This month he's undertaking an American college bus tour with Richie Hawtin, snappily titled 'CNTRL: Beyond EDM'. As well as night-time gigs from Hawtin, Dice and other artists such as Carl Craig, Seth Troxler, Josh Wink, Tiga and John Acquaviva on various legs of the tour, they'll also be presenting daytime lectures on the history of the music. “We’re not teaching, we’re coming and opening a book which is already there,” he says.
Hi Dice, you’re doing this tour with Richie Hawtin ‘CNTRL: Beyond EDM’, but what does EDM mean to you?
“It’s just another word that the Americans have started using to give the brand a name. I don’t know whether it just means the big room electro house stuff, because Rich, me, Marco or whichever names you want to say, we belong to that name as well for the US boys and girls, so I can’t call it this way. Electronic music has been there for ages, but it went down a little bit and hip-hop took over. Then hip-hop went down and rock took over, and it’s always a circle. And now it’s our turn. They give it one name, and we have to fight our way out of it.”
So why have you called this tour with Richie ‘Beyond EDM’?
“Because we want to call it something different, we don’t want to give them what they say it is. But, like I said before, we have to fight our way out of this circle because in this part of EDM there’s a lot of crap. I don’t know if people belong or not because I’m not a judge, but we don’t belong in all of this — even though we are open-minded and play different styles. We want to show the people that we are doing something different, so if you come to our parties don’t expect all this ‘Bing-bang-boom’.”
Why make the effort to give talks and so on beforehand as well?
“If you just let the music speak, or your style, or just have YouTube or Facebook rules — this doesn’t work anymore. You have to go there and show the people what time it is. You have to bring them closer to what you are really doing. Techno is not that easy, it has millions of sub-genres that you can put music styles in, so for a beginner or newcomer it’s quite difficult — they need to go through that journey to understand what it is. Now the possibility is there to go much closer to the people and give [it to] them from the first step, saying ‘This is what we call techno, this is what we call house music’. That’s why we’re going to the universities, we’re starting where it starts.
“We’ll find not only people who like our music, but people who have no clue about our music. Also we will find people who come from rock or dubstep or whatever the genre, and maybe show them our technology and our style — and how our lifestyle is, and everything. Who knows, maybe they’ll follow us next time?”
Is the title of it — ‘Beyond EDM’— maybe having a slight dig at the commercial side of electronic music?
“Haha, I don’t think so, when is the time to call it commercial? 'Commercial' is sometimes when you play for 30,000 people — we play for 30,000 people, and we still don’t call ourselves 'commercial'. 'Commercial' is maybe when there’s too much hype and it’s suitable for everyone — I don’t know, even techno can be suitable for everyone. I’d rather say ‘Look, there are a lot of people who are pretending to do electronic music, but it’s not electronic music. And we want to show that we don’t belong with them — that’s why we’re WAY beyond EDM.”
Is it ironic that after 25 years, mainstream America has finally ‘got’ dance music?
“When I was still a hip-hop DJ, I remember the years when the English DJs packed their bags and went to the US — Digweed, Sasha and all these guys. Then everything died, but the US boys stuck to what they were doing. The United States is far away and a wide, wide country. With no disrespect to the US scene, there are a lot of great, great DJs who live there and play our music, but it’s the circle of music — sometimes it goes down, sometimes it goes up. Here in Europe we have certain music genres that might be hyped, like how there was the minimal hype — now nobody talks about minimal anymore, but it’s still there. In the US it’s a whole bunch of music — rock is dead, this is back. Even what they call hip-hop these days, I can’t call it hip-hop. It’s crappy.”
Wouldn’t it be simpler for you and Richie if you just cashed in your chips and started playing Avicii, David Guetta and Calvin Harris tunes?
“Damn, I couldn’t do that. Why not? Because I don’t like this music, I’d feel stupid playing or listening to this music. It doesn’t talk to me. I can’t say it’s shit, I just can’t feel it. I’m out there being a DJ because I love my music, I love what I’m doing and I love to share this, and to bring on producers of this style to produce for me so that I can play their tracks next time for this kind of club. I love playing a track on different soundsystems, it’s a journey, and it’s amazing to see all this emotion. I moved from hip-hop because of this, and I can’t ever play that kind of music [you’re referring to]. I can’t feel it, and I think Richie feels the same. It’s just not our thing.
“And it has nothing to do with electronic music, to be honest. It takes parts from every music genre — it’s pop music. I couldn’t play that for all the cash in the world.”
Loco Dice's 'Toxic EP' is out this month on Desolat.