Monday, 2 September 2013
Slash Dot Dash Podcast 023: Jeff Derringer, plus an exclusive interview
Jeff Derringer is a producer, performer, event promoter and educator based in Chicago. He is the resident and creative director of the Oktave project, which puts on events in both Chicago and New York.
Jeff's first EP came out on New York's Subtrak Label in the summer of 2010. He has since released three EPs on renowned UK label Perc Trax and a collaboration with Droid Behavior's Raiz on Speedy J's Electric Deluxe.
The Oktave project was started by Jeff, and partner Kevin Gregor, in New York in 2009. November 2010 saw the first Oktave show in Chicago. Past guests include Function, Claro Intelecto, Traversable Wormhole, Cio D'or, Donato Dozzy, Silent Servant, Dasha Rush, Mike Parker, Lucy and many more.
We invited Jeff to become part of our ever growing Slash Dot Dash Podcast family and he was more than happy to get involved. The outcome is a tough, uncompromising combination of US and European techno sounds blended together with his indisputable technical ability.
You can subscribe to our podcast series in iTunes or you can download or stream the mix from the player below
1) Recondite - Cleric [Dystopian]
2) Peter Van Hoesen - Attack On The Reality Principle (Sigha Remix) [Time To Express]
3) Luis Flores - Null [Blank Code]
4) Function - Modifyer [Ostgut Ton]
5) Jeff Derringer - Closer [Prosthetic Pressings]
6) Function - Reykjavik [Sandwell District]
7) Dino Sabatini and Donato Dozzy - Penelope [Outis Music]
8) Mike Parker - FWD (Donato Dozzy Remix) [Prologue]
9) Pfirter - Repeticion [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
10) NX1 - MR3 [M_Rec Ltd]
11) Oscar Mulero - Rotula (Truncate Remix) [Modularz]
12) Shifted - Over [Mote Evolver]
13) Gary Beck - Egoist [Electric Deluxe]
14) Raiz - Keep Secrets (Function and Jerome Sydenham Remix) [Droid Recordings]
15) Audio Injection - Null [Blank Code]
16) CH Signal Laboratories - Hypnotica Scale [Sandwell District]
17) Mike Parker - Lustration One (Khonsu) [Prologue]
18) Rødhåd - Spomeniks [Token]
As well as the mix, Jeff was kind enough to answer a few questions for us....
1) How has your summer been?
My summer has been productive and I even got to relax a little bit. I've been finishing some records and doing some mixes (yours included), and I've actually done a little remix work. I don't do very many remixes as I don't want to take too much time away from my original productions, but every once in a while it's nice to work on someone else's stuff
2) How has this mix been put together?
I perform in Ableton Live and Maschine. I always record a mix live, straight through, and then go back and listen to what I've done. If I like it, I will do some basic editing to make sure it can stand up to repeat listens. I try to keep it organic so it's not overtly a 'studio' mix. I'm a total perfectionist when it comes to music, but I do my best to back off of that when I'm doing a podcast mix - I want it to have as much of the improvisational, 'in the moment' feel as possible. So what you're hearing on this mix is a 60 minute recording that I performed in my studio, with minor edits for continuity.
3) Next Month sees the 4th Anniversary of your Oktave parties. What have been your highlights since the project's inception?
There have been so many highlights at Oktave, it's hard to isolate just a few. I know that sounds very clichéd. One of the most exciting shows was the one we did in NYC with Cio D'or and Traversable Wormhole - we did that at National Underground, which is a very small space, and it was mobbed. It was almost dangerously crowded and it was in the summer, so very sweaty. There was a feeling in the place that the roof might cave in at any moment, so there was an urgency to the night that really made it stand out.
Last summer we had Chris Liebing at Smartbar in Chicago, and that show was very fun and electric. It was one of the first times in Chicago where I looked out at the crowd and thought, 'wow, they're starting to get it.' Chris was a gentleman and a great showman, and there was just a strong energy in the room that night. Lots of new Oktave fans from that show.
Most recently, we did a Perc Trax showcase in Detroit for the opening night of Movement. We had a really great turnout again, there was tremendous energy in the club (The Works). That was the first time we had done anything at Movement, so there were some nerves going on. Would it work? It worked. Great line up, great people, a really nice kick off to a big weekend of techno.
4) You started Oktave in New York but have since migrated to Chicago. Why the change of location and what have the implications of that change been?
We started Oktave in October of 2009. At that point, I had been living in New York for nearly 17 years. I love New York and always will, but after that much time I was starting to get burned out. I'm a Midwesterner at heart. The timing wasn't ideal, but the spring of 2010 I decided to leave and go back to Chicago (my hometown).
Initially I thought about stopping Oktave, as we of course had the growing pains of any event series and had lost money on some early, more ambitious shows. But then I reconsidered the situation and decided that perhaps there was an opportunity to bring our sound to Chicago. There are a lot of great techno events in New York highlighting the artists that represent the Oktave sound, but no such event was happening in Chicago. So I moved in July 2010, and we had our first event at Smartbar in November of that year.
In 2011 and 2012, we did events in both cities. This was exciting but very difficult to maintain, as the costs of my travel to New York were prohibitive, and it was difficult for me to stay on top of things with everything else I have going on. In 2013 we've focused exclusively on Chicago, as the techno scene here has a much greater need for what we do. This is not to say that Oktave is finished in New York, but I guess right now we're just taking an NYC hiatus.
5) You teach audio production in Chicago. What's that like?
Soon after I moved back to Chicago, I started teaching audio production at Columbia College Chicago, a great Arts school in the South Loop. I currently teach a curriculum that focuses heavily on club music production. We focus on Maschine and Ableton Live, as well as the mixing and finishing process, which gets us into Logic. In the Intro class, we also look at the history of dance music, including Northern Soul, Dub, Disco, Garage, Hip Hop, House, Techno and beyond.
Teaching is very gratifying and a great compliment to what I do as a producer, performer and event curator. The kids are all excited about the production process and they're hungry to learn. I don't think there's too many opportunities for the students to get this type of class outside of the college, so they value the time they spend with me. As a teacher, that's a luxury and it makes teaching really really easy. Give me kids who are interested and looking to absorb as much information as possible - they're a pleasure to teach.
6) You mentioned that you perform in Ableton and Maschine. Is this the same software you use to produce? What's your production process like? Lastly, what do you have coming up as far as releases are concerned?
Yes, I produce in Ableton and Maschine, and I do my mixdowns and finishing in Logic. I mentioned I'm a perfectionist - this comes to fruition during my studio sessions. As far as production goes, I'm probably on the slower side of the spectrum. I take my time with tracks and I don't like to rush through the process. This slows down my release output and perhaps slows down my overall career, but I'm happy to be patient. If I am working on a two or three track EP, I will likely put together 20 or more ideas, and eliminate many of them before they get to the mixdown stage. I work faster when i have a deadline, but generally I like to take my time and live with a track for a while before considering it a finished product.
I see some producers pumping a lot of material, with a remix or an EP hitting the market every month or so. While this works for some, I'm not a fan of that strategy. When I was growing up, my favourite artists put out a new record every couple of years or so. I realize that things are much faster paced now and you can't really sustain a career, especially in techno, putting out material every two years. However, I like for an artist's work to feel special, like they spent time on it. I carry that same philosophy over to my own productions.
That said, I do have some new stuff coming out that I'm excited about. Later this year I will release an EP on Prosthetic Pressings. I'm happy about that because I've been collaborating with Prosthetic Pressings on events in Chicago, and it makes a lot of sense to put out a new record with them. PP is also Chicago based, which makes it all the more special for me. My relationship with Presthetic and their main man Sean Sanders has been instrumental in establishing Oktave in Chicago.
After that, I will release my second EP on Electric Deluxe, Speedy J's excellent label based in Holland. I've been a huge EDLX fan from the beginning, and having the opportunity to put out my music with them is humbling and gratifying. I love their design aesthetic and their roster, and I play a lot of their music in my sets. I feel like that's important. Also having a legend like Jochem support and release my work is beyond all my expectations, to be honest. In April, Jochem brought me to Berghain to be a part of the EDLX showcase, which was my first European gig. Obviously, I'm very fortunate to be given those kinds of opportunities.
We'd like to thank Jeff for taking the time out to put this mix together for us and allowing to have an insight into the history or Oktave and his own personal journey. More info on Jeff can be found via his Facebook Fan Page. If you're in Chicago and want to catch him perform live, you can do so at next weekend's Oktave party, at the Smartbar, where he's joined by techno legend, Luke Slater.
For the rest of our podcasts, please head over to the Podcast Page on our website