Spotlight On: Sacha Robotti
In the past five years, Sacha Robotti has unapologetically been climbing up the international dance music ranks. From collabs with heavyhitters like DJ Rush and Luca Lozano to stellar re-works of Audiojack, Riva Starr, and many more, the Belgium-born artist has proven his worth as a globe-trotting DJ and producer with a voice all his own. Dirtybird has been crucial to his success, and you can catch him at the inaugural Dirtybird Campout next month. Read on to learn more about his influences, adventures, and more!
RP: Hi Sacha! Thanks for chatting with us. We hear you’re currently traveling – where are you off to?
SR: Hi guys! Yes the last twelve months have been crazy for me! I toured in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, UAE, USA, Australia, Turkey, Romania, Greece, Russia, Georgia, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Germany & more. I played many of those places in the context of Robosonic – I’m the ‘Robo’ in this house music duo which has been enjoying a fair bit of attention in the last couple of years thanks to some tracks we produced. Being on the road brings you new sights and experiences, and it connects you to people all over the planet, which is awesome. The side effects of traveling – especially when you produce your own music in the studio – can be overwhelm, a detuned bodyclock and a mess when you come home. It’s not easy to keep relationships and friendships intact in that mode. To be honest, I need a break and change of scenery soon to focus on myself more. It’s all about the balance, I feel I have to recover it.
What would be your ideal split between studio time and touring?
Right now after being on the road so much, I’d honestly like to stay home or in the studio for some time. I could actually imagine anything from a month to 6 months, then hit the road again. Don’t think that’ll happen just yet, because to get your name out as a DJ slash producer who’s not into ghostwriters, you have to play out your music to people so you can test it, get your name out, and pay your rent.
2015 is not like years ago, when the there were often two separate job descriptions: a producer worked on new music for a band or for a DJ in his studio, able to make a revenue from record sales; while the DJ traveled, played the producer’s records, and earned his money live on stage. Now in the dance music realm, these two activities are often done by one and the same person, at the start of their careers especially. Plus social media, plus graphics, plus admin, plus plus plus.. If you don’t prioritize or find a team that supports you, you’ll burn out.
Your new remixes of Thabo Getsome and Rainer Weichhold are great. How do you usually go about remixing?
First of all: thank you! You know, money so far hasn’t been the primary consideration when it came to remixing. More-so: I have to like the original track, or the artist, or the label (preferably all three), and my work has to feel like it was worthwhile to me! Otherwise it doesn’t make sense to sit down for a day or three or more to work on a remix.. There are so many tunes out there, nobody needs another half-assed version of some track that will never get played and bought anyway. So when I choose to go for it, I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with my remix. Sometimes it’ll enhance the vibe of the original, sometimes it’ll be something completely different. There’s also a kind of competitive challenge for me to have the feeling that my remix is as awesome, or even better than the original. But the most important thing is: I have to really like what I do, be 100% convinced of it, and touch the dancers and listeners emotionally. This matters more to me than bigname DJs promo feedback given after skipping thru tracks for ten seconds. That said – if my music gets great feedback and support, especially by my teenage music heroes, I’m obviously very happy about it! For instance in Miami I went to the Cajual vs Relief party – when I entered the room, Green Velvet was playing my collab with Kevin on Dirtybird “Thump Bumper.” I couldn’t stop smiling for days!
What’s your favorite remix done to your tracks so far?
Wax Master Maurice of Dance Mania fame remixed my track “Big Ol'” on Klasse Recordings some years ago. He even rapped on it! I was like hell yeah. I don’t think many people got it or liked this remix because it’s so in your face ghettotech style, but I love that he did it like that. To me, what those guys created in Chicago in the 90s still represents some of the best dance music ever made.
You grew up in Brussels and got to see quite a lot of legendary electronic music growing up. At what moment did you decide you wanted to get into the genre yourself?
Pretty much straight away when I first heard techno and house music, I was obsessed. I knew that I wanted to play records myself – I guess that was around 1995 after I went to Fuse Club in Brussels for the first time. 20 years later I’m traveling the world thanks to music I produced, I’ve made some of my dreams come true, and I’m still hungry for much more.
Thank you Cajmere/Green Velvet, DJ Funk, Jeff Mills, Dave Clarke, Blake Baxter, Carl Cox, Sven Väth, Aphex Twin, Plastikman, DJ Sneak, Dave Angel, Ben Sims, Luke Slater, DJ Rush, Miss Djax, Daft Punk, Josh Wink, Daz Saund, Claude Young, Underground Resistance, Joey Beltram and many more DJs at that time for showing me how it’s done back in the days!
Tell us about the upcoming Dirtybird Campout; it looks so fun! Is it your first time playing in California?
This is my first ‘official’ time – I’ve played in California before, small but fun gigs. In 2009 I remember I played in San Francisco at the by now defunct Compound with Christian Martin and Qzen. This was great, what a sound system! I also played in Humboldt County – Eureka and Arcata – for my homies from the Deep Groove Society. It will be awesome to come back to California! I really love it and want to move there soon for a while. The Dirtybird Campout will be madness by the lake! So stoked to be a part of it. Dirtybird has been my favourite record label for the last ten years.
You’ve gigged all over the world – who has had the best response to your sound?
That’s a tough one – I’ve experienced some really amazing responses pretty much everywhere, I couldn’t say where was the best. From Dhaka in Bangladesh, to Launceston in Tasmania, from Bogotà Colombia, Panama or Mexico to Lebanon or Egypt, from the smallest clubs in Bavaria Germany, to a huge rave in Amsterdam or the Fusion Festival for 8,000 people.. I could go on and on. Different people party differently but as a rule of thumb, the vibe anywhere in the world is best at parties where people come out to mainly for the music and to get into the groove, rather than to be seen or because it’s cool to be there.
When I’m invited to play somewhere, promoters mostly put a lot of effort into the party and into the way they host me. They want to show the best side of their city and make the whole experience unique – especially in countries where it’s not so common to have a big choice of events with that kind of music I play. In that regard, my trip to Dhaka this year was one to remember! My friend Arsi booked me to play for a small crowd of about 120 people; I stayed in town for five days and was given a presidential treatment (literally) in terms of food and activities like visiting the Parliament building, which made me very happy as I love this insane building by Louis Kahn. We even went to a cricket game where Bangladesh beat Pakistan for the first time in years. The whole trip was inspirational and unreal. I love being an ‘ambassador’ of music!
We love your Facebook album of “The Shining” inspired photos – what are some of your favorite movies?
Thanks! I love many movies. “Brazil,” “La Haine,” old Hitchcock movies, everything by Stanley Kubrick, many movies by Wes Anderson. Lately “Birdman” made an impression on me. I’m also a sucker for sci-fi and steampunk animés, Studio Ghibli stuff is great. I love comedy too! Regardless if it’s refined British stuff, silly American slapstick, or cartoons. I’m also into documentaries about the Universe. Watching movies is definitely one of my favourite pastimes.
What are your goals for the rest of the year and 2016?
This year made me realize a lot of things in terms of what I want and why I’m here. I know now that if I want to continue this musical journey, I have to take care much more of my physical and mental health in terms of stress and quality of life. I want to be in the sun more, eat healthier, do more exercise, and deal with overwhelm better.
I also want to make dope ass records and sign them to my favourite labels. I’d like to start working on an album, DJ at parties where the crowd is seriously up for my music, and meet some of my musical idols. I need to take a break from Berlin for like 6 months, and I want to move to LA, probably in December. I’d like to ‘commute’ between California and Costa Rica, where I have friends who have grounded me very much this year in January when I stayed in San José for 3 weeks. Who knows what’s going to happen.. the doors of opportunity are wide open!
Follow Sacha on SoundCloud to stay up-to-date with his sonic adventures.