Home Interviews Feature: D.J. MacIntyre [Interview]

Feature: D.J. MacIntyre [Interview]

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D.J. MacIntyre

Hailing from California, D.J. MacIntyre was first exposed to electronic music while living in England in 1999. Well travelled as a DJ, the Santa Barbara resident has appeared at some of the world’s most prestigious events, most notably Burning Man and the Lucidity Festival, while also showcasing his programming skills in Moscow, Siberia and all across the United States. Now returning to his home imprint of SLC-6 to begin the new year we catch up with D.J. MacIntyre as he presents his latest single ‘Billion Miles Of Space’.

Hi David, thanks for joining us, how are you today and what are you up to? What are your plans for the week?

Doing well! The turning of the year is always a good time to spend a bit of time reflecting on the past year, and doing some goal-setting for the next.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you discover electronic music and what led you down the path of wanting to be a DJ and producer?

I suppose I’ve followed a bit of a winding path, having formally and informally studied and pursued a variety of subjects – Philosophy and Indian Mythology in University, Winemaking, Athletics, Business, now Music. I think that I’ve had a curiosity about the world and have tried to remain open to opportunities as they’ve arisen, and it’s all led me to where I am now.

My interest in music began as a child, but I refused lessons, wanting only to play sports. But, I was collecting music and making mix tapes on cassette, and I think these are exactly the things djs do. I got a taste of electronic music when I was living in England in 1999, doing a study abroad in Cambridge. When I went home, no one was really listening to that kind of music, and I had a few CDs that I’d play at our parties out in the barn. I really got into dance music a few years later, after going to Nocturnal Wonderland down in Southern California.

The first time I ever really considered that I might be an artist, or even have artistic leanings, was after I had been in the wine business for a few years and had a couple of harvests under my belt. I watched a documentary series called Art21 just as I was getting some more responsibility and creative control in my job, and things just kind of clicked.

When I left winemaking there was a big creative hole, and I started DJing shortly thereafter. Music was lifeblood for me at that point. There are many parallels in djing and winemaking, (creating the core components, sensory evaluation, blending, refinement, presentation, etc.), so it was natural to map my experience over to a new artform.

Name five tracks that were most important in your musical development and why are these pieces so significant for you.

Cosmic Gate – Exploration of Space (Extended Mix)
Luzon – The Baguio Track (Bedrock Remix)
Dousk – Florence (Original Mix)
Michael Dow – Ascent (Original Mix)
Paul Oakenfold – Southern Sun (DJ Tiesto Remix)
Marcel Woods – Advanced (Original Mix)

Well that’s six for SLC-6. These are all tracks which I listened to over and over in their day, and which I can listen to today and still get much of that same rise as they gave me in years past. I think they each tell a story which is an attribute that seems necessary in something that can stand on its own and remain memorable.

How has living in California affected the music you make? And how would you describe the scene there? How often do you get to play in your home state?

I’m from the Central Coast of California near Santa Barbara. It’s a part of the state that is closer to Los Angeles than San Francisco, but is culturally distinctive from Southern California. The cities are smaller, there is a larger rural component to the lifestyle. The relative lack of density in the population makes it tough to have much of a scene outside of the mainstream. Up until about five years ago, there was very little underground dance music culture – you really had to hunt for it and usually travel for hours if you were lucky enough to find something. Of course electronic music has gained more popularity throughout the United States in the past five years, so it’s a lot easier to find now. Being out of the cultural urban centers has some obvious disadvantages – you aren’t in the middle of the action. But, I think there are advantages too in that ideas and style can have time to incubate and develop more slowly than the demands of a city might allow.

You have a new single ‘Billion Miles of Space’ out this week on your SLC-6 imprint, tell us a bit about the track and the production process behind it.

In “Billion Miles of Space” we find the organic encountering the robotic. The tension reaches a climax through the dissonant interaction of tribal percussion and overtly synthesized sounds until the satisfying release. I’ve found it is a good tension builder in my dj sets.

As with most of my tracks, it started off as one thing and ended up being something completely different. It started off with the drums and percussion, and then when I began bringing in the melodic components it got more and more robotic and spacey. The vocal came last, serving as a way to bring a unifying story to these differing sonic worlds.

Why did you decide to release this track in particular on your own imprint rather than somewhere else?

SLC-6 seemed a natural home, thematically. The label name refers to an actual place near my hometown that houses one of the largest space and missile bases in the world.

SLC-6 Music derives its name from, and is a tribute to, Space Launch Complex 6 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. The history of SLC-6 is fascinating and filled with dreams of progress, dreams thwarted, and reinvention. A multi-billion-dollar project, the complex was built with the intention to launch NASA’s Space Shuttle from the West Coast of the United States. After the Space Shuttle Challenger was tragically destroyed, NASA re-evaluated the Space Shuttle Program and the decision was made to scrap the plan to launch from Vandenberg. The world was space-crazed, and the city of Lompoc eagerly anticipated the increase in tourism and boost to the economy that being home to the Space Shuttle would bring. When plans changed, Lompoc was left with disappointment and a lot of underused hotels. For many years SLC-6 symbolized the dashed dreams of those looking to push the limits of our human reach, and those of a small California town.

The re-emergence of SLC-6 began with lower profile missile launches in the 1990s, but it was with the decision to launch the massive Delta IV rocket that the complex again began to regain the aura it once had. As successful Delta IV launches followed one another, SLC-6 came again to symbolize progress, hope, and a reach for the sky.

SLC-6 Music embraces parallel attributes to the vaunted Space Launch Complex – resilience, progression, technological advancement, and a gaze cast upward into space. We hope the music brings you the same sense of wonder and mystery that one experiences when observing a rocket launch into space.

There are also two excellent remixes from Vlada D’Shake and Trovarsi, how did you go about choosing these two particular artists for the track?

I’ve been a fan of Vlada’s for years now. He has such a distinctive style, which is both playful and psychedelic, and I was very excited for him to join the SLC-6 team. He has another remix for us coming up later in the first quarter of 2019.

Trovarsi has been a friend and a core member of SLC-6 since the beginning, having done two remixes for me with her musical partner as “Forward.” I knew she would bring the techno juice, and she did. We’ve got an excellent EP of hers in the works right now.

As a threesome, I think the tracks nicely complement each other – each is distinctive, but they tie thematically together.

SLC-6 is quite broad musically, what advice would have for an artist hoping to sign their music to your label? Both in terms of presentation and stylistically, what are you looking for from a new artist?

Yes, the vision of SLC-6 is not bound by a particular genre or sound. No one I know listens to just one type of music, even though it seems like there is a fair amount of pressure to stay in one lane as a producer or label from a marketing standpoint. I’m interested in releasing music that I like from producers who are committed to working hard, being team players, and growing as artists.

Do you have a studio routine? One where over time you’ve refined the production process into something that you know works or is every track a different journey in terms of the creative process?

I’d say I generally do the best when I remain playful and move quickly. It’s very easy to get caught in the weeds and fall in love with an idea that isn’t quite right. Of course there’s always more to learn, so striking the balance between learning-through-doing and learning-through-research is important too. It’s so easy to get caught learning something to death instead of making music.

When you get stuck or have creative blocks, what helps you break through this? Is there a particular piece of gear or studio tool which tends to get things sparked again?

If it’s a project I’m in the middle of, laying it down and stepping away for a few days or more can be the trick – it’s really easy to get lost in the details and some perspective often helps. If it’s the issue of getting started on something, I find it often helps if I can “trick” myself into just starting by playing around with no expectations. Easier said than done.

There are a lot of factors which affect the perception of an artist other than his music these days, social media for one, how much emphasis do you put on stuff like this? and what are your thoughts on the current state of the industry?

I think “packaging” is always important in any art, but you hope that the tail doesn’t wag the dog. Marketing isn’t a dirty word to me, yet there needs to be something of substance in there. With SLC-6 and D.J. MacIntyre, the music is at the core. Visual aesthetics are thought about mindfully, but are there to serve the music.

How much of an influence does music outside of the electronic spectrum have on your productions?

I have all kinds of music in my collection – metal, funk, Motown, rap, rock & roll, blues… and each have played a role in my life at some time. With all the music out there just in the relatively narrow band of dance music I make and dj, it’s nearly impossible to keep up, and I’ve found I don’t listen much outside the electronic world these days. That’s probably not a good thing, but that’s how it is at this moment.

You’ve played a lot of very unique venues and locations over the course of your career, tell us about one or two which hold the fondest memories for you.

I’ve done a few New Year’s Eve parties for an art collective in Santa Barbara called Fishbon, and those are always amazing completely immersive themed experiences.

One of the first nights at my first Burning Man was exceptionally memorable. After struggling all day with equipment and weather, we just barely got the sound operational on the Pyrobar (our camp’s artcar) as it took off to roam the playa for the night. Feeling frazzled, and having forgotten my jacket, I was wondering what I was doing there in the first place. The first dj finished his set, and it was my turn, and when I started to play it all clicked into place at once. By then we had traveled out onto the Deep Playa where bikes and vehicles covered in lights zoomed around us, but in the night there were no normal frames of reference – it was disorienting and otherworldly. Like playing on the moon. And the music sounded so good in that moment.

Looking back over your discography, which one of your very first tracks that still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why?

“Bluesy” was the first track I produced, and at a club in Moscow, the host made a request for me to play it. Frankly, it has skipped my mind to include it in my setlist, and I was semi-shocked that they had listened to it beforehand. So of course I played it for them, and they went nuts. And then they wanted it again! So I played it again, and they went nuts again. That was a lot of fun, and it still makes me feel good to think about it.

What five tracks are you loving right now?

Let’s do six again.

Griffin Paisley – Peak Flow (Original Mix)
Denis A – Inspiration (Original Mix)
DJ Jock – Place of Hope (Original Mix)
Veerus – Heavy (Original Mix)
Gabriel Moraes – Cycles (Original Mix)
Desert Dwellers – Closed Eyes in a Dust Storm (Breath Pre-Release)

Tell us what we can expect in 2019 with for yourself and SLC-6, anything you can share with us?

We’ve got a bunch of good music in the pipeline for SLC-6 and are gaining momentum, so 2019 should be a lot of fun with the label. Personally, I have a number of tracks coming out with releases on Desert Trax, DAR, and SLC-6 in the next couple of months. I’ve been collaborating with a producer in New York and we’ve got a few “Dysco & MacIntyre” tracks coming too. Should be a great year!

‘Billion Miles of Space’ is out now on SLC-6 Music, you can purchase the release here: https://bit.ly/2RNEcdK

Release Promo: http://releasepromo.com

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