Interview : Egyptrixx

28 Feb

Following years of musical experience (having trained at the Royal Conservatory as a child and playing in various bands later on) electronic artist, Egyptrixx, has been the subject of attention since appearing on the underground circuit just over a year ago, garnering praise from countless blogs, websites and audiences across Europe, Canada and the US.  With the release of his latest EP, The Battle for North America, the Toronto native continues to build momentum; scheduled to play five dates at SXSW in March and to release an LP in the near future.  Dirtbag spoke to Egyptrixx about the future of electro, Toronto’s musical identity and the evolution of Canadian music.

Dirtbag Journalism: Is the title of your album, The Battle for North America, a comment on the fact that a lot of electronic music seems to be coming out of Europe and the UK?

Dave Psutka:The song itself is sort of inexplicable. Unintentionally, it’s a song about a lot of the things I was feeling.  I guess a lot of people are surprised that I’m from Canada – or North America, I suppose – and comparatively, it’s [gotten] more attention in Europe and in the UK.   And in a sense, I feel like it’s sort of a clever title for this song ‘cause it’s sort of a UK-sounding song and all of those things together, it almost creates a coherent comment on something, like my career or music that I’m making or the state of music in North America, but again, that wasn’t really the intention. It wasn’t supposed to be commentary on the state of North America and electronic music, although I suppose if people interpret it that way, it’s a good thing.

DJ: Well, [Canadian music seems to be] associated with folk rock, but electronic music really seems to be rising up.  Do you find that being Canadian it’s a bit more of a challenge to bring your electronic music to the forefront?

DP:  I think that there’s that perception in Canada, which is kind of ridiculous. I mean Richie Hawtin is from Canada and Peaches is from Canada and Deadmau5 and Crystal Castles and all these internationally famous electronic acts.  I agree with you – I think the perception in Canada’s a lot different.  I feel like [some people] look at electronic music like it’s inauthentic or party music or party jams, which for me is frustrating, yeah.

DJ:  Absolutely.  Electronic is becoming such a relevant genre in indie rock. Do you find that it’s almost overshadowing the alt-rock indie genre of before?

DP:  Well, I think that it’s just the natural progression of music.  It’s 2010, right? Just because a certain sound is popular at certain points doesn’t mean that it’s going to be that way forever.  People make music with computers, it’s just a fact of life – even real instrumental bands, things end up on computers at some point.

So yeah, I don’t think it’s some kind of unique trend or something new, or a distinct trend, I just think that it’s the natural progression of music.  People will always look for new sounds, people will always look for new instruments, people will always look for new ways to create, write and record music and everything comes from computers now, and that’s just the way it is.  And I think that saying electronic music is “rising up” and overshadowing traditional indie music, I don’t think that’s accurate.  It’s just music.

DJ:  People seem to be adhering themselves to things that are a little more eclectic, and electronic seems to be bringing that to the forefront.  And your record – though it’s electronic – seems to combine elements of other genres.  So do you look to other genres or other electro artists, or do you channel what you want?

DP:  Well, my background is in traditional music.  I was in the Royal Conservatory as a kid, and I played in bands for a really long time, and I’ve just only been making electronic music for just about two years.   So things like melody, structure and hooks are things that are important to me, and some electronic music is more of a focus on loops and grooves [and] percussion, and I guess I still really enjoy melodies, hooks and harmonies.

DJ:  Being a Toronto musician, you’re surrounded by musicians and the electro subculture.  Do you find bands and acts in Toronto are competitive with each other or do you find that it’s a nurturing community?  I’ve heard both sides [to this argument].

DP:  There are great people in the city, there are immature people in the city.  I don’t get a sense of real peace of community like I’ve seen in other cities.  There seems to be a slightly above average amount of bullshit in this city (laughs). It’s a good city, [but] it doesn’t get a lot of attention.  I think the city itself thinks that it gets a lot more attention from other places than it actually does, and I think that’s actually a good thing because there are less expectations.  We don’t really have the sound as a city; a pretty diverse collection of musicians comes out of the city, and I think that’s a good thing – I think that may have something to do with the fact that nobody really gives a shit about Toronto.

DJ:  Well, London has a distinctive sound, Paris has a distinctive sound, Brooklyn [has a distinctive sound] but Toronto seems to kind of lose itself sometimes.

DP:  Well I think those cities have really, really visible labels or nights and so what I think happens is a lot of young musicians go to these nights, go to these clubs and hear a particular sound, get inspired and mimic that sound.  Whereas I think in Toronto, we don’t have that one flagship venue or flagship night, and a lot of people are inspired by the Internet or things they buy in the record store, so the exploration is more diverse and the result is the output is more diverse.  It’s cool though – I like it. I think Toronto’s interesting for that reason.

DJ:  Do you think electro’s overcome any negative stereotypes?  Because for a while, techno and electro were kind of attributed to the super, super underground or mainstream “euro”.

DP:  I feel like there was sort of this shift in the mid-2000s with LCD Soundsystem and MSTRKRFT and all these rock bands coming over to dance music, and I think that brought a lot of new listeners of electronic music.  I don’t know though.  I don’t necessarily think there are euro club stereotypes.  In North America, most night clubs are pretty shitty, [but] in Europe though, dance music is a more sophisticated thing; it’s treated with a little bit more seriousness.

DJ:  And almost all rock artists seem to dabble in electronic since they guest DJ.

DP:  Yeah.  I think that electronic club music is a real thing, I think it’s an authentic art form.  I think it can be taken seriously, but I don’t think in Canada and in most places in the States, it really is yet.  I think we’re getting there.  I mean, you’re sitting there talking to me about my dance record and we’re talking about it in a serious way, so that’s a start.  I think once the media gets behind it and once clubs are sort of set up in a different way things will improve. It’s kind of a collective thing.  It’s not about sitting there and watching someone perform, it’s about people getting into it, it’s about the crowd getting excited, it’s about dancing – it’s kind of collective exercise.

Posted by : Anne T Donahue


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