Egyptrixx Interview: “The death of music regionalism.”

31.03.11

Toronto producer Egyptrixx has been an associate of the London label Night Slugs since early 2010. Following on the 12” EP ‘The Only Way Is Up’, he has released his second album entitled ‘Bible Eyes’ last month. It is also the first solo artist album to be released on the label. Instrumental opening track Start From The Beginning sets up a groove so cryptic it highlights the poppier, funkier, bassline-orientated second title track. Chrysalis Records is another sensational listening that features vocal contribution from Trust over the weave of detuned synthlines and rhythmic kickdrums. A shift into minimal techno is brought about by Liberation Front, followed by Naples, a down-tempo and spine-chilling track that is full on broken beats, while Recital is a tune so celestially melodic and jarring, Egyptrixx made two versions of it. Version A is more techno-based and spacey while the heart-throbbing, heavily synthy version B provides a perfect ending to the final chapter of the album.

To mark the release of his debut LP, Egyptrixx will join the Night Slugs Allstars at the album launch party at XOYO with a London debut of his new live set. I caught up with him before the gig.

Behind the mysterious name is a young face. A short and simple introduction of himself, “My name is David Psutka. I’m from Toronto. I make music as Egyptrixx,” he talks without a trace of weariness, though he has been touring around Europe in the past week and has just gone off the plane travelling from Zurich. “I spent the day on the plane, I feel fresh though,” he says.

“My name is David Psutka. I’m from Toronto. I spent the day on the plane, I feel fresh though.” – Egyptrixx

Egyptrixx begins to talk about music, the music scene at his birthplace in particular. “Toronto is pretty interesting. It’s a multi-cultural place as it’s an immigration city. It’s integrated with different culture, people, background, languages and so on, which is good for the music scene of Canada, I guess. I live there but I also spend a few months every year in Germany. Berlin, obviously. I love it as it’s so beautiful and amazing.” He points out the fact that he is not too impressed by what goes on in Toronto, though, saying, “I don’t feel like there’s much of a electronic music scene anymore. Right now, mostly indie bands are doing it in Canada. People like to listen to country, folky stuff. There are several producers that I like, and they’re from Toronto, but there is a difference between electronic music in Toronto and electronic music from Toronto. A lot of them [electronic producers] are not in that scene.”

Living in Toronto geographically isolates him from Night Slugs’ south London headquarters, Egyptrixx sees no problem of it when coming to music production. “Kingdom is from the States”. “It’s true most of them are in London but that doesn’t really impact on my music at all. Night Slugs – I guess in some way it represents the death of music regionalism.” In this digital age, the rapidly growing technology has a certain significant role when coming to music production as well as communication. “What we have now is a much watered down version of what we used to have maybe ten to 15 years ago. The country where you live or where you’re based is irrelevant. I don’t think music regionalism exists anymore.” He then goes on to explain it by telling the history between him and Night Slugs bossman Bok Bok, (Alex Sushon). “We started chatting online on Myspace and began trading tracks. It all traces back to about two years ago. Alex’s intention was to start a label, and he was choosing music to put under it.”

With classical music background – the piano, something more organic than what he plays when producing – Egyptrixx explains how he first got involved in music production, saying, “I used to study the piano at the Royal Conservatory, it was very nerve wrecking. I hated it because my earliest musical experience was quite emotionally traumatizing. I had to pick one song, play it and recite it a thousand times, and then play it in front of so many people, hundreds and thousands of people. It’s really scary. I’m not trying to integrate it into my records or anything but when I produce, I compose the melody of the tracks on the piano or a keyboard, and then I would build on it and add different stuff to it. For example, most of the records I’ve done as Egyptrixx, I made them with electronic gears, an old Roland System-100, in particular. I also use software programmes like Reason and Pro Tools.” Admitting sampling is a tricky subject, he continues, “I don’t know what to say when people ask me whether I use samples or not when producing. It’s a hard question. It all depends on how you define samples. I use drum samples, though.” Before he started producing under the name Egyptrixx, he adds, “I was in journalism school. But you know what’s funny about it – a lot of journalists were trying to turn interviews I’ve done with them into ‘an ironic moment’ where a journalist interviews a journalist, even though I’m not really one.”

“It’s true most of them are in London but that doesn’t really impact on my music at all. Night Slugs – I guess in some way it represents the death of music regionalism.” – Egyptrixx

“I eventually quit playing the piano and started playing guitar. When I was a teenager, I used to play in a full band, several bands actually. I did stuff in pretty much every role – guitar, vocal, bass… I’ve always had some kind of involvement in making musical projects and I like experimenting with different elements along the line. I taught myself to produce and picked it up gradually. I still don’t consider myself very good at it [music production].” Speaking of experimenting with production techniques, Egyptrixx has done a handful of remixes for artists like Subeena, Starkey, Brodinski, The Aikiu, and more, he undeniably confesses, “I think remixing is kind of difficult so I stopped doing that for awhile, although writing records is worse. I find it so much more rewarding in some way, though, because it takes a lot more time and effort.”

“I basically did ‘Bible Eyes’ in Toronto in between February or March to around June and July 2010. It’s quite a short period of time. When you write a record, the actual writing takes maybe about only 30 percent of the entire process [of releasing a record].” When being asked about the inspiration behind the album, Egytrixx says, ‘I really don’t work with a literal inspiration or anything like that. I’d rather write something on my own. My late great grandmother was the only musician in my family. She was a loose connection to the reason why I did the record.” It’s not exactly a dedication, then. “No, I just had her in mind when writing the whole record.”

Compared to other Night Slugs releases, which are more UK Funky and grime-sounding, ‘Bible Eyes’ seems to have a stronger techno and minimal influence. Egyptrixx agrees it is a valid impression, and says, “I tend to listen to a lot of minimal and techno. But the concept is experimental club music.” When being asked to describe his music, he is unable to categorise it, and adds, “I can’t put a genre tag on it.” Making a further reference to the what he describes as “the death of music regionalism”, he says, “it’s a natural approach. That’s how people listen to music now. They go on the Internet and listen to music on YouTube.”

“It’s a natural approach. That’s how people listen to music now. They go on the Internet and listen to music on YouTube” – Egyptrixx

Moving on, he describes his live set and speaks of the musicians who he adores at the moment. I remark on the incredibly drony and experimental set he played at Boiler Room a few days ago. He agrees and says, “I prefer playing live than DJ-ing, and that’s also the intention of this project. The whole set is totally experimental. It isn’t tight or preplanned, which is something that really interests me. I will be doing a couple of gigs this year and it will pretty much be the same ambient set – more or less the same songs with a lot of improvisation.” Citing Oneohtrix Point Never and Stellar Om Source as some of his current favourite artists, he discloses an admiration of this kind of synthy music. “There are so many producers and DJs who I like – I’m scanning through my playlist in my head right now (laughs). Actress and Audion are my personal favourites. I listen to the Beach House record, ‘Teen Dream’ a lot, it’s really cool. Otherwise, Austra, a band from Toronto, are great too. They’re friends of mine.”

With that, my interview with Egyptrixx comes to an end. Being a foreign correspondent of Night Slugs clearly does not constrain him from exploring and venturing into a wider, more abstract musical realms – in fact it may help. Digital technology has given rise to a new, post-modern perspective on music’s relationship to communication. Location does not matter anymore. The “death of music regionalism” – could this be the reinvention of music itself?

READ KINGDOM INTERVIEW: “OUT INTO THE WOODS AND INTO THE MOUNTAINS.”