Darin Epsilon Interview

today09/04/2021 1681 1 5

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Exclusive Interview with Darin Epsilon 

1.  When did you start DJing – and what or who were your early influences?

I’m originally from Chicago, the birthplace of House music, so I was exposed to electronic music from a very young age.  I grew up near Northwestern University and every night they would feature DJ’s on their college radio station.  This was my first proper introduction to Trance, Progressive House, Drum & Bass, Techno, etc.

I immediately fell in love with the music.  It was unlike anything I had heard before and seemed exotic since most of the records were coming from Europe.  My earliest influences were artists like Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Ferry Corsten, Sasha, John Digweed & Nick Muir, amongst many others.

When I turned 16, I started working at a local record shop in the mall and was able to save up enough money to purchase my first set of turntables.

2.  What were some of the main challenges and goals when starting out as a DJ and how have they changed over time?  What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it interesting for you?

Growing up in the Chicago suburbs in the 90’s, I was pretty much the only kid in school that knew what House music was.  Nobody was around that could teach me how to DJ, so I pretty much picked it up from years of practicing, plus trial and error.  The internet was still in its infancy during this time.  These days, it’s so easy to learn from YouTube, or the hundreds of quality tutorials that are available online.

The cost of vinyl was sooo expensive for a teenager.  Buying imports would cost me a little over $10 USD each.  Sometimes I would only like 1 song from a record!

What I like about DJing is that there are no limits.  You can experiment and combine multiple genres that don’t necessarily fit together.  In my earliest sets, I would combine Progressive Trance with House, Breaks, and Techno.  That was, and still is, the true art and definition of being an expert DJ.

3.  What was your first setup as a DJ like?  How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?

The first things I bought were a pair of the industry standard Technics SL-1210 turntables, basic 2-channel Numark mixer, and JBL EON pro audio speakers.

I was slow to move to digital DJing, but I’m glad I did because you can’t really beat the convenience of showing up to a gig with just a USB stick 😉

My technical rider these days requires Pioneer CDJ-2000 Nexus or XDJ-1000 players and DJM-900 Nexus mixer.  I absolutely can’t stand using an Allen & Heath mixer and nearly every club in Berlin has one!

4.  Tell us about a normal day in your life and a day when you perform as a DJ.

Hahaha, it’s been a while since I’ve been out on the road because of the pandemic.  If I’m traveling, I like to spend at least an afternoon of sightseeing and getting to know the city that I’m in.

I’ll meet the promoter for lunch or dinner and discuss any important details, such as whether or not the club has the right equipment, or how ticket sales are going, and if I need to do any last minute promotion or giveaway on my social media.

In some situations I’ll come and do a sound check before doors open and get a sense of the club’s layout and environment.  Also important for me is to know what type of venue I’m playing.  Is it going to be an intimate gathering or do I need to bring out my big tracks to get the big dancefloor moving?

After my set, I usually get asked to play an afterparty, in which case I usually have to say no because I’m exhausted from traveling and jetlagged as hell 🙂

5.  How do you prepare your live sets/gigs?

I usually group my new tracks together into multiple playlists based on genre, energy level, and overall mood.  There are certain tracks that I know I want to play, and will try to work out a way to fit them into my set.  Every gig is completely unpredictable so I would never advise any DJ to plan out his or her entire set.

6.  What are some of the considerations that go into deciding which track to play next?  What makes two tracks a good fit?  How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?

Some thoughts that go through my mind are what key is the track in, what’s its genre, and when is the right time to play this?  For example, you wouldn’t play your peak hour tracks right at the beginning of your set.  You’ll have nowhere to go, and 30 minutes in and the audience will already begin losing interest.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be playing your warmup tunes for the entire night.  A proper set needs to have ups and downs and an overall shape, like a roller coaster of emotions.  Try building towards something and then resetting the vibe.  Life is full of contrasts.  You’ll be able to keep people engaged if you can tell a good story.

7.  Would you say you see DJing as improvisation?  As composition in the moment?  Or as something entirely different from these terms?

There is absolutely an element of improvisation with every DJ set.  Transitions between tracks can go in so many different directions.  The possibilities are just endless.  In this way you can even compare DJing to playing jazz.  It’s important to be able to read the crowd and know when to go with the flow.

8.  How does playing music at home and presenting it in the club compare and relate?  What can be achieved through them, respectively, and what do you personally draw from both?

Listening to music at home can be very satisfying, but if we’re talking about dance music, then it’s absolutely essential to know how your track will be received by a live audience.

Many times I will come across an amazing track, but I won’t add it to my USB stick because I know it won’t translate on the dancefloor.  On the other hand, there are some records that work great for getting people moving, but I would not necessarily play them at home or on the radio.

My philosophy for producing music and for signing tracks to my record label is that the song should not only sound great at home, but also be able to rock the dancefloor.

9.  Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, taking on a social and political role and leading to more engagement.  Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?

Great question!  I tend not to mix music with politics or activism.  That’s why you won’t see me posting too much controversial content.  Some of my peers are very outspoken on social media.  There’s something to be said about having your voice be heard, but I believe there’s a time and a place for everything.

At the end of the day, we are musicians and not political pundits or experts.  My audience is not listening to my music or following me because they want to know what’s going on in the real world.  There are plenty of other people and outlets doing a great job at it, and I rather stick to what I’m good at 😉

10.  Can you tell us about your plans for the rest of the year and what we can expect from your label in 2021 and beyond?

I have at least 7 new tracks that I’m releasing this year on labels such as Katermukke, Timeless Moment, Desert Hearts Black, and my own label Perspectives Digital.  I have collaborations with great artists such as Fur Coat, Marc DePulse, Morttagua, and Galestian planned.

I started my own imprint back in 2010.  We were supposed to be celebrating the 10 year anniversary in 2020 but then Corona happened.  I look forward to celebrating with my friends and colleagues whenever things return to normal.

As for what’s coming up on Perspectives, you can expect my EP with Alexandros Djkevingr & Greg Ignatovich (Diynamic / Ellum Audio) in July, as well as new music from Julian Wassermann, Modeplex, Helsloot, Aki Bergen & Richter, ETCH & Anartist, Clay Smith, and many more.

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Written by: Dezarate

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