By: Gabrielle Nicole Pharms
When one thinks of the inundation of DJ talent from Germany, a name that would suddenly come to mind would be no other than that of the hip hop and EDM veteran: Yassine Ben Achour, better known as Loco Dice.
With the release of his new house drenched EP, Toxic, in November and a background rich in music, the listener can hear the sounds of signature Loco Dice and the evolution of his skills to the date. Here Loco Dice speaks with EDM Magazine on the past, present and future of EDM whilst discussing his latest projects.
EDM Magazine: In regards to the song, “Detox,” there’s a blend of house and you can also hear the hip hop influence from your background. How did you begin to transition into house from your hip hop background?
Loco Dice: It’s really an EP. I am actually preparing my album for next year. The transition started late in my hip hop days without knowing that I already had records by Masters at Work. I had tracks by DJ Sneak and a couple of other guys. I didn’t know that this is what they call house music, to be honest. Then, when I dived more into the electronic, techno, house music, I found out that, wow, this is my sound and this is what I want to do because I can experiment more and I can create more moods. That’s how I found myself back with house music and techno.
EDM Magazine: Would you say it was a hard transition?
Loco Dice: It was hard maybe for my fans at that time. I was one of the first hip hop DJs in Germany and hip hop in Germany came over very, very late. By that time, I had an album already, I was an emcee and I was rapping, producing and doing a lot of stuff. So, I had a quite known name. When I started in ’98 to my underground house parties, it was a little bit difficult because I had some people following me because they were also like ‘we need something fresh, something new’ and they grew into this new scene. The others who came were really pissed and I got pissed by the old hip hop community. Then, things became really cool. It became hard for me in the electronic scene. The hip hop guys were cool with it, but some of the electronic guys were looking at me like, ‘ok, what do you want here?’
EDM Magazine: Going along with that, there’s a lot of cross genre collaborations taking place in the music world. Do you think in the future there will be this identity loss for the definition of house, techno and other EDM subgenres?
Loco Dice: I will be raw and honest with you, it is somehow lost. These days, a lot of people call something house which I would declare more as pop music. That’s the problem, where can you define something when it is already complicated? Electronic music is complicated because it’s a wide spectrum of electronic sounds. It’s difficult because everybody feels different as to how to call it. Obviously, there’s trance and techno, which you can’t mismatch.
EDM Magazine: You’ve been in the music industry for years, what has been the most noteworthy change you have noticed in the EDM scene from the past to now?
Loco Dice: Over all these years what happened for me was like techno came back in the early 2000s. Then the music got slower, then Ableton and Native Instruments’ Traktor changed the whole movement, the whole scene, everything, the way of producing. Now these days, everything is calming down. Now you see those retro things and you see the new kids like Jaime Jones, this is what they call house music that is also a mix of the old house with the new electronic sounds. It’s like a circle, it’s like a clock. Everything starts at twelve and comes back at twelve; there is no ending or no start. It’s constantly moving.
EDM Magazine: In regards to some of the new DJs and producers, who are you listening to at the moment?
Loco Dice: To be honest with you, I am always really busy listening to my own artists. Either it’s tINI, Livio & Roby, Hector or Guti, my whole Desolat camp, these guys are always inspiring me and they always bring something fresh. Besides that, I go early to my gigs to hear the resident DJs. When I did my ‘Under 300’ tour, I watched from every city the local resident. These are things which inspire me and freshen me up. I am also open to all the demos. I really listen constantly to new, fresh stuff by unknown kids to see what is going on and which direction is it (EDM scene) going. It’s a fresh thing at the moment for me.
EDM Magazine: That’s really interesting, especially since you have been doing this for years. To hear that you are inspired by the other artists that you work with and some of these up-and-comers is awesome! Going along with that, you have the ‘CNTRL: Beyond EDM’ college campus tour coming up that combines the history and the future of EDM. You are scheduled to discuss old school deejaying with modern technology. Can you expound on what you’ll be discussing?
Loco Dice: These days, you see a lot of DJs go in with full technology which is using the controller, USB stick, there are millions of forms of how to DJ. I’m coming from hip hop and I think I represent somehow the thing that I’ve learned and represent somehow where I’m coming from. Hip hop is always two turntables and a mixer. I’m not that person who closed the door in front of new technology. I’m always hunting for new technology, things that can make my life much easier or make it more interesting on the dance floor without losing the flow. Well, this is what I will discuss and show the kids when I’m on tour. I think with this combination of analog and digital gear, you can still create something amazing.
EDM Magazine: At your set, how are you able to gauge what your audience is feeling versus what you have in mind to play prior to the set?
Loco Dice: It’s a feeling. That was the reason for me to move from hip hop to electronic music. You come to the club, you see the audience and try to capture the feeling, you see how the sound system is, you see what the condition of the mixer or the turntables and then you just start. You just start to play your music collection that you have and you start to experiment with the people. ‘Ok, which direction are we going?’ After the first three or four records, you know the way and know that we are all gonna have fun. After all these years and all of these gigs that go very well, you sometimes have those days where it’s a little bit difficult. You have to work a little bit harder on it and then you catch the mood, and then try to make yourself and everybody else happy and try to deliver an amazing set, an inspiring set that people go home and say: ‘Wow! We didn’t expect this. That was completely amazing and this is completely different than what we hear.’ This is the great reaction to hear as feedback from the people.
EDM Magazine: You have toured all over the world and experienced different audiences. I experienced awesome DJ sets in Berlin last fall and I know the EDM scene has been there for years. Coming back to America, many think the scene is a new concept. Especially since you are from Europe and you have seen the movement from the beginning, how do you particularly feel about America’s sudden explosion of interest in EDM?
Loco Dice: We in Europe find this very amusing. There is a new generation, there are new kids, new people, and the United States is such a big country. It’s not so easy to keep something fresh sometimes. You have so much personality and so many cultures and that’s the amazing thing about the United States; there is constantly something cooking. You have to go underground to see what is coming up next. That’s the interesting thing. At the other end, I remember in the early 2000s, when progressive was really big in the United States. I used to go out to all those rave parties in Philly and Brooklyn. Then everything died. When you watched the MTV time, it was rock, it was Whitesnake, and then Run-D.M.C. came and took over. Now it’s Guetta and whoever the names are. Things are always moving, constantly moving. Las Vegas discovered Ibiza somehow and now it’s a big thing, which is great. We from Europe, the [American] audience is now expecting us and accepting us as well. We can come and show this is how we represent Germany or how we represent England. I’m happy about it. Now everything comes together in such a big country and at big festivals. We can experiment all together.
EDM Magazine: I like to get the opinions of DJs on the validity or invalidity of the statement that a DJ is a musician. Agree or disagree: Do you think a DJ is a musician?
Loco Dice: Oh, yeah! I say that I am a musician. Then when you talk to people and they say, ‘no, you’re just a DJ,’ I think that’s sad. We are musicians because what we are doing is music. Of course we are playing other peoples’ records, but when I see those pianists or whoever plays the trumpet or whatever band it is, they also play covers, they also play bass lines that have been played by Bob Marley and the Wailers a long time ago. We are doing sounds, creating sounds in music and like I said before, these days with this technology no track sounds the same because we are not playing it from A to Z. Maybe we are playing it from F to G, and then take a little bit to C to P. This is how we create. We are making music live. I call myself a musician. Some people take it too seriously and go by the book. At the end, who is a musician? Someone who makes music.
TOXIC EP – OUT NOW! PREVIEW BELOW