Q&A: Seth Troxler On Chris Gaines, Being King Of The Sauce And Why Steve Aoki Is The Dean Martin Of Rave


Tom Hanks once said, in regards to his super nice guy status, “I’m not that nice of a guy; I just have the money to have people around to tell people no for me.” Seth Troxler neither has nor needs such people. Even after engaging in copious charity work, being crowned No. 2 DJ of 2011 in Resident Advisor’s readers’ poll, and celebrating the release of his lauded DJ/BFF gang Visionquest’s latest Fabric mix CD, he is completely without guile and pretense, speaking to everyone around him as if they were a friend he had not seen in years. We meet in his hotel room, where he takes time to share all of his New York souvenirs with my photographer Camilo and even gives us packs of Desert Storm trading cards he purchased that day. He insists we “destroy” his minibar, which we do. Almost four hours later he suggests posing on the toilet in a dressing gown and takes our numbers to make sure we come to see him spin that night. Sure enough, two hours later I receive a text with the address and a message that reads “Get your ass over here Tarantino!” King of the Sauce, indeed.

First question: Are you living the life you want to live??

[Laughs] Occasionally. It sounds bad, but—that’s hilarious BTW—but my friend once told me that your greatest nightmare is when your dreams come true. You know? And in a way my greatest nightmare has become my life. Sarcastically speaking, of course. I’m also finding that as a person that’s constantly touring and traveling that you lose your old life, so your life becomes a new life which is something that I wanted, but is it the life I’ve always wanted to live? I’m not sure yet.

I hear you’re also a pretty good chef.

I just won this DJ cook-off competition in Amsterdam. Dubfire, John Acquaviva, The Stafford Brothers and I went in there and did some barbecue and people thought I was fucking around and I was not fucking around.

You’re a sauce man, I’ve heard.

Tsssh. I’m King of the Sauce and I went up in there with the sauce and they thought I was playing ’cause I was talking so much shit and finally my dish came up and it got tens. Tens, all around, and I won.

What was your dish?

I did ribs with my sauce and this spicy sweet potato chipotle mash and blackened brussel sprouts.

Will 2012 see more Blaxel Rose and Thrill Cosby?

[Laughs] Wow. That’s research son. That’s me and Jamie [Jones]. Thrill Cosby is coming back. 2012 is Thrill. Seth’s gonna go away for awhile, and it’s just gonna be all Thrill.

Is Thrill like your version of that alternative rocker character Garth Brooks had for a minute? What was he called?

Oh God… shit, that was horrible. What was his name?

[long silence as we rack our brains]

Chris Gaines!! [both laugh]

I knew that.

Yeah, you knew, but were wisely too embarrassed to say it! [Laughs]

You’re definitely one of the more colorful characters in dance music.

Oh, thank you!

What are your top five tips for the scowling, unhappy DJ?

Number one, stop being unhappy! Why are so many people unhappy? I’m pretty simple; somewhat of an idiot savant you might say, but it seems like people expend so much energy not being happy. Like they actually go out of their way to be dicks. You just try and do the best you can do and look for good things. I believe in that cosmic shit, man!

I love your policy of not playing tracks by “known dicks.”

Oh yeah. You gotta.

I mean, how can anyone support Mel Gibson now?? People are always like, “Lethal Weapon 3 is really good!!”

Lethal Weapon 3 is really good, though.

[Both laugh]

But only before you knew he was a dick!

I got a promo from a guy who I know is a real dick recently and I listened to it and it was a jam and I had a hard time because I really wanted to play it, but I have my morals.

How do you think discovering house music at such a young age affected you?

It changed my life. I was like seven or eight but it didn’t really start to really affect me till my teens when we moved to Detroit from Kalamazoo. As a young black male, instead of identifying with the stereotypical image, I ended up identifying with all of these faceless German records. So having that sort of positive and artistic background for my life or the music I related myself with as a consumer and as a teen really turned me into the person that I am now and I’m so grateful for that. I think there’s a lot of positivity in electronic music that’s lacking in a lot of other culturally popular music today. I mean if you compare pop to ‘modern dance’ music it promotes so much more of a culture of sex and violence where as dance doesn’t promote anything. It doesn’t tell you how to feel. Where pop music just makes you feel like you gotta get laid. (pause) Which I’m quite down with, but I don’t need my music to talk about it… unless it’s in a sweet, special way between two people.

Speaking of, I was listening to your vocals and I realized that your style of speak-singing is exactly the way Prince talks to his ladies.

Ha! That really is how Prince talks to his women! But that stuff comes from everywhere. Like “Are You Living The Life?”—I got half of that while I was eating poutine in Toronto and reading an article about how Canadians aren’t living the lives they want to live and I was like, “That should be a song!” So the next night we were at Kenny (Glasgow) and Johnny (White)’s house having an afterparty all dressed up in drag and just being weirdos and I pulled the article out and we made the song.

And that’s something that I think people respond to about you: the curtain is always pulled back with Seth Troxler.

Look, I AM NOT A GENIUS! Not that most people believe that they are, but most people won’t say that they’re not.

No, you are definitely not!

[Both laugh]

Where does your fashion sense come from?

Just being a creep, I guess. And growing up in the suburbs. I don’t give a shit, there’s so many crazier pictures of me out there. I mean, I did a video interview last summer at Parklife and I pulled my balls out.

I feel kinda gypped now.

Yeah they started with me saying “Hi, my name is Seth Troxler and I don’t give a fuck.” I had my balls out off-camera and then at the end of the interview they panned down and did a close-up on them. I was also really high and gurning my face off.

[Both laugh]

Most DJs don’t have ‘the balls’ to do that. That’s what it’s about—surprising people.

Sure. Not all the time, but whatever. Like that fucking guy Steve Aoki or whatever? He’s always stage diving all the time and drinks from this bottle of vodka. Well, I been on tour with the guy: that bottle of vodka—water! And the whiskey is just apple juice. It’s all bullshit, man. I saw you backstage bro and you’re kind of a dick. When I drink out of a bottle? That’s alcohol. If you’re going out there, live it.

So Steve Aoki is the Dean Martin of Dim Mak. DM? It’s all becoming clear now…

Visionquest—Fabric 61 is out now on Fabric.