Name: Gregor Trescher
Occupation: DJ, Producer
Recommendations: The Cure – Disintegration; Global Communications - 14:31
If you enjoyed this DJ interview with Gregor Tresher, be sure to stay up to date on his gigs and releases via his website, soundcloud account or facebook profile.
When did you start DJing - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I was born in 1976, so I naturally grew up with Synth Pop of the Eighties like Depeche Mode, Heaven 17 or New Order. Also The Cure had a huge impact on me. In the early Nineties I started to go to clubs and grew up in the middle of the Techno explosion around the time. That’s when the dream of becoming a DJ formed, but it took me another decade to really make it come true. My first gig at a club was in 1993 and things started to really get going for me in the early 2000s.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Of course, in the beginning I tried to reprogram the sounds of my favorite records at the time, I think that’s the most natural way of getting into producing music. I still get inspired by current music by artists I like. I think it’s a good starting point to try and emulate a specific sound or a basic groove from a track you like for example. Often, it’s just a start and doesn’t necessarily end up in the final track. I don´t sample stuff from other tracks though, in fact I try to use as few samples as possible.
On the other hand I like writing melodies with basic sounds - the original „sound“ of the track often comes in a second step.
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?
Luckily I started at a time where you could make a name for yourself through releasing music. It´s different nowadays - look at how few of the big names are actually releasing music, or when their last release was. There are other important aspects of getting people to know you nowadays like social media - but I’m not sure if it actually is easier this way. The classic way of releasing a hit record and then get to play shows through it isn’t necessarily the way to do it anymore I’m afraid.
How would you define the job and describe the influence of the DJ? How are the experience and the music transformed through your work?
I would say the most important part of the job of a DJ is to find new and exciting music every other week. There is a vast amount of new music to be listened to coming out, so you have to find the gems that work for you (and your crowd). Then of course, playing the right track at the right time is one of the most important things. And finally, create something new by the way you’re mixing or the selection of tracks. It’s quite easy to get people to dance but it’s very important to challenge yourself - if you’re just playing it safe by selecting what people know and expect - you might get through the night and people might dance to it - but no one will remember a set of sure shots in the end. The challenge is to make it work through your very own selection of music, surprise yourself and always keep it exciting for yourself and of course for the audience.
What was your first set-up as 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?
My first setup was two turntables and a cheap battle mixer. I spent hours and hours in my parents basement to master the basic mixing skills. When the digital era arrived, I switched to CDs and later harddrives, but the basic approach is still the same - at least for me. Of course you don’t really need to learn how to beatmatch anymore, as the software can do it for you, but it’s still a good thing to learn how to do it. I still don’t use Sync-functions nowadays - after all, it’s not so hard to learn the basic skills at all.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
As I just said, I’m not making that much use of new technology when I DJ - but in the studio I’m mainly working in the digital domain nowadays. There’s so much amazing new software out there. I still have quite a collection of analogue gear but to be honest I don’t use it all the time. It’s still nice to have and sometimes pretty inspiring to use it but in the end only the final track really matters, not the gear you used to make it.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do life and creativity feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
It always depends from how many gigs I’m playing, but usually I take the Monday off to recover from the weekend. During the week, after I drop my daughter off at Kindergarten in the morning, I head to the studio every day. That would be Tuesdays to Fridays. Then I usually leave for the weekend on Friday afternoon to return back home Sunday night.
Let's say you have a gig coming up tonight. What does your approach look like – from selecting the material and preparing for, opening and then building a set?
I'm not really preparing my sets a lot - the preparation mainly is listening to new music during the week and selecting new tracks to play - I have this system on my DJ hard drives, where I sort the tracks by months. So let’s say I have a folder called „February 2020“, in which all the new tracks from February are in. That’s basically the only sorting I do.
In the club, I usually try to focus on music of the last two months, and then of course in longer sets I play other stuff, too. I use the text search function on the CDJs when I’m looking for a specific track.
Can you describe your state of mind during a DJ set? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
The main goal is to get to the point where you’re kind of connected with the audience. Often at the beginning of a set you obviously want to make it a good party, get the people going, set the vibe for the night, but the better it goes and the later it gets, the more free you are to play more out of-the-ordinary stuff and surprise people. You want to get to a point where you don’t care so much anymore how it’s going - because it just does. That’s when the magic happens.
Other factors are of course if you’re sober or drinking, as this affects your performance as well - can be in a good or in a bad way.
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?
As mentioned before, I tend to not plan ahead - when the magic happens, things just fall into place. A good fit of tracks can happen for various reasons - they can blend so smoothly where you can’t tell if a transition is happening right now, or they can fit well because of a moment of surprise.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
I would say DJing is a mix of different things - but I think a composition in the moment is a good way to describe it. I like the idea of a DJ-set being made just for that moment in time, that’s why sometimes it’s nice not to record it, because then it’s just for the people in the room and when the night is over, all that’s left are the memories of the people that were a part of it.
How do 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?
I think a part of learning to become a DJ is to be able to see music in different contexts - sometimes you listen to something at home and it just blows your mind, and then you play it out and nothing happens. Or vice-versa - you don’t pick up a track because you think it’s not for you, and then you hear it played by another DJ in the club and you wonder what it it. After all, Techno is music made for clubs and sometimes you have to imagine listening to it in that context.
How would you describe the relationship between your choices and goals as a DJ and the expectations, desires and feedback of the audience? How does this relationship manifest itself during a performance and how do you concretely tap into it?
That’s a good question - I would say a good set is when you meet your own expectations AND the audience loves it. It doesn’t happen all the time of course, but that’s something I strive for I guess.
Especially thanks to the storage facilities of digital media, DJ sets could potentially go on forever. Other than closing time, what marks the end of a DJ performance for you? What are the most satisfying conclusions to a set?
I would say a good closing for me is when I got to play all the stuff I’ve been looking forward to, especially all the new bits, and then close it out with a bang that is not necessarily a classic but a track that sticks with people on their way home or even for a long time after. If that’s a new track that no one heard before it’s even better.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I am sometimes struggling with the word art a little bit. I’m making music, and of course that is a kind of art - but I try to not inflate my approach to making music with over-using the word art for it. I’m basically spending a lot of time in the studio to not miss those very rare moments when things come together perfectly - those moments when you get to make that piece of music you’ve been waiting for.