Name: Marco Shuttle
Occupation: DJ, Producer
Current Release: The Moon Chant EP released on The Bunker New York on November 30th
Recommendations: Norman Ledeuil – A Journey (LP)
Roman Signer - Wasserstiefel Explosion (Photograph)
Website / Contact: If you enjoyed this interview with Marco Shuttle, do visit his facebook profile for more information, news and plenty of music.
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 started in the late 90’s. I was definitely first influenced by US deep house and acid. But by the time I started I was really into IDM, electronica and electro, which was pretty much what I started playing. in those years house and techno, in Italy at least, had a sort of crisis phase and I was really inspired by labels like warp, rephlex, skam, pussyfoot and Morr Music that were somehow 100 % experimental and leftield. To my eyes, they were almost standing as an answer and a sort of third alternative way.. to the classic idea of clubbing... which at the time was struggling to find a cultural identity.
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?
We all need models to look up to… I had quite a few in my career and still have, actually. The first real inspiration for me has been Andrew Weatherall. I was obsessively listening to his sets on groovetech radio, which were video streamed in the Internet (they were the first ones to have this idea actually…not boiler room). I think I owe it to him if now I manage to play so many different styles of electronic music in my sets..as he was and still is real master at that… I also went through a serious Villalobos phase in the early 2000’s and I think I got the trippy/deep ingredient from that… But I have also always been a massive Jeff Mills fan.
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?
As I said above, my first motivation when I started was to provide an alternative vision of clubbing at a time I wasn’t really happy with what was happening around me. I was frustrated and had this strong feeling that I had something more interesting and sophisticated to say in order to make things better… I think DJing even more than producing has mostly to do with taste and aesthetics… and for me taste has always been a crucial value, probably due also to my background as a fashion designer. I actually started off as a DJ way earlier before producing. My taste as a producer shaped around me being just a DJ for so many years.
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?
Funny enough I first started out with cDJs… the first ever made ones: Pioneer CDJs 1000.. I was collecting CDs at the time, as from where I was based then, it was very hard and expensive to get vinyl of the weird shit I was into… Once the whole Internet became more popular, I could get records online and quickly switched to vinyl. I was a very early Internet vinyl buyer…
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?
I make a very simple use of technology when we talk about DJing. I also use digital, although I play 80% vinyl in my sets and I make a very basic use of CDJs. I don’t use record box and don’t really loop tracks, or sync them and so on. My main demands are a good soundsystem and properly set up turntables. My approach to DJing is very puristic and simple. I’m quite okay at mixing records technically speaking and being good at mixing allows me to have enough time between transitions to think to what I wanna play next, what’s the best fit, what journey I’m gonna go for and plan stuff ahead.. And that makes all the difference, really.
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?
Every gig is different… How I prepare it depends on many factors. What time I play, what kind of venue, which party/festival/club, how I feel. I do spend a lot of time preparing. Usually the day before a show is always completely spent rehearsing. When you play quite eclectic you need to practise more… I always get very stubborn about playing records I wanna play even when it’s hard to make them fit in what I have in my bag. And that involves a lot of rehearsing… I also always try to change my sets a lot, play different records. I’m obsessed with the idea that someone might be coming twice in a row to one of my shows and thinking “oh…he played the same shit as last time”... it’s silly and it just does not happen… but it’s somehow an idea I’m obsessed with. And I guess it works in my favour, too, even if it’s totally unrealistic and irrelevant.
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?
As I said above, every show is different and the state of mind I’m in while I play also varies depending on where I play, how I feel etc. I’m always very focused and somehow a bit nervous especially when I start (even after all these years… yes) as It takes a little while to get used to the DJ booth, the environment, the soundsystem etc. But then I usually get more comfortable and things start flowing more effortlessly. People sometimes ask me why I never smile while I play… and this question always kind of beats me cause I actually don’t realise I look so serious. And it’s not because I’m grumpy or whatever. I’m just very focused on and into what I’m doing.
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?
In the very moment I play It’s more of an instinct other than anything else. When you play vinyl especially, the decision process is very much based on feelings other than thinking because the search process of the track you wanna play is different than digital. It’s more visual and tactile and that changes the way you select, at least it does with me. There is definitely an awareness of what fits together and what doesn’t that I build before performing - sometimes quite a lot before. Even in the very moment I buy a specific record I already think what I’m going to play it with and there is also a planning in some way… a structure. My sets usually have a sort of chapters structure.
There I a first phase in my sets that is more cerebral and thought over where I also leave tracks to play longer to hypnotise the crowd. But when I progress to a faster pace and the energy levels rise during the progression I sometimes only keep records for like 2 minutes or so… And then it’s when it becomes very much merely about instinct.
Would you say you see DJing as improvisation? As composition in the moment? Or as something entirely different from these terms?
As I said above already I have a very classic, puristic vision of DJing. To me, it still is about playing records… I don’t like to deconstruct tracks, to use only parts of them or loop excerpts digitally… It’s not what I’m about. I do that in the studio, not when I DJ and doing it this way has a lot to do with improvisation…
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?
When I listen to music at home for my own pleasure let’s say I generally tend to not listen to music I end up playing in my DJ sets. Or at least not in my techno ones. But of course even non techno related music of course affect my taste more or less consciously… that’s for sure!
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?
To me it’s very important to stick to my vision and not compromise too much in order to “make everybody happy”. It’s always been like that and I’m going to keep it that way. To be an interesting DJ to me has always been also abut taking risks and I won’t deny that I did empty quite a few dacefloors in my early years because what I played was not always easy and accessible or even appropriate and I did learn a lot from that. But now the crowd that comes to hear me playing knows me and knows what to expect. At the same time, I got more aware of when and how I can get more experimental during my set.
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 tend to like it when I play some track i have just finished as last or something i’m about to release on my label. That often happens after i played a good show and I feel comfortable and rewarded.
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?
Art for me is about aesthetics, abstraction and disrupture… I tend to not engage with art that has a strong political message because what I look for in art is an escape from reality, not a message and not a contact with it.