Will Sumsuch talks to Myles Sergé for A 5 Mag Mix, volume 22 in our series.
The 5 Mag Mix by Myles Sergé
Myles Sergé: The 5 Mag Interview
A reclusive perfectionist, Techno artist and DJ Myles Serge hails from Grand Rapids, Michigan, hometown to Floyd Mayweather (and once “America’s office furniture capital”). Relatively unknown in the USA – probably even in his hometown – Myles’ sensitive, mournful production style has won him a legion of loyal fans in Europe and South America. But now a fixture at legendary Berlin clubs Berghain and Tresor, this anonymity looks set to change, as the international dance music hype machine begins to take notice.
However, Myles Serge is not new to this. I met him when he was living in the UK a few years ago, and was immediately struck by how unaffected he was by the “scene.” Put simply, he’s never been fooled by the smoke and mirrors. Not even for a second. In the time I’ve known him, he’s never been bothered by having to work a day job, just as long as he gets to hit the studio at night. As he puts it: “Everything is not what people perceive, especially when it comes to DJing and producing.”
A refreshingly normal guy he may be, but the music Myles Serge makes is anything but. Enjoy this very special live, all-vinyl mix recorded exclusively for 5 Magazine, and read on…
Where are you right now?
Right now I’m in Berlin. I had a few gigs in Berlin at Tresor, About Blank (Staub), Griessmuehle, my record release party for Thema Records at Spacehall Records and the Rex Club in Paris. I have one more stop at the Sequence Club in Paraguay on April 2.
You still play exclusively on vinyl. Can you see that changing any time soon?
At this point I don’t think that will change. I LOVE vinyl… but I might try to experiment with CDJs. I have never used them and I actually don’t know how to, but I think it would be great to incorporate some stuff that isn’t available on vinyl or new and unreleased stuff from myself or friends.
Name your top 3 places on earth to play records.
Berlin has always showed me love but I would love to play Japan and Australia. If anyone is reading this from Japan or Australia… ummm let’s make this happen!
As a kid in Grand Rapids, what did Chicago and Detroit mean to you? Do you feel like both cities had an influence?
As a kid in Grand Rapids, Chicago and Detroit meant to me the Bulls and the Pistons! I used to be a huge basketball fan. Despite living about 300+ miles from each city (Chicago to the southwest around Lake Michigan and Detroit to the east) I was in tuned to the sounds of both cities, but more so the sound of Detroit as I spent my summers at my grandmother’s house in Flint, MI. In Flint I was exposed to tapes of the Wizard aka Jeff Mills from a next-door neighbor who was attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. During high school I got in to more House and Hip House music coming from Chicago – Adonis, Fast Eddie, Tyree Cooper, Steve Silk Hurley, Mr. Fingers… I think living between the two cities later proved to be an advantage for me in my productions as I was able to merge the two influences.
How are you finding Europe? How do the crowds differ from back home? Are they more or less educated would you say?
Europe is great and it’s great to be back. After two years residing in Brighton, UK and then moving back to the States, I missed the energy and excitement that Europe has to offer. I find people here seem to know and appreciate the music and the culture much better.
In my personal experiences I find that MOST crowds and venues in the States really don’t care about the music, it’s all about how much people are drinking and the take at the end of the night. A DJ is just some guy in the front or in a corner that is playing background music. Ironically I don’t get booked to play anywhere in the States, but yet I get booked to play Europe and South America each and every year. To me this is kind of strange that Europe books US artists and yet clubs and promoters in the States don’t book the talent that’s in their own backyard. I live in between two of the most influential US cities in electronic music and yet I have never played in either. I finally played New York this past September for a label party for my good friend Lenny Posso and his great label that I’m now a part of, Thema Records. If it wasn’t for him doing this party I would not have been able to say I’ve finally played in NYC.
What do you feel are the differences between the US and Euro Techno sounds? Can you still hear the difference?
In this day and age I don’t really think there is a difference in the two sounds. The music has become global. I can hear influences from all corners of the world. Its not a US or European thing anymore. Some of the dopest music I have heard in recent times came from places such as South Africa and Brazil.
Berghain is known as ground zero for European Techno and House. How did you like performing there?
Berghain is the SHIT! I love that place. It is something truly special and it’s a place I would love to call home (hint hint!) I have been blessed to have played there two times. The last time was in December of 2014 where I played the opening slot. I had four hours of creative freedom! It was one of the best sets I have ever played in my life. The crowd at Berghain is wonderful and they are very open to new experiences and journeys through sound. But I can’t say it is “ground zero for Techno and House.” Tresor is also dope and it has it’s own vibe which is just as good. I think the two clubs together can share this title. Berlin is simply the place to be.
What do you feel makes your sound different and unique? As you know, I’m not really a lover of Techno, but your stuff, Robert Hood, Juan Atkins et al have something extra which keeps my interest. What would you say that extra element is?
I think my sound is different because I don’t listen to anyone else and I don’t compromise or give in to what everyone is doing, or what the new trend is. I simply do me, and that’s it. That’s my extra element. Juan, Rob, Jeff, and others like them always stay true to their sound and they do it with soul and passion, that’s what sets them and myself apart from others.
What’s next for you? We hear there’s an album on the way? What can we expect?
I just released two wonderful EPs: The Village for Lenny Posso’s label Thema and Syntax Error for Dan Curtin’s label Metamorphic.
I also have an upcoming release on Finale Sessions and also a few remixes coming for Oskar Szafraniec (Murge Recordings), Alex AQ (LPZ Records), and a remix of Armando’s classic “Downfall” on Angel Alanis’s Slap Jaxx Music. I try to stay busy, so there will be much more coming in the works.
How do you feel about the state of the scene at present?
I think the scene is currently in disarray and it needs to be purged. I know this might not be the answer you were looking to get, but I try to speak the truth. Everything is not what people perceive, especially when it comes to DJing and producing. There seems to be a huge misconception that DJs and producers are rich and famous… This is NOT always the case. The truth is that there’s a “chosen few” who actually meet this perception but for the most part (including myself) we are all struggling.
I recently had this discussion with an up and coming DJ after my set at Tresor. He thought I was rich… I had to laugh and explain to him that I was broke as hell, and that I can’t live off music alone. The look on his face was PRICELESS.
Finally, do you have one essential piece of advice for upcoming producers and DJs?
Never compromise yourself or your personal visions.
Published first in 5 Mag Issue #129, featuring Mood II Swing, Martin EZ, Myles Serge, Terry Hunter & Jon Pierce, a year hands-on with the Rane MP2015 and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music and save 60%!