Zak, aka DVS1 (Hush Sound | SoundCloud | Facebook) broke through on an international scale following the release of his 2009 debut on Klockworks. It was one of those “overnight” waves of success that come after years (in his case, more than a decade) on the scene. DVS1 has followed it up with stellar records on Transmat, his own Hush and remixes on Perc Trax, Prime Numbers and Rekids.
DVS1 will be making that trek for a special, extended set in Chicago at Primary (5 W. Division) on Saturday, February 15 2014 with Submerge, Komprezzor & Jason Shelton and Angel Alanis. (Facebook event page here.)
[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″] Facebook ruined the mystery. Now I can tell my fans what I ate for breakfast. Is that really necessary? It’s not real. [/quote]
I know that you lived in New York in the ’90s for awhile. Were you around to experience the Midwest Rave scene of that era?
Oh yeah, that’s a part of my life, no doubt, including events here in Minneapolis and driving to Chicago and to Milwaukee for Drop Bass events and everything.
How long have you known Angel Alanis?
I’ve known him for years through his music. I’ve been buying his records for as long as he’s been making them or at least as long as I’ve been DJing.
On a personal level, we’ve run into each other over the years – randomly in hallways of clubs and parties and places like that. But I think the first time we really sat down and talked was when we were booked in Japan at the same time and played 2 or 3 shows together.
I’m sure you’re asked this question a lot, but it’s probably in a European accent. They look at a map of the United States and see Minnesota all by itself and ask, “Why do you live there?” I mean this as an American, and I think it’s a little different inflection: Why do you stay here? Why is this home, as opposed to moving overseas?
I do get that question posed a lot. My answer is always that Minnesota and the Midwest in general is where I got my vibe. It’s where I learned and experienced it, and it’s where I keep my vibe. There are probably benefits to moving overseas. But we’re all unconsciously affected by our surroundings, and my music, my taste and my aesthetic are the way they are because of the Midwest. If I were to move overseas, I’d be unconsciously changed, and my music would be unconsciously changed, and I don’t think that would benefit me. I like traveling and getting a taste of a different way of life, and then bringing it back here, recharging my energy and doing it again.
Fame is a pretty deforming experience, and you had this experience four or five years ago where everyone was suddenly your biggest supporter and friend. You were working for more than a decade before that sudden spike in popularity. How do you come out of that with your sensibilities largely intact? Because I didn’t know you before, but you seem like you’re a pretty grounded person. Which is rare.
Part of it again is coming from the Midwest and a humble, do-it-yourself environment. If you wanted to be involved, you couldn’t “just” DJ. You had to set up the party, help with the sound, promote on the corner and then DJ at the party. I started DJing in that do-it-yourself environment.
Someone who grew up without that might have a different vision. Maybe they came up solely being DJs, or they were in a city where there were more clubs to play at and they could get their name out there faster. I’m not knocking it by any means, but this was my background, having spent time doing all those things. So it’s still a humbling experience to have people want to fly me out to different cities I’ve never been to and have me DJ at their party.
I have to mention Ben Klock here too because he and Derrick [May] gave me some really good advice when that went down. They told me, “Everyone’s going to knock on your door and ask you to do remixes and interviews and to play every event. Say no. Keep it within a family.” And actually when you look at people who have their own crew and a real family vibe, they seem to have the most long-term success and seem happiest.
It’s hard to say no, though, especially when it’s people you look up to. I won’t mention names here, it’s irrelevant, but people whose music I’ve been buying my whole life were asking too. And I had this feeling that they might like my music, but they’re not asking me to work on a project just for that reason.
The crazy party of it? The last four years I’ve travelled hard and worked hard and pushed hard and made myself available to nearly everyone and everything. But about six months ago, I told my agent that I needed to start spending more time at home, in the studio, digging through records and everything. I rode it for awhile and I appreciated every bit of the experience, but I feel like I need to pull a hood over my head now. I built up my name and my reputation and now I feel like pulling back a little bit.
That’s also part of the aesthetic that I feel drawn to. In our scene, there was a kind of mystery about the people who made the music and who played it. Like the mystery that Underground Resistance had, with hoods pulled over their heads.
Facebook ruined that mystery. Now I can tell my fans what I ate for breakfast. Is that really necessary? It’s not real.
In the last interview I read, you mentioned starting up a label called Mistress and the concept seems to go along with this attitude. The first record you mentioned was going to be from Borrowed Identity.
Yes, it’s up and running and the first two releases are out now.
I’ve written about most of Borrowed Identity’s records I think, and don’t know a thing about the guy.
Borrowed Identity is actually really young. He’s like 21 or 22 years old. I started the label after hearing a track he put on SoundCloud – just a 1 minute snippet of a track really. I was blown away and told him to pull that track down now because I’m going to do something with that. I don’t know what, but trust me. I think he wrote that track when he was 19 or 20 years old.
That 1 minute snippet stemmed the whole idea of the label, which is to release my secret weapons from my own DJ bag. The label otherwise has nothing to do with me – they’re not my songs and I’m not remixing them just to put my stamp on it. They’re all original tracks.
The second release?
The second is from Marquis Hawkes, under the name “Juxta Position”. At first he wanted to keep it quiet, but on the day it was released he changed his mind and decided to take credit for it. Which was fine.
The third release will be from a Minneapolis guy under the alias “Doubt”. It’s funny, it really wasn’t the plan but we’re sort of following a seasonal schedule and the tracks are reflecting the season they’re released. The first was sort of housey, sort of groovy – it had that summer vibe. The one from Marquis was a little darker and had that end of summer feeling. The third is darker still and invokes wintertime.
Beyond every other reason to start Mistress, I’ve noticed that with the new generation or at least new artists coming up now, they tend to pigeonhole themselves. They’re Techno or they’re House or they’re this or they’re that. I wanted to get away from that. If you’ve ever heard me DJ, particularly longer sets, you know that I’m influenced by everything. And that’s the only rule of the label: it’s anything that I’ll play. If I don’t play it, I won’t put it out.
What else do you have going on?
There’s one thing that’s maybe a little odd but which I’m really excited about. I was recently able to acquire an extremely large record collection that belonged to a DJ that passed away last year. He was one of the original proper DJs in my city, a guy named Man-X. Do you know who that is?
Oh gosh, yeah. I didn’t know he was from Minneapolis though. I think by the time I heard of him he was in St. Louis or somewhere similar to that?
He lived in a few different places, including Miami. After he passed away, his family went to Miami to pack up his belongings, but they found about 10,000 more records than they thought would be there. I purchased the collection from them. So right now I’m looking at 25,000 records, and it’s really unique. Because of his stature, a lot of them are records I never got a chance to buy and which were priced way out of my range by the time I heard of them. Going through these, I think, is going to have a major impact on my music for years to come.