This is the inaugural installment in a semi-regular series designed to shear off the interviewer's (meaning me) often numbing, elliptical fumbling and allow the subject to speak for him or herself, sans gratuitous interruption. And I couldn't have asked for a better subject than the refreshingly articulate minimalist jock Jeff Samuel. (All too often, DJs can't explain why they do what they do. So lame.) The former local (he now lives in Berlin) is performing tonight at Chop Suey for Broken Disco 2.0 along with a solid line-up of electronic acts, including Pezzner of Jacob London fame.
Although he just released his latest EP, Circle, on Monday, Samuel says he's here more to visit family than pimp his material. But I for one am glad he's mixing work with pleasure. We talked via phone about why Seattle reminds him of Footloose, how he prepares for his sets, and the drawbacks of the digital revolution in DJ-dom.
"A lot of what I like about Berlin has more to do with the culture and the laws there. Things that clubs can't really change [here]. Things that we don't have control over. [The clubs in Berlin] don't even have closing times. And they can serve alcohol all night. That's not really something that a Seattle club can say, 'Oh, we should do that.' Because the issue is much deeper. We're still living like we're in Footloose over here. There's something to be said about dancing all night that you just can't do in a three- to four-period. How long is a club open here? Five hours max? Nobody shows up until 12:30 or something, and then they all have to leave at 1:45--it's totally insane.
"I don't ever plan [my sets] ahead of time. It all has to do with the general feeling that I get in the room. I know [Chop Suey] really well, although I heard they got a new sound system in there, so that'll make a difference. But I'm always in there early evaluating everything, the lighting, the sound, and just kinda getting the general...vibe of the people. Those things are always what dictate what I'm gonna play. I'm never just saying, 'Well, I think I'm gonna do it more this or more that.' It always has to be whatever suits that room at that time.
"I don't really have any desire to have hardware any more, that's for sure. There's more potential to have bells and whistles in the software realm. In software there are no limits. [But], having come from the hardware world, I enforce the limits on myself. And I think it's really hard for people who work in software...to do that. There's so many options. It's ridiculous. People spend an hour just trying to figure out which reverb plug they wanna use. It's really, really hard to stay focused. That's a real drawback of the digital revolution. But I think it's something I'm good at. I'm really good at enforcing limits on myself."