PlayhousExclusive: Bob Gravity

Originally Posted 7.2.2015 [Archive]

If you've been a fan of playhous for a while, then you know we have been fans of Bob Gravity's for a while now. Tracks like 'Coming Down''Scopophilia', and 'No End In Sight' captivated us and had us reaching out to him for an artist exposé instantly. Unfortunately, life does get in the way sometimes, and his laptop was stolen (whoever took it, you're scum!). Who knows how many gems were lost along with our mix!? It is truly depressing to think about. 

Since then, Bob has recovered and come back with a vengeance -- his sound slightly harder and his productions more mature. We thought, what better time than now for us to have our favorite NYC hipster get behind the decks for a mix and voice his über cool opinions in an interview; opinions you'll have, but way later -- after they are cool (we're just teasing Bob, all love!!!)

This hour long mix is quite the journey through the sounds of techno and it packs some serious punch. Get into this exclusive and get to know your new favorite techno producer/DJ from Brooklyn, Bob Gravity! Here's a fun fact: He doesn't hold anything back, behind the decks or in his thoughts.

FIRST OFF, COULD YOU TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF?

I grew up in New York City and go to a liberal arts school in downtown Manhattan. There are a lot of great musicians and artists of many sorts at my school, but most of the kids there don’t really listen to the same styles of techno or house that I do. Music has always been a big part of my life both inside and outside of school. The first instrument I played was the violin and, in the beginning, music was in an entirely academic environment for me: I had an instructor and scheduled classes every week and was expected to practice regularly. I would go on to play in an orchestra and become a concertmaster, which obviously made things quite competitive and professional at an early age.

Over time I got sick of the rules and regimented schedules and eventually quit the violin and switched over to guitar. While I didn’t really compose a lot of music back then I was always creating ideas in my head and jammed with my friends at our school’s music club or someone’s house. I started a rock/blues band with some close friends and even recorded 4 Track EP on my friend’s Tascam 8 track digital recorder. The CD was called“the Dazed”… Evidently, this was when I first started smoking weed and growing my hair out long.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTO ELECTRONIC MUSIC?

I’ve been into electronic music of all sorts since a very early age. When I started producing, which was about six or seven years ago, I didn’t focus entirely on house or techno music, but the club thing always interested me.  Bands like Air, Thievery Corporation, and Stereolab were what initially got me into electronic stuff. When I was about seventeen we had these small coffee house performances at our high school where bands would perform. One time Nicolas Jaar actually came in and performed. I was blown away by his technical production skills mixed with his live instrument playing; The kid played everything from saxophone to the accordion all while triggering drum beats and effects from his computer. After the performance one of his friends showed me his laptop and that was when I first discovered the computer production programs Ableton and Reason.

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO EXPRESS YOURSELF ARTISTICALLY THROUGH HOUSE MUSIC?

Around the same time that I was getting into all these electronic bands and making beats on my laptop I bought the Justice “Cross” CD in Ireland (this was before they got popular in America) For me these guys were like a more punk version of Daft Punk with an even more rebellious twist. While the scene has changed a lot since then artists like Justice, Boys Noize, Busy P, and Simian Mobile Disco will always have a special place in my heart.

WE’VE BEEN FANS OF YOURS FOR A WHILE NOW AND WE’VE WATCHED YOUR SOUND DEVELOP. YOUR EARLIER PRODUCTIONS HAD A DARKER VIBE TO THEM, WHILE YOUR NEW TRACKS HAVE BUILT OFF THE SAME SOUND BUT SEEM TO BE A LITTLE MORE LIGHT-HEARTED. WHAT HAS CHANGED? DO YOU HAVE A NEW SOURCE OF INSPIRATION?

I have always had a hard time balancing my music between certain aesthetics or styles. While I think showing diversity is important I think it’s also vital for an artist to hone in on particular skill-sets and perfect a consistent style overtime. Right now I‘m just experimenting with different vibes to figure out what I want to focus on next. I plan on releasing some darker music over the next few months that will hopefully reflect on some of the hardships I have been going through recently. I think that a lot of the music I have been listening to lately expresses a kind of desperation and struggle that I didn’t always have the courage to show in my music. Ultimately I am aiming for a more raw sound that can hopefully still strike a chord in my listeners without moving too far away from the classic Gravity :)

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE STATE OF THE DANCE MUSIC SCENE IN AMERICA?

Sometimes, I am really happy to see the developments with dance music in America. Although, there are definitely times when club goers piss me off because I can tell they aren’t really there for the music and are really just there for the drugs or over the top partying in general. It wasn’t the “cool new trendy” thing to listen to dance music when I first got into it. Techno wasn’t on a downtrend or anything but it also wasn’t this corporate monster like it is now. In some ways my entry point into the scene was a little more pure than a lot of kids today who get into it simply because everyone else is listening to it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Overall I am pretty grateful for how big this has all gotten in America and I’m excited that many of these “EDM kids” will soon start to dig a little deeper like I eventually did. I think it is unfair for anyone to be TOO much of a snob because they were once just as ignorant.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE “MAINSTREAM”?

Surprisingly I have a lot of respect for many of the “mainstream” artists out there. I think the arguments about what is mainstream and what is underground at this point are kind of dumb. When you look at labels like Drumcode and Visionquest for example, it’s obvious that stuff like that isn’t really “underground” anymore, even though people would like to call it that. Don’t get me wrong I think Spinnin’ Records and all those corporate labels filled with rampant ghost productions are an utter disgrace to dance music, but overall there are some really talented producers out there who are definitely in the “mainstream” category. Like I said before I eventually learned to dig a little deeper like most people do with club music. At first dance music is about this almost dumbed down mindless kind of fun, but eventually if you are into it for long enough you start to yearn for something deeper and spiritual. I used to listen to guys like Nicky Romero, Bart B More, The Subs, and I still have my guilty pop pleasures like Darius, Disclosure, and even Skrillex, but I think there is definitely a line I draw with what is intelligent and what is cookie cutter teeny bopper music.

WHERE DO YOU LINE UP IN THE VINYL VS DIGITAL DEBATE?

I think that nothing feels better DJ-wise than mixing on vinyl, but if you don’t spin with vinyl that is not a big deal to me. I can’t talk too much shit about any style of DJing because I myself used to be one of those dudes who used Ableton at clubs. Overtime when I started playing at bigger clubs I realized that they expected you to play on CDJ’s without a laptop, and it was something I always aimed to learn anyway. I think it’s very important for anyone who calls themselves a DJ to learn how to beat match because it is all about using your ears rather than a screen. Lately, I have been playing sets mainly with my USB sticks and CDJs and the odd vinyl track here and there. Unfortunately, I think that the days of beat matching as a standard form of DJing are soon to be forgotten. Luckily, my scene in and around Brooklyn is quite purist and most DJs won’t take you seriously unless you are beat-matching. I don’t mean to sound like some purist but I am really grateful to be around so many talented DJ’s who keep the vinyl and beatmatching game alive. Halcyon Records and A1 records are two of the best house/techno record stores in the world and since I got into the vinyl game I have discovered so much music at these stores that I would have never found digitally.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP AS WE MOVE INTO THE SECOND HALF OF 2015?

Speaking of vinyl, I am actually planning on self-pressing a few releases of my own through the wax platform. I also plan on releasing a few of my local friends’ stuff through this label. The first release is expected to be out in October and will feature a remix from me. The label will focus primarily on a darker sound that I will be using as my outlet for my raw techno stuff. I also have an EP coming out on King Street Sounds in the next few months. Being apart of a label like King Street that has worked with everyone from Kerri Chandler to Doc martin to Supernova is exciting to say the least. I am also going to be apart of a compilation on Good Company Records which is a new label based in Brooklyn. I am excited to be releasing so much new material over the next few months and I hope you guys enjoy the mix!

P.S. from Bob Gravity: the mix features an original of mine that will be released through my new vinyl label later this year. Enjoy!