Dirtybird has come a long way since it’s inception in 2006, but Sacha Robotti can definitely be considered as one of the original, core members of the crew. Even though he’s branched out with his releases to labels like This Ain’t Bristol and Desert Hearts Records, he is still very much beloved by the Dirtybird community. This was obvious if you were at his crowded set at Dirtybird Campout this year on early Sunday evening.
Given the chance to speak with Sacha, I wanted to know more about himself and this whole West Coast transformational music scene that he is a big part of. Being too wrapped up in all the shenanigans during the festival, I waited until we both had a minute to settle down afterwards to speak to the esteemed Italian/German DJ.
Hey Sacha! Thanks for taking the time to talk. I just got back from Dirtybird Campout and I can only hope you had as much fun as I did. What were some of your favorite moments of the Campout this year?
One of my favorite moments this year was playing my set! I live for this.
This year was my first time attending. How was it different than last year, for better or for worse?
Even though the location was bigger than the last couple of years, I think the Do Lab managed to recreate the vibe of the event the way it was originally hosted in Silverado very well. The main difference for me was the dust!
I’ve heard that you played the cello when you were younger. Do you still play? How does being a classically trained musician influence the production of house & techno music? It seems like some of the best producers all played instruments growing up.
I haven’t played the cello for about 20 years now, but lately I miss it a lot. To me, this instrument is an extension of my physical and emotional body. I can create sound with my arms, hands, fingers, I can feel the vibration of the bow on the string, I can hold the instrument between my knees. It’s an intimate bond which doesn’t happen with a computer and a mouse to that degree. The sound of the cello comes close to the sound of the human voice, it’s beautiful and melancholic. True, it definitely helps to be a better producer if you acquired skills to play an instrument at a young age, but there are also many producers and musicians who are geniuses and lack a classical or instrumental education altogether!
How about your training and skill in architecture? Has that influenced your production as well? I read that that was your first real career path.
The experiences you make in your life influence everything, especially your creativity and perspective on the world. Interdisciplinary thinking fathers ideas that might not have been born otherwise. So yes I guess architecture has had an impact on me, I’m not exactly sure how though. Maybe in terms of organizing my conceptual thought process, constructing songs, layering soundscapes, and finishing projects…
It’s true that you want to build your own house someday too, right? Do you think that will be in a place like L.A.? Or perhaps back in Germany or Belgium?
Yes I want to design and build it with my own hands. I think that’s something everyone should do if they can! I’d love it to be located somewhere warm and peaceful and preferably near a body of water, so we shall see where… California would be nice, not sure about Belgium or Germany, but never say never right?
You’re pretty heavily involved with both Dirtybird and Desert Hearts. To me, they both stand for the same things: acceptance, weirdness, and awesome music. What would you say are the core differences between the two movements/labels?
Both embody the California way of life, both put out an inclusive message rather than elitism. I would say Desert Hearts stands for more of a colorful “hippie” vibe, while Dirtybird has more of an “urban” edge!?
Do you identify with one more than the other?
I love both and I’m very lucky to enjoy the support of both crews and movements. They’ve both helped me to find an anchor in the USA. I didn’t know Desert Hearts before I came to live in Los Angeles though, that was two years ago. I met Mikey Lion at the first edition of Dirtybird Campout when he played after me, so you could say that Dirtybird connected us! The first Desert Hearts party I played at officially was at their Burning Man camp Pile Palace a year ago, then City Hearts, then Desert Hearts Festival. Mikey has been very kind to me, he’s a fun guy to make music with and I hope to kick it in the studio again soon!
On the other hand, I’ve been a Dirtybird fan since 2006 and friends with some of the birds for 8-9 years, Christian Martin was the first personal connection I had to the label, we met in Miami I think 2008 or 2009. Dirtybird has been a huge part of my life and has influenced my music and career moves. It played a big part in my decision to build a better future for myself in California as well.. kind of acting like a substitute family. Big ups to Claude Vonstroke for taking a chance on me and advising me to get my booty over the pond to SoCal.
Let’s talk about your Slothacid Tour for a second, specifically what Slothacid is. I find that name hilarious but have no idea what it means. I know that you love sloths, but is there any other meaning behind it?
Since I’ve used a sloth logo for my warehouse parties in LA for a year and a half, the sloth has mutated itself into a spirit animal that has been increasingly associated with my artist persona, even though I didn’t plan or push this at all at the beginning. Now fans tag me in sloth pix every day, wear sloth onesies to shows, or gift me sloth swagger! In the last 5 days I got: a sloth doll from Costa Rica, sloth rings, a t-shirt with a print of a sloth sitting on a burger, a sloth hat; the promoters at La Cave in Costa Mesa made Zootopia sloth masks for the crowd, and Damascus designed limited edition Slothacid t-shirts that I gave out at Dirtybird Campout. It’s insane haha.
Sloths are an endangered species of friendly, chill creatures who like to sleep a lot and seem to live happily in the moment — qualities I can relate to. Especially today in our performance-driven society that often advocates a reality which seems to be all about money and working a million hours a week to pay for overpriced rent and food, not being satisfied with what you have and constantly wanting more, elbowing your competition out of your way, being triggered negatively by social media, taking our unfiltered streams of consciousness out on our various online profiles, mining “likes” to validate ourselves into happiness for about two seconds. Sloths don’t care about any of that and show us that life can be enjoyable too when it’s simple and slow.
The legend goes that magic sloth candy blew minds during my set at Desert Hearts Festival 2017, the term was originally coined by my promoter friend of mine.. after which I started using the term “Slothacid” to describe the style of electronic music that I like to play out at festivals and clubs: a mix of groovy, emotional, weird, psychedelic sound with tough beats that hopefully will take you on a journey through space-time.
What city are you most looking forward to for the rest of your stops? I’ll be at your show tomorrow night in Denver!
I can’t wait to play again in SF, this time headlining the Dirtybird Quarterly at Mezzanine! Also can’t wait for my shows in NYC, LA, Denver, Seattle, Detroit, Orlando and Santa Barbara on Halloween weekend, and London UK on Halloween! I’m also looking forward to DJ in some cities I’ve never been before, like Portland and Albuquerque. Might have to visit Heisenberg’s house over there. In the meantime, see you tomorrow in Denver!
Catch the rest of Sacha Robotti’s Slotchacid Tour at a city near you:
10/20/2017 – San Francisco @ Mezzanine (DB Quarterly)
10/21/2017 – Portland, OR @ No Vacancy
10/26/2017 – Detroit, MI @ Grasshopper Underground
10/27/2017 – Albuquerque, NM @ Effex
10/28/2017 – Santa Barbara, CA @ EOS Lounge
10/29/2017 – Orlando, FL @ Elixir
11/3/2017 – El Paso, TX @ Club Here I Love You
11/4/2017 – Phoenix, AZ @ Monarch
11/18/2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey
12/2/2017 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall