If one thing can be said about producer Bobby Browser (the stage moniker for Andre Ferriera), it's that he knows his dance music history. The statement is somewhat obvious if you've had the pleasure of hearing his vintage-sounding, classic-house-inspired tracks. And when Behind the Beat had the chance to do a quick interview with the prolific beat maker, Ferriera rattled off not only iconic names from dance music history, but the years and locales where it all went down. His is a rare wealth of knowledge compared to most of the names and faces in today's over-saturated DJ/producer scene, so we'd like to stress that interested readers should take notes.
In other parts of the interview, Bobby Browser explained his background in music, what his involvement with the Partyeffects crew is all about, and why he could do without all of the "over-produced" music coming out lately. It's certainly one of the more informative and interesting interviews we've had so far. Make sure to check out his long list of upcoming live shows at the end of the piece, as well.
Describe your music in three words.
Simple, pumping, and respectful.
What first got you into producing music? How did that progress into what you make today?
Like many, I started playing guitar as part of a duo making krautrock/space/cosmic music, making repetitive music that changed slowly over time. I was never a good instrumentalist and couldn't write songs, but I understood how to use equipment and had a good ear. When I found out about minimalism and people like Terry Riley, it helped me understand a great deal about what I had been doing. Minimalism is central to dance music for the reason that it can induce altered states of consciousness through repetition and subtle variation over time. An example is for a good DJ to make the crowd "lose it," or forget the past and future and be completely absorbed in the music. In other words, living in the moment.
Your tunes have a patently old-school sound to them. Is that an intentional style choice?
I enjoy working in many styles, although the old-school sound is rooted very deep in my heart. Working in that style is my way of paying respect to the past -- something that I find many producers and DJs know little or nothing about. But it is dangerous to cling to old ways, to stick to something and never change. Because of that, I try to work in many styles and pull my favorite things from each.
What are some of your favorite pieces of music gear?
I can't say enough about the Korg Electribe series [of synthesizers]. They are inexpensive, very easy to use, and very tactile. They are "modern" pieces of equipment, but they work in a very "classic" or "primitive" way. While some may find them too basic, their limitations help focus or channel creative expression in a natural, human way. They also shine in a live performance setting, so there is no need to create a "live" rig to play "studio" tracks, because they are the same thing.
You also work with a group called Partyeffects. How do your solo tracks and the music you make with them differ?
Partyeffects is more of a collective. Most of us work solo. That goes for studio tracks and live sets. Sometimes we get together, but its usually hip-hop, electro, or dance focused. The solo stuff explores my relationship with music genres or, more generally, periods of time and space. For example: South Side Chicago 1988, Manchester and Balearic islands 1991, Den Haag 2001, Berlin 1994, etc.
Who are some of your favorite local producers/bands right now?
Locally, I like Eats Tapes, DJ Marnacle, Adeptus, C.L.A.W.S., JAWS, Bookworms, Roche, Mi Ami, Jonas Reinhardt, Prints, Robot Hustle, Kendig, and Steve Summers (East Coast now). Basically, I like artists that can play live well, move the crowd, and have done their homework.
I saw on your SoundCloud page you just uploaded a new EP called Flap Jack. What can you tell us about that?
Flapjack is a Chicago House-inspired EP made in an authentic style. It features classic Roland synthesizers and primitive production in an attempt to create a period sound, albeit with undeniable modern sensibilities. After a hard drive crashed last month, I decided to take my box of cassette jams and release them in small EPs. There are quiet a few, but I can't release them all at once.
What's a trend you're noticing in dance music that you're excited about? What's one you could do without?
I'm super excited to see that more and more people have an appreciation for music produced in the '90s. For many in the United States, it's a reminder of bad trance or rave music, watered-down alternative, new age and Kenny G. I think enough time has gone by so that it will be cool again, although it has always been cool in Europe. As far as things I could do without: dubstep, glitch, over-produced music, and electro-house. In general, music that sounds confused, uninformed, and bombastic. I try not to hate on anything too much anymore though.
What's on the horizon for Bobby Browser?
As many live shows as possible, one EP per month, a new chill/dub-techno/ambient project, hopefully a release with a mini domestic tour, and working on visuals for clubs.
Any advice for aspiring producers?
"It's not what you have, but what you do with it. And it's not what you do, but how you do it" - Moodymann at Redbull Music Academy
Bobby Browser's upcoming shows:
Friday, June 18 @ Li Po Lounge
Wednesday, June 23 @ The Knockout (DJ set)
Friday, June 25 @ Li Po Lounge (w/ Partyeffects)
Saturday, June 26, LoveTech @ Il Pirata (w/ Partyeffects)
Wednesday, June 30 @ Pissed Off Pete's