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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bobby B on His Neu/Kraut-Inspired Single 'Manchester' and Quitting Christian Camp

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2015 at 10:57 AM

  • Portrait by Nazareth Violante

It’s hard to imagine that DJ and producer Bobby B’s earliest foray into music-making came by playing a fiddle at Christian camp. Currently part of the 100% Silk label, the former Bay Area resident first garnered attention in 2011 with his debut EP Smooth Cruise, which demonstrated his penchant for creating flowing, feel-good disco house beats.

Four years and a move to the East Coast later, he’s released Clubspinning, an EP that continues to showcase his silky, minimal, and analog-based approach to making music. We caught up with Bobby B about RA profile, Bay Area must-eats, and his summer reading list. He returns to the Bay to play a live PA set this Saturday [8/22] for Haçeteria SF at Underground SF.

Give us a brief history of how you got into making music.

I got my start playing fiddle at Christian camp when I was 7 or 9. I was really into it, but one day I heard Michael Jackson's "Beat It" on the radio and I was never the same. Soon after that I lost interest in the fiddle and my teacher, Father McQuire, was really upset. By the time I moved out of my parent’s house, I converted to Judaism, but they wanted me to play the fiddle too, so I quit. It was really too bad because the girls there were really hot. At some point after college I sold my fiddle and got a music sampler from a second hand store and the rest is history.

A lot of your tunes pay homage to '80s and '90s house. If you go back in time or to the future to make music in any era, which one would you choose?
I would probably choose an era before recording technology came about, like the 1920s. That way I wouldn't be expected to record anything and I could just hop on trains and hobo about the country doing performances.

We couldn't help but notice your RA profile has keywords like "white wine," "paella" and "tomatoes." Are these your favorite foods or just how you like to describe the music?
I used to be really into Spanish food because I worked at the Spanish Table in Berkeley. It’s a cool store where you can get all kinds of cured meats, cheeses, and wine from Spain. They even have stuff from Morocco and Portugal, wow! I don’t cook paella anymore because I live in New York so I’m more into deli food.

Your first and latest release came out on 100% Silk. Everyone on that label seems to have an unique variety of artistic endeavors. What's the secret about becoming part of that label?
I think there is a serious misconception of what a "record label" means. It isn’t so much a tightly knit group of friends as it is a group of "producers" who communicate with the label but much of the time do not communicate with each other. I am and was friends with a lot of the artists from the early days of the label and they encouraged me to send in music. Then I met with the people who run the label and since we have maintained a good working relationship as well as a nice friendship. It’s much easier to trust people who you know personally and can have a laugh with. As far as the other artists "on" the label are concerned, I do not have direct connections with many of them so I can’t comment about their endeavors.

How about being part of the now-defunct Icee Hot collective?
The Icee Hot crew, on the other hand, is a tightly knit group of die-hard party animals. We meet up for beers at least once a week, play ping-pong, rap over each other's beats and get super blacked out and draw on each other's faces. We are also all super competitive and try to one up each other, always trying to get the best, biggest kick drum.

Can you tell us a little about your newest single, "Manchester"?
“Manchester” is a silly clumsy organ house track but I put a neu/kraut-inspired beat on it to make it weirder. I started it a long time ago but it was the last one to be finished.
Because you're coming back to the Bay this weekend, what are your definite must-eat places?
I guess I’m gonna eat some tacos, probably whatever my friends want to go. That one taco place on Bryant or Brannan and like 18th in the Mission…its like yellow; I can’t remember the name: "zalote" maybe? Or maybe just that one taco place where the employees wear white aprons and the ceiling is very tall and its always poppin’. I forgot the name of that one too.

Otherwise I’ll probably have some of my friend Cem's homegrown produce. He is the best farmer I know and I love eating his vegetables. He lives in Berkeley, but you can’t buy his produce. You got to be like, friends with him or something.

Describe your typical day off. What's your favorite thing to do when you're not making music?
When I’m off in the summer, I’ll try to eat watermelon and go to the beach. Then eat a big meal and play records at my house all night. In the winter I might go over to a friend’s house with heat and make food and make music. Maybe I’ll read a bit too if I have a good book.

Will you be showcasing any new jams at Haçeteria SF this weekend?
Yeah, almost every live set I do is new material. It’s kind of like more clubby than people are used to hearing me. I’ve left out those silly, not club songs.

Lastly, what's a question you often ask yourself that we didn't?
What are you reading? Wow, it’s so funny you asked! I’m reading Night Train to Lisbon which is pretty good, sensitive drama type of book. But I just finished The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and Dalgren by Samuel Delany. Both are rippers of science fiction. I recommend The Stars… if you are looking for some fun summer reading.
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Christina Li


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