Seth Troxler is one of dance music’s most recognisable characters, the guy with the big hair and the even bigger personality who doesn’t take himself, or life, too seriously; a straight-up human being who plays by his own rules. These qualities, along with his passion and seemingly endless knowledge of house and techno, have established him as a figurehead for a new wave of underground electronic music that flies in the face of the disposable idiocy of mainstream ‘EDM’.
“I’ve always been kinda bat-shit crazy”, explains Seth. With his sporadic dreadlocks and well-twizled ‘tache, he comes across part streetwise Lothario, part Napoleon Dynamite’s creepy older cousin. Descended from a family of cowboys and Baptist preachers, he’s part African-American, part Egyptian, part Cherokee Indian but while his heritage is all-American his global outlook transcends his small-city Mid Western origins.
Seth was born in Kalamazoo, a college town in the centre of Michigan half way between Detroit and Chicago, when his mum was just eighteen. His parents split when he was two but soon after his mum met his step dad who hosted a local radio show in his hometown called ‘Fade2Black’. “He’d play hip hop and early house,” recalls Seth, “but after midnight it would switch over to a show called ‘The Love Zone’ which was straight up fuck-jams. His DJ name was ‘2 Fine’ which was also his car registration plate. He was my father figure.” A pre-teen Seth would be allowed to stay up late and sit with him in the studio. “Being surrounded by that much good music from such an early age there was never an option for me not to become a DJ.” When Seth was fourteen his mum married his step dad and moved to the outskirts of Detroit, “This was a really big jump for me, losing all my friends and moving to such a big city.” A year later his house burnt down and he lost everything apart from, by a strange twist of fate, his turntables and mixer that he’d left at a friend’s house. “After that I dropped out of sport at school and decided to spend all my free time playing records.” His step dad was into early Chicago house like Dance Mania and Trax but living in Detroit he started going to underground techno raves. “I went to the same high school as Matt Dear and a friend of mine’s brother used to go raving with him.” Soon after moving to Detroit Seth threw his first illegal party and booked Magda to play for him. At fifteen he landed a job as techno buyer in Detroit’s ‘Melodies & Memories’ record store working alongside deep house legends Theo Parrish and Mike Huckaby.
Through working in the record store he met Ryan Crosson, who would come in to buy vinyl from him, and through Ryan met Lee Curtiss and in turn Shaun Reeves who used to throw many of the most notorious illegal raves in Detroit at the time. It wasn’t long before Seth had moved in with Lee and the four found themselves throwing their now infamous ‘Tesh Club’ parties in Lee’s basement (a name taken from the German pronunciation of techno as ‘teshno’). It was there that the magic really began to happen; experiments in psychedelic substances and scientific examinations into the history of house and techno brought about a deep bond between the four, laying the foundations of what would later become their Visionquest partnership. This honeymoon period came to an abrupt halt when Shaun got robbed after a successful New Years Eve party and decided to quit Detroit and make a fresh start in Berlin. It was only a matter of time before Seth, Ryan and Lee followed suit.
Moving to Berlin was the making of Seth both as a DJ and producer. Just a week after his arriving in the city, having only just graduated from high school, Seth found himself booked to play infamous Panorama Bar alongside Omar-S. He flourished in the permissive German city, and was soon resident at Club der Visionäre, as well as playing regularly at clubs all over world like fabric (London), Watergate (Berlin), Output (New York), Warung (Brazil), Womb (Tokyo), Tenax (Florence), Robert Johnson (Frankfurt), The Rex (Paris), Fuse (Brussels), The Electric Pickle (Miami), plus festivals like The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Glastonbury, Coachella, Sonar and Burning Man. Meanwhile, in the studio he has collaborated with such dance luminaries as Matthew Dear, Art Department, Tiefschwarz, Deetron, dOP and Subb-an in addition to groundbreaking remix work done as Visionquest, who have remixed tracks by Tracy Thorn and David Lynch (yes him). Together their Visionquest project has spawned one of the most exciting techno labels of recent years, plus a multi-deck DJ spectacular that saw the four of them rolling out their Visionquest Thirteen world tour throughout the whole of 2013. The combination of these achievements, alongside constant touring, have resulted in Seth being voted number three, then two and then one in the Resident Advisor Top 100 DJs poll between 2009-2012, and since then he has consistently remained within the top 5 DJs as voted by Resident Advisor fans.
Last year, Seth consolidated his position at the top of the DJ ladder through his ‘Seth Troxler Goes Clubbing’ concept, returning to those nightclubs that were integral in moulding him into the DJ he is today: with quarterly appearances at fabric (London), Trouw (Amsterdam), Output (New York) and his usual 10 week residency at Circo Loco across the summer. He also began a new project with The Martinez Brothers – Tuskegee – aimed at shining a light on Afro-Latino American dance culture, as well as launching two other record labels: the dance floor focused ‘Play It Say It’, and indie rock label ‘Soft Touch’. The year also saw Seth return to the studio: the Tuskegee label was launched in true analogue style with a raw collaboration between Seth and The Martinez Brothers, titled ‘Space & Time’. Since then Troxler has also teamed up with production partner Phil Moffa for a release ‘Rogue Music EP’ out on Hypercolour at the beginning of the new year, as well as finishing a number of solo productions to be released throughout 2015.
This coming year will see Seth expanding his Tuskegee brand with The Martinez Brothers, taking it beyond the confines of club culture and into the wider populace, with the aim of introducing the kids of ethnic backgrounds to a world that they may not have thought existed. Simultaneously, the Tuskegee crew will be touring with a number of shows at various venues across the world. In spring, the JESuS concept will come to life: an experiment perfectly in tune with the dance music zeitgeist, JESuS is the summation of four of the biggest players in the contemporary DJ world: Jackmaster, Eats Everything, Skream und Seth Troxler. Kicking things of with four dates in the USA sandwiched between the Coachella weekends, and following up with a six date bus tour through the heart of Europe. Coupled with innovative video documentation of both legs of the tour, JESuS looks set to be the most unique clubbing experience of 2015. In addition to these two mammoth projects (as well as the usual list of DNA club shows and summer festival appearances) Seth also has plans to expand his Smokey Tails restaurant brand and open a new venture – Disco Dogs – which will be selling traditional all-American hot dogs from within the heart Old Street roundabout in London.