John C: At what age were you first introduced to techno, and what in particular about the genre stood out to you?
Construct: I was introduced to techno pretty late in my life actually. I played bass guitar starting at 12 so I was really into metal and things like that, but in high school I started to discover electro, especially French electronic artists like Kavinsky, Danger, Mr. Oizo, and Surkin. They were all really dark, raw and filled with energy. I think I finally found and fell in love with techno about 7 years ago. I loved the way the tracks didn’t tell you what to do or think or anything; it felt like just me and music with my brain able to travel. I think that’s what always stood out for me. It was music that let your brain take you to a place rather than force you into a specific direction or feeling.
John C: When did you first decide you wanted to begin producing and performing techno yourself?
Construct: Well I started producing really just 5 years ago, I think. I broke my back in a snowboarding accident while at school and being stuck in a bed for a couple months with little to do gave me a lot of time to work on Ableton and really get my head wrapped around it. I had always messed with it, especially after starting to DJ, but when I was really able to sit down and learn on my own I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I think the first real show where techno became something that would never leave was my first show with my buddy Jack where we played for a big crowd. We got brought to a venue by Jessica Fenner who runs Apart and we really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, but that night really showed me the love and passion that I have, I would say that was definitely the moment I knew this was something I needed to pursue.
John C: For performance, you had opted for live performance as opposed to traditional DJ performances. What about performing live appeals to you?
Construct: Honestly I think the biggest thing for me is that it’s me up there; the music, feeling, and everything is a part of me rather than tracks someone else produced. I love to DJ but there is just something really special about knowing you can change the whole atmosphere by adding a simple sound or hat or just something extra. I originally started using Traktor when I started to DJ and it was maybe only 2 months later that I bought a Maschine and started to use that with it. Pretty shortly after that I really started to get into production seriously and the possibility of a live set really started to take shape. I don’t know how to describe it, there’s just something special I always feel playing live, it’s a completely different thing for me than DJing.
John C: Can you describe your average set up for a show?
Construct: So average setup is 3 cases of modular and Analog RYTM. I recently pulled the trigger and got a Prophet 6 and that has quickly made its way into my setup for every show. The setup takes up a lot of space, which is always a problem, but I think it gives me a great array of sounds and the freedom to take things in any direction I think the show could go. I was originally not going to bring the Prophet out for anything and it was going to just stay safe and sound in the studio, but for lush pads and things like that I don’t think there is anything that can match it, at least for me. I also have a small mixer and a delay and reverb pedal to add something extra, but other than that its just a lot of lights, cables and chaos.
John C: Modular synthesis seems to be the centerpiece to your performances. How did you go about designing your modular set-up and do you think it will always be an evolving process?
Construct: For sure! Yeah, it’s definitely something that is always evolving, I mean week to week even. There’s a great community of people that you can buy and trade with so its pretty easy to change things out. As I work with different modules I start to see what I really need and what I can do without. I pretty much designed my setup for techno. It was originally a thing just for making the strangest noises possible in the studio but that didn’t last long and I almost immediately started to take it out for live additions to DJ sets. The top case is mostly for effects and atmospheres, bottom is my main synth lines, filters and some other goodies and then the third case is strictly for percussion, I call it my Mutated 909. I don’t think the process will ever stop, as long as the builders keep making amazing stuff, I’ll keep trying new things out. I’m always looking for a new sound to throw in there and see what happens. It’s a really expensive but really rewarding game of trial and error.
John C: As the growth of mainstream electronic music has lead to a lot of criticisms concerning what is a real ‘DJ,’ many are opting to bypass the criticism completely by adopting a live or live-hybrid performance style. Do you think live performances will become more commonplace over time?
Construct: I definitely think they will. I mean, I even think about when I was really starting to get into DJing a few years ago there were a lot of guys out there that were doing live stuff, but it wasn’t one of those things that was really easy for me to see or experience. Now I’m seeing almost one live set on a lineup which, honestly, I think is great. I would love to see more and more of them, not necessarily as a way to bypass criticism, because, believe me, there is plenty to go around for live sets, but I really think of them as a way to express yourself in a much different and often times more organic way. Not all the bells and whistles that are polished and clean and everything sounds nice, there will be mistakes and you might have problems, but the rewards are a completely unique performance.
John C: As an artist residing in Milwaukee, how would you describe Milwaukee’s electronic music scene?
Construct: You know it’s a wonderful place actually in many respects and in some it can be frustrating. It’s strange because we’re situated kinda in the middle of 3 very large techno communities with Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit, but we don’t have a lot of big acts come through. Milwaukee is much more of an ‘EDM’ crowd: there’s maybe 1 or 2 places that host larger acts but they tend to most of the time play it safe and go with what they know works. The underground though, as cliché as it sounds, is one of my favorite things about the city. There is an amazing community of people throwing seriously proper shows that really make the city come alive in my opinion. The crew at Plush, which is my home base, The guys from Close Up of the Serene, and a few other crews really try to bring a lot of different stuff to the city and take chances. Bremenhain, which is one of my favorite events, is definitely my favorite dance party in the city. It’s a super small venue but always has an entire floor of dancing, sweating, screaming and loving individuals that really are there for the music and it shows. I will always be from Milwaukee, no matter where I go Milwaukee and the people I’ve met through music there will always be what made me, me.
John C: If you the ability to collaborate with one techno producer, who would that producer be and why?
Construct: Oh wow this is a tough one! I guess if I had to pick I would choose Function. I was always drawn to stuff that is more minimal and does a lot with a little and I think he’s a perfect example of an intellectually stimulating sound. Just a bunch of well groomed elements that fit together perfectly. I saw him play at Smart Bar and that was definitely one of the highlights of my life.
John C: Speaking of productions, you have an upcoming release on Klectik Records. Can you tell us a little bit about the release?
Construct: I do! Yeah, so Jason was nice enough to extend a hand and ask me to release on his label. Honestly I’ve been kind of taking a break from producing to work on the live set and really get it polished but when Jason asked me I couldn’t say no. Its definitely a spacey weird one with lots of heavy elements as well. Submerge and Hiroko Yamamura were kind enough to do a remix for me and both of them are absolutely amazing producers and I was floored when I found out they were going to do a remix. Its going to be coming out January 27 and Jason and I we’ll be doing a little thing at Spybar to celebrate the occasion. I really am thankful to Jason for putting trust in me, It always means a lot to me but Jason has really gone above and beyond to make me feel comfortable, welcomed, and to help me further my career and I am forever grateful.
John C: If you had to describe your music in words to someone who has never heard it before, how would you do so?
Construct: I would describe it as two aliens traveling through a wormhole on LSD and landing on planet rave. I’ve been extremely influenced by space and Sci-Fi stuff so I like to think of my performances as an attempt to contact extraterrestrial beings.
John C: What other genres of music do you enjoy and do you find them to have an influence upon your creative process?
Construct: I think honestly the biggest influence to my sound other than techno has been Psy-Trance; it sounds kinda weird but the noises and space and brain melting that goes on in those tracks is mind blowing. I am not one that can listen only to it, end on end, but there are some huge influences within it that have made a great impact on my sound. Also 80’s Sci-Fi movies were another huge influence, not sure if that’s a genre, but its definitely something that helped me to find my love for weird sounds and noise.
John C: What do you hope to accomplish as an artist over the next year or so?
Construct: I think my biggest goal will be to travel a bit: It might happen, it might not, and its hard with so much gear, but I would love to take the show on the road a bit more and get the sound out there. I also am going to take some more time to work in the studio and get some more tracks finished. It’s hard to not walk in there and jam, and next thing I know it’s 8 hours later and I haven’t recorded anything. I want to take a more live approach to making music, more playing and recording rather than writing, so I think those will be the things I’m going to work on most. Overall though I’m really just looking forward to making more music and learning more. I think creativity for me is a constant struggle with self-doubt and self-worth, and this year I really want to prove to myself that my music can hang with the best, I guess we’ll see what happens!
Want to see Construct perform Live in Chicago?
Attend the upcoming performance at Spybar with Chicago artist Jason Patrick.
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