US house and techno producer/DJ Sacha Robotti on what influences him.
Sacha Robotti has been killing it across the pond in the US. The producer blurs the lines between house and techno in high energy, fun tunes that have been popping off in the clubs. His sound has been picked up and supported on a range of labels including Dirtybird, Octopus and This Ain’t Bristol. He had a stellar year in 2019, launching his own imprint Slothacid and a massive open till close tour across the States.
He’s following up on a big close of the last decade with an even bigger opener in the new. Fresh releases include a huge EP Whistle Trippin with appearances from Steve Darko and JTJ and a belter forthcoming on Octopus. All very different tracks showing how versatile Sacha Robotti is both as a producer and provides a glimpse into the insanity he pulls during his sets.
His first release this year landed on his own Slothacid, the Whistle Trippin with Steve Darko on 7th Feb and is sick. He kicks things off with the EP’s title track. A glitchy punchy electro banger with tongue in cheek samples from an infamous internet meme to keep things fresh. Following up is the bouncy ‘Elimate’ where JTJ joins the collaboration. A prime time smasher which progressive tones and rough grinds will have clubs jumping. Closing things off is ‘The Inside’. A hypnotic techno brain spinner packed with mind-bending synths and effects. Sacha Robotti himself confirms that all three of these tracks “are club-tested bona fide dancefloor highlights whenever we play them”
Ahead of his huge year that looks primed to blow up, we sat Sacha Robotti down and asked him to share with us the things that influence him. With such a broad style of music we knew the inspiration came from somewhere. Jump in and see what motivates the crazy musical mind of Robotti.
Dunja is 11 years older than me, and from the moment I was born I heard her practicing the piano for 6 hours a day in my native Brussels. She’s the reason I picked up the Cello when I was 7, and we also played duos together. Now she’s a piano professor at a Uni in Germany. She’s my biggest supporter!
My Cello teacher
Monique taught me most of what I know about classical music, about playing in an amateur orchestra, and about music theory. She was lovely but also very strict, so I tried my best at every lesson. A composer friend of hers wrote a piece for Cello just for me, which I played with an amateur chamber orchestra. Monique thought I was so talented that it audibly broke her heart when I told her I didn’t want to become a pro Cellist.
The capital of Belgium was an amazing place for me to discover musical subculture. For such a small sized European country, the quality and quantity of wicked electronic music – and actually music of all genres – was remarkable; there were always lots of local acts as well as international superstars stopping by. The first club I went to was Fuse, I was around 15 at the time in ’95 and I sneaked in with a fake ID. I would deck shark artists who’ve become some of my faves to this day, like Dave Clarke, Jeff Mills, Sven Vath, Green Velvet, Surgeon, Ben Sims, and many more.
When I was 15, I lost my mom to cancer after a 4-year battle. It hit me so hard that I couldn’t bear listening to Cello, let alone touch this instrument that had made us so close. Instead I started going to techno parties and raves – the louder and faster the better – doing graffiti and listening to French hip hop, smoking, and being a creature of the night. It was like drowning out negative feelings with this relentless energy. I had found a new family in the form of my friends, who I started playing vinyl with and progressively got more and more obsessed with playing and buying records.
My Rave Fam
If it wasn’t for my homies, I would probably have gone down a different path. We were creative together too, making music and art. We also started experimenting with organic psychedelics and hit so many parties and musical events together, threw our own small parties, bought turntables collectively, and got into the Belgian nightlife together. We also rode our bikes to my first festival, Torhout / Werchter 1996 where I saw acts like Underworld, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, David Bowie, Rage Against The Machine, Sepultura, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork and more.
This Irish dude called Danny from my school taught me how to beat mix. He had the sickest techno records and I spent many afternoons with him in his attic mixing Djax Up Beats, Missile & Dance Mania records. I haven’t seen him in 22 years and I don’t know where he’s at. Danny if you read this, holla!
I watched “Trainspotting” and was strangely fascinated with the accent and the story that took place in this medieval city, so I decided to study architecture in Edinburgh in 1998. This is where I bought my first pair of Technics. I practiced for hours and spent my days at record shops like “Underground Solushn” rather than at Art College. Shoutout to Gavin for selling me dope wax and always being kind to 18-year-old me! I also threw my first party in an actual club in Edinburgh with my mate Charlie. In 1999 I won a DJ competition sponsored by Vestax and got voted best out of 500 bedroom DJs, with a vinyl routine involving techno and ghetto tech. I knew then that I could handle turntables.
I moved to Berlin in 1999 on an architecture study exchange and stayed for about 15 years. I had been visiting the city in the 90s a lot, since my sister lived there. I was lucky to experience the original Tresor, E-Werk, the original Ostgut pre-Berghain days, Bar 25. Among many other things, Berlin influenced me to start a music career as 1/2 of the Robosonic DJ team in 2005. It was my home base for 1000s of gigs in the city and abroad, a stepping-stone that helped me travel to 40+ countries with my music, from Colombia to Lebanon, Australia to Egypt. We founded a label to release vinyl and an album on CD for our first steps in the music industry. As Robosonic I remixed Kerri Chandler, Eddie Amador, Johnny Corporate, Alexander Robotnick and more. We landed a few Beatport hits and produced house with original features by the likes of KRS One, Masta Ace, Jeru The Damaja. I studied a master under Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk, and I launched my solo career under my real name... Just to mention a few things that happened for me in Berlin.
I was working in the country for 6 months in 2005 as an architect. To get there, I flew to Pakistan and took a cab through the tribal area to Afghanistan with two policemen armed with Kalashnikovs by my side. My boss who hired me was a German architect working for the EU, and I had a Pashto driver who was also my translator, both of whom I travelled with through the country to various building sites in an unmarked Toyota. Tasks consisted mainly of surveying, designing customs buildings and a border station, liaising between the government and various local Afghani men of influence, warlords, military bases, police chiefs, as well as starting off the main building site in Torkham with demolition and laying foundations. While spending the nights in my safehouse in Kabul, I was religiously on the computer making beats on Cubase to distract myself while Apaches were flying in the distance. When I came back to Berlin, I decided to quit architecture fully and become a DJ and producer full time.
The first time I went to Cali was in 2003 for an architecture exchange with SCIArc, located in Downtown LA. It was a three-month project which consisted of me and two friends building a “homeless shelter” on a nearby parking lot in Skid Row. It was constructed out of material we found on the street and wrapped with a green water repellent fabric, and it fit on the dimensions of one parking space. We lived in it for a couple of months once it was finished. At the end of 2015 I moved to Santa Monica, after playing the first Dirtybird Campout where I met this guy Joe who, while we got drunk together on the dance floor, offered me a room to crash at his moms house for as long as I needed to get on my feet in LA. After 10 years of Robosonic, I wanted to give a solo career a try, so I left Berlin with one suitcase and my studio computer, and I only had one show lined up. It was a huge gamble. Luckily, I had released an EP on Dirtybird before, as well as collaborations with artists like Kill Frenzy or the bird man himself, as I had been a fan of the music since 2006. Claude Vonstroke was supportive of my move to the USA, he told me that I could have a real chance if I put myself out there. It’s been a wild ride since, I’ve played many festivals in the States that I only had dreamt of, I DJed with people I worshipped since I was a teen and became friends with some of my musical idols. For now, I call California my home of choice, and I hope I’ll make many more wonderful memories here!
Sacha Robotti’s latest release, Whistle Trippin is out now on his Slothacid imprint - Buy
online - Facebook - Twitter - SoundCloud - Instagram