By: Jacki Moon
Earlier this month, Euphoria Festival showcased both international acts and rising talent in its biggest year to date; it also brought out some of Austin’s locally based electronic music pioneers who are doing amazing things on a much larger scale.
Amongst that list of local bass heroes is Derek VanScoten, better known as D.V.S*, an Austin-based producer and guitarist who has been spreading his work in the creative community through many diverse avenues.
Derek played a set on Sunday evening of the festival, which also happened to be his annual 25th birthday. Though his set was only an hour long, it conquered a lot of euphonic territory with his remixes to classics, “Because” by The Beatles and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, blended with his remixes of modern dance floor favorites by Odesza and Bassnectar. Derek’s adorable 22-month old daughter and wife joined him on-stage for a song, creating a beautiful family moment for the crowd to share.
I caught up with Derek after his set to chat about all of the diverse projects he’s been creating lately, while his happy daughter roamed around the area. It’s definitely not every day that you get to interview a talented producer while their adorable and well-behaved daughter sits in, so that was an awesome experience in and of itself.
Derek and I chatted about his upcoming workshop at Alex and Allyson Grey’s COSM, his recent music production for a Sundance film, his collaborative track with the delightfully eccentric Space Jesus, and how being a father has shaped his artistic mentality.
D.V.S*: Ya, actually I was just talking about this with Eliot Lipp [Who played the set after D.V.S*]. Three years ago we played a show together on my birthday in Philly. I was like ‘hey what’s up with you and my birthday’?
The Untz: You’ve got your little girl, Xyla, here with you today. Does she like festivals?
D.V.S*: Yes, she’s been to a couple. She was at Euphoria last year, as well, actually.
The Untz: You played Euphoria last year. What do you think about the changes this year?
D.V.S*: I think it’s great. They really made this the year to make people notice them on a national level. They’ve done a great job with that. I think it’s hard to break from a local event to a national one. It’s even international this year; they had European acts here as well like Satin Jackets, a Nu Disco guy, from Belgium, and they have Lane 8, a deep house producer from Berlin. They also had headliners that tour internationally like Thievery Corporation and Pretty Lights. They definitely stepped it up, so kudos to them.
The Untz: What’s been your favorite set this weekend so far?
D.V.S*: I really enjoyed Paper Diamond’s set and his new visuals. I’ve known him for a long time and I’ve watched his progression. Personally, I haven’t been making trap bangers, but I enjoy all styles and I really liked him. He was one of my favorites.
The Untz: You are going to be hosting a 3-day workshop at Alex and Allyson Grey’s COSM on producing and performing electronic music. When does that start?
D.V.S*: It’s June 17th-19th, which are the three days leading up to the Summer Solstice. So we’ll have full day workshops Wednesday through Friday, then I’m going to play their Solstice Party with Gaudi Saturday.
It’s their first workshop, so I’m totally honored that they thought of me to do it. They instigated it, because a few people in their infrastructure had seen me perform before, and thought I was the perfect candidate for it. It was cool to get the invited; I didn’t solicit that at all.
The Untz: Can people still sign up to take the workshop?
D.V.S*: Yes, people have already begun signing up but there is still room left.
I’m excited. It’s going to be all genres and styles and its going to be geared toward both those who just want to produce and not play live, as well as those who are more interested in just DJing; there will be something for everyone there. We’re going to have games and different things outside that integrate electronic music and nature. It’s going to be a real mix of things and I’m excited for that.
The Untz: Is this open to anyone, or are there experience prerequisites?
D.V.S*: It doesn’t matter, because everyone can learn from everybody. For example, I’ve hung out with the founders of Ableton and asked them questions about their product that they can’t even answer. It’s cool, because it’s such a vast platform that everybody can learn from everybody on. Someone could open it up for the first time and have a realization that enlightens all of us on day two.
The Untz: You recently did a collaboration track called “Slomosapian” with Space Jesus on Dopplebangers. What was it like working with him?
D.V.S*: He’s hilarious. My first time ever playing in Philly was in 2011, and we played together. It was one of his first shows too, so we go back. We have a very unspoken relationship; we don’t give each other any verbal guidance at all. The way we approach music is very different in many ways so it’s a very nice juxtaposition. It’s almost like how pineapple and pizza doesn’t seem like a good combination until you try it and then you realize it’s fuckin’ awesome.
I was on tour in August and I went to his studio, and he said here’s a tune, plug in and I’m going to go upstairs…no guidance. He came down half an hour later, heard it, and was like holy shit!
The Untz: Are you currently working on any other tracks or releases?
D.V.S*: I was just talking to my wife about this today. I’m at a very interesting place where there are a lot of question marks that I’m totally ok with.
I scored a film with Sundance earlier this year called “In Football We Trust” [which got bought by ESPN]. They actually approached me to do one tune and they loved it, so they had me produce five more and I ended up scoring half the movie. Then they brought me up to Sundance to play the premiere’s after party. This was unexpected stuff and it was super inspiring. That really gave me a new perspective on composing and how many different places I can compose for. A lot of the stuff I’ve been doing in the studio isn’t really dance floor material for D.V.S*. But, it’s also nice because I’ve been playing a lot of other people’s material live that inspires me for the dance floor and then doing re-edits of riffing live guitar over it and I feel like I’ve had some of my most successful shows that way. I’m not stressing out about producing five new songs; I’m just combing through the Internet for music that gels with my sound; I really like that. I’ll have sets where I only play 25% of my own material, but it sounds like all me because I go through and edit it and find room for guitar.
It’s a really interesting place to be that I’m really at peace with.
The Untz: Are you going to tour at all this festival season?
D.V.S*: Yes, I’m playing Lightning in Bottle, and I’m doing the weekend COSM and I have some stuff lined up on the East Coast in July and August. I’m going pretty easy, but I’ll be out there a few times a month. I want to stay in the studio a bit more.
The Untz: Is there anything else you want to add about your music, your birthday, or your beautiful family?
D.V.S*: It’s great to be here. I’m grateful for it. I used to be very hungry for gigs and working everyday to kick down doors. But since I’ve become a dad, I’ve become way more chill about it and letting things naturally unfold instead of forcing everything. And as a result, most of my gigs have been way better. That’s the message: don’t force anything.
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