Photo: Press (WTCHCRFT)
Acid has always been about one particular sound and has never been a genre by itself, but that alone doesn’t explain its long shelf life – after all, how many that came out in the past five years have the word “reese” in them? In some way, the sound of the TB-303 stands for a certain promise that three young men discovered by mere accident some time in the 1980s in Chicago: if you misuse consumer technology just rigidly enough, magic happens.
The legend about how Phuture’s seminal “Acid Trax” came to be and how an enthusiastic Ron Hardy convinced his crowd to embrace the sound has been told so many times it has become somewhat stale. However, for many young people who hear the actual sound for the very first time, it is as potent as ever. After the blaring sound of the Roland TB-303 landed in London and Berlin’s Schöneberg district via Ibiza and has been reinterpretated many times, it still captivates those who have never before heard such sounds – unusual, alien even, musical, but something more; something that before seemed to be unthinkable in music. There’s a reason why DJ Pierre, Earl “Spanky” Smith Jr. and Herbert Jackson decided to call themselves Phuture, after all.
But how do you manage to keep a sound like that fresh three and a half decades later? When it comes to WTCHCRFT, the answer is simple: by keeping it raw. The New York producer cut his teeth as a hip hop producer, but has recently put out a slew of releases that are marked by the sense of immediacy and punch that define all great acid releases – a feeling that the future, and hopefully a better one, is just around the corner if we all just keep on embracing the alien sounds of tomorrow. Having just released an EP for Posthuman’s I Love Acid label that was flanked by an extraordinary remix by Elisa Bee, he now steps up to the deck to deliver a mix for our Groove podcast, the – of course – 303th in the series. Featuring mostly recent releases, it highlights how a sound whose main ingredients have changed little over the years can still push the boundaries in the right hands. In the eternal words of Maurice Joshua: “when the acid hits the soul / it makes you lose control / of your body.”
First off, how have you been doing these past one and a half years?
I don’t even know anymore! (laughs) Music is going fantastically, life is weird though – still trying to figure that one out!
The club scene in New York is rebooting and you already have played gigs. How has the experience been so far?
It’s been absolutely insane, lines as far as the eye can see, but the parties are incredible and the DJ’s here in New York City are nothing short of amazing. I feel so blessed to share a stage and scene with so many talented people. And at least in terms of the “underground” I’ve been seeing a lot more black, brown, women and trans folks on lineups and I’m excited. There is always room for improvement in that area though.
You’ve grown up in the suburbs of New York and reportedly took up making music in reaction to the boredom you felt in that setting. What kind of music was important for you in your early development?
I definitely was bored growing up, but I would say it was more of like a natural progression into music. I just feel like this is something I was always going to be doing sooner or later, it was totally unavoidable in my mind. In terms of things that are important to me, coming up I used to listen to and still do listen to metal, progressive rock, hip hop, and of course techno and house and all the different mutations that came out of it!
What did your first steps as a producer look like?
The first thing I ever got was a Roland SP-404SX sampler to make hip hop instrumentals, and then as soon as electronic music made its way into my life I switched over to FL Studio and the rest is history. I still use FL Studio to this day, along with my hardware.
While you have experimented with many different genres, you have focused strongly on acid in the past years. What drew you to the sound as a listener and why did you start putting such a heavy emphasis on it in your own productions?
I’ve always been drawn to the beautiful sound of the TB-303, but It just never really occurred to me that maybe it’s something I wanted to make until fairly recently. There’s just something so lovely about the sound! (laughs) If you could hear inside my mind at the time of writing, you’d hear screams and acid squelches. It’s just where I’m at right now.
The acid sound has quite a long history, however the basic formula has barely changed in the past three and a half decades. What potential do you see in it from nowadays’ perspective?
I guess maybe I disagree! I think I see a lot of people doing very cool things with the acid sound right now from acid house to acid techno to acid electro. I see a lot of potential in the sound, but I guess we’ll just have to keep dancing and find out! (laughs)
In a lot of your work, you combine the acid sound with electro rhythms. What draws you to this particular combination?
I think a lot of that has to do with my background in rap and hip hop which, from my understanding, are directly linked to electro music. So It feels like I’m really following my roots here and that feels great.
Your latest release was your vinyl debut on Posthuman’s I Love Acid label and features a remix by Elisa Bee. How did the release come about?
Oooweee, okay, so I came out with a song called “ACAB ACID” during the [Black Lives Matter] protests here in the States and around the world. Somehow Posthuman found it and hit me up and we became friends. We were sending music back and forth and I sent him the track “Hoom” and then he asked me to do a vinyl. Then Elisa Bee – bless her soul, incredible producer and incredible person – did the remix of “All D Time On Mi Mind” and she smashed It !
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
ACID ACID ACID 303 takeover – let’s GO!
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
I’m gonna keep making music keep playing shows and then maybe all the other parts of my life will fall into place! And if not, I’ll always have music. Big ups!
Stream: WTCHCRFT – Groove Podcast 303
01. Posthuman – Inside You
02. Lauren Flax – Endless Summer
03. Black Girl/White Girl – Phaeses
04. Alien D – Basic Acid
05. WTCHCRFT – All D Time On Mi Mind (Elisa Bee Remix)
06. WTCHCRFT – Hoom
07. Pizzaboy – Just Stop It
08. DHIPCON – WBLE
09. Alinka – State of Mind
10. Elisa Bee – The Same
11. Privacy – Make Yr Transition
12. Thomas P. Heckmann – Vocoded History
13. Etcher – Pharoah
14. DHIPCON – Mend
15. LA-4A – Punishment
16. Elisa Bee – Melt
17. Black Girl/White Girl – 777 Squadron
18. Hermeth – Strictly Acid
19. WTCHCRFT – All D Time On Mi Mind
20. Ben Pest – Much More Than a Test
21. Pizzaboy – No Affection
22. Jerome Hill – Consumed
23. Posthuman – Meat Market