[Interview] Bluetech brings a positive message and dreamlike sounds to Terminal West.
Here at Bullet Music, we like to cover a wide range of sounds and styles. Bluetech is certainly one of the most interesting artists we've covered, far off the beaten path of mainstream electronic dance music. His blending of natural sonic elements and electronic instruments yields a sound that is both other-wordly and dreamy. We caught up with him at Terminal West and asked him a few questions about his music, work as an environmentalist, and advice for young artists. First, we'd like to mention Lucidea and Aligning Minds opened up the evening, with psychedelic and natural rhythms that warmed up the crowd gently. Nobody was going wild, but there were a few hippies who managed to throw some fancy footwork around the mysterious beats of both opening acts.
For people who don’t know you, can you briefly sum up what you do?
I’m a downtempo producer. I’ve been making records since 2003. So, downtempo, electro. I also make house and techno under various other names, but the chill stuff is what I’ve been known for and what keeps me on the road.
I know you’ve also done some work under the names Evan Marc and Evan Bartholomew.
Yeah, I started a label with Noah Pred called Thoughtless. He moved to Berlin, and the label kind of picked up and got way busier than I could keep on top of. Now he’s running that entirely. I don’t have as much involvement in the house and techno scene now.
You’ve talked about the struggle to make money as a musician which distracts you from time in the studio. What do you say to rising producers about that tension?
I think it’s a trade-off. People need to understand that if you really want to make money as a musician, you’re going to have to tour, and that means there are going to be sacrifices. Sacrifices like being around for weddings, and dinner parties, and baby showers. Catching up on real life with friends is not as easy when you’re a touring musician. I’ve been doing it long enough that I’ve been able to find a balance, but it took ten years before I was making an income that allowed me to not be on the road all the time. For some people it happens right away, and they’re headlining festivals and making tons of money, but I don’t think that’s the story for most people. There’s a lot of Tuesday nights in Richmond, Virginia in a sports bar, for years and years of my life trying to get myself out there and make it.
I found out about you through Rainforest Reverberation. I know a lot of the Bluetech project is focused around conservation. You could describe the Amazon Basin as the lung of this planet, and we have lung cancer. Do you think the cancer is terminal?
It’s hard to answer that question and not be a debbie downer. My experience in the Amazon, and what I saw says that we’re basically screwed. The oil interests, the mineral interests, the misappropriation of funds that are set aside for conservation. The political reality of where the money is actually going, even from the NGOs, when it gets to the Amazon is that there’s no regulation. It’s inevitable, when people are hungry and a country’s economic policy requires they give access to their resources, which is the Amazon rainforest. Then they’re going to coose to sell that rainforest. It’s more politically expedient to have income and blame it on the world economy than it is to preserve something that has more intrinsic value, and not a financial value. Unless something really drastic changes, like ecotourism or conservation becomes economically viable for the countries in that region, I don’t really see a way in which the destruction of the rainforest is going to stop.
I can obviously tell that conservation is a big part of your life, but what’s the most important thing to you?
I think integrity is the most important thing. At all levels, whether it’s your own personal integrity with your own conscious process, or integrity in relationships. To me, integrity means radical honesty and truth-telling, and choosing the right path instead of the path that feels good.
What sort of legacy would you like to leave. Why do you do what you do and what are you trying to accomplish?
That answer has changed over the years. In my twenties, I was trying to make a mark on the world, and get my voice out there, and communicate these grand concepts. As I’ve gotten older, it’s more about inspiring people to find their own connection to something bigger than themselves. Whether you want to call that God, or nature, or a Goddess, or energy, or whatever that is for individual people, I would hope that my work creates a doorway by which people have access to something greater than themselves.
And music is a vehicle? The vehicle?
A vehicle, for sure. The vehicle is totally different for each person, and their particular process, but music is a very functional vehicle for many people. I would love to get into more narrative work, whether that’s directing or film-making. What’s really exciting to me is the whole VR space that’s coming. Being able to create immersive experiences for people, that’s what I get excited about. I’m poking around, talking to people, figuring out what skills I need to learn in order to build those spaces, or who I need to partner that can build those spaces.
What’s the best thing about music to you?
I believe music is a form of dreaming. It’s a way that we step out of the linear flow of time, and begin to experience time in a more expanded way. In a piece of music, you can lose time. Time can speed up, and it’s obviously about the punctuation of time, but it causes your perception of time to change.
Anything you want to plug or promote?
I just finished working on a short film score. The film is called Albedo Absolute, directed by a guy named Vlad Marsavin, who did a really amazing psychedelic animation called Sebastian, and this is his new live action film. That’s what’s most fresh, and a video game score. Comet Crash 2, it’ll be a Playstation Network exclusive, and I did all the in-game music for that.
Following our interview, Bluetech treated the crowd to a show that can only be described as a sonic journey. Keeping a steady level of mid-range energy throughout his performance, he blended the sounds of the jungle with digital echoes to create a swirling, synesthetic, wandering pool of energy into which we were all invited. It was hippie paradise, but even for someone less familiar with his work, like me, it was very enjoyable and surprisingly relaxing. I found in speaking with him, a heart that cares deeply about this planet and the people who inhabit it. In his music, I heard a world that he sees as most beautiful in its natural state, a beautiful place that is sadly under grave threat.
Photos by Lacey Smith for Bullet Music.