It's the beginning of the weekend, and even though Shaky Knees has used up some of the city's energy, the house and techno community of Atlanta still manages to keep it moving late into the night. Early on at the Alley Cat Music Club, support from Koba and Attila stirs upstairs. More and more people, building up an initially intimate crowd, which sets things off to a nice start. David Gtronic begins his set around 1:00 a.m. firmly grounded in house.
Immediately, there is a definite jump in level of complexity and intensity. Hard, round bass and fat, cutting hi-hats are still bouncy somehow. This, coupled with lots of spacey tech sounds and an often swinging feel, fuels the feet and delights the imagination, an impressive balance to strike, no doubt. Bringing things back down to earth for a bit and then building back up with a harder approach to techno, he finishes the night out strong.
Before his set, David agreed to speak with us about his life in the world of dance music.
You recently played New York and Miami back to back. How were your experiences there?
New York for me is one of the most special cities. I really love the fast-paced lifestyle of the city. There’s so much diversity and different styles of music. I really like the Brooklyn scene. You get a lot of underground warehouse parties. New York and Miami are the two key cities in the United States to come and play. I do it every chance I get to. Miami is always special because I grew up there. Every time I play in Miami, and this is the third time I’ve done it, I do open to close sets. I start at 11 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. It’s really nice, because (I see) people that I grew up with in high school come, who I haven’t seen in five years. It’s nice that they come to support me. I’ve always gotten a lot of really good support from Miami, so it’s always really special for me to play there.
What event do you consider the most pivotal in launching your career as a dj/producer?
I wouldn’t say an event, but when I made the move from America to Ibiza in 2013, it changed everything for me. I already had my name growing slowly from releasing music, and I was lucky enough to get support from some of the big guys like Marco Carola, Loco Dice and Dubfire. All these guys were playing my music in 2011 and 2012, before I really had a chance to get out there. In 2013, I finished my sound engineering degree and moved to Ibiza. I just bought a one way flight thinking that I was gonna come back at the end of the season. I met so many people. I ended up living in Berlin. I never came back home, technically. Just to visit.
Of all your various residencies, which has been your favorite and why?
Right now I’m with the Vatos Locos crew, which is Hector, my friends from back home, Randall M, Chad Andrews, my roommate in Berlin, Sece. It started last year, but this summer it’s kicking off a little more. We’re doing a residency in Club Der Visionaere. We have one party each month for the next four months. This place is, I will say, one of my favorites in the world. Some people will laugh at me because it’s a small bar for 150 people, but the vibe that it creates is just incredible. People go there on a nice summer day, have a beer, hangout with their friends, and maybe go to panorama bar after. If you really want to keep partying there you can. Ricardo Villalobos plays there every other month. It’s a special place where people want to come and play. It’s not about the money or anything. People actually pay their own flights to come and play at this place. Have you seen it before? It’s just next to a river and in the summer it’s beautiful.
The Terrace Podcast has over a million downloads. What do you attribute this success to?
It’s funny. I started this podcast when I was sixteen. Back in the day, I used to listen to Tiesto’s podcast. I listened to it every week so I could see how he presented the podcast. I wanted to do something like this. Growing up in Miami, you can’t go out to clubs until you are 21. I managed to get a fake I.D. when I was 16. I was going to the terrace in Space and I was obsessed with this music and the after hours. That’s why I named my podcast the Terrace Podcast to resemble after-hours music and underground music. The funny thing was, people started thinking that it was the official podcast from Space’s terrace. I got a lot of traffic from that, but eventually they realized that it had nothing to do with Space. They liked what they heard, so they kept listening and more people came.
The great thing about it is I never put any marketing behind it. I never promoted it, and I don’t post about it. I just create the podcast, make the artwork, release it and it just promotes itself. It’s a really cool project. I personally like to think about it as my little musical diary. I love collecting a lot of music, even though I don’t get to play more than half of it. When you come to play in the United States you have to bring something stronger. They are not too open for these weird minimal sounds, but in the podcast I get to do this and express myself in another way that I couldn’t do in the club. That’s what I like about it the most.
Your collaboration with Lilith, Lagrimas Del Sol, reached new heights of musical sophistication. What was your inspiration behind this work?
The title of the EP, Lagrimas Del Sol, means tears on the sun. This was during a really hard period for me economically wise. I was going to school, and I had to choose between working and having some money, or just going to school full-time and making my music on the side. I chose making my music on the side. A lot of the times I was without money and it was very difficult
I met Lilith. She had released under Monique Musique, which is a label that I worked with before. I started messaging her, saying I really like her music. We met and had a Skype conversation for five hours. We decided to try some music together. She is the same as me in that she is very sensitive and expresses her emotions through music. We didn’t really have a plan, but we wanted to combine, I wouldn’t say classical music, but something like that with techno. She had a friend from Amsterdam who plays the cello amazingly. She recorded a bunch of cello recordings and we had a few piano recordings, and there’s also one track where we have a tango. We grabbed little elements from normal music that we liked, and made it into a techno production.
Do you foresee creating more techno session musicians?
Yes, for sure. I actually have a new record with Lilith coming out that’s called Cello and it’s a twelve minute track with a cello throughout the whole track. This was the first track I made when I arrived in Berlin. It always reminds me of that moment when I was struggling to make the transition to a new city. We definitely will do that more. I love classical music. When I travel, that’s all I listen to - the piano, Eric Satie, Beethoven. I love really abstract piano sessions. I definitely want to keep doing that in the future.
What do you enjoy most about performing at tINI & the Gang, Ibiza?
I haven’t worked with her for the last year or two, but when I did, the most magical thing was being on the beach in Ibiza with all your friends and watching the sunset in front of you. I remember the last time I played was back to back with Chad Andrews. We played right before tINI, so we had the sunset set, and the sunset was directly ahead of us. We were playing and the people were screaming and dancing, watching the sun go down. It was really a special gig. Even Resident Advisor wrote an article about it. That’s the most special part about tINI & the Gang. It’s a free party. People don’t have to worry about paying 40 to 60 euros like they do at Amnesia. You already come with a chill state of mind – have some beers, hang out on the beach with your friends. listen to good music and to new upcoming artists you’ve never heard of before. That’s the good thing about tINI. She always gives new DJs a chance to come and play. That’s something you need to do for the newer generation. You can’t be so egocentric. You have to open the platform for new guys and give them an opportunity. Just how she and I got an opportunity. It’s important to do that.
What are you most looking forward to in the near future?
I’ve never been that type of guy to plan ahead, but I’m really excited for this season in Ibiza. I want to focus more on studio work, and every time I go to Ibiza it’s impossible to get work done out there. One time I even brought my equipment and everything and I didn’t even use it one time. I already know when I go to Ibiza I do some networking, a little partying, a little raving, but I can’t make music over there. This summer I want to focus, staying in Berlin working in the studio not getting distracted that much. I’ll spend June and September in Ibiza like I usually do, but take July to focus in the studio. I’ll be coming back to America at the end of July for one week, and maybe do a gig in New York and L. A. and Denver, and then back to Europe for the rest of the summer.