With all of the local talent in the Bay Area at events and clubs like Ritual, Redline, 1015 Folsom, BlowUp and Mezzanine just to name a few, I wanted to get to know what it is like behind the scenes for a native Bay Area DJ just emerging into the electronic music scene.
Let me present to you DJ LabRat. Travis Egner-Williams, the man behind the music, was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California. Known to the music scene at LabRat, he has just started performing in clubs and getting his music out to the public besides Internet communities like SoundCloud.
He talked to me about what it was like growing up in the Bay Area, getting into electronic music, how the scene has changed, and what the Bay Area needs to become an even more amazing place for electronic music. Check it out.
Q: What first got you into DJing?
A: I actually started making hip hop beats just for fun when my friends when I wasn’t into electronic dance music. Then I went to Earthdance Laytonville and heard dubstep for the first time and have been trying to produce it ever since. I’ve only started DJing recently as a result of seeing a lot of DJs who don’t produce their own music. I feel that DJing is an art but I also feel live DJ sets are opportunities for producers to showcase their work.
Q: Did you immediately start with electronic music?
A: I played guitar in a metal band called Crucifornication for a few years but when that kinda deteriorated I was looking for musical release, so I started playing around on some programs and have always been trying to progress since. I love the freedom of making music on computers.
Q: What was the club/music scene like as you were growing up?
A: I don’t know if it’s all I was listening to but it seemed primarily punk and reggae shows were what was available, and there were many. When I was in high school that’s what everyone went to, and now it seems like electronic music is where it’s at.
Q: Has the scene changed?
A: Well I wouldn’t say electronic dance music has taken over but has definitely made a presence. Not only are there more shows, bigger names are coming through Santa Cruz all the time. It also seems that a lot of younger kids have hopped on the electronic dance music bandwagon.
Q: What do you aspire to be, a DJ like Rusko and touring the world or someone who will stay true to their home area? What do you want to be known for?
A: I just want to get my music on pat with what I like and I know my stuff isn’t there yet but I’m not going to stop until I’m satisfied. My goal is just to be able to play festivals. It’s where I first heart electronic dance music and to this day I will say it’s the best way to experience it.
Q: What artists do you look up to or inspire you?
A: I’m a big fan of early Jazz-fusion like Chick Corea and Al Di Meola, but as far as who I look up to in the electronic dance music world, I would have to say Tipper (UK), bar none. I absolutely love his music and every time I hear it I wanna make music. I’m also seeing big productions from Opiuo (Australia), Dodge and Fuski (UK), Roksonix (UK), Pendulum, Stephan Jacobs (SoCal), Builder (Santa Cruz) and Doctor P (UK).
Q: Has it been difficult to get into venues and get your music out?
A: I’m in no rush to push my music because I feel it’s only going to get better. I put all my music up for free downloads on my SoundCloud and thats mostly how people hear about me. So no, it hasn’t been hard to get my music out although it would be nice to get on a label and get some official releases on Beatport and whatnot.
Q: What was your first show like?
A: My first show went pretty well. I played at my friend’s birthday party and everyone loved it. I was nervous as hell but I didn’t have any technical difficulties, which I’m always deathly afraid of.
Q: Is the Bay Area a good place for electronic music to thrive?
A: I think the Bay Area is a great place for electronic dance music. I think there just needs to be a place online where Bay Area DJs, producers, and promoters can come together and trade ideas and make connections. If that happened I think it would grow at a much faster rate.
LabRat will be performing at 1015 Folsom this Wednesday, March 16, along with other local DJs including CARRIER (San Francisco), Carly-D & Dr. Knobz (Oakland), Johnny5 (Oakland), and Smizzle (San Jose).