Sacha Robotti on Joining Dirtybird, Praise for Jeff Mills and Being Spontaneous as a DJ [Interview]

"Dirtybird now seems to have a built-in fanbase that’s contagious. I think Vonstroke compared the fans to Bernie fans recently."
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"Dirtybird now seems to have a built-in fanbase that’s contagious. I think Vonstroke compared the fans to Bernie fans recently."
Sacha Robotti

Sacha Robotti

Few record labels in today's scene invoke the same sound, bond and overall originality as Dirtybird. Just a simple mention of the name and you know what's up. From their distinct Tech House productions to their all-star roster and legendary label-head, Dirtybird has quickly become one of the best labels in the industry. The endless shenanigans that Justin Martin and Claude VonStroke bring to the table are felt throughout the entire label and those who have attended their BBQ's and Campout know just how weird things can get. 

Sacha Robotti is somewhat of a new face to the Dirtybird family, however he has had his eye on the label he now calls home for quite some time. After releasing a new EP with Kevin Knapp, Sacha is now in the midst of a tour with Ardalan and is coming off performing at the Do LaB stage at Coachella. Coming up next month is a performance at Lightning in a Bottle and now that things have come full circle for Sacha, we jumped on the chance to chat with him about his journey.  

How has the experience with Dirtybird been so far and what's your favorite moment since being with the label?

The connection to this label and crew has definitely changed my life for the better, to put it bluntly and emotionally! Especially in terms of friendships and appreciation of my music by others. This has created many big and small 'favorite moments' so far, and those moments just keep on happening, often out of the blue.

Dirtybird now seems to have a built-in fanbase that’s contagious. I think Vonstroke compared the fans to Bernie fans recently. You may call the label a “lovemark” in advertising lingo. One of the best moments was when my first Dirtybird track 'The Major' was signed in 2011. I was so happy I cried, because my life at that time was very hard, and I felt accepted by one of my musical heroes. Also I had been a fan of the label since 2006 and I wanted nothing more than that to happen, musically. Another awesome moment was opening the Campout 2015... I was smiling all the way through my set and I still do every time I think about it!

With this being your second Do LaB festival, how are you approaching Lightning in a Bottle differently from other festivals you've played recently?

When I play somewhere nowadays, I never have a playlist or tracks put in a certain order that I mix in at a certain time in my set, because after 20 years of DJing I just know that doesn’t work for me. I’m rather flexible and fast and spontaneous, I try to feel the vibe of the crowd and synchronize that vibe with my vibe, so we be vibin’ the vibe hahaha! Accordingly I select the tracks that I feel will work in that specific moment, it’s a decision coming from the gut. That said, I mentally prepare before every set that I play and I listen to a ton of music beforehand especially tracks that are new, so I can get to know them and visualize what they will do for people on the dancefloor. When I was playing vinyl, I practiced mixes for hours and mixed every new record with every other record that I owned, so I knew every track by heart. Funnily enough, since I’m touring and playing on CDJs, I never owned a pair of those because I never had the money for it, so I “practiced” in clubs only. For Lightning In A Bottle, I will make edits just for the festival, and produce new tracks I haven’t played out before! I hope I get to play a long set...

What has been the most important thing you've learned since being on the West Coast?

You gotta chill dude!

Who is your favorite fellow Dirtybird and why?

That’s like asking who’s your favorite child. Hahaha.

What does a typical (or nontypical) day at Dirtybird headquarters entail?

Not sure there’s one Dirtybird headquarters, as the label is based in different cities around different people, mainly in SF and LA. I guess the closest thing to a HQ right now is Vonstroke’s house in Venice, where ultimately the strings are pulled and the Dirtybird funk is delivered to the world. My ideal day at the HQ would probably entail listening to demos, making and signing trax, running the admin side as well as the creative side of the label with the team, playing with Claude’s crazy dog Q-Tip, cooking some meat on the BBQ, checking and writing a million emails and making a bunch of calls. Work is often hard but if you’re having fun at it, good things will happen!

If you could do a back to back set with any artist today who would it be?

Jeff Mills. This will obviously never happen, but I have so much respect for this man. I would probably be incapable of moving anyway as I’d be hypnotized by watching his fingers magically fly over the mixer like the wizard that he is. I remember in 95-96 when I was 15 or so, I saw him play at Fuse Club in Brussels, and I was just standing there in awe as if lightning had struck me. He played like 60 records in an hour! In the following years, I bought all the vinyls he made, and tried to imitate this style of mixing. It was very inspiring and a great “school” for sure. All hail the bells.