Alright guys, if you know what's good, you know that dirtybird Records will be taking over Control at the Avalon this coming Friday, the fifteenth. And if you did not know, then you best pay attention, because you're really not going to want to miss this. Justin Martin, J. Phlip and Worthy will all be struttin' their stuff in the Avalon's inner sanctum, and for a pre-take over goodie we've got an interview with the one and only Sean Worthington Williams, better known as Worthy. To kick things off right, Worthy started his music career in 2001 when he moved to San Francisco and teamed up with Claude VonStroke as well as fellow East Coast brothers Justin and Christian Martin to create the prodigious outdoor party, Dirtybird, which quickly became an institution and a requisite destination for die-hard Bay Area and international fans. Dirtybird Records hatched from the popularity of these parties in 2005, and since then the label and parties have enjoyed tremendous success fueled by the obsession of their cult following. Pretty tasty, right? You know what else is good, Worthy is in the process of finishing up his full-length album, which will be coming out later this year. In the mean time you can catch the man on the Dirtybird Players compilation, featuring his new track, "Dip."
Making electronic music is no different than other art forms; you always get better the more you immerse yourself...It’s a process of self-discovery.
For those making the trek to Miami this year for WMC, the Dirtybird Party on March 21st will be a damn good time—as will his gigs in Cabo San Lucas Mexico at Nikki Beach on March 26th and the one in Taipeh on April 19th—in case we've got some readers in China.
If you're feeling lucky, we're hosting a ticket contest on our Facebook page. For now, read on and rage on!
Lets talk skills, how did you acquire yours?
When it comes to my music, I would say about 50% of my talent comes from a natural tendency towards understanding music. The other half I developed through taking music lessons to learn bass and guitar, as well as playing in bands. From those experiences I gained a deeper understanding of music theory and scales. As I moved into producing electronic music, which was mainly self-taught, I watched and read tutorials to learn technique and then practiced creating the music. No matter how bad it may have sounded, I kept making beats and learning from my successes and mistakes, which allowed me to improve as an artist. Making electronic music is no different than other art forms; you always get better the more you immerse yourself in the process of creation. You learn new tricks and techniques while developing your own sound, and that makes your music better. It’s a process of self-discovery.
Discuss a musician or an era which has influenced you. When and how did you come upon what moved you?
One person who definitely changed my outlook on life and music is Ian MacKaye of the bands Minor Threat and Fugazi. He takes the "Do It Yourself" approach to carving a place for yourself in the music industry. He created his own unique sounding bands and started his own record label to put out the music he loved, which allowed him to put out music that would not have found a place on other major labels. That philosophy of creating your place and taking the DIY approach have been a driving force for me.
Speak about the hierarchy of skill (craftsmanship), style (your unique aesthetic) and emotive content in your work—and/or in the work of those you admire.
I think the most important of these would have to be creating your own unique sound in your music. If your music is the same as everyone else’s, it gets lost easily in all of the other tracks that are coming out. No matter how amazing you can compose music if there is nothing unique behind the track then it won’t matter in the end. The hierarchy to someone who is just starting out would be different to someone with years of experience. The person who is just starting out would most likely put skills at the top. But the seasoned producer would put this further down the list, since they know how to make there music sound good, and are aspiring for an individual style and voice. In the end you need originality and emotion to make a great song.
I saw a demon in a hotel room once and it scared the crap out of me.
If you were starting out now, would you do anything differently?
I would have pushed myself to move over to using Abelton earlier. I feel like once I started using this software, my ability to create music really took off. There was a bigger freedom for me creatively than before I had utilized the program in combination with my other studio equipment.
What’s the secret to your success?
A non-stop passion for creating new music and surrounding myself with other people with a similar drive to create and become successful. Also the 3 Ps: Practice. Perseverance. Patience.
On a lighter note, have you ever had a brush with the paranormal or supernatural?
Yes, I saw a demon in a hotel room once and it scared the crap out of me. A friend of mine was asleep in the same room, and when I told him in the morning, he said that he had had a horrible dream that night where he was being chased by a demon. We packed up and left immediately.
I just don’t see everything as black and white…One can not say that drugs are bad or education is good, without more information about who is using these things and, more importantly, how they are using them.
Do you think there are any commonly held societal beliefs that are false?
I wouldn’t say false, per se. I just don’t see everything as black and white. When it comes to blanket statements like “drugs are bad for you” or “getting an education is important,” I think it is most important to look at these questions in a particular context. Drugs, like education, can be a tool but also a weapon; something that is used for good, but that can also be used to destroy. One can not say that drugs are bad or education is good, without more information about who is using these things and, more importantly, how they are using them. It is all relative.
How will you feel six months after your heart stops beating?
Well, I am sure I won’t “feel” anything myself, but I am sure that upon touch by someone else, I would feel cold. I imagine I will be cold. But who knows, maybe it’s warm with all that dirt piled up on top of you.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever learned? How did it make your life easier—or more difficult?
When my friend in college was killed, it really changed me and made me realize how truly short and fragile life is. One second you are here—young and vibrant—and the next you are gone forever. It still makes me sad whenever I think of him.
Does character invent style or does your style invent character? Or is there a mysterious X factor only you are privy to?
Style and character are both intertwined; style is the expression of one’s character. One’s experiences in the world and how that is processed internally, shapes both the character and style of an individual. Experience, culture, the world at large…those are the X factors.
The movement from CD to MP3 was a big shift in the music business. Look ahead for us, into the future. What will be/cause the next big shake up? How will you come out ahead?
Looking to the future the big Shift which is already taking place is the move to the cloud. In the future everything you own will just stream to all of your devices instead of people downloading them to their machines. I think the way to end up “winning” in any technology shift is to just accept and embrace the change.
Travel probably takes more of your time than it does the average person. Do you have any tales of extreme excitement or extreme boredom that the average person might enjoy reading?
When I was on my way back from Burning Man in 2009 I was in a RV that almost burst into flames. We were going down the freeway when we ran over a part of a tire. It went up into the wheel well and blew out our tire. I was sitting right above where this happened and was actually pushed out of my seat. When we pulled over, we looked underneath and realized that it had not only killed the tire, but ripped up the entire underside of the truck, causing the electrical lines to come lose and wrap up around the axel. This was right next to the propane tank. One wrong spark and then it would have been BOOM!!
…while I was playing someone dosed my beer with Ecstasy... It took me a while to figure out what was going on and why I was feeling so strange.
Also a fun, positive memory that sticks in my mind was my flight to DEMF—it was pretty cool last year. It was an all-star first class group. It was me, Justin Martin, J.Phlip, Magda, and Derrick Carter among others. We should have just set up some decks and started tag teaming with that lineup.
What is the most colorful/memorable incident you have involving a fan or fan relations? Change names to protect the innocent, if you care to.
I was playing at this insane party in Juarez Mexico a couple of years ago. It was at this crumbling estate were the buildings were falling apart. I was playing to around 1500 people, kids just going crazy blowing whistles nonstop; it sounded more like a soccer game than a party. At one point I had a couple of my CDs stolen from the table. The real crazy part was that while I was playing someone dosed my beer with Ecstasy without me knowing it. About half way through my set I started feeling really weird and had no idea why exactly I was feeling the way I did. I got so light headed and thought I was getting really sick. It took me a while to figure out what was going on and why I was feeling so strange. It was definitely a crazy experience.
How and why did you get your start? Any interesting anecdotes there?
I really owe a lot to Justin Martin for getting me to the place that I am today. I met him in college in New York and we started playing music and going out together. Back then we were just bedroom DJing in our dorm rooms and listening to a lot of drum and bass. He transferred to a school in San Francisco, and when I finished school he got me to move out there by telling me how amazing the music scene was. If I had not made that move or met Justin I would not have been there to create the Dirtybird parties with Justin, Christian and Barclay.
The energy was electric and the view from the stage was magical. It ended up being one of the most insane crowds that I got to play for all year.
What life activities are made better when listening to music?
I love to walk around the city and listen to music. It is such a surreal experience for me. I always feel like I am in a weird music video as I walk around. Just last night I was walking around listening to the Smiths and enjoying the night air.
If you visualize music as your listen, what (generally) do you imagine?
I like to imagine beautiful natural places when I close my eyes and listen to music. Such as beaches, forests and mountains.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
Always be yourself and push your music forward.
Tell me about your most memorable night out.
One standout night was the first time that I saw Sasha and Digweed at Twilo back in '98. I was with a bunch of friends and we ended up staying out till 7 am at the club. At the end of the night, they were playing the craziest set, and it was the most different sounding music that I had ever heard up until that moment. There was one song that still sticks out in my head, where it sounded like a helicopter was flying around the room over head. I was so tired but just could not leave. The songs on that sound system sounded so amazing. It was just this magical experience.
Which do you prefer, a smoky, low-lit club or a big stage with bright lights and colored gels?
I love playing on the big stage, I feel like I can get into some wilder, bigger-sounding music, that I would not play on the small stage. It has to do with a crazier energy that can form on the bigger stage, with a big crowd. On the smaller stage with a low lit club you can go weirder and deeper, which I enjoy doing as well, but not as much as going crazy at a festival or something.
Talk about some of your “classic” memories of touring.
I think one of my favorite memories was playing at Coachella last year. I did not know what to expect from the whole thing as I had never been to the festival. The energy was electric and the view from the stage was magical. It ended up being one of the most insane crowds that I got to play for all year. It was the best start to the festival season and I enjoyed it immensely.