Image credit: Yonathan Baraki
The Canadian native widely known for his superior live sets rooted in Detroit Techno is currently touring North America to show off his latest material.
We managed to catch up with Mr. Houle on his stop in New York, where he is slated to play the newly opened Sankeys this evening, for a little Q and A session.
Why tour, and why now?
Why do I tour? Because I have to. It's the only way I can get out and party to this music as much as I do. I'm always playing around the world and now happens to be the time I hit North America. This tour was pretty heavy but it's been fun so far.
Is anyone else on the road with you?
It's just me but along the way I'm running into people and it makes it way more fun. I played with Paul Ritch at a festival in Mexico and I just saw Claude von stroke in Philly. I'll be playing with Josh Wink in Detroit which should prove to be a fun night!
Planes, trains or automobiles?
Or all 3. Mostly planes for the long hauls but I rented a car to drive to Windsor and see my family and took a train from Philly to Washington because it was much quicker than a flight.
Do you have a routine while you are on the road? Any rituals we would be interested to hear about?
I've been working on a skeleton outline for my next release whenever I have some spare time in hotels and stuff. I've also been catching up on some old Dr. Who episodes. Other than that my routine usually is to get to after parties when I am done playing - especially in North America where many of the shows finish at 2 or 3am… That's normally when I just start going. I've also been taking hundreds of photos this tour of weird but personal stuff. It's nice to document everything for me to look back on when I am in an old folks home with Magda reminiscing.
What does your tour rig consist of?
That seems to change from month to month. I've brought out analog drum machines, synths, samplers, microphones and effects. I always have this controller I made along with this great company in Texas called Livid and of course I wouldn't be able to do what I do without Ableton Live.
Image Credit: Maxime Chermat
You are pretty adamant about not being confused with a DJ. Can you share your thoughts?
I suppose it's like an Italian restaurant that has a fresh pasta sign outside… they want the customers to come in and taste some homemade pasta and not something made from a factory. It has to do with the pride I have with every track I play and I want people to appreciate the fact that I have to work my ass off to be able to make a great party using only my own music. Also every time I play is unique and many of the tracks I play are unreleased and some may never be heard again. It's a very special thing for me when I am on stage…I’m not hitting play and fist pumping but I’m up there counting and pushing buttons and creating. In the grand scheme of things it's not that different and maybe not important but to me it's special and I take lots of pride in what I do. When people call me a DJ I don't get upset at all - but if I can clarify I do.
You are performing in the great state of Texas, but why El Paso? Why not Austin or Houston?
I've always played El Paso. It has such a great scene there. Also across the border in Juarez I’ve had some fun adventures but really, that area must have some great radio or something because people there really know their stuff and it's always a blast.
Is there a city that you are really looking forward to visiting?
I'm excited to play Detroit again. It's always so nice to see all my friends and things can go on for days there. It's where I started and it's where I learned what I know so ya - Detroit!
Do you think Detroit will survive these hard times?
I think Detroit is used to hard times. Detroit's always been pretty beat up since I first went. But the people make the best of it and use the surroundings for inspiration and a backdrop for a truly unique sound. Imagine bright green ivy climbing a decaying building. If anyone can survive the hard times, it's Detroiters.
New York or LA? Go.
I know New York since I lived there for 4 years or something. I went to L.A. for the first time in 22 years and I had a great time. The people I met were really cool and not so hipster so I kinda enjoyed it a bit more. I don't think I know enough to make a final decision but right now I would rather spend a week in L.A. Having said that, the cooler people in both cities are pretty similar with a lot of them going back n forth. Compared to the rest of America, they're more alike than different.
Are you sad about Happy Ending closing in New York? It's been a while since you shared the booth with Mike Servito there, back in 2004.
Wow. Yeah that was my 2nd time to play live and I still remember it like it was yesterday. Since then I have been to lots of other places but that party really sticks out and I am very grateful for the chance to get my music out there. I'm actually impressed you know that haha. I always thought that place would make a great toy set like the Barbie Happy Ending Playset or something. It will be around in my head so that's good enough.
You have collaborated with an interesting collection of people, most recently Click Box for Razzamatazz. Is there anyone you are hoping to work with in the near future?
I really like to collaborate - it can be more fun sometimes to hang out with a friend and make music as long as they're willing to share and not weird or something. The EP before this one was with Miss Kittin and that was also a blast - she was super smart and great to work with. I have a list of people I would like to work with in my head but it just gets so tough to coordinate with people since we're all rarely in the same place at the same time. i think for now I need to worry about my solo album then maybe I can have more fun working with someone else.
What can we expect from your label, Items & Things, in the near future?
We have a few EPs from our friends that are being released, I am putting out a single with remixes from Magda, Troy and Nyma. After that we can expect a release - album I think - from Magda then finally an album from me if all goes well.
Marc Houle Remaining Tour Dates:
FRIDAY 22 Sankeys, New York City TICKETS
SATURDAY 23 Los Globos, Los Angeles, United States TICKETS
SUNDAY 24 Monarch, San Francisco
WEDNESDAY 27 TV Lounge, Detroit, Michigan, United States
FRIDAY 29 301, El Paso
SATURDAY 30 The Norad, Denver, Colorado, United States