You know how they say "don't meet your hero"? It's thrown around a lot due to those who have been let-down by figures they place on a pedestal. Hearing that so many times -- and having some let-downs of my own -- I was worried my interview with Yassine Ben Achour would leave me disappointed with my idol after periodically declaring "LOCO DICE IS GOD" throughout my journalistic career. However, once the interview concluded, I was left in awe. The mind driving the man is as mesmerizing as I imagined. He is as complex as his music is versatile. He truly is a man amongst boys.
The Producer/DJ/Label Head/Fashion Icon/Badass has been captivating audiences around the world for years. This Saturday he makes his triumphant return to Space Miami -- the same place he kept bouncing for 24 hours straight this past New Years Eve -- in what I am confidently declaring the can't miss party of Art Basel. Get your tickets here!
We caught up with Loco Dice to discuss his production process, his thoughts on the current state of dance music and what he has planned for the future.
For those who don’t know who you are, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started DJ/Producing?
I was born and raised in Düsseldorf, Germany. Growing up in a family of Tunisian immigrants, I was exposed to traditional music, but also to Santana, funk and soul. Later I discovered hip hop. It was something that I could relate to and it became my form of expression. From collecting music and being a guy in the hood with the music, I was invited to DJ in a local youth center and basically that’s how it started. I was also a rapper, promoter, deeply involved with hip hop, but at some point it felt like a dead end, it became a cliché. The freedom of expression, possibilities, new sounds I found in electronic music, in techno and house. It was musically liberating, but... you can’t take hip hop out of me.
I just have to fan boy for a minute and say that your remix of 'Everything' by Neneh Cherry is one of the greatest tracks I have ever heard. The way you meticulously built that track is just one of many examples of why you are so much more than a Techno DJ/Producer, you’re truly an artist. How did you develop such intricate writing skills?
Thank you, it’s nice to hear that. Working with Neneh Cherry was special. I was and I still am a big fan, I was dancing to her early tracks, and that remix carries a long story and lots of passion. In general, it’s always about that time when I receive the original. With remixes I always experiment and let my feelings and emotions go. It depends if I imagine peak time in my mind or some other time and space where the music is played. That's also the way I work on my original music. Every track is a music version of where I am at that particular moment.
Are you a self-taught artist, or do you have – I hate to use the cliché – “classical training”?
I’m a self-taught artist. I was even a professional Hip Hop DJ back in the days, and I had one turntable! I was always curious, wanted to figure out how certain things work, I practiced. That was in times long before online tutorials.. Learning by doing.
You have become more than just a DJ/Producer and are now truly a brand. How do you keep pumping out such top tier tracks between Desolat the label, the Used & Abused parties, and all the merchandising?
I just do what I love! I enjoy making music, hanging in the studio, being with people, bouncing ideas, creating. I also love to share – DJ sets, productions or the music I find and release on Desolat. It’s a natural process, but it requires discipline. I also just really love to share all that with people.
What’s next for your many ventures?
I have another new studio ready which I think it’s perfect, and I’m looking forward to writing new music. I’ll bring few people together, and see what happens. There is a line of great releases on Desolat, upcoming remixes, more music. It’s very exciting at the moment.
Berlin has always been a trendsetter when it comes to techno, do you think the rest of the world is ready to follow suit?
It would be great if the rest of the world would find it’s own "Techno“, if the local diversity flourishes. Berlin is a special place with a certain atmosphere and some of it is reflected in the music that happens there.
What are your thoughts on the state of the electronic music scene worldwide? Now that the “Commercial EDM” bubble is bursting, do you anticipate a return to the underground? Or do you think that traditional clubbing culture will return to prominence?
The electronic music scene worldwide is more alive and diverse than ever. We’ve reached a certain level of professionalism where the sound systems are good and we can create environments where people can feel good. Traditional clubbing culture was never gone and is alive and kicking. I also think that the traditional clubbing culture doesn’t have anything to do with "EDM". That’s another sport and doesn’t have to do much with what we do.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2015? Do you have another 24 hr NYE set in you?
Chill, enjoy every second of my album, visit NY for the last time this year and play Output, I’m gonna visit South America and do a few shows… My NYE will be actually 2 days in 4 cities and my whole crew is traveling with me.