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Soma Sundays #3: Jeff Derringer

jeff derringer

As with many genres, there’s an abundance of house and techno music out there to listen to and it can be difficult to know where to start or who to listen to next. This is why we’ve decided to team up with the ever-respected house and techno record label, Soma Records, to give you the low-down on their artists and bring you up-to-date with some important producers you should know about. 

For Soma Sunday #3 we interviewed Jeff Derringer (JD). Derringer is a Chicago-based techno producer that has had his music released on a variety of record labels as well as creating the Oktave event series and more. 

HUNOW: For people that aren’t familiar with your work, which release of yours would you recommend they listen to first?

JD: I am always partial to my most current releases, as I think as a producer I am constantly learning, growing and evolving. So I guess I would point a listener unfamiliar with my work to my latest release on Soma, Panic. I also have an EP coming out right in the beginning of 2015 on a small Berlin-based label, LAG. It’s their fourth release. I think that’s probably my strongest material yet. I would point listeners to that one when it’s availables.

HUNOW: You’ve recently had your first EP Panic released on Soma Records, how did you start working with them?

JD: I booked Slam for a show at Smartbar in the early part of 2013. I’ve always been a fan of Slam, and Soma is one of the first labels I started paying attention to when I was getting into techno. I had a nice talk with the guys after the show and they asked me to submit a mix for Slam Radio, which was then in its infancy. I did and they accepted it, which was a nice moment for me at that time.

In early 2014, I finished some material that I felt might be right for Soma. I had just signed another EP to Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe label, and I felt my profile as a producer was getting to the right place where I could submit something to Soma. So I did, and they accepted it. Another really nice moment for me.

HUNOW: How has the Panic EP been received? Are there any plans to release something a little bigger on Soma Records at some point?

JD: I feel like the Panic EP has been well received. It’s been charted by some really solid artists and was featured on Surgeon’s Rinse FM podcast when it was still in promo. It was the second time this summer that Surgeon has featured my music on his podcast, so that makes me feel pretty good.

I would definitely like to release more music on Soma. Right now I’m working on a new EP for the label, but I would certainly not be opposed to putting a longer piece together for them. Time is my major obstacle to writing, of course, so I would need to figure out how to do it, but an LP is definitely not out of the question.

HUNOW: You’ve also recently celebrated the five year anniversary of Oktave. Could you tell our readers what Oktave is?

JD: Oktave is an event series that I created to help bring the deep techno sound to the States. I started it in New York in 2009, but moved the events to Chicago in 2010. For the most part, Oktave has had a home at Smartbar, where I am now a resident.

Oktave is essentially dictated by a very simple agenda – the only objective is to share the music that I love with a community of like-minded techno fans in Chicago. I also sometimes collaborate with promoters in other cities, particularly Detroit, but mostly Oktave is about the techno fans in the Windy City.

HUNOW: If these five years of Oktave have worked out so well, what are you planning for the next five?

JD: For our upcoming 6th year, I’ve started an artist in residence program for Oktave at Smartbar, where an established act comes in to do a small run of shows for the club. In 2015 it’s going to be Regis and DVS1 – each will play and curate 3 shows throughout the year, putting their unique stamp on the event. I’m excited about this project and expect it will continue for several years to come.

I’m also hoping to expand the number of local artists who play Oktave – younger, less established acts who can become a part of the show as an opener or closer. This will take the form of other residents, special guests, and people I’ve met in Chicago who fit the bill.JD_Smartbar_4_2014_2

HUNOW: In your opinion, what are the most important elements to making good techno music?

JD: I think if you’re writing anything, discipline is a big deal. You have to get yourself to the computer (or the canvas, or the notebook, or however you write or create) on a repetitive basis to really get your creativity firing. This is where many prospective artists struggle – finding the time to write, at least a little, every day. I know I can’t always be in that pattern, and I generally find myself going through phases. Sometimes I am very productive because I have more time, I’m inspired, and I sit down in front of the computer virtually every day. Other times there are things going on in my life that stop me from writing, or get in the way. These are usually emotional things, like anxiety or stress – when I have anxiety or don’t feel good emotionally, generally the writing goes by the wayside.

As far as techno is concerned, I think a solid understanding of your own workflow is extremely important to successful creative output. Knowing how to use the tools you buy or find is crucial – I know a lot of people who collect tons of toys and tools but never take the time to learn how to use any of them. For me, it’s about reducing the number of tools I have, limiting myself to as few as possible – this allows me to hone in on a sound that is particular to me.

HUNOW: Finally, which five artists are you listening to the most at the moment?

JD: This is always a tough question. There’s so much good music out there. Right now I’ve been listening to the new record by Vatican Shadow and Function a lot – Games Have Rules’ Function is an all-time favorite of mine. I’ve also been revisiting Donato Dozzy’s K album quite a bit, another artist I respect immensely. I like Dino Sabatini’s Outis label a lot – I love the new Modern Heads tracks he just put out. I’ve been playing a lot of Edit Select’s productions in my sets lately – I find his stuff fits my style really well and he’s a very talented producer. Cassegrain is another act I’ve been following for a while – they have a new album coming out next month on Prologue. Don’t sleep on them!

To find out more about Jeff Derringer you can visit his:

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