How would you describe your music to someone who doesn’t know it?
I usually like to say house. I think some tracks that are more disco influenced or funk. And some that are more pop. It’s that feel good stuff… That’s what it is. I think disco and house are very closely related and I don’t like to pigeon hole myself too much.
What’s it like to play here in Seoul?
The audiences here are definitely special. People are singing along… Even to the parts that don’t have words! The last time I was here, I think I took a picture with every single person in the audience. [For a moment,] I feel like Justin Bieber!
Was there anything the audience reacted that was a surprise for you?
I don’t play the Mother We Share remix, but it did well. It was the first time playing it this year. I like to improvise during the set. Aside from testing out the new stuff, I don’t really plan anything.
You also came to Korea last April. What are some first impressions you got?
I did a couple of days of sightseeing. I went to a palace. I went to the old town next to the palace that’s on the hillside… Insadong. Those kinds of things. Oh! I went to a huge shopping mall and I came across a hoodie with a logo of my friend’s DJ group collective, Only Children, from Chicago! It was so weird [and random], I had to get it for my friend.
Do you have any crazy fan stories from then?
I was walking with Julian Quintart [who I met during the show last year]. He’s a super nice guy and he has a TV show here. Walking with him around the city was a trip. He was like Justin Bieber and the Beatles combined! I wondered if anyone recognized me and it was like, nope, all about Julian. One of his fans commented on one of my instagram photos just to have him see it!
Anything you were looking forward to this time around?
Coming back this time, I was really looking forward to the food. I’ve been to the restaurant Parc twice now. I’m really into the classics like bulgogi and kimchi. I eat Korean food back in New York, too.
You were coming from Hong Kong this time, right? Where were you before that?
Before Hong Kong, I was in Singapore, Jakarta, Bangladesh, Thailand…
Bangladesh! How was it like to DJ there?
Being in Bangladesh was very interesting. It was very last minute. My friend who’s Bengali got in touch with a promoter and I just happened to have the night off. It was a private party. There aren’t that many clubs there. They’re in the process of becoming a little more westernized snd it’s still a new thing to have an American DJ. But it was really fun. Not even a hundred people came through for the night, but I played for five hours. I wish I could have seen more of it.
You were in classical piano for a long time. Can you tell us about the transition?
I was playing piano for as long as I can remember. I started DJing relatively late because playing keyboards was my favorite thing to do. It was hard for me to make tracks and improvise. Towards the end of college is when I got to know a bit more about software, producing and business and gigs. DJing gigs and performances is really how I got my start.
Any advice for other trying to make that leap?
It is very different. I also played jazz and that’s when I learned to loosen up. When you’re used to reading sheet music, it can be a big leap to writing your own stuff. Be patient and know that it’s going to take a little while before you make stuff. You’re gonna look back [at your first drafts] and [think] they’re just so bad. Don’t get frustrated and keep at it.
Are you into Korean music at all?
I don’t know any K-pop. I tried last time. I asked the taxi driver if he could put on a K-pop music station but he said no. My friend Mike loves it but I haven’t listened to much of it. I am curious.
What’s the last thing you listened to today?
It’s this song called A Lil’ Tribute to the Moody Black Keys by 20 Below. I heard from a mix by this famous Chicago DJ named Gemini. It’s a bit like Jeff Mills but with house and it was just one track in one of his mixes. Took me forever but I finally found it two weeks ago!