Teklife’s young gun DJ EARL is making waves this year and his debut in Boston this Friday. We wanted to check in with Earl to get a look at what to expect from Teklife this year and his new album, footwork’s influence on Chicago, and who he dreams about going into the studio with.
Interviewed by Fens (Matt Rohr) and C Dubs (Chris Ward)
Photo credit: Eric Zaworski
SHAKE: Thump recently published an article that said you were ‘carrying the torch’ for a new generation of TekLife artists. How’s 2016 been treating you so far and what can we expect from the label this next year?
DJ EARL: 2016 has been really great so far, can’t complain. Still touring… staying blessed… a new place in New York… lots of major business… moves lining up perfectly. You can expect major moves from TekLife and lots of good news on the way, just nothing I can speak on at the moment though.
SHAKE: You have a full length album to be released this year – how has your sound evolved for this release?
EARL: My sound has evolved in terms of influence. I’ve been getting into lots of different sounds from all over the globe during my travels. I recorded the entire project in a proper studio—my older releases were done in bedroom / basement lab type environment. The new album is more sonically on point.
SHAKE: When did you first start producing tracks? Did you experiment with other genres before making footwork or have you been producing mainly in that style since you began?
EARL: Started producing around 2005—I experimented with hip hop in the very beginning and then footwork right after that same year. Now, footwork pretty much has been the center of my production for most of my musical career.
SHAKE: What is the best DJ set you’ve ever seen?
EARL: Hard to choose from! Scratcha DVA from Hyperdub played one of the dopest DJ sets I have ever seen when we both played at New Forms Festival in 2014 in Vancouver.
SHAKE: How has the rise of footwork impacted the scene in Chicago?
EARL: From my perspective, it opened a lot of different people’s mind about where the music and dance could actually go globally. It’s made a lot of original dancers and DJs get back involved. More venues are booking footwork now, even with full fledged footwork battles. In general, there are a lot more people getting involved in the scene.
SHAKE: What’s the dynamic like at TekLife now almost 2 years after Rashad’s passing?
EARL: It’s different without Rashad of course, but the dynamic of the group is at a really high point. We’re staying creative and really coming together and communicating. And most importantly, keeping Rashad’s legacy and now the label alive.
SHAKE: Who are some producers/musicians that you are really digging at the moment that you think people need to know about?
EARL: Suzi Analogue, Flamingosis, Wiki & Sporting Life from RATKING, Skywalker & Bulletproof Dolphin from Brusier Brigade, Roy French, Harry Otaku, Ezrakh and last but not least Sonnymoon—they are all really dope!
SHAKE: Do you have a favorite record shop?
EARL: Gotta go with the home team Gramaphone Records in Chicago!
SHAKE: What is your favorite club?
EARL: Trans-Pecos in New York
SHAKE: If you could get in the studio with any artist (alive or passed), who would it be?
EARL: I can’t choose just one! It’s three people: Roy Ayers, Rick Rubin and Zach from Death Grips.
See DJ Earl on Friday, February 5th with Fens, Damian Silva, and Antonious Monk at Good Life. RSVP here!