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The Philosopher Tech DJ : An Interview with BT

If you're a tech nerd who loves music and is looking for a role model, BT is the DJ for you. If you're a philosopher, mathematician, or classical pianist and looking to transition to electronic music production, BT is the man to emulate. At EZoo we had a chance to sit down and talk with BT; his origins in music, interesting new tech, and insights on the scene. Normally we post interviews as a back and forth dialogue, but the message and thoughts of BT are really best reflected as a stream of conscious.

BT EZoo

Photo credit: Danilo Lewis for ElectricZooFestival.com


“Early on, it wasn't about DJing. I just always loved music, electronics, and technology. I didn't have a list of life goals, I was interested in things. I had early influences, like Flying Lotus and Aphex Twin, Depeche Mode. At the time, what they were doing was just so OUT THERE, it was wild. I guess I've always been an outsider. There were other pioneers like John Cage, people who were innovating, pushing boundaries. I feel like when you have this platform – fame – it's your responsibility to look at music with a broader view. Because it's not about immediacy. We owe it to our audience to experiment and broaden the palate. It's like we're children, children who only want to eat cotton candy. But what if I can show you real strawberries? Or tomatoes? We owe it to ourselves too; we have to try and fail. Hopefully fall forward. When I look at all that has brought us to this point, I think how underrated an instrument the Laptop is. Now you can make music on a giant metal machine, flying hundreds of miles per hour, as you hurtle toward a foreign destination… I've spent more than a decade trying to get my alma mater, Berklee School of Music, to recognize the computer as a principal instrument. After 12 years I finally got through to them. I mean, the influence of the computer in the world of the DJ is just — you can't overestimate it. All of these tools of course get us closer to the ultimate goal, which is really just trying to communicate who we are to a room full of strangers, right? You want to share that moment of creation, or a memory, or your heart with people. Of course, deep down you know that it's such a personal, individual journey, they probably won't understand. Right now I feel like there are a lot of people in electronic music and they are just emoting… Feel the Rage. I think it takes courage to be on stage, no matter what you're saying while you're up there.. but that being said we have to expect more of our idols. More than formulaic drops.”

BT At this point in the interview I want to change the topic a bit, and so I talk about my favorite moment of BT's career, which had nothing to do with music. At EDC in 2012, BT took his small daughter on stage. It was an incredible and emotional moment for those of us in the crowd, thousands of us. To see the pure joy in a childs face and in her fathers face. It was this crazy moment of him saying, “this is who I am and what's important to me”, both to his daughter and his fans. It was a beautiful memory, and I wanted to ask about how he finds balance with juggling life on the road and having a family.

“Thank you for sharing that with me, that really means a lot to me. Well… being completely honest with you, it's not easy to find that balance. And I feel like I have found it, but its all about sacrifices. I'm still in love with music and always will be – I'm still working on projects that I'm excited about. But being a DJ is hard; it's hard on my body, mostly. A lot of the times we're talking 30+ hours of flying a week, for years. In some ways I'm an extremist in everything I do. Now that I'm a dad, I'm hyper involved. I tutor math at her school, she's a great little athlete, I try not to miss anything. BT ED 2012
Does that mean I've given up career opportunities? Or that finishing a track takes longer than it did before? Absolutely. And I don't give a shit. That obligation, that love, trumps everything. You know?”

To wrap up the interview, I asked BT about his upcoming projects.
“I'm doing some really cool stuff – We're going to do a concert in a music hall with a whole orchestra. And I'm working on some film scores, which is different and challenging in all new ways.”

Thank you BT for this amazing interview. It was so great meeting you, and I hope to see another set of yours soon!

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