Moe Espinoza, aka Drumcell, is known to be one of those no bullshit type of artists. He definitely walks the talk when it comes to techno. Hailing from Los Angeles, Drumcell has translated his music into a unique niche which has in turn led to an extraordinary career in the techno space of electronic music. He has been well known in the industry for releasing intrinsic yet harder induced techno that has been aimed for techno loyalists all over the globe. I had a chat with him while he is touring India, and we happened to talk about his past, his present, and his near future.
Q1. What have you heard about the Indian scene and what are your expectations?
I came to India with no expectations, I wasn’t really sure of the current status of the electronic music scene here. The last knowledge I had of India was the Goa Trance scene of the 90s. This movement was very popular on the west coast of the United States. I’m no stranger to traveling to countries that can have a small techno scene. I feel like I have played some very remote places. I have found that in counties with small scenes you usually find a small but very dedicated group of people who love the music. That dedication usually results in the most appreciation.
Q2 Who according to you is a pioneer of Detroit Techno and why?
I think there was a large number of DJs that contributed to pioneering Detroit techno/ And to not name them all and their efforts wouldn’t be giving everyone the appropriate justice. Of course we all know of Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, Derrick May but the one artist that resonated with me the most and was a huge influence on me would have to be Jeff Mills.. In my option he is still innovating the music till today.
Q3. You seem to know your way around equipment extremely well. Which equipment you feel is absolutely essential for your live performances?
Well, for my live performance I’m playing digitally. I perform with both Ableton, Traktor (with 4 decks for loops), Maschine ( for drums and live patterns) and some external FX I created in a program called Reaktor.The Fx are essential to my set and because of this I require a xone 92 mixer for all 6 channels of audio + aux sends and returns.
Q4. If you had to describe your music in a sentence, how would you go about it?
I like to think I stay true to the foundation of what true techno is. A hypnotic and loopy music that requires attention and to surrender yourself to the rhythms and groove of the music. I have a lot of influence from industrial music, Latin rhythms in a more aggressive and energetic way.
Q6. You were initially part of the industrial and punk scene in the 90s. What made you switch to techno?
Well I was a trained musician and played several instruments. Playing in several punk / rock bands was a natural progression. I loved writing music and collaborating with other musicians. Industrial music got me interested in drum machines and the possibility of using them within my bands.. Soon one day a member of the band I was in took me to a rave party in the early / mid 90s..That was my first exposure to the electronic dance culture and it changed my life instantly. I began using my knowledge of drum machines to produce my own ideas of electronic dance music.
Q7. You’ve played at historic venues like Berghain and the Movement Festival in Detroit. How do you feel about the vibe and does it differ from other places like in Europe/Asia?
Well I think there is a significant difference between all of the clubs mentioned above. Playing at Movement is special because you are sitting in the heart / birthplace of the music you grew up loving so much.. Also the techno scene in the US is still fairly small in comparison to Europe. Detroit is a great opportunity to be reunited with all of your techno friends from all over America.. It’s the one time of the year we are all in one place and that makes it one of the best experiences. As for Berghain, there isn’t many words to describe how special playing there is. It’s the one place in the world I feel I have the freedoms to experiment with techno. I can play music there that would probably never work in other clubs. It’s the building, the people, the sound, the whole environment that creates a special vibe I have not yet experienced anywhere else in the world.. But at the same time, almost every country I played at has something Special about it and I tend to enjoy it anywhere that I’m playing as long as no one walks to the DJ booth and requests me to play pop music or some EDM stuff. People truly need to learn to respect the DJ and surrender themselves to what he doing instead of demanding the DJ to for fill their own personal needs. We are not Juke boxes, we are here to represent our own sound.
Q8. Speaking of venues, which has been your favorite one to perform and why?
There is far too many amazing places to name and I truly love them all. I will say I recently played at concrete in Paris and truly loved everything about that club and the people who attended.. I also really love to play in South / Central America. I’ve played amazing shows in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico & Honduras.
Q9. Hypoxia is your new project where you are exploring sounds influenced from various sources and films. Care to elaborate for our readers?
Well I’ve always loved this retro science fiction, horror, B film movie sound tracks. The artist who created this stuff from the 70s, 80s were true pioneers for me. People like John Carpenter, Wendy Carlos & Vangelis. To me this was the early proto-techno.
I had recently acquired a synthesizer called a Buchla Music Easel. At one time they were considered one of the most rare synths in the world. I wanted to have an opportunity to create pieces of music on this machine that were all live Performances without a computer or multi-tracking. So one day I performed the hypoxia pieces live and recorded it to an old reel to reel tape machine. Wanted to keep it pure analog with no digital components.. Then we transfers the recording to vinyl to maintain its sound… I have recently finished more hypoxia stuff and it will also soon be released in the coming months. the record received an incredible response that I would have never imagined. It was truly the most rewarding feeling I’ve experienced.
Q10. Who is your favourite artist at the moment?
Really listening allot to a group called Hause Arrafna, Empty set, Alessndro Cortini ,Haxen cloak& Vatican Shadow.
Q11. Departing Comfort was a highly successful album when it released last February. When can we expect new material from drumcell?
In early 2016 I have some big surprises 😉
Q12. Would you like to say anything to our readers before your tour embarks this week?
Truly looking forward to the gigs in India. Always has been a dream to travel here. I never thought it would be music that brought me to India. So I’m incredibly great full for everyone’s support and hard work to make this tour happen.
Drumcell performs tonight at I-Kandy, Le Meridian, Delhi/NCR alongside Arjun Vagale for Transition 101.