All you cats and kitties out there whippin’ and wailin’ and jumping up and down and suckin’ up all that old juice and hippin’ and tellin’ each other who the greatest cat in the world is, and I’m going to put a cat on you that was the coolest, strongest, sweetest cat that ever stomped on this sweet, swingin’ sphere.
Episode XV is upon us and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome American producer Pontchartain for this steamy July edition of The LoveBath! Since last year he has been topping the charts in an erupting Nudisco and Edits scene, as well as releasing an array of classy vinyl-only cuts on important labels like Whiskey Disco and Rocksteady. Heavily influenced by years of crate-digging with the greats in his hometown of Detroit, Dustin has crafted one hell of a sexy ride for us, exploring obscure disco and house gems from the Paradise Garage era… Now it’s time to slip off those layers and explore every surface with the newest edition to our cherished LoveBath family: Pontchartrain.
Sylvester – I Need Somebody To Love Tonight (Pontchartrain Edit)
Michael Jackson – I Can’t Help It (Tangoterje Edit)
Rayko – Magic Voodoo
Yse Saint Laur’ant – Optimistic Voyeur
Deadly Sins – Mary’s Red Hot Groove
Osmose – Help Me DISCOver
Payfone – Paradise
Phil Weeks – Live At Palladium
Sleazy McQueen – Let’s Make Love Tonight
Pontchartrain – Baby Rock
Diana Ross – Love Hangover (Pontchartrain Edit)
Josh Milan – Thinking About Your Body (Louie Vega’s Dance Ritual Mix)
Michael The Lion – Any Time
Jean Claude Gavri – Stay 2Gether (Soulful Relief)
Sheila Hylton – It’s Gonna Take A Lot Of Love (Mcboing boing laster dub edit)
Interview with Pontchartrain:
What was it like growing up in Detroit?
I grew up in a suburb just north of Detroit, and it was what a lot of people might consider rural actually. I lived on a dirt road, surrounded by farms. I even learned to drive on a tractor. A lot of people around where I grew up had some prejudiced and even fearful ideas of the city, even though it was so close, and even though most people claimed it as their city. So until I could drive myself there, my view of Detroit was very cloudy, which just made me more curious. So starting from around age 16, which was about 5 years before Detroit started making it’s big economic come-back (and it really is coming back), I got to experience the city as it really was, with some great mentors that showed me a completely different point of view. And obviously it was a good experience since I now live in the heart of the city.
Were you into the house scene from a young age or was that something that came later on after other musical influences? What about disco and funk?
I actually grew up on a lot of rock, influenced from my older brother, and classical music from being obsessed with playing the violin for many years when I was a kid. Again High school was the big turning point because I was immediately sucked into the house and techno world in all the right ways, in the best city for it. Starting to shop for music with the other DJs in record stores was the greatest thing that ever happened to me musically besides playing an instrument. They would not only tell me what was “good” but they would tell me WHY it was good. They would tell me about samples and instruments used, and it got me really thinking that it all connected back to funk, disco, and soul music. Everything we know of in electronic music these days is centered around that. So my curiosity got the best of me again and I became obsessed with digging for it and reworking it the way I wanted. Instead of building on house and techno that was already done, I wanted to trace back what the original house and techno guys were doing, and do it myself.
How has the festival season been this year? Anything that you’ve been particularly excited about playing or attending?
The festival season has been great so far. The Movement Festival in Detroit is like Christmas for a lot of us. The lineup this year had its ups and downs, but there is something about the location of the festival that makes unexpected things happen in everyone’s sets. Everyone, in some way, plays with Detroit in mind, and that’s always something special to see. The highlight of the weekend was definitely the Crew Love afterparty with Soul Clap. Best lineup I’ve seen in years, and those guys are just really amazing people. I played several after-hours spots and a sunrise set at one of the local spots during the festival and had an all around great time. There are two other festivals in the city called Tec-Troit, and Charivari. Both have been gaining huge momentum and I’m excited to be a part of playing in them. Internationally I’m really focused on BPM this year, either to play or go. It just sounds like a blast. Other than that, with work, gigs every weekend here and abroad, and making music, I don’t have as much time for festivals as I’d like.
Take us on what you would consider a great night out around the city. Where are some of your favorite spots in the city? Food, Clubs, Record Shopping, Culture?
Well if you only had one day, I would suggest getting started early at Eastern Market on a Saturday. You get a huge cross-section of the city in one space. So if you don’t have time to check out all the different burroughs in the city, it’s a good start. Three food items you have to try at some point, though – tacos from one of the awesome spots in Mexican-town (one of the best in the nation), some soul food from a backyard BBQ spot, and a Coney Dog from Lafayette. For Record stores, if you want to go digging and get all of the Detroit exclusives, check out Detroit Threads. For 45s check out People’s Records. And for the best deals and always solid picks, check out Hello Records. Pretty much every weekend there are amazing shows around the city. For current techno and house fans, TV Lounge or The Whiskey Disco is your best bet (No affiliation to the label). And for solid local music in a dive-bar setting, I highly recommend Temple Bar. At times it’s the best dancefloor in the city. Since most bars close at 2am, when alcohol stops being served legally, there are a ton of afterhours spots. My most frequented location is one of the very first clubs I started going to in Detroit, The Works. It’s had its ups and downs but its home to some of the most legendary shows the city has seen in the last few decades, and it screams “Detroit”. Kind of dirty, loud, hot, brick walls, and mostly techno. If you want house after hours, the check out The Mix downtown. There are countless other less-legal happenings all over the city, but you just need to start talking to like-minded people and see where it leads you.
Your hard work is paying off with the new project.What has that been like and what else is on the horizon for Pontchartrain?
Well what’s funny about it all is I’ve been making music in some capacity for about a decade, but nothing much really ever happened with it, mostly because I grew up with this mentality to be extra-modest and respect the hierarchy of DJs, since Detroit was such a Mecca; that if it was really good, people would just approach you and give you a shot. This was mostly true 10 years ago, but not really now. So much has changed when it comes to the DJ and producer world in that time. So honestly when I started just chatting with, and approaching label managers and DJs and got such positive feedback, I was shocked. My very first release hitting the top of Juno was a little surreal, and also really humbling, because I realized even though so much has changed, the entire scene is really communal and welcoming. So it’s been kind of like going back to school and meeting a ton of new friends, but from all over the world. More important than making music, is being a good person, and when you are, you tend to realize how small the world really is.
As of right now, I will always love doing edits, but I’m also expanding into house-oriented territory and making sample based original productions, as well as doing full remixes from tape stems of some originals. There are a few upcoming releases on vinyl through a new label I am working with Sleazy McQueen on starting called “Lovedancing”, as well as on Masterworks Music, and Whiskey Disco, all of which should be coming out later this year.
Can you take us through the structure of a Pontchartrain track? Are you working more with samples or stems and how does that affect your process? What kind of hardware software do you prefer to work with?
Well I approach each track with an idea in mind. A mentor of mine, DJ Psycho of the Detroit Techno Militia, taught me that if you don’t have a reason and a vision behind what you’re doing, then even if it’s good, it’s not going to mean anything to anyone. It will be lost in translation. So part of the process is all about your reason for selection when it comes to samples. If you’re just remixing or editing a track because you can, or because nobody else has yet, then honestly just don’t do it – always make meaningful music, especially so with edits. That being said, I tend to lay out my idea for a track right at the beginning, picking samples to use right at the start. I decide if I’m going to resample and layer and EQ parts of a song, or replay them myself, or add something new, and that all changes throughout production. I have no formula, just an idea of what I want to end up with. For edits, I always read up on the original producers and try to use some of their same techniques in my revisions, which helps me learn, as well as pay homage to the original in the end product in some way. There are some tools which I always use, simply because it’s part of my own sound. An FX rack which someone else actually made, that I have modified is what I use for my signature dub delays and reverb, but also I use an SC-66A analog parametric EQ from TK Disco’s studio that was given to me, to tune all of my drums, and I primarily work with Waves plugins, especially the SSL pack.
For remixes with studio stems of originals, I like to look at it the same way the original engineers would. Guys like Kon and The Reflex, or Dimitri From Paris, all really pioneered the new age of traditional remixes, and they’ve got the right idea, so that would be the best comparison. Simply creating new versions of the originals. A lot of work by more talented musicians than myself went into creating those sounds, and I try to remember that. For other remixes and original house tracks using samples, that’s really where you get to have the most fun, and be experimental. Just like any song though, decide what you want the track to be centered around, and work really hard at making that one element perfect and showcasing it, and develop something around it.
Other tools I use regularly would be a TR-8, Novation Ultranova, and the volca series machines by Korg, especially the Volca Sample, in addition to an array of different midi controllers. I don’t use many sound production vst’s or plugins besides reaktor for some of its synths and ableton’s drum-rack / sampler. I usually play something live, record it into my DAW, and then use it that way.
Tell us about your LoveBath…
Well first and foremost I wanted this to be a kind of sexy mix, but I wanted the mood to change throughout, so it ebbs and flows. But more than anything I want the mix to make people smile at some point. It’s a feelgood selection. This mix was created by mixing live vinyl in some parts and then bringing some of that into ableton. There I added some of my own additional elements and subtleties, and even made a new edit out of the intro track, which is a very underrated tune by Sylvester. Every track on this mix is meaningful but the one I just find myself really getting down to is “Paradise” by Payfone. It’s extremely well produced, and really combines how I feel about house, funk, and disco in a new original way. There is also a few exclusives that nobody else has heard unless you’ve seen me live, one in particular called “Baby Rock”. I used a George MaCrae sample for that one, and the full version will be vinyl only coming out on Rocksteady Disco later this year.
What about when not making music? What are you doing to wind down on your days off?
Well on the rare occasion I have some time off, I’m usually spending it with my awesome girlfriend, family and friends. I’m not the kind of person who ever does something like sits and watches TV or movies or something. There are so many good shows in Detroit all the time, that I’m out several nights a week. A few times a year I try to travel a little bit, go camping, or just be away from the insanity of Detroit and I love the outdoors.
Drink of choice?
Gin & Tonic