It\’s around 7am on a Saturday morning. While most Chicagoans are still sleeping, or playing cat and mouse with their alarm clock, Twitchin Skratch just wrapped up a sunrise set from last night\’s after party. As the crowd begins to make their way home, Twitch is packing up for the next gig. He is headed directly over to an after-after party, where he and a group of other dedicated partiers will carry the beat into the early afternoon.
While this type of schedule would wear down most people, to Twitchin Skratch, it\’s just your average weekend in Chicago\’s underground scene and it shows no signs of slowing him down. His self started label features both local Chicago artists and artists from around the world. His own productions have made their way overseas as well, with remix requests and guest mix appearances becoming increasingly common.
Having caught a few of his live sets at after parties, I reached out to Twitchin Skratch to discuss his music, the appeal to the Afters scene, and what the future holds for him.
JohnC: What was your introduction to electronic music and what inspired you to begin mixing and producing?
Twitchin Skratch: I was first introduced to electronic music at a young age in the 90’s. I purchased my first set of turntables when I was about 14 or 15 for the sole purpose of learning how to scratch records. It wasn’t until I started going to clubs such as XL and Industry that I decided to start mixing dance music. As far as producing goes, I was already DJing for about 7 years in nightclubs before it dawned on me that I should be mixing my own music if I really wanted to make a name for myself.
JohnC: As someone who is a regular in the Chicago afters scene (and even the afters-afters) what makes you prefer that environment to the typical club scene?
Twitchin Skratch: I’ve been DJing in clubs since I was 16 (Chromium, Four (now Evil Olive), Mannequin (now The Mid), resident at Mission, resident at Sound-Bar, SpyBar, Tranzit, Vision, resident at V-Live, etc.) Over the years my taste in music has changed and I find the underground scene more suiting to play the music I produce and/or play.
JohnC: Your music seems to balance between techno, tech-house and deep house, while remaining characteristically minimal. What draws you to the minimal approach to electronic music even as the market trends towards the higher energy and more ‘banger’ orientated tracks?
Twitchin Skratch: To me, it’s almost like less is more when it comes to the music I make. If it has a solid groove and isn’t monotonous to the point of it becoming annoying, that’s when I’m content. A lot of times in the studio I’ll sit there for hours straight just listening to what I created, dancing in my studio chair like a fool. That’s when I know I’ve got a good thing going.
JohnC: What artists have had the most influence on your music?
Twitchin Skratch: That’s hard to say specifically because every time I’m in the studio is a completely different experience, based on my mood. I like to think of my music as unique, I don’t sit there and A-B it to other popular artist’s music like a lot of other producers do. I enjoy music from numerous genres though, so I suppose we can say that all of them are an influence on me in some sort of way. Here’s a few artists really quick off the top of my head, in alphabetical order: Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Depeche Mode, Dubfire, Dusky, Jay Lumen, Lana Del Rey, Maceo Plex aka Maetrik, Maya Jane Coles, Nice7, Pig & Dan, Pink Floyd, Richie Hawtin, etc.
JohnC: As electronic music rises in popularity as a result of the ‘EDM’ craze, do you think the increased exposure will be good for electronic music’s core scene in the long run?
Twitchin Skratch: Honestly, I stay away from that scene and avoid articles, posts, blogs, and drama about it as much as possible. What I will say is I’m glad that deep house has become the top selling genre on Beatport, followed by tech house, and the vibe I’m getting is that techno music is on the rise as well. This makes me happy!
JohnC: You have found success in crossing over towards non dance floor orientated segments, with your music appearing in tv shows, movies, and during events. How did you come to be involved in some of these opportunities?
Twitchin Skratch: I guess we can say it was years of hard work and self-promotion combined with good luck.
JohnC: You are the label head of Afterdark Recordings, a Chicago based sub-label of Murky Beatz and dedicated to tracks that cater to the underground scene. The label has seen numerous releases and featured many local artists. What was your vision behind creating the label?
Twitchin Skratch: Like I stated earlier, over the years my musical taste has changed drastically, especially considering I started DJing so many years ago. When I first started to DJ I spun harder trance (which Chicago referred to as Progressive for whatever reason) and Euro. I got a bit older and started spinning house and progressive house. It was around then when I started to produce. Murky Beatz is the parent label so the first handful of releases are more proggy with vocals. Once again, my music took a turn and I started producing more minimal, techy, and deep tracks. At that point I knew I had to create a brand to be a home for my new style. That’s how Afterdark Recordings was born in 2012. There are plenty of local artists who produce originals and remixes for the label, but just as many artists from around the globe as well. Andrea Giuliani (Italy), Extra Dry (France), Fabrizio Pettorelli (Italy), Gaty Lopez (Ibiza), Harun Karabulut (Germany), NHB (London), Swallen (Italy), and Tektonauts (Guatemala) to name a few.
JohnC: Your music has begun to expand outside of the US. You have been featured on radio programs like Sounds of the Underground from the UK and an upcoming feature on the Tektonauts radio program in Guatemala. How did these opportunities come to be and how has the reception been in these foreign scenes?
Twitchin Skratch: I’d say that collaborating with so many artists around the globe has opened a lot of doors for me and introduced my name around the world. Over the past two years I’ve had numerous top 100’s on Beatport. Only because I own my own labels I have access to see where my tracks are selling the best and I’ll say one thing, it’s not my Chicago friends and fans getting me into these Beatport top selling charts.
JohnC: You also started your own monthly podcast, Twitchcast. How has the reception for that been and what inspired you to start a podcast?
Twitchin Skratch: Twitchcast has been going good so far! I’m always getting emails and facebook messages either thanking me or giving me compliments. I did have a podcast before this one which featured mixes from artists on the label as well as a few of my own, but I decided it was a smart idea for me to make 1 mix every month since I have been spending so much time producing over the past 6 years.
JohnC: As an artist heavily involved with the production side, what does your production set up consist of?
Twitchin Skratch: My studio isn’t even close to where I want it to be or picture it being in the future. Hardware is really expensive and I DO NOT pirate any software that I use to produce. Right now I have a 27” iMac with 16gb of ram and a 3tb hard drive, an Access Virus TI Polar (analog synthesizer), Ableton 9, Reason 6.5, Waves Platinum Bundle, Sylenth, Rob Papen’s Predator, Ozone 5, and a few other goodies.
JohnC: What does the future consist of for Twitchin Skratch and Afterdark Recordings?
Twitchin Skratch: The ultimate dream and goal is to be touring the world playing a bunch of my own originals and remixes. I’d also like to stay consistent with not only producing and DJing, but with commercial licensing to commercials, TV shows, movies, etc. As far as Afterdark Recordings, I look forward to signing more talented artists from every corner of the Earth and put the label on the map for good by releasing more quality underground music and reaching more top selling charts on Beatport and other download sites.
I would like to than Twitchin Skratch for taking the time to talk to us.
If you would like to catch Twitchin Skratch live, catch him at the 4th installment of the Tech(no) afterparty series by Reverse Events, Tech(no.4). More information available on Reverse Event\’s Homepage or their Facebook.
For more on Twitchin Skratch, make sure to follow him on Facebook.