Sacha Robotti embodies everything great about Dirtybird: he is a seasoned but ever-evolving producer; an energetic DJ with a rich catalog; and, above all else, a good-natured and fun-loving guy. He's been on the label for a few years with some big collabs – including the Re-Smoked VIP edit of "Lay It Down" from my last album – but dropped first his solo EP, "Melato Nina", last Friday.
He's not only an important part of Dirtybird, but a recent addition to the BIRDHOUSE team as well. I handed him the reins for this week's show, and he gave us a taste of his set from the recent Desert Hearts festival.
Listen to Sacha's BIRDHOUSE takeover below, and check out his answers to our new Questionnaire.
How did your music career get started in earnest?
When I was a kid, my sister (who's now a piano professor) practiced the piano every day for hours, so I guess she's the one who ultimately influenced me to make music. I started playing the cello when I was 8 or so until I was 15 in 1995. That's when I got into DJing electronic music on vinyl... but it wasn't before I was about 20 that I started producing, and 25 that I decided to make music full time. My first steps in the game were as half of a DJ duo called Robosonic. We did this for 11 years in Berlin until I moved to California and focused on my own act.
Where are you from and does it have an influence on your music?
I'm a German-Italian national, born and bred in Brussels, Belgium. Basically a European third-culture kid. Belgium, as small and weird as it is, has an amazing electronic music scene and nightlife. I know few countries who are so into their techno and house... from 15 onward I tried to sneak into clubs every weekend, and even if no one else came with me I just wanted to check out my idols spin their insane records from Detroit, Chicago, U.K., Belgium, Berlin, etc.
How many times did you want to quit trying to make this your career?
I've been there a few times. Mainly because of the lifestyle that, if you don't take care of yourself, tends to become unhealthy.
When you were getting started, which artists did you try to emulate (both musically and careerwise)?
In terms of DJing, I was a fan of the way Jeff Mills and Dave Clarke played records – fast mixes, almost hip-hop style cuts, backspins, bass out, bass in. Essentially, me deck-sharking them taught me the essentials of mixing. To me they were such idols in terms of how they handled their vinyl and how they mixed up techno with electro and ghetto house.
DJ Funk, Parris Mitchel, Robert Armani and everything on Dancemania was also a big influence for me, as well as Green Velvet / Cajmere and both his imprints Relief and Cajual. It's amazing to see some of these guys killing it still, 20 years later! I didn't think of DJing or producing as a career until I had to earn my living with it.
When you have a tough week or a rough tour, how do you get yourself back on track?
I stay away from the internet and try to find nature, watch a sunset, chill heavily, do things that relax and replenish me. I slow down if I can, it's important to take breaks.
Where and when are you at your most content/happiest?
When I'm DJing for people who I move with my music, when I'm hanging with my friends, when I'm in the arms of my lover.
Favorite and least favorite words?
"Sspargeltarzan” which is a funny way to call a slim dude in German, and [least favorite is] “slaaay”.
Favorite board game?
Favorite guilty pleasure food?
Favorite guilty pleasure song?
“Toxic” by Britney Spears.
German or Detroit techno?
Can't decide honestly.
Festival, club or illegal warehouse?
Biggie or Tupac?
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Exercise or Netflix?
I don't have Netflix right now so I'm going to say exercise.