Truncate is one of Los Angeles’ household names within the house and techno scene. His productions and label are one of the most charted in the world, making Truncate and his music one of the most widely sought-out artists of the underground. Good things take hustle, but great things take time. There are no overnight successes. Truncate and his successful music career are a product of his willingness to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes to keep his passion for music burning. Success happens over time not overnight, and he shares his motivations behind his musical ambitions and the tricky waters aspiring artists need to navigate.
“I think it’s important to realize that not everyone will make it and have a full-time career in music. It’s a hard reality. Get into this for the right reasons. Do it because you love it. A lot of beginning artists are constantly bombarded with successful DJs and producers on social media and they strive for that, but not everyone will be that big and successful. […]”
Truncate shares the hard truth, and a reality check electronic artists need every now and then
Thank you for taking the time to chat with 6AM to dive deeper into its ArtistMap program. Why a career in music, and what was your “gateway song” that started your love for house and techno?
Thank you for having me! Well, I didn’t really plan on a music career. Although I knew from a young age, music was going to be a big part of my life. I really didn’t think I would be doing this for a living. It was always a hobby before and I thought making a living off touring and making music was just a dream, but here I am!
I don’t really have a gateway song, but I remember hearing electronic music at family backyard parties when I was a kid in the 80s. I was drawn to hip-hop and electro then eventually got into house and techno through mixtapes from my brother, and also from mix shows on the radio (Powertools, Mars FM/Groove radio (pre-internet). Pretty much from the early 90s, I was drawn to house and techno, and it only grew from there.
There’s a lot of information and tutorials out there about music production and DJing, and not so much about the personal journey (what it takes to start and keep going). Why do you think it’s important for aspiring artists to have a resilient mindset and a strong sense of self-discipline in addition to other more talked about practical skills?
I think it’s important to realize that not everyone will make it and have a full-time career in music. It’s a hard reality. Get into this for the right reasons. Do it because you love it. A lot of beginning artists are constantly bombarded with successful DJs and producers on social media and they strive for that, but not everyone will be that big and successful. Once you get past that, focus on doing what you love and the recognition will follow. There really isn’t one way to do this. Everyone’s journey is different, but if you do want to do this and make touring a part of your life, be prepared to lose your personal and family social life. You will be gone most weekends, which in your personal life, means when everyone has their birthday parties, baby showers weddings, etc…
“If you do want to do this and make touring a part of your life, be prepared to lose your personal and family social life. It’s not as easy as it may look. You only see the highlights on social media, but you don’t see the grind.”
Truncate agrees that success is only the tip of the iceberg
I missed out on so many occasions because I was on the road. It’s not as easy as it may look. You only see the highlights on social media, but you don’t see the grind. I don’t even know how you would prepare someone for a life like this. I was never prepared for it… but after so many years you get used to it and flying from LA to Europe was just like a commute to work. It’s so bizarre when you think about it.
“We didn’t have social media to worry about. The music spoke for itself. People couldn’t put a face to a DJ unless they saw them at a party or in a magazine. Now everything has become so visual and it’s about your persona more than the music. I hate to say that, but it’s true. Music and talent will take you very far don’t get me wrong but it all depends on what you’re striving for.”
Truncate discusses the changing landscape for DJs/producers with the rise of social media
From what you’ve seen since you first started your musical career back in the 90s, do you think aspiring artists underestimate the amount of work that goes into developing a career as a DJ/producer, or do you notice fresher talent working harder?
Well, it’s a whole different ball game now. We didn’t have social media to worry about. The music spoke for itself. People couldn’t put a face to a DJ unless they saw them at a party or in a magazine. Now everything has become so visual, and it’s about your persona more than the music. I hate to say that, but it’s true. Music and talent will take you very far don’t get me wrong but it all depends on what you’re striving for. As I stated earlier if you want to be famous, it most likely won’t happen, but if that’s what you’re going for, then you have social media to focus on.
I work with some young producers now who love the music and make music because they love it. I can see their passion and that in turn inspires me. I believe these days younger producers do have to work harder to be seen and be heard; there’s just way more competition out there. There are “shortcuts” people take to make it to the top, which makes it even more difficult to compete in this scene nowadays. Be true to yourself and do what you love.
“The initial vision was to build a community and a scene that was fresh and special. There were only a few big parties a year with small club nights sprinkled in between. As producers, we also wanted to put LA on the techno map. In the past it was always Detroit, Chicago, and Europe, [but] not many LA techno producers were making waves beside a few so, it was important for us to make a name for ourselves in LA for the techno world.”
Identify a niche and then fill the void, a recipe for opportunity that Truncate ran with in music
What was running through your head when you first started organizing techno parties that now, looking back, were a bedrock to the local underground music scene? Did you set out with a vision and intention of putting LA on the map for underground music?
The main reason for putting on parties was to book DJs and producers we liked that no one else was booking. There was almost no techno scene in the late 90s and early 2000s. You had techno DJs come through LA and play at big raves but it was always with many other DJs of different genres. No one was focusing just on techno. The initial vision was to build a community and a scene that was fresh and special. There were only a few big parties a year with small club nights sprinkled in between.
As producers, we also wanted to put LA on the techno map. In the past it was always but Detroit, Chicago, and Europe, not many LA techno producers were making waves beside a few so, it was important for us to make a name for ourselves in LA, for the techno world.
Many look to you as one of the pioneers in the underground scene, specifically techno. You helped pave a path for generations that came after you. As much glory as titles like “the first”/ “pioneer” carry, it can also be a very hard journey precisely because no one came before you. You didn’t really have any frame of reference, what kept you motivated then and what keeps you going now?
Well, there were many that came before me. I can never call myself the first or a pioneer because I’m far from it. All my inspiration came from other DJs & producers and not necessarily in the techno scene. LA back in the day had a big house, hardcore, and DnB scene as well so I can’t discount any of those DJs being an inspiration to me.
Experience is our best teacher. If there’s one thing you could tell a younger version of you, what would it be?
Save your money!
What’s one thing you’re most proud of? Any surreal moments?
I can’t pick one specific thing I’m proud of. I’m proud of what I have accomplished as a whole over my career. I’ve made music and worked with heroes of mine. I’ve built friendships and relationships with people I never thought I would even meet in my lifetime. I’ve released music on labels I never would’ve thought was possible. I’ve played alongside artists that I looked up to. I’ve played at legendary clubs and festivals that I could only hear on mixtapes or mixes online from my bedroom. There’s a lot to be proud of…
At this point in your career, could you confidently say you’re successful, and if not what does success look like to you?
I guess yes, I can say I’m successful because I’ve been able to make a living off my music for the last 12 years. I don’t necessarily think being successful is being rich.
Any new music or other projects on the horizon?
Yes, lots of new music coming! I have a collab EP with Dotdat from India coming in March 2021 on my label Truncate. I just finished a collab EP with James Ruskin which will be coming out on Blueprint sometime in 2021. I have loads of EPs lined up on my labels WRKTRX and Truncate from artists like Annika Wolfe, Hertz Collision, Gene Richards Jr, Uncertain, Bidoben, and others! Definitely keep an eye out on my labels for some dope music.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I just want to thank everyone who’s been supporting me and my music over all these years. It really does keep me going. During these rough times, it’s been hard to stay inspired, but I keep chugging along doing my thing. I’m happy that people are still sticking with me.