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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Mar 10, 2009
From playing shows at local favorites like Café Du Nord to making mixes that Luke Solomon personally requests to remix, it’s no wonder this DJ has garnered massive attention and achieves 10/10 perfection. What is seemingly simple house music can be categorized as deep and funky groove music to please the senses. Taking time from his busy schedule to speak with SF Station, George shares his thoughts about his DJ world.
SF Station (SFS): Where are you originally from, and how did you get into DJing?
George Cochrane (GC): I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, CA. My best friend and I started making dance music in the late 90s after being swept up in the electronica boom, being blown away by early Daft Punk, Underworld, and Prodigy tracks. Once we'd made a bunch of music, we started playing live PA shows in the SF underground rave scene as a duo called DJ2. We put out our first record on my label Newstylesound in 2000. That single made a splash in the UK tech house scene, and was eventually reissued with a Mazi remix by Grant Dell, and picked for "Evil" Eddie Richards' Fabric London CD. Ever since then, I've been putting out music, and playing out as a live performer and DJ.
SFS: You also use the name Origami, any reason/occasion behind that?
GC: When I was starting out looking for a pseudonym, I wanted to use the name Logic, because I was into precision and intricacy in my music. I found out that DJ Logic in NYC was beginning to blow up at the time, so I looked for something else that would imply a certain sense of considered intricacy and -- boom -- Origami hit me, and it stuck. These days I am starting to use my real name on more projects, but Origami sticks around for my two duos: Andrew Phelan and Origami and Cubik and Origami.
SFS: What's it like to be a prominent part of Prismatic Tracks?
GC: Andrew Phelan and I have been partners in music since he was playing swing house and I was making unplayable "space house" in my Oakland studio, so it's super gratifying to see him build this label up from nothing to where it is today: a great platform to get our music, and music from others we dig, out to the world.
Prismatic is really active right now. Andrew's been putting out a bunch of solo tracks of mine with awesome remixes, which is sweet, and we just issued a single both of us worked on, featuring SF's Audio Angel on vocals. Lovely stuff. Prismatic already has a fine catalog, and it's poised to really blow up. The responses we've been getting on recent singles are just great.
SFS: Tell us about the many inspirations behind your newly released, "Everydaylife."
GC: When the idea for that track first came around, I was in an extreme funk. My home life was bad, my job was awful, and I just felt ready to keel over from sheer frustration. In those times when I felt like just giving up, music always carried me through, magically. So the song is saying, "Everything is totally screwed up, but somehow music gives me something to hold onto and helps me make it through."
The original track is decidedly strange, all clanging percussion and dubbed-out pianos, with this almost 80s like vocal I did, but you can sure feel the emotion! I think it really came into its own as a DJ-friendly track in the remixes - the DJ2 ones I did with Delaney Parker aka Funkmotor are pure dirt and I love the Sleazy McQueen and Andrew Phelan & Origami versions too.
SFS: What changes have you seen in the electronic dance scene in San Francisco?
GC: The change from the all-raves-all-the-time underground scene to today's club-focused mode is probably the biggest one. When the UG rave scene was in its heyday, money wasn't really part of the equation. Parties were often thrown for no profit, or even a loss, and artists were booked on their merit and the flow of the party, not so much the numbers they would pull. Producers and DJs were freer in the music they made and played, and creativity and vibe reigned supreme.
Like it nor not, money is a big decision maker these days. That, to my mind, makes the loving, experience-oriented side of dance culture weaker, and drives some promoters to book the same group of proven moneymakers over and over, instead of casting the net wider and pushing things forward with new sounds. It also introduces situations like people putting headliners on at 3 or 4am when people are tiring out, so they can keep people at the party longer and maximize bar profits.
Of course, those early raves scarcely had alcohol at all, let alone bars! That said, SF is still a wonderful place to dance, and it has some spectacular club nights and even rave-like events still. The Burning Man scene is a huge injector of energy into the area. The newer genres like dubstep and glitch seem to be bringing in a brand-new crowd of DJ/producers, promoters and dancers, with fresh attitudes, which is great. Some of the best nights out I've had recently have been in some crazy hay maze or tiny basement, getting wobbled around by huge basslines with happy people going crazy all around. That's the nice thing about dance music. When things are crackin' it's the best thing in the world, and when it starts to get stale, somebody always comes along and flips it.
SFS: What has been one of your most memorable collaborations?
GC (George Cochrane): It's tough to pick one, but some of the tracks that Andrew Phelan and I did with UK vocalist and producer Brown were a real blast to make, and the first Cubik & Origami record was probably the closest I've come to making music with absolutely zero boundaries. The remixes I've worked on are another particularly bright spot. It's so cool to get these little pieces of another person's ideas and make something totally new with them. Basically anytime I can get in the studio and get all the lights blinking is my jam.
SFS: In order to have staying power as a DJ, what are some values you live by/keep in mind?
GC: The biggest thing I try to do is just treat people nicely. Nobody ever got ahead by being a complete jerk... Ok, scratch that, plenty of people have gotten ahead that way, but it's a hollow victory! Also, I try to make at least a couple of new tracks before every gig, even if I'm just banging something out the night before, so when I play I have something brand new to share. I stay in touch with new music and new music technology kind of obsessively. Making and discovering new music every day keeps me motivated. There's always something surprising around the corner -- new tracks to try to freak people out with. That and I don't think I'll ever tire of trying out the previous night's new jam on a big sound system. Boom.
Catch him this Friday in Oakland at the YNOT Nimby party, and check out the music/tech blog at http://www.georgecochrane.com and personal record label at http://www.dinnerpartyrecords.com.
by Christina Li on Mar 10, 2009