Take 5 – Derrick Thompson (Drivetrain)
Soiree Records boss and producer Derrick Thompson, AKA Drivetrain, sat down with us to discuss his approach to music, his influences, his favourite place to play & more. Check out what he had to say below.
Joseph Barnes: Do you have a general approach to producing your tracks? Do you go into the studio with a plan or do you jam until something inspires you? What was your approach to ‘Breathe’?
Derrick Thompson: I normally begin a project with a vision. However, almost every time, that vision quickly takes many turns and the track ends up completely different from what I originally expected. Regardless, it will never leave my hard drive until I’m completely satisfied with the outcome.
Joseph Barnes: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your music and career?
Derrick Thompson: I get a lot of my motivation from a wide range traditional musicians from jazz, funk, rock, goth, etc. I’ll balance those conventional influences with inspiration taken from a captivating DJ set.
Joseph Barnes: Can you remember the track or album that made you want to produce music of your own?
Derrick Thompson: For me, it didn’t really happen that way. I’ve always been around musicians in my family. This inspired me to learn to play musical instruments, which in turn developed into electronic music production.
Joseph Barnes: What more can we expect from you and the label in the year ahead? Have you got any shows lined up?
Derrick Thompson: Soiree Records is excited about our next release, the Violet EP. It features four brilliantly, intelligent late night tracks which are very functional on the dance floor.
I do have several upcoming shows…festivals and clubs. We’ve also just started working on dates for a European tour later in the year.
Joseph Barnes: What is your earliest memory of music?
Derrick Thompson: Listening to jazz while riding in my dad’s car. He played a very unique blend of abstract music.
Joseph Barnes: What’s your current take on the electronic music scene in Detroit?
Derrick Thompson: There is no lack of talent in electronic music in Detroit. There are always new artists up and coming. From the beginning, the bar was set high. Successful artists of Detroit understand that their music has to be authentic and legit. I’m very proud to be a part of this music tradition.
Joseph Barnes: Do you prefer producing or DJing?
Derrick Thompson: I’ve always loved performing. Being on a stage and feeling the energy and interaction with the people is something that cannot be described with words. It’s a joyful meta-physical experience that I’ll always cherish. However, for me to validate that experience, I need to be producing. It is the nucleus of my musical existence.
Joseph Barnes: Do you have any horror stories from your early days of DJing?
Derrick Thompson: Some of my worst experiences have been playing at clubs with really bad equipment. I think this is something that most DJ’s have to deal with. But on the flip side, if you learn to play under those conditions, it gives you a sense of confidence to perform under any conditions.
Joseph Barnes: What is some advice you would to a DJ/producer who is just starting out?
Derrick Thompson: My best advice is to stay true to yourself. Find your sound and build on it. Never try to keep up with what’s popular or trendy today, because that will be gone tomorrow. Self-definition is self-preservation.
Joseph Barnes: What is your favourite venue to perform and why?
Derrick Thompson: I’ve had a long history of memorable performances. It would be impossible for me to single out one venue as my favourite. Many of my favourite places are no longer open. One venue that I’ll never forget is called, Guendalina. It’s in the south of Italy. I love this place. It looks like it was a colosseum a very long time ago. It has 2 large rooms. I’ve played both. The main room is open air. The venue is located close to the sea. It’s a beautiful experience playing in open air, connecting with hundreds of people through music while the sun rises over the sea.
Interview by Joseph Barnes
‘Violet’ is out 04/06 on Soiree Records.