I’ve been a fan of Andre ‘Doctor Jeep‘ Lira for a good few years now. As one of the US’ most exciting, forward-thinking DJs to produce and mix the deeper ends of the bass music spectrum, Doctor Jeep’s seen appearances alongside some of the finest DJs in the US and releases with some of America’s best imprints for our sound.
With a recent debut at Reconstrvct, as well as a fantastic EP with our Tumble Audio dudes, I figured it was high time we had a chat. Read on to find out what happened…
Andre, how’s it going? Yo! It’s going really well actually. Reeling from a very inspiring RBMA talk I went to last night from NYC disco legend Nicky Siano. Such a trip to hear how your city’s musical landscape can change over the decades.
Can you introduce yourself – who are you, what do you do etc? Well, I’m Andre, I live in Harlem, NYC, I produce a variety of types of bass music under the name Doctor Jeep and I DJ every so often in New York and other cities around the world. I’m probably most well known in my social circles for my love of Nutella, weird fascination with real estate/ architecture, and wearing the same all-black outfit every time I’m in public.
From afar, it looks like the start of the year’s been pretty good for you! What’s been the highlights of 2016 so far? The biggest highlight technically happened in the last two weeks of 2015 when I quit my dayjob (I was a recruiter for accounting/finance professionals) so this year has felt like a fresh lease on life. Having time to work on my craft every day has been absolutely amazing. Events-wise it’s a toss up between playing the Deep Space night at Cielo and playing at Reconstrvct for the first time which is easily my favorite party in NYC so that was a massive honour.
Looking forward, what have you got coming up over the next few months? I have a remix on TUBA 12″ out next month for this duo Folding City and an EP with Chaos Clan (a new label from Star Eyes of Trouble & Bass) some time in the spring/early summer. The Chaos Clan tunes have been getting amazing response when I’ve played them live so I’m super excited for those – some wild breakbeat rave joints. Otherwise, I’ve just been writing a ton of music in many different styles / tempos.
In January alone I wrote 8 tracks that I’m proud of, which is very out of the ordinary for me. When I had that job I was so mentally wiped by the time I got home every day that I never really had energy to work on music. Feels great to have that private SoundCloud playlist of “Jeep Tunes 2016” growing and growing. I’ve also been working with some vocalists recently which has been a lot of fun – one of the tunes I wrote with an MC named Magugu is included in the mix. It’s been teaching me a lot about making my beats more sparse to give room for vocals which has been a great learning experience.
Much like London, New York seems to be a melting pot for sounds and cultures. How important is the city to you as an artist? Yeah, New York is fantastic for that. I love my neighborhood for that very reason, it’s very vibrant and so full of energy all the time. I live just a few blocks from the main commercial area in Harlem (125th Street) and you’ll walk by street vendors straight up blasting Nas’ Illmatic‘ or dancehall records out of a boombox, and then a few steps later you might stumble across a group of older guys singing soul classics.
I like living in a major city because it allows me to be exposed to a lot of different kinds of music I don’t typically listen to at home. For example, where I live is walking distance to Central Park, and on weekends in the summer there’s a group that sets up full blown roller discos with people rollerskating around to 70’s records being played on a big system. Whenever I walk by that I think to myself “there’s no way I would ever see something like this in a smaller city in the US,” and I think that NY’s strong musical heritage is something that’s built into a lot of people that live here so it’s really inspiring to be surrounded by that.
You’re heavily involved in the NY scene, with a recent slot on the awesome Lot Radio and a set alongside Commodo at Reconstrvct. What’s NYC like for bass music at the moment? I think the scene is doing really well right now. For the most part, the events I go to have great sound systems and the DJs I know have good taste. New York is still very much dominated by house and techno but there is an extremely passionate scene that supports the bass music parties and I can definitely say I feel “at home” knowing that I can show up to an event by myself and personally know half the crowd. I’d like to go out more often and catch every DJ set I can, but sometimes it’s tough due to my geographic isolation from where all the good events are (mostly in Williamsburg and Bushwick, which is about 45-75min away on the subway depending on how late at night it is).
As much as I like partying, it’s pretty difficult to motivate myself to go out unless the lineup is really next-level or I have a bunch of friends playing at it. There are a bunch of weeknight parties with local DJs I’d like to see, but making that hour-long trek at 4am is something I can’t do too often. I guess that’s the curse of having a great scene sometimes, there’s TOO MUCH good stuff going on so you have to pick and choose.
Is there a Doctor Jeep ‘sound’? How would you describe it if so? I guess the two main things I like the most are tribal percussion sounds and oscillating basses, the most on-point example of a classic Jeep-sounding-tune being my track Control. One of my favorite stages ever is The Moat at Outlook Festival and when I write music I like to imagine myself being in that space and what it would sound like there. That, or at a crazy rave in the middle of the Amazon Jungle on the eve of the apocalypse. That would be a pretty sick way to end my time on earth, haha!
Your style seems to traverse a number of genres – but with the common theme of bass (and a healthy dose of vibes!). How did it all start for you? I started getting into dance music when a friend of mine showed me Justice’s Cross in high school in 2006. I was blown away, and it was a great transitional album for me to explore more about electronic music because it had so many elements of rock/metal that I liked before that. It wasn’t until a few years later when I picked up Caspa & Rusko’s Fabriclive mix at the local music shop that things really took a radical turn. I bought the CD solely because of the cool cover art and when I listened to it for the first time it was as if I was hearing alien music. It was so fascinating and I couldn’t get enough of it.
From there I started getting into more UK labels like Hessle, Hemlock, and Blunted Robots (super underrated label by the way. Old Shortstuff and Brackles was NEXT). In 2012, I had a 6 month research internship at Goldsmith’s College in London and on my 2nd day in the UK some friends of mine took me to Fabric and that completely changed my life. In the US I had felt like such an outsider for so long, liking this music when I didn’t have many friends that were into the same vibes at the time, and finally I was surrounded by people that “got it” and I felt like I found my tribe, so to speak.
Were you a producer or DJ first? Producer first, got my first copy of Logic the summer before I went to college and made a bunch of 150bpm chiptune / trance type stuff, and only started “DJing” (ie, with a low-end Numark controller and Traktor Pro) on my 19th birthday.
If you could go back to the start and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? I’d tell myself “Stop worrying as much about what other people think about your art.” Sure, it feels great to have people resonate with something you’ve created, but there was definitely a point where I got really depressed because no one was giving a shit about what I was doing. Nowadays, I’ve chilled out a bit and I recognize that although I make music that I really love, not everyone is going to enjoy it and that’s totally okay. I’d also tell myself to be more patient in general. In the beginning, I think I made some poor decisions because I wanted to have a track out the following week instead of 6 months later.
You’re affiliated with the legendary Trouble&Bass – and you’ve recently had a release with our boys at Tumble Audio. What are your favourite labels pushing bass music at the minute? My favorite labels change all the time but there are some that I find are consistently amazing: Livity Sound, Artikal, and Exit are three labels that seem to never have a “bad” release and are ever-evolving.
What’s your DAW of choice? How do you go about building music – do you have a set process? I’ve been using Ableton pretty much the entire time I’ve made music. Honestly, about 80% of the music I’ve made comes from me getting an idea for a drum pattern or bassline in the shower and sprinting to my desk so I can write it down before I forget. I don’t have a set process and I’m sure I could go about it in a much easier way by creating a default “new set” with all the drum sounds I like and plugins all set up to my custom-built presets but oh well.
One thing that surprises some people is that aside from Massive I don’t use any other VST’s – it’s all sample-based for me. I am theoretically open to getting new plugins but it takes a lot of time to learn every nook and cranny of them – I feel like that time is better utilised putting raw ideas down instead of twiddling knobs.
In terms of playing out, what’s the one tune (dub or released) that always goes off? This one’s kind of an obvious choice but I really can’t get enough of Benga & Coki‘s Night. It’s one of those tunes where crowds are like “oh wow, haven’t heard this one in a while” but I don’t feel like it has that “this song has been played out and should be buried” stigma. I had a gig recently where I played my 134bpm UK funky edit of it, the original, and the Digital Soundboy 170bpm remix all in the same set and every time the crowd went wild. Sometimes you gotta just not care about convention and play the same damn song 3 times in a 2 hour set because why not?
As far as venues you’ve played at or systems you’ve played on, what stands out as the best for you in the US? It’s not my favorite venue to attend for shows, but the booth at Output in Brooklyn was pretty amazing. Cielo in Manhattan was also great; sick soundsystem. When I played Reconstrvct they didn’t have their usual soundsystem (Tsunami Bass) but the one they had at their warehouse was pretty lethal too. Playing on Tsunami or the Gritsy “Wall of Bass” in Houston would be amazing and hopefully I’ll get the chance to rock it sometime in the future.
Which producer are you rating most at the moment, both in the US and internationally? This is always a really tough question as I think there are a ton of people that deserve some shine, so I’ll flip this around and give you a top 3 favorites of the moment from my country and elsewhere. For US, I’m really enjoying what both Jonah Freed and DJ Madd are doing with 140/160 type music and Sister City (a group comprised of Grenier, EPROM, and Hej Fund) for tunes more on the techno side of the spectrum. They’ve just put out a killer release on Boys Noize Records which I’ve been loving.
As for international artists, Ivy Lab have been smashing it. They did a mix for Noisia’s radio show which I’ve had on repeat, seriously one of the best mixes I’ve heard in the last year. Hodge for more warehouse techno vibes; I think he has such a distinctive and clean sound and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a ton of inspiration from seeing him play at Reconstrvct 2x in the past year. Last but not least, DJ Riot of Buraka Som Sistema is making super interesting music mixing 90bpm Zouk rhythms with DnB influences, I always end up playing a bunch of his tunes if I’m playing sets around that tempo.
What can you tell us about your FKOF mix? My gameplan going into it was to give shine to a few lesser known artists while also including unreleased tracks from bigger names in the scene. A good chunk of the mix is from Canadian producers – the scene up there for bass music is unreal compared to what I feel like we have in the ‘States. A crew based in Calgary called Noctilux Collective sent me a recent compilation of theirs which I was really impressed by and wanted to showcase that a bit.
And of course, I wanted to preview some of my own forthcoming and never-before-heard material. I used to be really self conscious about how my mixdowns/masters sounded next to some tunes that have vastly superior engineering, but then I realized “no one is ever gonna hear these tunes if you never play them!”
What are your goals for this year? Getting back to Europe and playing more festivals. Don’t think I’ll go back to Outlook this year but if I got invited to any other Canadian or European/UK festival I’d be really happy. That being said, promoters I’ll be in UK/EU in mid-May so get in touch with my agent for bookings! I would love to have a proper 12″ of my own too, it’s always a fantastic feeling to have that physical memento of your hard work.
Any final thoughts or shoutouts? Shouts to all the people that sent me tunes for this mix, and if anyone reading this is vibing off the mix feel free to send me some tracks! I’m super open to hearing music from all over the world and definitely would like to expand my horizons. And big thanks to you lot at FKOF for having me!
Click to DOWNLOAD (97MB)
- Sherwood & Pinch – Different Eyes [Tectonic]
- Danny Scrilla – Obeah VIP [Self released]
- Doctor Jeep – Dissociate [dub]
- Calibre – Fire & Water (DJ Madd 165 Gangsta Lean Edit) [dub]
- Shifty – Exit Strategy [dub]
- Doctor Jeep & Magugu – Pidgin [dub]
- Levrige – Diamonds [Aufect]
- Abstrakt Sonance – Alternate [forthcoming Really Good Records]
- Sanctuary – YMYD [Noctilux Collective]
- Subtle Mind – Sand Snake [TUBA]
- Wolf Camo – Unstoppable [Noctilux Collective]
- The Velvet Separation – Number 44 [Noctilux Collective]
- Jack Sparrow – Red Snake [Tectonic]
- Akcept – Martyr [FKOF]
- Bukez Finezt – Seventeen 45 [dub]
- Folding City – Spacewalk (Doctor Jeep remix) [forthcoming TUBA]
- Aaliyah – One In A Million (Subtle Mind bootleg) [Self released]
Photos of Andre by Netti Hurley
Photo of The Lot Radio by Studio EmileDubuisson