After making my way through the Hippo Boutique just off Kloof Street, I found myself in the Red Bull Suite interviewing one of the most chilled and laid back people I have ever met. Emerson Todd, originally from New Zealand yet now residing in Berlin, got chatting about the Love Parade incident last year, the cricket and rugby world cups, travelling and only then did we get down to the actual interview…
MCBN: You must have played at some big festivals and parties across the world. What is the largest crowd you have played to?
The Love Parade in Berlin is the largest amount of people but not the largest direct amount of people I have played to. There have been some of the festivals where you play to around 15,000 but it’s not as fun as you think, it’s quite a lonely place up there as it’s not as intimate as the smaller parties. The smaller parties are much more enjoyable as I like to interact with the crowd. It makes the feeling much more personal and that’s what you want as a DJ.
MCBN: You have already played in Durban and next up is Cape Town, then JHB – Is this your first time in South Africa and what are your thoughts on the South African scene at the moment?
No, I was here in February last year and it was really really cool. In Durban especially I noticed a big change; things have become a lot groovier and educated – a more underground sound… It is very nice to come back and see these exciting changes. I cannot wait to see the changes when I come back next year 😉 Growth in a scene is always an awesome thing to see, no matter where you are! It’s always nice coming down here, being a kiwi and all, it’s almost like coming home in a way. I mean you guys get my joke. Haha!
MCBN: You have been producing tracks for a while now, who has influenced your sound over the years?
I don’t know if there is one single influence. The one thing I love about producing is that you’re always learning something new and I’m constantly learning and developing my sound. I am always looking for new things and exciting ways to change my sound. If I hear something that excites me, I try incorporating that into a track… I am always searching for new things to inspire me…
MCBN: You have played in venues across the world, where would you say is the most enjoyable destination and why?
As a DJ, you are always trying to look for those special moments with a crowd. It’s always the most surprising venues that have that vibe that makes a particular party special. There have been parties like Sonar and Music Conference that are really cool; all my DJ mates are there, but in terms of most enjoyable parties I would have to say – the smaller gigs – like even a few hundred people compared to 1,000 can sometimes be better. It’s more about the vibe and the feeling that emanates off the crowd, which makes it special for me… So to be honest, it all depends on where I am at that moment…
MCBN: If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
I have been a HUGE Doors fan for a LONG time, so I would love to do something with them. Jim Morrison lyrics are amazing. Stevie Wonder would be fucking amazing… I have never really thought about this question…
MCBN: How long ago did you get into DJ/Production and how did it all come about?
Wow… I was really lucky! My mother ran a record store in Australia which helped me to basically get any music I wanted – I became a collector. As I got older I started going to a few parties, got into dance music, and then started listening to some underground radio a lot – this lead to the next phase, which was vinyl. My record collection started to grow at a rapid pace and continued growing more and more. I slowly got asked to play at a few parties for mates, I never even had decks at the time… it became a natural progression. I started getting into everything, playing on mates’ drum kits, on the synths… whatever I could find. It only properly kick-started in New Zealand when a mate and I produced under the name House of Downtown and got some tracks played on the radio and from there we got picked up by some labels. Since then, I knew I had caught the professional DJ/Producer label and my music has continually evolved from there.
MCBN: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
The self-healing ability is pretty damn good, you could do anything then. Time Travel would be cool… I think that would be the ultimate super power, you can go back in time and fix any mistake (which would also cause a lot of problems, but who cares!).
MCBN: You must have seen some awesome crowds throughout your career, has anything ever stood out in your mind as “one of the craziest moments whilst behind the decks”?
In early 2000, I was playing at a club in New Zealand, and it was packed. There were these two massive guys who wouldn’t move in the front of the dance floor… I couldn’t understand why they were there and why they weren’t moving (while the rest of the crowd was going mental) until my mate came over while I was DJ’ing and told me to pop my head over the front of the DJ box. I look over and see Mini Me (Verne Troy) dancing in front of me. He was going wild and had a bunch of ladies going wild around him. Later on at the bar, we saw him order a tequila and grab it with both hands and knock it back… Needless to say, that was a great evening!
MCBN: What equipment do you use when producing and DJ’ing?
I use Ableton to produce on my MacBook pro. I also have analogue synths that I use a lot and I have an acoustically treated room… I got my favourite speakers in there 🙂
MCBN: Thanks for chatting to us and I hope you are as amped to play for us as we are to see you behind the decks!
No worries mate, nice chatting and see you on the dance floor.
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Here is Emerson’s latest EP release and it’s hot!
To keep up to date with Emerson: (Soundcloud)/(Facebook)