All it takes is one track to get noticed, but in order to make an impact a producer needs to do much more than just go viral. London-based producer DJ Boring hit the jackpot with his elegantly simple and beautifully deep 'Winona', which currently has over two million plays on YouTube. This was an unprecedented feat for a young producer from the underground who was just making music for his own pleasure, not thinking anything would come of it. That said, he's proven to be one of the more unique talents to emerge in recent history and with releases on Let's Play House, E-Beamz and the Shall Not Fade sub-label Lost Palms, it's clear he's got much more than just one shot in his arsenal.
Today, you can find DJ Boring touring throughout Australia, Europe and Asia, making stops in India, Japan, Spain, Germany, Italy and the list goes on. For an artist who only emerged in the past two years, he's clearly a highly sought after talent, but this success story is far from over and DJ Boring has yet to truly let the public inside, until now.
Mixmag caught up with DJ Boring between tour dates to tap him for an Impact mix and to also get a better understanding of the man behind the music. Who is DJ Boring? Why is his music just so damn good? Read on to find out...
Tell us about the world of DJ Boring, starting from the foundation of your sound. Why dance music?
I guess the dancey part of my passion for music came from my mom. She introduced me to the Pet shop boys and music with more of a 4x4 rhythm that came from music of the 80s. My dad had a very punk inspiration so I didn’t really get much music influence from my dad.
When I was 16 I started making music that sounded like Animal Collective and then I progressed to making music with a similar sound profile of Dan Deacon’s productions. This was just weird stuff, but I eventually got bored of it. From there I became more focused and started making disco tracks which then totally got ruined by making dubstep. Eventually, I moved into a space in Melbourne and this random dude introduced me to house music and garage, which totally blew me away. That was the very beginning and I was about 20.
What was the scene like in Melbourne at the time?
When I first got into the scene everything seemed to be inspired by Julio Bashmore. Everyone wanted to listen to sweet chords back then, but now the scene’s changed and people want to hear more tribal percussion, slow jams… It's evolved so differently since I’ve left the city.
I tried my hardest to be in the clubbing scene when I was looking to become a DJ back in Melbourne, but I didn’t play many sets really. I would play maybe once every two or three months if I was lucky.
Then you moved to London. What brought you here and how has your sound progressed since then?
I have always been a fan of the European scene as opposed to the Australian scene. Both my parents are British and luckily I have dual citizenship. Moving here was the thing to do but at that stage I really didn't think anything would happen for me musically. I spent my time trying to become something, but nothing ever happened. And then when I stopped overthinking everything, it just happened.
Your first big break was with a track titled Winona, but were there any moments before that when you realized you could make a career out of making music?
There was this record label from Germany called Charmin. It’s not a giant label by any means, but it's run a producer named Florian who is quite well known. He asked for one of my tracks for his mix. That was the first time anyone ever asked me for one of my tracks before. I told him he should absolutely take it and once he put the mix online I started to get more followers on Soundcloud. It was amazing to see the response from that initial track, but then Winona happened and I didn’t even know how to react.
It's interesting how the internet can impact an artist’s career. So, now let us dive into the style of your music. How do you go about finding all these interesting samples you use and developing the unique textures?
It’s truly been a romantically beautiful experience. Most of the stuff I use are either plug-ins or stuff recorded from hardware. Say for instance with Winona, I used a vocal sample from the actress Winona Ryder. Whenever I use vocal samples from interviews and stuff, I like to link it to myself. My music is supposed to link to me. I think everyone’s music is supposed to link to who they are, but for me... I like to make it more personal. In the interview I found, she talks about how she didn't fit in because people didn't think she was beautiful enough. I used to feel that same way about fitting in because I was bullied a lot at school. What she said really connected with me. I never really thought my music was going anywhere so it was way more of a personal thing when I made that track. So when it shot up I was like man, now I actually have to tell people what this means.
"Fun is what I’ve always been going for, but now I want to become fun in a way where people dance super hard and not just think that it’s hype"
Do you find that’s how you usually approach music, making it for yourself rather than trying to please an audience?
Oh absolutely! If I don’t like the music I am putting out for myself then I’m not going to be happy with it. I would feel terrible if people bought my music and I didn't feel happy about. That’s when it turns into a job where you hate where you work. Fortunately, I love where I work!
So tell me a little about how the name DJ Boring came about?
It’s a very simple story. It's fun. I’ve had a few DJ names. There was the name Spook when I was doing a lot of stuff in Melbourne. Then I started doing stuff as Oswald which was a really stupid name... but it was also my nickname. The, when I was working in a coffee shop in London, a Swedish girl who worked for a public relations agency or something, told me, “Hey, your name Trist, in Swedish, means ‘boring’”. And then I thought, maybe I should call myself DJ Boring. And she thought it was cool. So the next day on Soundcloud I changed my name to DJ Boring. The first week on Soundcloud I had no followers, thinking it was nothing at all and then all of the sudden ‘Winona’ happened and the rest is history...
What has it been like seeing the reaction from people for not only your music, but also your DJ name?
I’ll tell you what gets said a lot, I don’t know if it’s funny or if maybe I’m getting too used to it, but people say, “Oh, DJ boring not so boring” or “DJ not very Boring”. I mean, just because it is my name does not mean I am going to get up there and play some classical music for an hour.
Your music has gone through a lot of changes and now you are hitting it hard with these more prominent house labels. The recent Let’s Play House record is very solid. Where do you see your sound progressing?
I would probably like to remain in that area. Definitely want to be on more labels like that because that is the type of music I like to make. House music. I think I just want to keep progressing the way I am. My music is becoming a lot more ‘less underground’ if that makes sense.
Perhaps a little more refined I would say?
Yes. Refined is 100% the best word to use for that.
Would you say you are maturing?
Definitely, but I would say I have always had a fun style of music. Fun is what I’ve always been going for, but now I want to become fun in a way where people dance super hard and not just think that it’s hype or anything. Above all else, my music is supposed to be about people enjoying their time dancing.
Now on to what you’ve supplied us with here, your Impact mix. Tell us about how you approached this?
It’s basically how I do most of my sets. I like to merge new and old. New and old is my specialty. I shop for‘90s vinyl all the time and then I shop for brand new vinyl. There is no in between — which is really weird. You won’t find anything from four years ago but rather something from 1993 and then I will find something from 2017. That’s what this Impact mix is filled with.
What I love about the music from back in the 90s is a lot of it is just so simple, but also just totally incredible. If people today made music like that, people just think it’s cheating,; but in 1993 people were blown away. That’s the one thing that I love in most of my sets, there is just one kick, a hi-hat and then the bass comes in. People just love the simplicity of it all.
Listen to DJ Boring's Impact mix below.
Harrison is Mixmag's East Coast Editor. Follow him on Twitter here
The Creatures 'Disconnected (Void Mix)'
The Cultivators feat. Howard Marks 'Stoned'
J.T. 'Let Me Groove U (Bonus Beats)'
Florian Kupfer 'Love Life Without U'
DJ Q 'San Fransisco'
Audio Soul Project 'Memory'
Interstate 'Karl-Löwe-St. Groove feat. Birol'
Schatrax 'No Title'
Alma Negra 'Endless Summer'
Johnick 'C'mon Give It Up'
Music People 'Always On'
Andy Hart 'Dachkammer'
Frits Wentink 'Mouse'
Gregory Porter '1960 What (OPOLOPO Kick and Bass Rerun)'