Interview | Doctor Jeep
Andre Lira aka Doctor Jeep caught our eye a few years back.
With vast quantities of Bass Music being released into the scene that was self-referencing, it was refreshing to come across compositions that were truly authentic yet also hooked us in with creativity.
From within New York’s creative melting pot it is obvious that Doctor Jeep has carved out a unique place for himself locally and globally. We are very excited be working with him on one of his first releases that meander comfortably into the universe of Drum and Bass.
Lyndon Jarr caught up with Andre to take a deep dive into his world and gain a greater insight into what makes him tick as an artist.
LJ: First straight off the bat, we all know that the Coronavirus pandemic is hitting NYC super hard, maybe more than any other city in the world now, how are you handling it?
DJ: It could be worse – I have a bright airy apartment that’s very comfortable to hang out in, shopped for most of my grocery essentials already and only really need to dip into the local bodega for extra supplies every so often. I’d say the main challenge is just the whole break in my usual routine: I’m working from home for the next several weeks (I’m a project manager at a creative agency) so it doesn’t really feel like there’s a clear division between “work time” and “personal time” in the same way when we used to commute to the office. That, and I obviously miss in-person socialization…that first club night back is going to be a wild one I’m sure!
LJ: Staying on the subject of NYC, tell us about bass music scene there?
DJ: I don’t really have too many complaints – if anything there’s a little *too much* happening on any given weekend and you need to make tough choices when there’s 3 or 4 equally sick parties on the same night. It is a very tight knit community though and it’s always great to see a lot of the same faces at different events, plus we’re seeing some bigger clubs/promoters take more chances with their bookings. My favorite club (Nowadays) booked dBridge for a 4 hour set last summer which was absolutely magical, and I’m sure it turned a few people in the crowd onto bass music…I’m sure at least a few had never heard a single dubstep track on a big system before and had their minds blown that night.
Some enterprising crews also continue to astound me with the level of effort and care they put into their DIY warehouse parties – Club Night Club in particular is extremely good at curating a vibe between their lights, sound, atmosphere, and crowd. It’s hard to say how the future will look because of the temporary club closures but the community here is really strong and I hope that with things like donations, fundraisers, and rental law reform, we’ll all be able to keep these afloat.
LJ: How did you get into making music in the first place and how did it turn into Doctor Jeep?
DJ: I started playing guitar when I was 8 and played in a number of bands in high school. We mostly played various strains of Metal, and at the time I was using a program called Tabit to learn and write guitar tabs. Towards the end of high school I started experimenting with Logic and writing what I can only now describe as “trancey chiptune music” under the alias Doctor Jeep, which I took from the main villain character in a book I read back then. I didn’t really anticipate ever seriously using the name longterm but as the music evolved and I got more into traditional club-focused material it just made sense to keep using it. Got Ableton freshman year of college, sold all of my guitar gear, and the rest is history.
LJ: What are some of the challenges/achievements that are special for you in your music career?
DJ: Most challenging moments were probably a little earlier in my career when I had EPs or remixes with big labels not pan out for whatever reason – being ghosted once all the tracks were selected and about to go to mastering was pretty crushing for me as a young producer and since then I’ve learned to let go of any expectations until contracts are signed etc!
Best moments have always been performing – two milestones in particular were my first real festival gig headlining Bass Coast in 2015 or playing at the Kalliope stage at Bonnaroo at peak time to 12,000 people in 2016. Production-wise, it’s just been hearing about some of my idols playing my music, either via a radio rip, mix, or a friend excitedly texting me from someone’s club gig.
LJ: There are various palettes in your sound, bit grimey, wobbly, UK, experimental, jungly, housey etc. How did this fusion of worlds come about for you?
DJ: It’s just fun and exciting to make a unique third track out of two individual ones combined when DJing, so why not apply that thinking to production as well? When I first started seriously getting into electronic music I remember being blown away when listening to mixes by people that were really really good at this – Ben UFO and Oneman in particular – and it became something I always aimed to do myself. This Prince into Pinch blend from BUFO is a prime example – on paper, it doesn’t seem like it’d work, but boy does it….
LJ: Given this diversity, what do people expect form you when you play a set? Help or hinder?
DJ: I’m not really sure what people expect from me, because there have been a bunch of different “eras” in my career and I think that someone’s perception of what I play is probably influenced by when they first heard me. For example, there was a period in 2016/17 when I was really going hard with the halftime stuff, but still enjoyed playing techno and 130bpm music. I think that folks that got into me via tunes like “Dissociate” probably had no idea about that side of my musical personality and were even surprised (or potentially disappointed lol) when I would play those kinds of tunes in my sets.
Thanks to my ADHD and ever-evolving music taste I like to keep the “plays a bit of everything” ethos which sometimes can hinder, but I think in today’s day and age there are enough DJs playing multi-genre sets where it’s not as much of an issue.
LJ: Some artists work overtime in building their social media stats whilst others simply don’t care, where do you stand on this?
DJ: I’d be lying if I said numbers don’t mean anything, but it’s definitely not something I’m setting out to build all the time. My growth on all social media platforms is really slow, but I’ve just been doing this for a while and I’m comfortable with where I’m at now. I don’t really have it in me to be posting selfies all the time or asking questions to the audience to get engagement, it doesn’t feel authentically me. Sometimes I’ll try and do things to stand out a little, like making little animated promo vids for releases, but I do wonder how effective that is.
LJ: As a producer, what are your biggest challenges in making tunes?
DJ: My favorite tunes are ones which have a single motif or hook that runs throughout, and I guess the challenge is is ‘how do you keep that main idea interesting over the course of 4-6 minutes’? I’m also really bad at adding atmospherics or little polishes or flourishes, I feel like most of my stuff is pretty loopy…but that’s probably because I need to complete an entire track in a single sitting or I will never finish it. I have so, so many WIPs that never evolved past the 2 minute mark and I don’t think they ever will, it’s really difficult for me to get the motivation to do that.
LJ: Plans for 2020/2021 and onwards?
DJ: Well, with the situation going on right now it’s a bit of a toss up! Production-wise: Aside from the EP I’m doing on Unchained, I have two more in the works – a 100bpm EP on my own label DRX continuing on the same threads as last year’s Snake Eyes EP, and my 2nd EP on Bun The Grid. No gigs for the forseeable future, but I’m hoping this will allow me to start making some music without the “will this bang in a club?” mentality that I tend to approach tunes with. Aside from that, focusing on my primary career, living a healthier lifestyle, and chipping away at my eventual goal of developing a live set, which at this rate probably won’t be until 2025, haha!