With the second annual edition of Kremfest upon us, it’s become nearly impossible to hold focus towards anything but the eminent selection of world-class talent we’ll have rolling through the doors of The Complex on September 20-23. Sinistarr is a powerful presence on this year’s lineup, headlining the SHOOK! showcase on September 21 alongside Djrum. Though meticulously thoughtful in his approach to production, Sinistarr’s relentless creativity and innovative mindset fuse together to create the cutting edge works of art that have helped to bring him acclaim and opportunity, as well as elude confinement to a singular genre.
Being that one of Kremfest's goals is to deliver attendees an immersive exhibition of art, culture, and underground sound, the opportunity to interview a producer as artistically versatile and culturally perceptive as Sinistarr came at just the right time.
How did you get your start in music?
I've been listening to all styles of music growing up, but I got into the music I love mainly from high school watching the people a few grades above me get into DJing, beat making, synths and things like that. I think that it led me to want to write music of my own and play records (vinyl at the time *wink*), and make music that represents where I came from and what I like overall.
Having lived in Detroit, how has the historically iconic musical reputation of the city and its “melting pot” characteristics played a role in your career personally?
The whole idea of Detroit in my musical journey has been to take risks musically, which is exactly what the people before me have done, and to some crazy results. One of my favorite stories is hearing about how Fabio and Grooverider used to play Carl Craig’s “Bug in the Bassbin” at 45rpm and play it next to their literally-brand-new jungle records from London in the mid 90s, and then having folks like Assault play Ray Keith “Dark Soldier” next to “Tear tha Club Up” on the radio. It’s those types of risks that not only make you stand out, but make other people that hear it think of new ways to explore something that you’ve made, and it this case across borders!
You’ve recently released on “Swinging Flavors #6” via Beat Machine Records. How do you believe this release differentiates itself from your releases in the past?
I feel I’m on a different plane with this one, but still paying attention to the things I love. I was channeling a lot of early liquid and house music that I was into in the early 2000s and wanted to make something similar to that sound, that combines the two sounds, but at 160 BPM. Hence, “55555” happened!
“5” = “ha” in Thai, so it’s actually “ha-ha-ha-ha-ha”, but my Thai friends use “5” as we use “lol/haha” in the West.
The B-side of the record features a remix of your track “55555” by Om Unit under his alter ego Philip D. Kick. What drew you to reach out to him for a remix from this alter ego?
I’ve known Om Unit/PDK for years—his PDK project is what made me initially reach out to him and after meeting IRL in Denver we’ve been friends since. The funny story is that for this release, I didn’t actually reach out to him! Beat Machine, the label that released this 7” reached out to him thinking (knowing?) it would be a good fit—and sure enough, it worked!
You’ve showcased your versatility across a variety of genres on different legendary labels such as Exit Records, Metalheadz, Hospital Records, and 20/20 LDN, over the years, what’s a genre you’d like to explore that haven’t had the opportunity to yet?
I’d love to grab some people from dancehall and reggae and place them in other styles of music. A lot of people know of those two styles of music to really run in the 80-90 bpm range, but it would be cool to hear them more at 160 or 140 BPM.
Many of your tracks defy genre-classification, giving nods to footwork, DnB, jungle, and techno. What non-electronic genres influence your creations?
Rock, hip-hop, and jazz have always been my go-to genres and probably won’t change for quite some time. There’s so much to learn from those three that I am still “connecting the dots on” if you will.
You’ve been touring all over the world recently. Has your experience with different cultures and the people you meet on the road played any significant part in your production style? If so, how?
I fully feel it’s influenced me 100%, from DJing to producing. It seems the more I travel, the more I learn about what people like. Not because I ask or anything like that, it’s literally because they play what they are into when we are hanging out. There’s no pretentiousness, no sticking to one style, it’s what they listen to on the daily; not only do I learn new music, it gives me a good idea of what I can play on the night too.
What has been your favorite city to play in over the last year?
Palestine/West Bank, without question—the opportunity to play both sides of the wall was an immense experience and really gave me a strong perspective on what really is going on in that area because I saw it with my own eyes, rather than reading the news.
Who are some up and coming artists you believe people should keep an eye out for?
Right now I can think of Anna Morgan, Bell Curve, Quentin Hiatus, Bastiengoat, Lewis James, Greazus, Doctor Jeep and Oakk as people you should check out—not only great producers and DJs but top top friends.
Any upcoming projects you’d like us to keep an eye out for?
The one I can talk about right now is the remix for Doctor Jeep for his EP coming on Etch’s Bun the Grid imprint—that should be out pretty soon. Other than that, keep watch on my socials to hear about what’s coming out next!
While Sinistarr’s superb catalog has already served as a driving force to catch him at Kremfest, the insight we’ve gained on his influential experiences and ingenious outlook towards his craft has only furthered our appreciation. Witness the man in the flesh at Kremfest’s SHOOK! showcase on 9/21.
by Katelyn Wynecoop