Born and raised in Detroit and now based in Berlin, Alan Oldham, aka DJ T-1000, has been labeled as ‘Detroit Techno’s Renaissance Man’, not only as the owner of legendary Detroit labels such as Generator and Pure Sonik, but also as a veteran international DJ. Also boasting unique illustrator skills, the Detroit-born polymath is widely regarded for his iconic artwork for Djax-Up-Beats, +8 Records, Transmat Astralwerks, along with many others.
Having found himself under the tutelage of Underground Resistance’s Mad Mike Banks during the 90’s, Oldham was eventually tapped to replace departing friend Jeff Mills as DJ on UR’s world tour, and thus his DJ T-1000 alias was born. For a year, Oldham toured with Banks in the UR techno boot camp, and still to this day keeps to his old Underground Resistance vinyl roots. Anyone knows that if DJ T-1000 is on the line up, they are in for a treat.
In 2014, Oldham established himself in the music capital of Berlin. As a veteran headliner of festivals such as Love Parade, Awakenings, E-Troit and N.A.M.E. Festival, he has also found himself regularly playing events across the world in some of the most recognised venues. With an extensive catalogue list under his belt, Oldham continues to release incredible sounds and has recently provided a track for Ellen Allien’s BPitch We Are Not Alone compilation pt. 1 record. Prior to that, he released an excellent five-track EP Body Signal, which features a stunning cover by the man himself. For his latest release, the veteran producer returns to BPitch with a high-octane four-track affair called The Dirrty Underground. Utilising timeless techno fundamentals, we caught up with DJ T-1000 about his hardware jams inspired by Ellen Aliens’ recent sets.
First of all how are you? And what have you been getting up to recently?
I’m well thank you. Trying to get through these crazy times like everybody else. Things are
opening back up so I’ve been getting back to the gym, and working on art and music.
How have you found the last year and lockdown in general? Of course, you have a brand new release but how has the last year been in terms of motivation and creativity levels as a producer?
Getting off the road and having time to create has been a blast, to be honest. I’ve done a ton of new music of all types, and I’m almost finished with a graphic novel project I’ve been working on for years. I’m finishing a lot of stuff I’ve been putting off.
Based in Berlin over the last few years, what’s the techno scene like over there at the moment and how important has the likes of HÖR been in keeping the ball rolling for artists and listeners?
Well, the scene is on hold until the clubs fully reopen, but production is an at all-time high. HÖR has grown phenomenally over the pandemic, and people all over the world watch and listen. It’s very important for producers and DJs and helps them to remain visible. I’ve been on 5 times, very honored to be part of it.
How do you see the techno scene emerging from the events over the past couple of years, do you think there will be a resurgence and a real sense of togetherness, even more than ever?
Hard to say, but it’s tough to change established patterns. People said the world would change after 9/11, but within a few years, it was back to business as usual. But this is a new era. Time will tell!
Your new record The Dirrty Underground is a wonderful listen, can you tell us about the inspiration behind the EP and how you would describe it?
Basically, the EP was tailor-made for Ellen Allien. I listened to a couple of her balcony sets and got the feel for what she was playing. Then I took my old record for BPitch Control, the “Ratchet Traxx” EP, and pumped it full of steroids. I don’t usually do ghetto house, but I thought it would be fun. It was also made for the faster rave DJs like FJAAK, Hector Oaks, SPFDJ, etc.
What was the creative and production process behind the record?
I pitched a few demos before “Dirrty Underground” but they didn’t work out. Like I said above, I took a listen to some of Ellen’s sets and went from there. Then I pumped the BPMs up to 140-145 and jammed everything through distortion. Then I dropped in some funny samples. I have an external HD full of samples just waiting to be used on the right track. Once I was in the zone, it didn’t take long. I did everything on Maschine MK3.
Each track is a groover but if you had to pick a favourite track from the EP, which one would it be and why?
“I Fucking Love Berlin” would be an anthem if clubs were fully open.
You have an amazing talent for drawing and painting, through which you design your own sleeve covers. What was the inspiration behind this particular one and where does it rank compared to your others?
This particular one depicts a hi-fashion domme, which epitomizes a “dirty underground.” I can’t rank my art like that, that’s like choosing a favourite child! But I do like the way it came out, and the way it translates to different digital media. I was taught as a youngster to not put a lot of cross-hatching or shading in the art, to keep it clean for reproduction, but that was way back in the days of shitty printing. Today you can draw how ever you want, and a 300 dpi scan will catch everything.
Returning to the esteemed BPitch imprint, why have you chosen this label to release The Dirrty Underground on and how has the label impacted you as a producer?
Well, I didn’t choose BPitch, BPitch chose me! It was way past time for a follow-up to “Ratchet Traxx,” so like I said above, I sent demos to the label until this one hit. The label impacted me in that I never did ghetto-style shit before. I was like why not, try something new.
As we return to normality, what have you got in store for the rest of 2021 and when’s the next DJ T-1000 release!?
I’m putting together some US dates for October. Finally going back to visit my dad and play some shows after almost two years. Contact Fabian at firstname.lastname@example.org with any offers! Getting back to painting (I took time off painting to produce), and getting back into teaching at RAMP Academy Berlin towards the end of the year. Other than that, trying to enjoy the rest of summer. No firm release dates yet, but I’ve got projects at Arkham Audio, Sound of Berlin, my own xfive. downtempo label, and an album for Elypsia, hopefully late 2022.
“The Dirrty Underground” is out now on BPitch and is available to listen and buy on Bandcamp.
2. Think You Can Handle It
3. I Love It In My Acid
4. I Fucking Love Berlin