Interview: 5 minutes with Sacha Robotti

Image by Keiki Knudsen 

Peaches’s seminal hit F*** The Pain Away is sort of revolutionary. An outré display of feminine desire and sexual identity, it finds power not in the sultry but rather the abject. The explicit lyrics and grating, industrial synths that shape the track refuse submission to the male gaze, instead defining the desires of Peaches’s body on her own terms. ‘F*** The Pain Away‘ may seem like an off-brand choice for someone like Sacha Robotti to remix, but the German-Italian DJ and producer assures you that this track has been particularly influential for him, so much so that he released his remix of it to preface his current US tour, Jumping Back In. If there’s one thing clear about Robotti, it is that he understands art. Aside from producing the bass-heavy tech-house he has become renowned for, Robotti also plays the cello, dabbles in visual art forms and speaks four languages. First arriving as one half of Berlin’s notorious Robosonic, Robotti found himself quickly focussed on his solo ventures. After a string of familiar releases on labels such as Octopus Recordings and major gigs along the lines of Coachella and Electric Forest, he has become somewhat of a household name in his scene. Currently, in the middle of Jumping Back In, we caught up with Robotti to find out how life on the road has changed during the pandemic and about his love for Peaches

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been immersed in the arts. Be it drawing, painting, photography, architecture, music, or conceptual stuff. My sister is a Professor for piano now and influenced me to make music myself. My parents encouraged us to experiment with the arts from an early age.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

In 2005 I was working in Afghanistan as an architect and realised it was not for me. So I decided to stop architecture and do music full time. I decided that all the money I made from that point on had to be via DJing, producing, or music related. To make it official and legitimise my venture, I did an Acoustic Communications Masters degree with Karl Bartos from Kraftwerk at the Berlin University of the Arts.

What does it feel like to tour again after lockdown? What are you looking forward to sharing with fans on stage?

To tour again after lockdown feels great, but to be honest I didn’t stop touring in 2020 either. I booked sanctioned and Covid-safe shows that I could play, for my own sanity and to show that it’s ok to gather safely and enjoy music with people. I even rented a van and drove 9000 miles to five shows all over the USA, calling it “The Great American Roadtrip”. It was a tour and a year to remember. This year, I’m looking forward to sharing all my new music with my fans.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I want us to have the best time together and connect with each other! Part of my job is to feel the energy in the room, play with it, influence it, create a magical setting.  

Has the experience of the pandemic changed your approach to touring or performing live?

I’m not sure, maybe it has changed in the way that I’m more disciplined now and more focused than before. I cut out a lot of toxic habits and people from my life last year and it has been beneficial for me. I feel better than I have in years and found a groove I haven’t had before. I think for many people, their appreciation for live shows has increased, since many people haven’t been out in a while.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

I mainly work in the box now, the gear I love coming back to is my Dave Smith Mopho, my MFB 522 drumcomputer, my Roland JX-1. I believe that great gear can help create great music, but music doesn’t need expensive gear to be good.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

A bottle of water and a towel.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

A good hike, a great workout, the sun, a big hug, good food, nature, inspiring art and people.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Sometimes the sound, sometimes the idea. A lot of the time things just happen spontaneously or out of “errors” and take on a life of their own.

“Fuck the Pain Away” is one of Peaches’s most definitive anthems, particularly focused on femme-dom identity. What drew you to remixing this track, and how does your take add to the legacy of its discourse?

Her original is one of my favorite electronic tracks ever made, it was influential to me when I first heard it in 2001 or so, and I’ve wanted to give it my own spin ever since. It started off as a remix with Peaches’s acappella and ended up as a cover with a new vocal by my friend BabyGirl. Peaches’s original is a timeless track, and will always stay relevant and unparalleled. My take adds to the legacy by pushing it back into people’s consciousness. The original lyrics haven’t aged a bit, just the format has changed with this cover 20 years later.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

I love what the artists on my label have been doing, Tau0n, Sammy Legs, JTJ, Niles Shepard, Eights Everywhere, The Saunderson Brothers. They’re not all emerging, but in my humble opinion are underrated and deserve more praise.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

Fingers crossed that we can keep working, throwing events, DJing, gathering with people. Fingers crossed that this pandemic fades. I hope we don’t get shut down again, but currently it sure looks like it.

Famous last words?

I’ll quote HP Baxxter from Scooter: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice”!

Listen to Sacha Robotti’s remix of F*** The Pain Away, released via Thrive Music, below.

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