Last Friday, Seth Troxler took to the DJ booth in Fabric's tent at Lovebox 2017. Throughout the day, that stage would host sets from dance music heavyweights Hammer, Terry Francis, KiNK and BICEP. Away from Frank's divisive headline set and Solange's all too brief (and impossible to get near) performmance, the Fabric tent was the place for peak-time 4x4 bangers.
Ahead of his set, taking shelter in one of the precious few spots of shade under the blistering sun, we spoke to the perfectly mustachioed Detroit-born selector. To begin with, we'd planned a brief chat about the festival, about London and his plans for Ibiza this year (including a five-hour disco set, no less). But, things got away from us somewhat, as we quickly found ourselves on topics like national identity, socialism, and white supremacy.
Is this your first Lovebox?
No, I came here a couple of years ago with the Smokey Tails pop up. I've probably played three or four times.
You gonna hang out and enjoy the festival or will you have to go?
Yeah, I've got my whole crew, my friends, they're all here. Craig Richards's daughter is here with some of her friends. It sounds weird to say that a teenage girl is your friend but she's my little buddy! So there's six 13-year-olds here, Craig's wife, they're all here. I got them on the guestlist and it's their first festival so I really want to see what they think of it.
Are they into yours and Craig's music?
Not really [laughs]. They came to see Frank Ocean.
So it's like hanging out at Dad's work for them.
Yeah! She actually thinks I'm really cool. I'm her dad's young friend who's a little bit older. I try to give her advice like, "Don't be a dick".
You'll be in Ibiza this year as well, right?
Yeah, I play every Monday at DC10.
You're doing a five-hour disco set with Nightmares On Wax as well.
Yeah! That should be really cool. George [Evelyn] is a good friend of mine so that's gonna be fun. And Acid Mondays as well.
So you'll basically be there all summer?
Well, I have an apartment there.
How many summers have you done in Ibiza now?
I've been there as a resident every year since CircoLoco relaunched. So that would've been six or seven years ago.
Do you still get to go out to the States as much?
Yeah, I go as much as I can. My mom, who's actually here, she lives out there. So I really have a kind of global family.
Did you have far to travel? You live in London, right?
Yeah, I've lived here about ten years now. It's funny now, seeing the politics of America. At ten years, you're pretty much an outsider.
Your accent's fading.
I don't know. I'm from Detroit and we kinda don't have an accent — or Michigan doesn't really have an accent. But it's weird, even with the election that was happening. I was like "How could this be?" and my friend said "You haven't even lived here for ten years! You don't know what these people are like!" So I guess I'm a European now [laughs]. "You're a socialist European," they keep saying. And proud of it!
Free healthcare — why not?
I don't get the free healthcare, unfortunately.
Because you're not a citizen?
Yeah, it's impossible. British immigration is tough!
And getting tougher.
I'm leaving soon, actually. I'm moving to Ibiza. Brexit pushed me out.
I don't blame you. If you have no ties, why not?
So what was the reason for leaving Detroit in the first place?
What really happened was I was doing music already and travelling to Europe. I was a junior in art school at the time, so I had one year left. I had this professor who took me out into the hall one day, saying "There’s something I'd like to talk to you about." I thought I was in trouble, as you do. He knew about my music career and stuff and we had some mutual friends. He's like "Seth, you're good at graphic design. You'll get a job, but you're great at music. You should quit school and do music." By that time I had enough credits to get what's called an associate degree, like half a degree. I put in my paperwork, changed my degree from bachelor to associate, and the next semester I moved to Germany with my friends.
Yeah, we already had a lot of friends out there. A lot of Detroit people because Minus and Richie Hawtin had already moved. It was like 2007 so it was cheap and I just thought that at some point, the worst I would have to do is just move back home. We wanted to chase the dream and it worked.
And you haven't had to move back yet.
Exactly. They've moved in with me! Literally, my mom is staying at my house right now.
What are the house and techno scenes like right now in Detroit? Obviously, it has all this history…
Oh, it's incredible. It's something you don't really realise when you’re growing up in a place that has such crazy musical roots and you’re around this history all the time. There are all these incredible musicians and to you they're just locals. They're global superstars and innovators. It's like a crazy music school in Detroit. The intellectual currency there is being able to talk about really deep music stuff. At that time it wasn't enough to be going out all the time, you had to be this crazy music geek. I worked at a record store there for many years, which put down the foundations for me to be this artist now, who has this great span of musical knowledge.
And right now?
I think Detroit is the most exciting city in the world right now. There's been a really big resurgence at a socio-economic level. At the end of the day, for the first time in 40 years, it's really having its renaissance. I keep thinking about going back there but I love Europe.
Where did that resurgence come from?
Well, we had a bankruptcy. Then some rich people came and just bought the city and finally invested in it, basically. It went belly up and then they went in and fixed it.
Maybe that'll happen to Britain when we lose all the EU funding.
Yeah, what’s gonna happen is it's gonna go belly up and then a bunch of rich people will buy it and it'll become a serf system. It's like Murdoch. It's ridiculous. It should be illegal when someone buys up most of the biggest media outlets and then has a monopoly. You're reading all these newspapers with all this libelous claims about a candidate. Calling him a terrorist on the day of an election on the front fucking page of the news to bolster the party that you have an economic interest in seeing succeed — it should be illegal. It's a crime against the people.
Like selling off the NHS.
Yeah! Free healthcare for the people and you're selling it off for your own political and financial gain. It's not time for it to go! Stand up for your rights! It's like no one reads history books. Everything is cyclical. It's all happened before and it won't be the last time. The right wing rears its head with all its lies and ideas of isolation and foreigners. Every time they use the same bag of tricks. It's not like it's a new game, but they have new tools. The whole thing with Cambridge Analytica and how they operated during Brexit and the U.S. election, using social media to predict people's behaviour and voting patterns and helping them choose how to vote. We really put ourselves in a position that we could destroy society based upon the tunnel vision we're creating for ourselves.
What's been really scary is seeing otherwise normal and intelligent people spouting the most paranoid nonsense.
And then there's the ones saying we're bleeding heart liberals. That's where it gets crazy because at some point today's terrorist is tomorrow's freedom fighter. Except that’s going to get twisted because of who gets to make that decision.
Like when a white supremacist bomber or mass shooter is labelled a "lone wolf".
Yeah! The press doesn't paint them the same. You can go into a church and kill 16 black people and you get a nice picture in the newspaper and you're a "troubled teen". No, you're a terrorist! You're a white supremacist! But, we have a white supremacist in the White House so things aren't really going to change. It's crazy to talk about in 2017. It's funny, though, because people actually get offended — but it's the truth! White supremacy is on the rise.
And on that cheerful note, with your timeslot approaching, we'll leave it there. Thanks, Seth!