"If you send your tracks to 10 labels and 10 turn them down, maybe you should rethink if it's good enough."
Amsterdam Dance Event has come to a close and music lovers are probably wondering how a formerly underground music movement has come to the forefront of technology and pop culture. Gregor Tresher, a german DJ and producer for over 20 years, is certainly perplexed.
Born in the 70s in Frankfurt, Germany, Tresher says that it was his brother who first introduced him to electronic music. Synth-pop acts like Depeche Mode and Anne Clark led Tresher to his love of melody, something he still tries to call on today in his productions. "Trance is a weird word to use today, but in the early 90s, that's what it was at the time," says Tresher. "That had an impact on me."
Since the golden age of techno in the early 90s, Germany's liberal attitude and changing political landscape have led to one of the most fertile music scenes in the entire world. "When techno exploded here in Germany, I used to go to clubs in Frankfurt every weekend. That was around 92 or 93," says Tresher. "I also started to become a bedroom DJ at that time." He describes the sound at that time, saying, "It was faster of course, but I wouldn't say it was more aggressive."
Electronic music has now been around for decades. The history lessons have changed. "Now, everyone's parents know about this sort of music and the culture and the clubs and drugs and whatever it is about," says Tresher. "Whereas in the early 90s, it was an underground thing and no one understood what it was about—only if you were in it." With such a tight-knit scene developing, it was difficult to find new music that could set one DJ apart from the next. It took Tresher almost a decade before he began to find success.
Initially struggling through DJing small clubs for almost no pay, Tresher expanded his portfolio of eclectic mixes by starting to produce in the late 90s. Soon after, in the wake of techno's explostion across Europe, his career started really taking off.
"Every New Years Eve I said, OK, I'm going to give this one more shot, if not I have to go to work and I have to get a job," says Tresher. "This went on for years." After landing some steady jobs at record labels and releasing successful music under his former alias, Sniper Mode, Tresher steadied himself in the industry he had been a part of for so long. Tresher has since released on some of techno's most famed imprints from Ovum, Cocoon, Drumcode, and even his own imprint, Break New Soil Recordings, launched in 2009.
Wanting to have full control over his new label, Tresher had a vision that was all his own. "I wouldn't want anyone else to pick the music but myself, which is a nice luxury to have." That is a luxury Tresher decided to utilize after his music had already been endorsed and supported by other industry heavyweights, something he says artists need to beware of. "You should never start your label because no one else wants to release your music," he tells THUMP. "That's the wrong thing to do, because if you send your tracks to 10 labels and 10 turn them down, maybe you should rethink if it's good enough."
Break New Soil focuses on a separate acoustic aesthetic that Tresher has recently tried to revive. "I'm looking for this functional techno sound, but not only tracks that work on the dancefloor," says Tresher. "They should also have something else that attracts me, basically it's just music I like." But, Tresher is well aware of the dangers of too much musical self-indulgence: "Sometimes it's good to release on other people's labels to have the quality control by other established artists."
Motivation for Tresher is something that comes with his passion for music. "The best thing is that you get the crowd with you and you can play whatever you like," says Tresher. "It doesn't happen every single night, but as long as it keeps happening at some point, then that is what I want to do," he says. Hesitant to reveal much detail about what he has been working on as of late, Tresher is playing things close to the chest, "I just want to make music now and see where it goes," he tells THUMP. "Maybe someday I will have the confidence to say this is going to be an album soon." Whether it is for the dancefloor or at-home listening is undecided, but, says Tresher, "In the perfect world, it would probably be both."