BOSTON/NE BANDS, Hassle Fest

DJ Richard to play first-ever Boston show at Hassle Fest 10

Electronic producer talks slower techno and future plans

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DJ Richard performs @ Hassle Fest 10 on Nov. 9. Read more below.

DJ Richard’s 2018 track “Vanguard” comes thumping to life like a possessed sewing machine. Low, bruising beats give way to nipping rimshots, then hi-hat, all marching in time before a staccato melody flits about like a sprite, bringing an ethereal magic to a robotic symphony.

This techno DJ is straddling two worlds: the electronic and the ecclesiastical. His latest album is called “Dies Irae Xerox,” which takes the medieval Latin hymn, “Day of Wrath,” — describing The Last Judgment before souls are sent to heaven or Hell — and pairs it with the successful computer corporation, Xerox. Could this album be about the intersection of religion and capitalism, or a final reckoning with technology?  

“The Xerox part is just, like, kind of meant to make it a little more complicated as a title because the first two words are Latin and then Xerox is like a commercial brand name,” said DJ Richard in a recent phone interview.

He explained that he was interested in Dies Irae at the time, and said the music is reflective of that medieval “apocalyptic energy.” But in general, he doesn’t dwell too long on song titles, and prefers to leave their meanings “open ended.”

“I really appreciate, like, subjectivity in terms of listening,” he said.

The techno DJ and producer grew up in Providence, R.I., where he got into electronic music through collecting records and learning from his friends who DJed.

“It just somehow really organically … became more and more what I was spending my time doing,” he said.

He spent a few years living in Berlin, where he recorded his debut album, “Grind” before returning to his hometown in 2015. He still lives in Providence, and said he has no desire to move back to Europe.

“I don’t like doing big moves and I feel like moving there and back was enough for me,” he said.

But even though he left Berlin, DJ Richard is still up-to-date on the electronic music scene overseas. When asked about his favorite musicians, he named Intergalactic Gary, Mick Wills and Parrish Smith, and he said he’s into the sounds coming out of Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

“I’ve been really loving a lot of this like, low kind of like chugging Dutch techno that’s been coming out recently, like on this label Pink Man,” he said.

He also likes releases from the Amsterdam label Knekelhuis, which he said puts out “very dark” and “hypnotic” music influenced by ‘80s cosmic industrial. Even though it’s slower, it’s still “very much for the club,” he said.

DJ Richard said his music has also gotten slower over the past couple of years, and is continuing in that direction. These days, he prefers a “slower, more psychedelic groove.”

“I’m more interested in that, even when I’m just in the club dancing,” he said. “I generally just appreciate stuff that kind of goes slow, and kind of takes its time, and it doesn’t rely on speed to keep people’s attention. It’s a challenge but it’s a fun challenge.”

When he’s not producing music, DJ Richard works as a landscaper. Now that the colder months are coming on, he said he will have more time to work on new music. In addition to electronic production, he’s also been teaching himself “American primitive” fingerpicking guitar over the last few months, and is particularly inspired by John Fahey.

“I love the music of John Fahey, that’s one of my favorite things to listen to at home,” he said.

Besides music, he’s also passionate about environmental conservation, and is thinking about moving somewhere else in New England, perhaps Maine, to enroll in graduate school and study forestry.  

“Going back to school, I never really thought about that much, but recently I’ve just been thinking it makes sense for me, where I’m at right now,” he said.

While DJ Richard enjoys playing shows, he said he’s happiest when he’s up early and in bed by 10 p.m., which is something he learned about himself later in life.

“When I’m working, I’m playing ‘til 6 a.m — it turns out I kinda hate that,” he said. “So, when I’m in the club, I’m having fun, and it’s great, but … I’m much more of a morning person.”

DJ Richard’s set at Hassle Fest 10 will be his first-ever performance in Boston.

“Isn’t that so weird? In all my life, not even when I was younger… I legitimately never played in Boston,” he said.

DJ Richard will be playing on Friday, Nov. 9 from midnight to 1:30 a.m. at the Hardcore Stadium/Cambridge Elks Lodge as part of Hassle Fest 10. The full lineup includes [email protected]#$% (8-9 p.m.), Cienfuegos (9-10 p.m.), Isabella (10-11 p.m.), Shawn O’Sullivan (11 p.m. to midnight) and DJ Richard (midnight to 1:30 a.m.). Tickets are $18 at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3741180.

 

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