We interviewed Ryan Elliott
in the anticipation of our upcoming release.
Hi Ryan, hope you are doing great and very good to talk to you. How was your weekend?
Very good actually. I had a very rare weekend off which I spent working on new stuff and biking around Berlin together with my wife. I think it was around 14 degrees and sunny so that made it even better.
That sounds like a good time. I guess that’s 14 degrees Celsius then?
Yes, Fahrenheit would be a bit cold haha.
You did a very special remix on Barbara Ford’s ‘Sound on the Siren’, which will come out on our Coalescence EP. What was the process like for you?
First of all, I really like Barbara’s voice and the way she set up the narrative for the song. Next to that, the fact that the track is not already a four-to-the-floor track gives me lots of freedom when working with it. I’m a runner, so I put the original on my little iPod shuffle for a couple of days and ran to it. This puts me in a zone where I can think about what I’m going to do with it and I basically just took it from there.
Yeah, the funny thing is that I was working on it around my gigs at ADE and I ran into Barbara. It was so weird meeting her in person while having worked with her voice for about a month.
Haha, that must have been an experience indeed. Nowadays, with social media and all that, you usually see a face before you hear somebody’s voice.
Since Anagram is located in Amsterdam and it is obviously one of our favourite cities, what are your thoughts on our scene?
I think if it’s not the most important scene right now it is for sure one of the most important scenes. I mean, look at all the artists, record shops and labels that come from Amsterdam and then I’m not even talking about institutions like De School and Shelter.
Do you have this feeling about the Dutch scene in general?
Definitely. Places like Rotterdam are doing amazing as well and you have the highest density of festivals in Europe for sure. The Netherlands is one of my favourite places to play because the people have knowledge of the music and are respectful of the party in general. That’s a pretty rare mix.
Is your experience different in other places you play?
Well, there are definitely instances where the party is hot, but you can tell that the people aren’t as familiar with the music. That’s okay too though, it’s just a different thing.
I have the feeling that you are doing what you love to do at the moment. Next to that, I know that you worked in the financial hemisphere before you were deejaying. What was your job specifically?
I worked as a Financial Analyst for one of the big car companies in Detroit.
Is there a big difference in your happiness level before and after you started working fulltime as a deejay?
The easy thing to say would be that I didn’t like it ever, but I actually really liked the first three years of working there. I have a degree in Finance and one in Economics, so I was applying a lot of things that I learned at University on the job and that doesn’t happen a lot nowadays. This was a job where I needed to be sharp and smart all the time, so when I started playing and flying out to Europe, things were starting to get tough really fast.
Wow, I can imagine. So what was next?
I knew that I wanted to be a deejay and go for it so I had to take the risk of going all-in and move to Europe. Thankfully it worked out, haha.
Was it a struggle in the beginning to switch locations to Berlin?
No, it wasn’t too bad. I was already coming to Europe one or two weekends every month to play. Since I was already playing bigger shows, the move wasn’t completely blind. I was pretty sure that if I moved to Berlin and people knew that I was there, things would have a high chance of working out.
Were there heavy moments of adversity before you ‘broke through’ or was it more of a gradual process?
I would say that with me it was more of a gradual process. Of course I had my moments. For instance, I remember being scared shitless on the plane from Detroit to Berlin thinking: ‘What the hell did you just do?’. Other than that, my vision on my career has always been long term and patient and I think that vision translated well. I record shopped every week for the last twenty years and just kept playing in the weekends and like that, everything grew to the point where it is right now.
It’s not always like that nowadays.
No, definitely not. You see artists growing so fast nowadays with social media. The other side of that is that there is the possibility that they can disappear as quickly as they popped up.
Definitely, it can be a two edged sword.
Yeah, but I think it’s good to have that diversity. Our scene is made up of so many different people with different careers and mindsets and that just keeps everything very vibrant. I like that.
I picked up somewhere that you like structure in your career. In what way do you structure your creative process?
I try to structure things because there are moments when I can fall back on that structure. For example, I shop records which I rip to files and buy music digitally. I structure them in folders weekly, but I never make a specific folder for one gig. In that way, when I step into the booth, I can let go of everything and just be in the moment.
Do you organise your folders per genre?
No, I organise them by date and by the fact if I ripped them of vinyl or not. In that way I’m not limiting myself into a specific framework. My best sets were usually the ones were I didn’t put any limits on my creativity as a DJ.
That makes sense. So that is a perfect example of letting go of the structure to let the creativity flow.
So what is next for you, Ryan?
Next to the remix EP, I have some stuff coming up of which I can’t say a lot yet. There is one thing that I can say and that is that it is going to be special!