The Apt One Interview
DJ Apt One returns to Pittsburgh to perform at the Round Corner Cantina’s Gold Series on May 30 at 9:00pm with locals Edgar Um [Honcho/Pgh Bro Club/VIA: Pittsburgh] and Bamboo [Gold Series resident].
DJ Apt One is known for leading a number of dance music initiatives over the last decade. He works in different genres for each of his signature aliases and has traveled the US and Europe leaving his mark all over the world. Even though he’s adopted Philadelphia as his hometown, he can’t deny his Pittsburgh roots.
Apt One has mesmerized his audiences with his multi-genre style of mixing and as a part of the duo RCMP with Humanaut’s Relative Q; he foretold the beginning of Nu-Disco before it was even a thing. You may know him as half of Philadelphyinz, with partner Skinny Friedman, for the major parties they used to throw in Philly. He is also a founder and executive of Young Robots —a label that has put out debut records by Solidisco, Nicos Gun, and Fashen.
Read on to see what he had to say about the scene in Pittsburgh and what he’s up to next. If you missed him a while back at Hot Mass, be sure to catch him at the Gold Series. The event is free admission before 10PM, $5 after.
So, you’ve adopted Philadelphia as your hometown. What do you think of the scene here in Pittsburgh as opposed to Philly? And about Cantina’s Gold Series in particular?
The scenes are pretty different in a few ways – maybe most importantly, Philly is self-consciously East Coast – it’s a far bigger city and its so close to NYC that people there constantly compare what’s going on in Philly to what’s going on in NYC. People defect to NYC because the amount of access you have there is unparalleled – in many ways your career is about who you know. In Pittsburgh, and a lot of other mid-size cities, people just do their thing. It makes it fun and weird and idiosyncratic.
I love what’s going on in Pittsburgh right now. I also love that the people who I grew up with in “the scene” are still there – they all made it through the rough patch in the early 2000s. I don’t regret leaving around then, things seemed bleak. Now there’s such a fun and interesting family of people who have been persistent and have created a really great scene. Compare it to Philly and it’s smaller, with less history and less volume of talent, but more focused on quality and community – Philly nightlife is getting swallowed by corporate bullshit.
I want to thank folks like Edgar Um, Aaron Clark, Brotha Mike, The Harlan Twins, Cutups and Keebs, Vince Masi, Relative Q, Lauren and Quinn from VIA – I’ve known a few of those people since I was 10 and they have all kept me feeling like Pittsburgh is still my home by thinking of me and keeping me in the scene.
As an executive of Young Robots, what do you look for when deciding what new talent to work with?
We mostly look for newer, talented acts – people we know, people that trust us and our process. We are a label that really specializes in providing that first step of access for new artists. Folks like Jay Fay, Solidisco, Fashen, Nicos Gun, Robert Lux – we want to find people who have great potential and give them a place to put out their first record and say, “Hey, I’m legit, people put time and effort and money into my release.” Then they can go along and use that legitimacy to further their careers, book shows and such. We don’t own their music or tie them down with deals or offer unfair splits. Only a truly insane person would try to sell music in order to make money in 2014.
What’s up next for Young Robots? Do you have any projects in the works?
I have a lot going on in the near future – I just debuted a new alias, “Michael The Lion,” and did a remix for a single on Young Robots by Robert Lux and Todd Edwards (of Daft Punk fame). I had Pittsburgh Track Authority do a remix for that project as well.
There’s a lot of Michael The Lion stuff in the pipeline, but not necessarily on Young Robots – the first solo Michael The Lion record is coming out this summer on Soul Clap, and there’s quite a good bit more where that came from. I have some DJ Apt One stuff coming out with Chrome Canyon, and also a DJ Apt One remix on System Recordings – best known as the home of Pittsburgh’s Dieselboy.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Relative Q? Any future projects for RCMP?
RCMP was a project that Paul and I developed in the late 2000s, it was kind of “nu-disco” before that term quite existed. Heavily influenced by 1980s Italian and Quebecois synth disco. We kind of came around a bit too early.
It’s funny you should ask, I played at Hot Mass a few months ago and people still know and love all the songs we made, some of which I played for the first time in years. Paul and I were talking and we agree that we should make more stuff together.
Cantina’s Gold Series happens every Friday, so don’t miss out! Confirmed headliners include:
- June 6th: Diamond D
- June 13th: Bobbito Garcia & Rich Medina
- June 20th: Grandmaster Flash
- June 27th: Brenmar
- July 18th: Cosmo Baker