Thumping, sun-kissed grooves.
Born in the US and based in Berlin, Gene On Earth made a name for himself these past few years with slick, reduced house delivered with a kind of laid-back warmth. His sound is influenced by the digger community surrounding The Ghost, Berlin's party, DJ crew and mobile record shop, but touched with a sun-kissed vibe and a smirking sense of humor, evident in everything from his cartoon avatar to titles like Gary Town (a place and state of being essential to Gene and those around him) to the loud button-down shirts he favors in person.
Gene's life as Gene On Earth came together slowly, and then all at once. He moved to Berlin at the beginning of the '10s—working (full disclosure) as an intern at RA early on—and struggled to find his footing as a producer. "The first eight years were spent trying to make whatever was in fashion with very little success," he tells us. After a few "life-changing" sets from Zip and Nicolas Lutz got him on a new tip, he decided he'd have one last go at music and ditch the whole thing if it didn't work out. What came next was was four thumping EPs and a lush album, most of them released on his own label, Limousine Dream, all of them eagerly lapped up by fellow diggers and fans of loopy house (and all available, as of last week, on his Bandcamp). Meanwhile, Gene found his voice as a DJ as well, playing the same kind of breezy party-rockers he produces.
At the time of writing, as coronavirus bears down on Europe, Gene finds himself hiding out in a small Brazilian beach village following a gig in Santos. Though he recorded it at home last month, RA.721 feels like a transmission from a DJ marooned in paradise, full of the kind of balmy groovers that landed him down there in the first place.
What have you been up to recently?
Up until a week ago I had been traveling during the weekends and making music during the week as usual. I flew to South America for a tour two weeks ago where I have since had the gigs for the tour's final weekend as well as my return flight to Berlin cancelled. I had a couple of very sick gigs the first weekend (special mention to Tr3vo and Vedana for having me in Santos on Saturday—it was off the chain), and am now based for the foreseeable future in a tiny beachside town outside Florianopolis, Brazil where I have been generously invited to stay for the time being. I was aware when I left for the tour that there was a very real possibility of getting stuck here, but decided to go anyway—if anything just to see where things would take me. Whether that decision was good or not I will learn soon enough, but I'm at peace with it the way things stand right now. It's not often that you get the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in a new place, but with all of the gig cancellations, I've looked at it as a rare opportunity to experience a country more fully—and what a country it is.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded in February at home on a MasterSounds mixer with two Technics.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
Mixes are the primary way I consume music at home—I've never used Spotify and I don't really listen to albums—so they are an important thing for me. A good mix that you can come back to for months is a rare thing, so this is me giving it my best shot. I used to love a good peak-time mix, and listened to shitloads of them for years—probably because at the time it was one of the main ways I found new tracks—but they're not something I've really stuck on much the last few years. This one is comprised mostly of tunes I would use if I was playing at the beginning of a night and some of the ones I generally reserve for the last hour of a closing set. It's music that I find translates better to a home listening environment than a lot of the tackle I would use during a peak-time set. There are tunes from 1989 and tunes from 2019, there are a few edits, a few wrong-speeders, a few originals, and fair few nuggets that I only really play at crack-ons round mine.
You've been making music for a while now, but Gene On Earth and Limousine Dream really came out swinging these past couple years. What brought on this burst of creativity?
I started making music 12 years ago. The first eight years were spent trying to make whatever was in fashion with very little success. I went from blog house to Beatport tech house to general deep house. Around four years ago was when I first saw a couple of what I guess I would now call life-changing sets from Nicolas Lutz and Zip. Also around this time, my best mates were starting to dig a lot deeper than before, and I realised that it was something I needed to do as well. Once I developed that habit in earnest, my frame of reference was no longer based around what music was coming out at the time, but rather on what tickled my fancy from years past. Instead of copying whatever was in fashion, I was slowly able develop my own taste in the music I played, and thus the music I made as well. I owe a lot of this development to my friends Josh and James, who were the ones who really showed me the door for this type of music. Without their introduction, I certainly wouldn't have arrived to the place I am now.
What's this period of time been like for you? Something like the "vivid technicolour dream world" on your About Me?
These two and a half years since the first EP came out have been without a doubt the best of my life. I can't explain the level of happiness I feel every day. I prepared music and the overall idea for the launch of the Gene On Earth / Limousine Dream project for about two years before it came to fruition, but while it was all coming together, I was also working with the mindset that if it didn't bring me the level of success I was aiming for, it would be the end of my time where making music was my primary career goal. I had a deep fear of waking up one day 15 years later still scraping by, and had made the decision that if this final go didn't work, I would begin learning a new skill to work in a field with better financial prospects. I am incredibly grateful that it did not pan out like that. I remember what my life was like before, and I have experienced what it is like now, and I don't ever want to lose it, so I work harder than I ever have to ensure that I continue further down the path on which I have now found myself.
Almost don't want to bring this up but have to ask: how's your summer looking in light of recent events?
I have had 15 gigs cancelled so far with I'm sure plenty more to come, so it's not looking great. However, it will give me a lot of time to write music. It's not always easy to come by proper stretches where you can really hunker down and dig deep into it, so I am using it as an opportunity to make a real stockpile of nuggets. I will also explore more extensively the downtempo/home listening side of my musical taste. It's something I've touched on with most of my releases, but I would like to make a full presentation of this music as well. One thing I won't really be doing is digging, as I need to be using my available funds sparingly while there is no money coming in. In terms of non-musical activities, a few months ago I also took up reading for the first time since uni, so I will be doing plenty more of that, as well as meditation which I did sparingly before, but have begun in earnest now.
What are you up to next?
Regarding releases, I had a real purple patch between November and January during which I finished more than two EPs worth of material. We've just gone into production for one of them now, so assuming interstate commerce continues, it will be hitting stores soon. Regarding gigs, I have been invited to several "life goals" festivals this summer, as well as loads of gigs around Europe and the US, but I guess we'll have to hang tight and see how everything unfolds. I continue to exercise what I reckon to be a healthy combination of optimism and realism. Thank you very much for having me—it is truly an honor to be invited. I wish everyone the best during this time of uncertainty, and look forward to meeting back in Gary Town soon.