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A-Trak at ComplexCon in Long Beach, CA / Oliver Scherillo
A-Trak‘s gift behind the tables coupled with his ambitious and selfless personality has helped him transcend DJing. With his Fool’s Gold label and Day Off festival, the Montreal native has flourished into one of the most influential and respected figures in the music industry. And, after a prolific 20-year career, A-Trak continues to push forward with no end in sight.
The Fool’s Gold chief recently got a chance to tell his inspiring story in a comprehensive interview for Complex’s Blueprint series (he’s the first DJ to be featured on the series). The 36-minute conversation covered most of his career and is full of valuable insights and lessons.
Topics discussed include how working with Kanye West changed his life, launching Fool’s Gold, the rise of EDM, his Goldie Awards DJ battle, and why continually reinvents himself.
On why he and Nick Catchdubs started Fool’s Gold:“The fact that we’re a DJ-run label was important because a lot of the early releases fell into this unclassifiable category of club music. We had a few rappers that were experimenting with electronic beats, which at the time was not the norm at all. So we had that, and we had electronic music that appealed to hip-hop heads. Nick and I knew that as DJs that all made sense and not only that, but that was the most exciting music at the time.”
On the rise of EDM:“Ever since I was a kid scratching, it was so important for me for DJing to have legitimacy. And when EDM exploded in North America, we finally got it. Rather than getting hung up over, you know, some sides of it that maybe weren’t the version of DJing that I like or whatever else, my thing was like, ‘Hey, we finally got people’s eyeballs. This is the moment now. We got people’s attention. Everybody wants in on this.’ … DJ culture. That’s what the EDM really is. DJ culture conquered the world, and to me that was exciting.”
On his financial standing:“I’ve never taken a salary from Fool’s Gold. This company is not how I make money. This company is how I get cool ideas out. I make my money being A-Trak. And occasionally that involves Duck Sauce or whatever else.”
On being open-minded to different music:“I’m such a child of the DJ Premier era. I’m such a child of boom bap. And when keyboard beats started appearing, that sounded so wrong to me in the beginning. But [then] I realized that I was clinging on to one paradigm and that it’s wrong to do that in music, especially as a DJ.”
On staying relevant:“In general, I will say that the entertainment business and music as a whole is designed to give people like myself, and anyone that makes music, a career normally of like five years. The challenge is longevity, and the way to overcome that challenge I think, or at least I’ve found, is this sort of constant reinvention. I always think of where the path is going and, you know, what I did before and what I’m about to do next. And that’s why none of the new elements that come into what I’m doing are ever too much off course because I know the story. I’m writing the story.”
Watch the full conversation below.