Another chapter of our beloved Living Techno Interview series is out, this time with an exclusive featuring DJ T-1000.
DJ T-1000 a.k.a Alan Oldham is a central figure in techno history. Detroit born and based in Berlin, he began his career in the early 90s with Underground Resistance, and is a prolific producer whose music has appeared on many labels including BPitch and Tresor. Behind the scenes, he runs legendary Detroit labels like Generator, Pure Sonik and Detroitrocketscience, and also works as a graphic artist and illustrator, producing iconic cover and merch artworks for Djax-Up-Beats, +8, Transmat and many more.
For this interview, among other things, Alan tells us a little about his long artistic and professional career, as well as he describes his latest release ‘The Dirrty Underground EP’ for Ellen Allien’s label, Bpitch. The EP was released on July 16, 2021 and you can get the digital release via Bandcamp.
Read the full interview below.
Hello Alan, thanks for taking this interview, it’s really appreciated. First of all, how are you and where in the world are you taking this interview?
Thanks, glad to do it. I am currently trapped in Berlin.
Where does the pseudonym ‘DJ T-1000’ come from, does it mean something or have a history behind it?
In the movie “Terminator 2,” Schwarzenegger’s model was the T-101. The T-1000 was the next-generation nanotech shape-shifter who could become anything or anyone to achieve his objective. When I joined Underground Resistance’s live tour, everyone in the band had code names, so I chose T-1000 for that reason.
What led you to start your career in the electronic music scene, and in what year?
I guess it all started with my radio show back in Detroit, “Fast Forward.” I started it in 1987. I was just in time for the beginnings of Detroit Techno, Chicago House, and the EBM scene in Europe. In 1988, it was the “Summer of Love” in England, and Acid House exploded. I knew people who were making this music and I wanted to make some of my own. My first release as Signal to Noise Ratio on Djax-Up-Beats, was in 1990.
What were you doing before you started your career in the electronic music scene? Back in that time did you somehow imagine you will become the legend youre now, i mean, having a successful graphic illustrator, electronic music producer, international DJ and label owner career?
That’s very kind although I resist the term “legend,” that somehow suggests I’m in the museum, when I still make and play new stuff!
I originally wanted to do comics professionally but the real plan was to just go into commercial radio eventually. I got my degree in Radio-TV-Film. Those guys made a lot of money for not a lot of actual work. Everything else after that was organic. I just took opportunities as they came my way.
What comes to your mind if we talk about the 90’s, about the good old days from Detroit, and if there is any name, gig, record, or anything that reminds you of something special from that time?
When I think of the 90s in Detroit, I think about Motor Lounge. Another great Motown club that’s now a memory. Steven Sowers RIP.
And the outlaw rave scene. There were parties every weekend. Local promoters would see my name on New York or Philly flyers and book me. If I was just from Detroit they would have ignored me. But there were a lot of good events and cool people back then, some of whom are still friends. I really got to see America during that time.
The biggest thing I miss was my friendship with Woody McBride. We were close in those days. We’re still cool, but life takes you in different directions. The scene was all over in 2000, then 9/11 was the nail in the coffin. It would be years before things started to come back.
Why did you end up moving and staying in Berlin? (We are intrigued, specially after your recently released track named ‘I Fucking Love Berlin’ lol).
Long story short, America was washed up for me and Europe was where the work was. I was coming over to Berlin for gigs anyway, so I just decided to stay. This was in 2014.
How’s this and the last year been for you, all things considered. Do you think the music industry, especially the one that relies on gigs and nightclubs, is going to be fully restored next year?
I really hope so. As you know everything is still in flux and the government’s no help. It’s more open now than it was this time last year, more people are vaxxed, so we just have to hope for the best. I’m waiting for my beloved Tresor to reopen.
Tell us something about your Pure Sonik and Generator imprints, any plans on releasing something this year on the labels?
No firm plans right now except a lowtempo album I’m finishing. I took time out to do tracks for other labels but I will focus on Pure Sonik again soon. Also there will be more digital re-masters on Generator. The DAT masters are still in the US, and I haven’t been back in almost 2 years. I will digitize more tracks later in 2020.
How does it feel to land once again on BPitch with your recently released ‘The Dirrty Underground EP’?
It’s great all around, great reviews and press, super nice feedback, it’s a different kind of release for me.
Tell us the story, how did ‘The Dirrty Underground EP’ end up being released on BPitch?
Not much to tell. I had pitched several EPs to BPitch (including “Pure Sonik Youth” and “Body Signal” both of which I ended up putting out on Pure Sonik Records) and this is the one that landed. I made this record especially for Ellen Allien, to be honest, that’s why it hit.
Can you tell us about the production processes and inspiration behind each track of the EP?
Although “Clitfuck” is the first track on the record, it was actually the last track produced. I wanted to do something hard and fast that I didn’t think about too much to open the EP.
On “Think You Can Handle It” I had the samples first, then built the track around them. I’ve got an external hard drive full of samples just waiting to be used on the right track. I heard Ellen play a track that said “lick my pussy” so I went ahead and made this.
Same with “I Love It In My Acid.” I made this hard acid track and had this old porno sample laying around, so I thought I’d drop it in. Voila, it was hot. My stuff is usually serious, but I just wanted to be funny with this record.
I’m shocked nobody used the sample on “I Fucking Love Berlin” before, it’s been around for a few years now. Another track that’s harder than my normal. 135 bpm is usually my limit, but I made this record for the ravers.
Congratulations on such a tremendous EP, we must ask, is there a favorite track or do any of the tracks on the EP hold a particular special feeling for you?
“I Fucking Love Berlin” would be an anthem if clubs were open. I also love “Think You Can Handle It.”
Are there any other DJ T-1000 releases planned to come out this year that you can tell us a little about?
Release dates are shaky, but here goes.
I’m on a comp from Arkham Audio from Belgium with some great people like CYRK, Denise Rabe and Drumcell. I also did an EP called “Prisma” for Sound of Berlin, and I’m currently working on an album for Elypsia. And finally, I’m finishing a lowtempo album for my xfive label. Like all the tracks are around 70 bpm.
In your experience, how would you describe the evolution of electronic music after more than three decades of Techno, what has changed, ¿what has been constantly evolving, and what has been left in the past?
Well, with bpms up around 150, the next wave should be a minimal revival, then back to house, just like in the 2000s. There are people out there doing retro minimal nights right now. House, Techno and Detroit Techno always remain constantly underneath and are always a source of inspiration.
What music do you listen to besides electronic music? ¿Can you recommend some artists to follow?
I’ve been heavy into Shoegaze and Indie Rock the past few years. Every so often I do a Shoegaze/Postpunk night at a bar here in Berlin, Dream Baby Dream. Here are some artists and songs I like:
Soft Kill – Heresy-DJ T-1000 a.k.a Alan Oldham
Drab Majesty – Unknown To The I
INADRM – All That Is (All That Was)
Venera 4 – Black Paws
Interpol – Lights
Loop – Fix To Fall
Xmal Deutschland – Qual