Donor (aka Greg Schappert) has emerged as one of the livelier NYC based techno producers in the last few years. His solo productions alongside his work with Truss have seen him play all over Europe and the U.S as well as garner releases on some of the top techno labels. This September sees him play at The Great American Techno Festival - his first appearance there! Here's our Q&A with him!
CGNY: Are you a native NYC’er Greg?
D: No. I grew up in a small town about an hour from the city and moved around quite a bit. After spending 8 years abroad living around Spain and Japan, I ended up back in Brooklyn, where I have been living for about 6 years now.
CGNY: Tell us about your first forays into dance music. Were you a big clubber back in the day?!
D: Growing up close enough to the city, I was fortunate enough to experience some of New York’s night life in the mid 90’s (Limelight, Twilo, Tunnel), but it wasn’t until I moved to Spain that I really took an active interest in becoming part of the scene. There were so many good parties. Artists like Jeff Mills, Plastikman, Robert Hood, Surgeon, Regis, James Ruskin, Oliver Ho were playing regularly and really opened my eyes to proper Techno. I bought a pair of turntables in Barcelona in ’97 and later started producing after moving to Tokyo, Japan in 2001.
And yes, I was a big clubber back in the day.
CGNY: What was your first release and what label released it?
D: My first release was on my net label Miniscule. I was experimenting with different sounds at this time and my friend Bob Rogue and I decided to start Miniscule as a platform to share our music.
CGNY: At what stage did you decide you were going to make a career from music?
D: I wouldn’t say I am making much of a career from music. I have a full time job which I love very much. Music for me is something I do out of passion and it’s a great way to disconnect from ordinary life and what I do on a regular day. I wish I had more time for it but I guess that’s the case with everything you are passionate about.
CGNY: You play and collaborate with Truss. How did that partnership come about?
D: Truss sent me a remix for Miniscule back in ’06. We met in person about a year later when I was in London and decided to work on a project together. We have been working both together and individually ever since. We recently joined Grounded Theory and more info can be found here.
CGNY: You have released on some top notch labels including Stroboscopic Artefacts and Semantica. How important is it to have support from a major label, apart from helping with distribution?
D: I guess it’s quite important. Once again, I’m not making an attempt to live off of music so I feel as if I don’t capitalize on the benefits of working with certain labels as much as I should or as others would. With that being said, I would really like to focus my solo productions towards these labels as they are both consistent in quality and touch base on every aspect of electronic music that interests me, ranging from Techno to Electro.
CGNY: This year you’re playing the Great American Techno Festival in Denver CO. We’re excited to see so much native (and NYC) talent on the line up. Have you played in Denver before?
D: I have never played Denver before and I am really looking forward to it. Colorado is a special place for me and I am considering moving there in the near future so I am looking forward to seeing what’s going on with regards to the electronic music scene.
CGNY: I still feel a bit that techno is the bastard child of edm so to speak! So it seems there is a real need for another great techno festival besides Movement. Considering that Detroit is really the home of techno, why do you think is that it’s still not as big in the U.S as Europe?
D: I think a lot of times the underground scene stems from pop culture. Up until quite recently, The States has been mostly about Rock and Hip Hop music while Europe’s Top 40 included a lot of dance music. I think all of this is likely to change going forward as EDM becomes more popular in the States. I don’t know anything about pop culture or so called EDM or whatever you wanna call it but maybe it will help push the underground electronic music scene in the States, for better or for worse. Honestly, I like the fact that the scene is more underground in the States and New York is in a good spot at the moment. If I can go to a small club surrounded by people who are actually there for the music then the scene is in the right state in my opinion.
CGNY: Who are some of your personal favorites at the moment, either tracks or producers?
D: So many. I listen to all kinds of music really. I guess check my RA page for charts related to electronic music. That will give you a good idea of what I am into at the moment.
CGNY: What do you like to do in your spare time? I know you have a cat! Any other pets or hobbies besides that?!
D: I really enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, snowboarding, hiking, table tennis, my aquariums, vinyl, machines, IPAs and more...
CGNY: In terms of production have you any projects in the pipeline? Do you think these days its possible to be a really successful dj without producing?
D: Yeah, I am working on quite a bit of stuff at the moment, both with Truss and on my own. The only confirmed projects at the moment are Donor remixes for Inigo Kennedy on Prosthetic Pressings and another one for Developer on Semantica. Truss and I also have a couple remixes for Heiko Laux that are due out on Thema.
I guess it’s possible to be a successful DJ without producing but it certainly is a lot more challenging these days. We have technology that can do everything for us which can make it hard to stand out. I think you would have to be good at promoter or have good connections maybe.
Please follow me on Soundcloud as I post everything I release on there.
CGNY: Thanks and looking forward to hearing you in Denver!
For more information on Donor and all the artists performing at the The Great American Techno Festival - go to www.gatf.us