A modern day legend in the DJ and dance music community, A-Trak is a DJ, turntablist, record producer, and record label executive.
His EP 10 Seconds Vol. 2 (the second half of 10 Seconds Vol. 1) is out on June 22nd. It's a two-part EP of stripped down awesomeness, named after the notoriously short sample time of the E-mu SP-1200.
Synth History: Let’s talk about the SP-1200. What are your favorite features - and where did you find this legendary piece?
A-Trak: My favorite thing about the SP-1200 is the crunchy sound. It has a really recognizable ring that comes out when you detune a sample, and that just makes everything sound good. I also love the swing of the sequencer. They’re harder to find now but I bought mine a little over 10 years ago on eBay. It needed to get fixed so it ended up just sitting in my storage for a really long time, unused. I just got it repaired around the start of the pandemic and that’s when I taught myself how to use it.
Synth History: What were your main inspirations behind ‘10 Seconds Vol. 1’?
A-Trak: Kenny Dope, Pal Joey, Todd Terry, Cajmere, Soundstream.
Synth History: You and your brother (Dave 1) are both musical geniuses. Were you guys listening to the same stuff growing up, or did your tastes differ?
A-Trak: Thank you! Yes, we mostly listened to the same stuff growing up and shared a lot of our music. And in fact a lot of the hip hop that we grew up on was also made on the SP-1200, with producers like Pete Rock being a huge favorite. So the sound of that machine was familiar early on.
Synth History: Can you remember your first gig - what was it like?
A-Trak: My first gig was at a graffiti festival in Montreal, a daytime event. When I was first getting into DJing I was really just interested in scratching. So I went up there with a few other local DJs and we scratched over some hip hop instrumentals. I was 14.
Synth History: Dream vintage synths / drum machines you wish to attain?
A-Trak: I’d love to mess around with an MPC3000. That’s the J Dilla and Q-Tip sound. I love how snare drums sound on that machine. They’re not very hard to find, I just haven’t tried one.
Synth History: The dreaded question, what is your take on requests?
A-Trak: I rarely accept a request when I’m playing but once in a while someone surprises me with a good one and I’ll entertain it!
References: Synth History Exclusive, Photos via A-Trak.