Boise-born Trevor Sigler has made a name for himself as a Bay Area DJ in just a few short years. As one fourth of the quartet Rocket Collective (which included Bay Area Reporter Bestie-voted DJ Brian Maier), Sigler has spun at numerous local and regional events.
Now, with Two Dudes in Love’s David Sternesky and Mat Do Santos (the other half of Rocket Collective), Sigler’s first album is out, full of techno house grooves and atmospheric audio. As Sigler was in Los Angeles for a DJ gig, we did an email Q&A to discuss his music.
Can you share a little background about your music interests and what led you to become a DJ?
I grew up listening to classic rock, oldies, and country, but discovered electronic music through Ratatat’s debut album. I wanted to learn how those unfamiliar sounds were made. So at 19, I moved to San Francisco to attend the Art Institute of California. Shortly after moving, I met my partner Rene. He and I just celebrated five years together. In 2012, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in Audio Production with a focus on live sound. Since then, I’ve been focused on building my career as a producer, DJ, and audio engineer. I’m currently available for audio work!
What first got you into DJing?
Before I started DJing, I focused on writing and producing original songs. My interest in production led me to DJing as a new way to express myself and experiment with combining other producers’ sounds. Once I started mixing songs together, I honed my skills on a DJ rampage that lasted several months. Now my DJing and my original productions influence and complement each other.
You’re working with David and Mat, your colleagues from Rocket Collective, who’ve also been making original music. Have you guys been collaborating since Rocket ended?
Yes; not long after Rocket ended, David, Mathew, and I first considered starting our own house and techno record label. We also DJed together at various parties. David and I had a monthly residency at Lookout’s former Friday night party, Joe. After working on original productions and signing new artists, we decided we had enough material to launch our record label, Friends With Benefits.
Friends With Benefits Records is a creative partnership between the three of us (www.facebook.com/fwbrecords). Our goal is to release great music by ourselves and other innovative house and techno producers, with a special focus on queer-identified talent. All three of us have to love the music before we put it out. We are currently looking for more artists to sign.
Share a little bit about the difference between making a mix of other peoples’ songs and creating new sounds.
To me, mixing other producers’ songs is about showing appreciation for their work and simultaneously offering a personal perspective on which songs sound good together.
When I’m making new sounds for my original productions, it’s about exploring the possibilities of sound design and searching for something new and innovative. Once I’ve created several interesting sounds, I switch modes from sound designer to songwriter, and I experiment with combining the sounds in a catchy, musical way.
Tell readers a little bit about your new CD; the sounds share different styles of House.
On this album, I drew inspiration from some of my favorite producers like Will Saul and Maya Jane Coles. If you know their music and mine, you might be able to figure out which of my songs were written in homage.
Many of the individual sounds used in my songs are made from field recordings. I walked the streets of Civic Center with a handheld recording device, banging on different parts of the urban landscape to see what they sound like. My album literally has the sounds of San Francisco baked into it.
That’s pretty neat! Do you imagine listeners dancing around their homes, or do you imagine them doing other things?
I hope the album inspires people to do far more than just one thing, but the thought of people dancing to my album in their homes gives me the most joy.
What are the first and last elements you add or subtract in a song or mix? Do mixes get too busy and you strip them down, or add more?
I believe less is more. I try not to add too many different elements at first. Each sound in a song or a mix needs to have its own space to breathe. You don’t want sounds competing for real estate in the same frequency range. If something seems too busy, I strip it down to its essential elements.
What are your favorite non-San Francisco gigs?
SQURRRL LA is always a highlight! I’ve also had lots of fun both times I played in Vancouver. Last summer I played Mark Louque’s party Fagbash in Provincetown, and I’ll be returning to Fagbash again this summer. And of course, Burning Man.
Okay then; what’s your best Burning Man experience?
I participated in the creation of BAAAHS, the Big-Ass Amazingly Awesome Homosexual Sheep. After all the hours spent building this moving sculpture before the Burn, it was surreal to suddenly see it come to life on the Playa. The best way to experience BAAAHS off-Playa is through video and photos (www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Vj-En3p-So www.facebook.com/BAAAHS.13). I rode the BAAAHs at Burning Man with a bunch of really talented friends. The highlight of the week was doing a three-hour tag team DJ set with Jonny Seymour from Stereogamous.
What could be better than DJing with one of my favorite artists from the top of a giant homosexual sheep with laser eyes?
Do you often DJ out of town?
SQURRRL happens four times a year in Los Angeles. Beyond that, I DJ wherever I get booked. I’m looking forward to returning to Provincetown this year for Fagbash. When I’m not travelling for DJ gigs, I focus on producing original songs.
Tell us about some of your upcoming local events.
Pretty soon, I’m DJing a friend’s private birthday party as Tater Swift [his bewigged persona], so things are gonna get crazy. I might even take requests. We’re throwing SQURRRL at the Stud on May 17, and keep an eye out for SQURRRL pop-ups in the upstairs of DNA Lounge during Bootie. I’ll be playing with Nark (Seattle) and Two Dudes in Love for a special Friends With Benefits edition of Dickslap at the SF Eagle on May 31. On June 28, I’ll be with SQURRRL at the main stage of Pink Saturday in the Castro.
Do you still buy records or download them?
I love records, but they are expensive. I would buy vinyl more, but because of the cost, I buy most of my music digitally. It’s really important to support artists by buying their work, especially when they’re independent.
What was the first record you ever bought?
It was "Whitey Ford Sings the Blues" by Everlast. (www.youtu.be/vCZ1YteCv5M). Wow, what a throwback!
Buy Trevor’s new CD at www.beatport.com/release/trevor-sigler/1277762
Listen to Trevor’s mixes at www.soundcloud.com/tsigler3441