Sacha Robotti dishes on living and breathing music, sloths, and tour life [Interview]
When one’s passion is ardent enough, that which ignites it will eventually take over all aspects of life. Sacha Robotti — Dirtybird’s well-loved, Belgian-raised clan member — is an embodiment of this idea, having come to a realization well into his professional life that he was meant to pursue a career as an electronic musician.
Music had clearly been something that ran deep in Robotti’s veins, as evidenced by his professional pianist sister. “I played music [classically] until I was about fifteen or so,” the tech house commander recalls when discussing playing cello in his youth. “Then, I started DJing.”
Robotti’s tone subtly lights up when he mentions his beginnings as a DJ, and anytime the topic of his current profession arises in the conversation. His dedication and love for his art is infectious, and shows up in all manifestations of his being. This feeds right into his steadily-growing fan base, who revel in and return the enthusiasm with full force. He would be serving as a counselor to a raucous crowd at Dirtybird Campout in just a few days, and continuing a lengthy Slothacid tour right afterward — a testament to how a genuine attitude and talent can carry one far.
Before taking the leap of faith into DJ and producerhood, he faced an all-too familiar crossroads when moving into the young professional part of his life. “I had always felt there was a possibility I could make it as a musician,” Sacha began when asked why he didn’t decide to test his luck in the electronica waters straight away. “However, at the time architecture seemed like a more sensible career path, so I persisted down that road,” he admitted.
“In my opinion, you truly get better at something when you’re passionate about it, and ultimately my passion is music.”
He felt satiated for a brief while: “It was definitely a great field at first, because it made me travel and look at the world from different perspectives. I feel like you perceive everything differently once you know how certain things are built, and how people move around.” Having been born to an Italian father, a German mother, and being raised in Belgium, a tendency toward cosmopolitan habits is as ingrained in Robotti as music was.
Another thing that has remained unchanged is his selfless interest in creating a positive impact for others. Sacha let his creativity flow through some conceptual design work, but most enjoyed “participating in an area of architecture that was really useful to those who needed it.” Before turning to music, he had been working on a reconstruction project in a war-affected area of Afghanistan.
The former architect is a strong believer of sustainable development as well. To him, it’s “the direction we all need to go in to save the planet, especially with all the pollution and destruction happening right now.” He continues on: “We need to shift to a different outlook, and start building with more recycled materials and other power and water-saving supplies that don’t consume as many resources.” One day, when he’s ready, he’ll be building his own house in such a manner.
Sacha’s turning point came in 2005, when he “got invited to apply for a master’s in music at this institution in Berlin.” The sign he’d been looking for had finally arrived. “When I got accepted, I knew my path was to do music full time,” he affirmed.
His followers know the rest of the story. Influenced by the underground and other electronica influences that swept his home town of Brussels, Robotti built his own unique personality through highly danceable sets and thumping tech house works that caught Dirtybird attention in 2012. Through his music, he’s once again able to travel around the world and view things from different perspectives.
“I live and breathe music right now. I try to embrace everything that I can, and take any opportunity I get to travel, network, and see different places with my work. I find it particularly interesting to learn about new cultures and people all around the world!”
In music, he also gets to continue down a path where his output is something of use to people. While architecture manifested utility on a more physical scale, his music offers people a playful escape from the real world — always a welcome gift.
An innate desire to sweep people off to a pleasant place happens to tie into his association with sloths as a spirit animal and personal brand. When throwing a warehouse party one day, where the goal was to create a place “where one could feel comfortable, relaxed, and have a good time — unlike a club-type setting,” he decided to use a sloth logo. Fans soon started tagging him on all things sloth-related, and thus he became a “sloth man.”
“Like the sloth, I like to take time to balance everything in life. They really are a positive spirit animal for me, in a sense.”
The conversation ends on a gleeful note, as Sacha names off the new cities he’s played thus far on his successful Slothacid tour, where he’s looking forward to playing next, and of course, his favorite things about Dirtybird Campout. That weekend, he went on to be lovingly welcomed by his campers, where he returned their positivity with a wild set that shattered their self control and left nothing but dancing as a result.
Let’s dive a bit into your background now with architecture, the field you were in before music. Can you give us some details on how you got into it?
Sure! I studied architecture in Scotland and Berlin. It was definitely a great field at first, because it made me travel and look at the world from different perspectives. I feel like you perceive everything differently once you know how certain things are built, and how people move around. After eight years in the field, however, I realized that it wasn’t for me.
One big takeaway from my years in architecture is that I know for certain that I want to design and build my own house one day. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this soon!
Are you saving up for land and materials and such?
I wish, but not right now. Sometime in the future, I hope I can start.
Honestly, my life is just about music right now. I live and breathe it right now, and try to embrace everything that I can, and take any opportunity I get to travel, learn about new cultures, network, and see different places with my work. I find it particularly interesting to learn about new cultures and people all around the world!
What led you to study architecture in the first place instead of diving right into music?
I played music streadily until I was about 15 or so, and then I started DJing. My sister was a pianist as well, so in a way I always felt there was a possibility I could make it as a musician. However, at the time architecture seemed like a more sensible career path, so I persisted down that road until I realized it wasn’t more sensible for me. In my opinion, you truly get better at something when you’re passionate about it, and ultimately my passion is music.
Totally agree. If you’re passionate and driven enough about something, you can make it work! So, when was your turning point when you made the transition to being a full-time musician?
In about 2005. I was in Afghanistan working on a re-construction project. I got invited to apply for a master’s in music at this institution in Berlin, and when I got accepted I knew my path was to do music full time. I got a master in “music communication,” which is more or less a “deluxe” version of sound design. It was a more artistic side of the field though, with more theory.
Let’s get into some more music-related things. Tell us about your Slothacid tour!
It’s been great so far — I’ve been able to play in cities I haven’t been to before. There’s also Dirtybird Campout, which I’m super excited for. I’m playing at Sky Bar in Chicago too, along with another round of interesting places. I have about 20 more cities to hit in the next couple months. I’ll be travelling with some support as well — Kevin Knapp is coming, Rybo will be there, J. Worra, Pezzner, and Fancy Fox. I’m really looking forward to that!
Which cities are ones you’ve just played at for the first time, and which have been your favorites?
Vancouver is one, and I also haven’t been to Edmonton (British Columbia), Kelowna, Washington DC and a few others. I played in Boston as well, which was really nice.
Moving onto Dirtybird Campout – you’ve been to every one. What are your favorite things about it, and what sets it apart from other events you’ve played at?
The campout theme itself makes it different from every other festival I’ve been at. The boy/girl scout spirit, the games, the music being all Dirtybird, and the intimacy are all things I love to it.
Feature photo credit: Get Tiny Photography