When the Coronavirus shut us down, clubs and festivals ceased, and everyone was essentially forced inside with no definitive end in sight, DJ Times wondered: How is our tribe coping? How are DJs getting by?
So, we sent out our “Coronavirus Questionnaire” to DJ/producers from all musical genres to find out. During this period, DJ Times will continue presenting the questionnaire responses from talented music-makers from all over the world. Here’s our latest entry, this time from L.A., the hard-hitting house enthusiast Ranger Trucco.
How did you spend most of your pandemic time? I have really used the pandemic as a time to create and stockpile new music. Despite all of the craziness and misfortune, I believe the silver lining to the pandemic was the increased accessibility to labels, artists, and other creatives, who were also stuck at home glued to their laptops. I have made about 20 new tracks during this pandemic, including the two on my “Pretty Girls” EP. I also focused on not producing and taking those days to get outside, exercise, go to Dave’s Hot Chicken, connect with family, etc. It has been a very big time of self-reflection… and hot chicken.
Have things changed over time? Yes. Try everything. On the plane ride home [to Traverse City, Mich.], I remember worrying that all of my progress had just come to a complete halt. I had been in L.A. for half a year, had built some great friendships, and was gearing up to finally begin putting my music out into the world. Having to stop the momentum and go home to quarantine felt like all that work was just for nothing. When I finally got back to L.A. three months later, in May 2020, I was so grateful I just really flipped a switch – through the help of so many important friends and influences such as Petey Evans, Rami and Hen, and my family back home. I just started gaining the confidence to send tracks out and really be myself while creating them. That’s when I scored the Night Bass Freshmen, Vol. 4 and “Tiffany” releases. It really hit me that the more me I was, the better my tracks were received. It has been constant work, but I really now do feel comfortable with the artist I am becoming and have so much I cannot wait to share with the world.
Did you lose important gigs, or income-producing work? I am what Space Yacht’s co-founder Henry Lu calls a “Quarantine-Born DJ.” When I sent my tune to Space Yacht’s Twitch stream, the infamous “Tune Reactor,” I got booked to play their Tech My House live stream on the spot – it was the first official show I had ever played. I did, however, lose my job due to quarantine and really struggled with the consistency of my second one. Throughout quarantine, I have done whatever I can to keep myself afloat! Whether it is taking jobs posted from friends on Facebook, or teaching production lessons, I really have done my best to stay busy and work hard.
Are you doing anything now that can or will produce music-related income? With shows beginning to come back, March was the first month of my life that I could afford my rent solely from a music-based income, whether that came from an advance on a future booking, a stream tip or performance fee – or the lessons I teach to my students. I am so excited to have accomplished this feat. I am also currently scheduling my releases and forthcoming shows for 2021!
Have you learned anything in the downtime? I really learned how to balance out my life. I love that my social-media persona has become one so involved with the house/producer community, but cannot stress enough the importance of embracing life outside of what is on your phone, especially during quarantine. I cannot tell you how many times I have caught the biggest wave of inspiration from simply getting outside, or getting together with friends, no phones, no distractions. This balance is so crucial for me being able to continue to make authentic music. As an upcoming DJ, there is such anxiety of being active on socials and making sure you are staying relevant that will eat at you and I cannot stress enough, do not buy into it. Find a balance, find an escape, and keep doing this because you love it.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your music life/career? For example, any releases during this period? My latest release is the “Free Dessert” EP on Night Bass. Right now, I have my release schedule planned up until the month of June. I am hoping to grind out a few more big records for the back half of this year, but am always respectful of the process – you cannot force these things. I also am constantly trying to remain active on social media to connect with all of the people across the country who are listeners and friends.
What’s in your studio? My bedroom! I have an Ikea table, a laptop, a mic, and some monitors in here. Maybe one day I can look back on this interview while I sit in an actual sound-treated “studio” filled with hardware and all that stuff but, for now… forget it. The equipment does not, and never will make the producer. Oh, and there is also a bonsai tree named Berry.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing? As a music producer, I have realized how much harder it is to come by inspiration for your tunes. Back before COVID, simply going out and listening to other DJs and being able to pick up on crowd reactions to certain songs was super-vital to what we put into our own music. As a 21-year-old, I realize how much my family and friends really mean to me, how much I miss all of them – my family and friends from Michigan or from University of Oregon where I went to school, all my people. I will never again take things for granted like I used to. When things get rolling again, and I am able to see them all, hopefully at a show, I’m going to lose it.
Have you done anything online recently? This month I played a guest set on my friend Rumpus’s Twitch channel, and have a couple more sets planned for some homies – stay tuned. And I re-watched all of “Narcos.”
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation? Give yourself twice the credit, twice the pat on the back, cut yourself twice the slack, take care of your mental health first and foremost. Life can be hard. I believe that we, as a society, are very driven by our connectivity and inspired by constant human interaction. We have been without these interactions for a whole year. So don’t be so hard on yourself! It is normal to feel down, but it is vital to stay positive. We will get through this. We will all dance together again.
To check out more Life in Lockdown interviews, click here.
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