INTERVIEW | TREASURE FINGERS
Based in Atlanta, Treasure Fingers is a product of the internet age. Raised in Oklahoma as a self-proclaimed nerd, Treasure Fingers grew up living on the computer, listening to music and streaming live parties from across the globe. His first success as an artist came as a part of Evol Intent, a drums and bass group that experienced a lot of success overseas, but didn’t gain as much traction stateside. A side project, however, did gain traction, and Treasure Fingers was born. After receiving an amazing opportunity via Myspace Messenger, the Treasure Fingers project took off, and as they say, the rest is history.
Today, the man just released his latest EP, “Kool Aid & Sunny-D,” which also marks the first release of his brand new Label, “Psycho Disco.” Psyco Disco’s sophomore release, “Treasure Fingers – Koolaid Remixes,” comes out Friday. You can pre-order here.
Come dance as Treasure Fingers brings his PSYCHO DISCO! party to our home at Bang Bang in downtown San Diego September 4th. Tickets can be found here.
This question might be cliche for you, but Oklahoma isn’t the most obvious state for a musician like you to grow up. What are some of your earliest musical influences?
What’s crazy is there wasn’t anything really in Oklahoma. There was a good club scene, raves, and all that sort of shit going on. But my main inspiration came from just being on the internet a lot. During the early days of the internet they would stream parties from London over real audio. Even early 2-step garage stuff, like DJ EZ, guys like that, I would listen to their parties and actually record it to a cassette tape to keep listening to. (laughs) The sound quality was absolutely terrible thinking back now. It was probably a 64 bit stream to a cassette tape and then listening to that for 3 years, you know. I would even order tape packs from the big UK parties, lots of drum & bass and garage, mostly. So that’s where my inspiration came, it was me just sort of being a homebody, staying inside, and nerding out on the internet, basically.
How did your father help you in becoming an artist?
He played in bands and always had equipment around. Nothing super big, they would play at local bars, stuff like that. But he did teach me to play guitar when I was really young. He used drum machines, but he just used them to play really simple drums just so he could sort of jam over it. And then he taught me how to program drums and midi, but I soon realized that I could switch up the sounds and get a more electronic sound out of it. And then I moved onto samplers, and synthesizers, and all of that. Just kinda experimented from there, but he definitely put that in motion, the basics of producing and recording music.
Before your success as Treasure Fingers, you were part of the drum and bass group, “Evol Intent,” along side Nick Weiller and Mike Diasio. What do you miss most about the project?
It is still going, but it is Mike doing the DJ gigs, and we all try to contribute to the music, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do as much as I’d like to, I just got too busy. But I kind of miss the old days, we used to all live in Atlanta, just within a mile or two of each other. I actually used to be Nick’s roommate, and then I moved out, and then Nick and Mike were roommates forever, we were all just hanging out. I miss that part of it.
I just sort of grew on and got tired of the sound. It just seems like in the states it just never took off much as opposed to Europe. I used to go to Europe maybe 3 times a year for tours over there. And for drum and bass, it was just insane, the parties were crazy, the press you would get over there would be good, they would play it on the radio, etc. Then I would land in the US and play a show here, and it was like, “What are we doing in the US?” (laughs) So that was sort of a drag, since we are based here, and you don’t really get that much support here in America for that type of stuff. But there are really good scenes in LA, Chicago, and Texas… There were little pockets where you could play a good show but it wouldn’t be anything like London or Eastern Europe.
Back in 2008, after the release of your single, “Cross The Dance Floor,” A-Trak hit you up on Myspace messenger and asked if you would want to be a part of Fools Gold. How did your career change after that?
That was crazy, because up until that point, all the funk and house stuff I was making was not even a side project, it was just something I did for fun. I think it was sort of therapeutic compared to the super-dark and aggressive drum n bass stuff. And I’ve always been into house, so I would make these house, funk, and disco tracks on the side. And a friend of mine pushed me to give it to some blogs and see what happens. And it started taking off and I was like, “Oh, wow, this is cool, people like my songs that I didn’t even intend to put out!”
And then A-Trak hit me up, and obviously I signed with him, and after that it was just crazy how big it ramped up. I was still doing freelance design work, programming, and animation, and that sort of stuff. So after 2008 I didn’t even have enough time to take on work like that. So that was the end of my years of having some day job.
What drew you to the disco sound specifically?
Really it goes back to hip hop, I’ve always loved hip-hop, I think my first cassette I ever bought was Beastie Boys or something, and then it moved on to N.W.A. and whoever grew out from there. I was so into it. And at the same time, I’m learning how to produce stuff with my dads equipment. And I’m realizing that they are using samples from funk and soul records. So that was really the beginning of it, and then I just got obsessed with late 70s early 80s funk. So I got kind of really into that, and even to this day now, my favorite artist ever is Roger Troutman from Zapp and Roger. But that obviously developed into dance music, disco, the 4/4 beat, and all that type of stuff. It really kind of came from getting into rap, learning that they were getting into older stuff, and then when I checked that stuff out, I thought it was really amazing, so, that’s that inspiration.
Remixing tracks is one of your specialties. Over the years you have worked with a wide spectrum of artists, ranging from Avicii to Foster The People. What is your method when approaching a remix?
Mainly that there is at least one really strong element that I could take away from and really just build my sound onto. So that’s kind of first and foremost. There are actually songs that I really like and I’ve been asked to remix, but when I listen to them I can’t hear how it would really translate into something that I would do personally. So I’ve turned down remixes of really good songs, just for that reason, and I’ve remixed other songs where I wasn’t a huge fan of the overall song but there was a vocal or some lead that stuck out that I knew I could work with. So that’s pretty much it, if there is one really good element in it that I can work with then I’ll attempt to remix.
The Internet has become an amazing tool for artists to network, promote, and release their work, regardless geographical location. Upon breaking, many artists choose to relocate to big-market cities, such as Los Angeles or London. What lead to you choosing Atlanta as your permanent home?
I moved here first right as Evol Intent was starting. Obviously I grew up in Oklahoma, and I didn’t really have any homies in my home town who were on the same page. I was working with them, and we were just kind of exchanging files on the internet. So I went down and visited, and Nick had a spare bedroom in his house, so I asked if it would be cool if I could move down and stay with him until I could figure out where to get my own house, or whatever.
So that was the initial move, and the job market here is good. I actually really love this city, so that was going good, and I did end up leaving and going to New York for four years, but I ultimately moved back here because, for one, it is just so cheap compared to New York rent. If you are a traveling artist, and you are out on the road a lot, if you add it up how many days you are at home for what you are paying for rent in New York, it is kind of disgusting. I came back to Atlanta, mainly for that, and the airport is great here! For getting direct anywhere, it is a good international hub. Plus I have a lot of friends here, so it is just kind of a good home base to come back to.
What is your favorite station on Atlanta Radio and why?
Man they are killing it right now! If you asked me even four or five years ago I would have said that the radio sucks. But there are honestly like seven stations that I cycle through now. 107.9 is the one that has been here the longest for current rap. But there is a new one that is called The Streets, I think it is supposed to be more trap-based and more street type stuff. So that one is good, and there are two brand new old school rap stations that just started. But then there is an old school soul and R&B radio station, that one is always fire. There are two really good college radio stations that have pretty good programming like all the time, and they even have some dance shows in the evening. Yeah, we have actually got some really good radio going on right now, which is surprising.
You’ve recently launched your own label, Psycho Disco, Congratulations! In an industry where new labels are launching all the time, what drove you to start this new project and in what direction are you trying to take your new label?
It has always kind of been a seed in my head that I just hadn’t executed yet. It kind of came down to some really heavy inspiration in the studio lately, to where I was just pumping a bunch of tracks out. And I’m still releasing on Fool’s Gold and other labels, but I thought it would be fun to have my own label where I could go in for a couple of days, make a single or an EP, get some art for it, do whatever, and have it out in a month if I wanted to. Just that full creative control over the art, music, sound, really everything. And being able to put some friends’ music out as well, so that’s been great. I launched it, even now, there is nowhere where anyone could really submit demos. But since launching I get tons of emails all the time, and there has been some really great stuff, so I’m actually excited to put on some newer artists. I kind of want to establish a sound that is loosly based around Atlanta and get the label noticed for a certain sound I guess.
Your latest EP, “Koolaid and Sunny-D,” serves as the first release on Psycho Disco. What ideas did you have going into the making of Koolaid and Sunny-D? Also, what in life moved you to pen the lyrics, “I’m in your house, drankin’ all your Koolaid, I’m in your house, drankin’ all your drank?”
Yeah basically that came about from – well, it’s sort of a joke to begin with. But there are those house records with something about, “Being in the house,” or, “Who’s house are you in?” or, “This is house.” There are some of them that are incredible records but there are some
that are incredibly cheesy, where it’s like, don’t do this to house, you know?
So, I thought it would be a funny twist, using, “I’m in your house,” where you might think it was just a house record, but adding that extra, “drankin’ all your Koolaid,” makes the audience ask, “What the fuck?” I didn’t really expect the response that I would get from it, but I played a test version out a couple days after I made it, and it was a pretty drunk crowd, and by the second or third time it said that line the whole crowd was chanting along with it! And I thought that putting it out first on the label would show that we are into just fun club music, and you can take it serious or not. We are going to just put out jams, you might think
that they are stupid, but we are going to have fun with this stuff, so.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Definitely a lot more on Psycho Disco. The releases were going to be every other month, and I was going to sort of put out my own music for a while until I got my head around how it all works and got the gears rolling. But everything has kind of been kicking off smooth so I think it is going to be monthly releases for me and obviously other people. There is a Koolaid remix pack coming out September 4th, the weekend of the westcoast Psycho Disco parties, so that timed out well. And then the third release is this guy Landis Lapace, two tracks from him and a remix from me. The 4th release will probably be me again, we are still kind of finalizing that one.