It would be fair to say Treasure Fingers has been at the forefront of the Nu Disco scene since its infancy. What you may not know is that he’s also one-third of Evol Intent (and individually as The Enemy) – a Drum & Bass super power who have established themselves as a force in the genre for over a decade.
Treasure Fingers’ schedule is as hectic as any major player in the game; constantly touring clubs across the globe as well as headlining pretty much every major festival throughout the US the past several years. As a solo artist he’s remixed artists ranging from homegrown artists like Romanthony, Roy Davis Jr. & James Curd to commercial artists including Estelle, Kid Cudi and Chromeo.
interview: rees urban / photo: yen nguyen
How did the name Treasure Fingers come about?
Loosely stems from the song by Midnight Star, “Midas Touch”. When I first started Treasure Fingers, I had thought about hiring in a full band and making it a live Funk show but then I took the DJ route & went deeper into the House Music side of things.
Coming from a Drum & Bass background what was the motivation to switch over to House & Nu-Disco?
I actually got into both around the same time. My very first mixtape was House on one side and Drum & Bass on the other. Shortly after that I had several crates of records stolen, which happened to be all of my House records. I was devastated and pretty broke at the time so I just focused on Drum & Bass for the time being.
[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″] Back in the day we always joked about how the Drum & Bass room at a rave was one step away from being a Third World country: failed equipment, speakers smoking, no lights or air conditioning. I think we liked it that way honestly. [/quote]
As I started producing more and more, I made a lot of Disco and House but just for fun on the side. It wasn’t until a friend persuaded me to leak “Cross The Dancefloor” to blogs that Treasure Fingers was born. I wasn’t really keeping up with that stuff, the “blog scene”, or whatever it was called, but I had no other plans for that music so I figured I’d try it out.
A-trak ended up messaging me a bit after it took the blogs by storm and that’s how I signed with Fool’s Gold Records.
Was it difficult to transition over to an entirely different sound, from a production standpoint as well as having to create a whole new fan base?
Production-wise, no. I mean I approach it very different than Drum & Bass but since I had first learned how to produce I’ve always experimented with lots of different genres, so that wasn’t difficult.
[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″] It’s all mixed up these days: the majors want to sound “indie”, and indie labels have the freedom to do whatever they want, which includes signing bad pop music occasionally. [/quote]
Everything else, yes! Both scenes were radically different at that time. I came from a scene that was, basically, limited vinyl-only releases, a super-strict unreleased tracks dubplate culture, highly taboo to bootleg remix anything with mostly aggressive dudes at shows… to a scene where you gave you music away for free, could remix or do mash-ups of anything you pleased and parties had tons of girls (even celebrities and models). Also, I noticed most promoters would really take care of you at a House Music night, where as with Drum & Bass, our rider was usually wrong, we had shitty equipment, checks bouncing, etc.
That’s changed a lot in recent years, but back in the day we always joked about how the Drum & Bass room at a rave was one step away from being a Third World country: failed equipment, speakers smoking, no lights or air conditioning. I think we liked it that way honestly. We were tough; we were soldiers in the fight against all the other genres, haha.
The day-to-day gigging now in Treasure Fingers-land feels like cozy retirement compared to the early Evol Intent days.
Is it harder to play shows as well as collaborate in the studio as Evol Intent now seeing you all have side projects?
Yeah, unfortunately I rarely play any of the Evol Intent shows these days. We all live in different cities and have our own side projects going, so it’s definitely a bit harder but we’re still active and keeping the releases coming!
You’ve gotten a lot of love from the blogs. How important do you think that was in establishing yourself as solo artist?
The blogs really were groundbreaking for me. Launching a new project with this infrastructure, where you get 5-10 of the biggest blogs posting your music, then a 100 more smaller copycat blogs reposting it, along with social media helping it all go viral. And co-signs from bigger DJs tweeting about you, gives you almost instant credibility. After leaking a couple tracks, I had the biggest DJs in the world hitting me up, major labels wanting remixes, managers wanting to meet, tour offers, anything and everything. It was really bizarre that it all stemmed from a handful of blogs posting my songs.
You’ve been able to remix a lot of popular artists in the House Music scene as well as major label artists. Do you have a preference when working on remix projects? Who has been your favorite to work with so far?
I don’t care so much if they are indie or major label as long as it’s a decent song. There needs to be one element of the song that excites me that I can build upon. Some of the best songs and coincidently my favorite remixes I’ve done have come from major labels. Furthermore indie labels requested some of the most generic poppy songs. It’s all mixed up these days: the majors want to sound “indie”, and indie labels have the freedom to do whatever they want, which includes signing bad pop music occasionally. One of my favorite remixes over the years was the Empire of the Sun, “Walking On A Dream” remix. It was such a great song to begin with, I finished the remix easily within a day, almost magically how easy everything flowed and came together.
In the last couple years there has been an extreme increase in the popularity of Nu-Disco and the “new” Deep House sound. Does that make it any more difficult to stay inspired since the market is flooded?
Yeah it definitely makes the sound go stale faster. I find it more motivating than anything to keep evolving and to write some really fresh new creative music. I usually exit the bandwagon as fast as possible once something gets too hot & trendy, which is dumb for my bank account but these days I’m just doing whatever I feel like making and hopefully the fans stick with me.
What’s been your craziest experience while touring?
It’s not super crazy but one of my favorite stories is when I was in Moscow, a couple large Russian men in suits took me to a strange back room after a DJ set. A guy came into the room and attempted really awkward “small talk” for 30 to 45 minutes while the two bodyguards just stared at me. At the end of all of this, the guy says, “And now that we are friends and have good feelings, I ask that you will tell your friend Dieselboy we are great promoters and would like to invite him here”. I say, “Oh yeah, of course, sure,” and he gets up, shakes my hand and we all leave. I was just glad I didn’t get murdered or have my bank account extracted on the spot.
Do you prefer playing festivals or club gigs?
In my heart I love the smaller dark club gigs. It’s just so much more personal & the vibes are unmatched. I do still love performing at festivals if only for reaching so many people at one time. It’s hard to find someone in a bad mood at a big amazing festival.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not traveling or in the studio?
I draw & paint as often as I can. Lately I’ve been getting more into photography, cinematography, video editing & motion graphics. It’s all just a fun hobby for now, but at some point I’ll show the world my visual side.
What’s for dinner?
Honey dipped chicken fingers.