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Photo by Mason Rourke IG: @masonrourkephoto

´ I started producing while I was in film school in New York.  I started making and putting out tracks right away with a goth-y project in the “witch house” genre.  In hindsight, it’s pretty cringe but it did let me tour the U.S. and Canada which was very cool at the time.  After that, I spent a couple of years on a darkwave project called Dead Husband but really wanted to make trance & techno all along, which finally led me to Pro Athlete.'

´

Released on the rising labels of the B town such as ISMUS, STRECK, Space Trax, and Carceres, Xavier aka. Pro Athlete stands out with his eclectic aesthetic from techno/trance to dark-wave and hip hop.

The third act of our "Invites" series features Boston-based producer/DJ Pro Athlete with an hour of pure fire to kick off your weekend right.

We also talked about the early roots of the project "Pro Athlete", the techno scenes in Boston and Berlin, the impact of Corona in creative production, and the artistic direction of Xavier.

NCOUNTERS:  Can you introduce yourself? Which city did you grow up in? How did you form your early musical aesthetics, how did it evolve from there on? 

Pro Athlete: Hi! I’m Xavier and I produce/DJ trance & techno as Pro Athlete.  I grew up in Boston and I’m currently living there now.

 

Growing up I loved industrial music, nu-metal and then found trance/rave/and drum & bass stuff from there. My uncle would burn me CDs, introducing me to DJs like Sasha, Paul Van Dyk, and John Digweed. I remember Perfecto/Oakenfold (Tranceport especially) and stuff by BT having a big effect on me at the time. And then obviously artists like the Prodigy, Faithless, and Massive Attack, which made me want to DJ and produce someday myself. 

 

I started producing while I was in film school in New York. My friend bought Reason and gave me his free install and I got hooked from there. I started making and putting out tracks right away with a goth-y project in the “witch house” genre but that’s all I’ll say on that haha.  In hindsight, it’s pretty cringe but it did let me tour the U.S. and Canada which was very cool at the time.  After that, I spent a couple of years on a darkwave project called Dead Husband but really wanted to make trance & techno all along, which finally led me to Pro Athlete.

 

 

 

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Photo by Mason Rourke IG: @masonrourkephoto

´ The most important thing to me is always creating a certain mood or vibe to a track, which is usually kind of a sad, melancholic mood within a fast, energetic track, so that can come from anything. Books, movies, or exploring nature or a new place could all inspire a new track or sound.`

After your EP Animal in January 2020, you’ve contributed to many different VA’s from labels such as Space Trax, Mitsu2000, Ismus, which are known for their focus on the new wave of hard-trance and techno. What is the source of inspiration for you while producing? What kind of a process does it entail? 

The inspiration for my tracks comes from everywhere and sometimes unexpected places. I listen to lots of music other than techno/trance and get inspiration from that whether it’s a musical idea I can implement from another genre, a vocal sample, or something else. The most important thing to me is always creating a certain mood or vibe to a track, which is usually kind of a sad, melancholic mood within a fast, energetic track, so that can come from anything. Books, movies, or exploring nature or a new place could all inspire a new track or sound.

 

Production-wise I don’t have a set process but I do have a library of synths I’ve either made or customized to keep some form of consistency to my sound.  A track can start from a vocal or sample I find, a melody that comes to me, or just messing around making kicks/perc elements and building something from there. 

Was there a moment/event that kicked off the idea of Pro Athlete? 

Yeah, actually! I was trying to find a new sound and start a fresh project after needing a break from Dead Husband, the darkwave project I was working on at the time.  I knew I wanted to make melodic tracks that were also harder/faster than what I was doing but didn’t know there was an audience for it.  At that time Schacke and Sugar came to Boston which was a big inspiration for Pro Athlete. Seeing them play and hearing how they incorporated melodic synths in a way that wasn’t corny helped give me the confidence to move forward in this direction.

Your tracks as well as your sets integrate elements from various genres such as trance, acid, and hip-hop. How would you describe your take on aesthetics and its reflection on your music? 

I think aesthetics are a huge part of how the music/overall project is received so it’s definitely super important to me. All the labels I’ve chosen to work with also seem to share that quality and it’s really cool to collaborate with other artists and labels like ISMUS, Space Trax, STRECK, and Carceres where I already know the art and release will be dope regardless and that makes me more excited to work on the tracks! Also listening to a lot of rap/hip-hop at the moment, which I love the sound and aesthetics of.

What are some producers that you are particularly excited about? 

Some of my favorites I’m really excited about right now are Paul Copping, Katia Val, 1luu, MZA, and Sioc. All amazing producers pumping out serious creative stuff! Also love what the STRECK crew is doing (SIMA, Stina Francina, Stefan, etc) and I’m excited about some upcoming things with them for sure ;)

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Photo by Mike Sun IG: @Mikesundp

´ I was trying to find a new sound and start a fresh project after needing a break from Dead Husband, the darkwave project I was working on at the time.  I knew I wanted to make melodic tracks that were also harder/faster than what I was doing but didn’t know there was an audience for it.  At that time Schacke and Sugar came to Boston which was a big inspiration for Pro Athlete. Seeing them play and hearing how they incorporated melodic synths in a way that wasn’t corny helped give me the confidence to move forward in this direction.`

How is the music scene in Boston? In what ways did residing there contributed to improving your sound? 

I think the trance-ier side of techno hasn’t quite hit here yet but I do think hopefully it’s just a matter of time. There are a couple of cool techno parties here too, one of which I’ll be playing soon so looking forward to that! My friends and family are also super supportive of what I’m doing (especially my mom, shoutout to Mama Athlete haha)

You have collaborated with labels from Berlin, your last EP came out from Carcères Records. How would you compare your local scene and different local scenes in Europe? What stands out as a big difference? 

 

The main difference I think is just the size of the audience and how ingrained it is to the culture in Europe compared to here in the States, specifically in Boston. I’ve been to Europe a bunch of times but never for gigs until now so I’m super excited to start touring there next month and to finally meet all the artists/labels I’ve been collaborating with, not to mention getting to play for the people that have been supporting this project for a while now. Gonna be sick for sure! 

What would you say about the pandemic and the lockdown. In what ways did it affect your artistic life? 

It mainly provided the time I needed to be super productive making tracks during the lockdown and to prep for the inevitable reopening of everything. I’m glad it’s over but I actually enjoyed lockdown and the extra time it afforded me to produce tracks.

Around the world artists and the art scene are among the ones who are affected most by the pandemic. What do you think about this? Are you hopeful about what is going to come after this extensive halt on the club scene? 

Yes, definitely! It seems like everything is coming back with a vengeance and people want to get out and rave more than ever. I’m just excited to be a part of this scene that’s flourishing with so many great artists and to see what’s to come.

What should we expect from Pro Athlete in the future?

 

First international date in Zurich (20.11.21 with Medusa) and upcoming releases on Underzone, ISMUS, Voyeuristic Disorder, Verdorben and more!

Find Pro Athlete on RA

Pro Athlete on Soundcloud

Photos: Mason Rourke (I,II) & Mike Sun (III)

Editor: Berkay Özkan

Graphic Layout: Can Hatunoglu

Set Mastering: KOR

NCOUNTERS, Berlin (2020)

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