If I were to mention the term 'lo-fi' to someone, there's a high chance their mind would drift towards the general direction of 'chill study beats' or even Chillhop. Although, in recent times we've seen a genre associated with the lo-fi label rapidly gain popularity from the underground and beyond... I'm talking about the hypnotic and fuzz-filled lo-fi house. What makes this kind of house so distinctive is that it doesn't rely on shimmering synthesizers, large drops and bright vocals for its magnetism. In fact, we're introduced to the opposite in comparison to forms of mainstream house, and the track below exemplifies exactly what I'm saying.
Even though the state of Texas in the United States doesn't have a bustling house scene, there's a rising star within the lo-fi house movement making waves in his city and across the internet. He goes by the name DJ Poolboi and something that's quite paradoxical is the somewhat tongue-in-cheek name, compared to the depth and the emotion conveyed within his craft. On the subject, in his catalog you'll find more than lo-fi house such as "Lilac" - the track which acquainted me with his fascinating sound. In this heartfelt interview, we chat with DJ Poolboi about some of the challenges he's had to overcome to get to where he is, plans for the future and much more. His much-anticipated album "it's good to hear your voice" has also dropped today.
What inspired the name DJ Poolboi and how would you describe your journey with music thus far?
I’ve been playing drums for 16 years and in bands for the past 11 or so years. The journey with music has been long and hard, I’ve been changing names and releasing solo music since I graduated high school. Lots of grinding and trying to find my own sound until I started to see some interest in DJ Poolboi. I was a lifeguard in high school and the name started off as a joke until I realized people might actually want to listen to the songs I made for myself, so the name stuck.
The city of Austin, Texas isn't entirely known for House music, so what influenced you to start creating House music that's heavily embedded with rich atmospheric tones?
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Austin is very diverse musically but that is true that at least at the time the local scene was very psych rock/garage rock-driven. It was never a conscious decision for me I just always made songs for myself to show to my friends and give myself an outlet to express myself. It took many years of me sharing songs with my friends and working restaurant jobs before I ever had anyone listen to my music.
Something that is evident in your music and visuals is the strong themes of love and affection. Why have you specifically chosen these themes as part of your aesthetic? And are these stories that you've seen/heard or things that you've personally experienced?
I always write the melodies and chords first when it comes to a song. And when I listen back to it, I picture a video in my head and derive a title from it. And when I look back on it retrospectively I understand where I was coming from at the time. I enjoy the sadness and happiness in juxtaposition when it comes to a song. Much like relationships or life in general, there are happy moments and sad moments, and I don’t want to focus on either specifically, just take the bad with the good and try to move forward.
Your track "like we were the last two people on earth" was received extremely well! It's a stunning track and I applaud you for the crisp production on it. I'm curious as to what changes happened within your career after the success of the track?
It was actually my track “we can be happy” that got any attention. It’s a long story but I’m thankful for the YouTube channel EELF for posting a video for it. Once that got the traction I suddenly got lucky with the YouTube algorithms and other tracks like “like we were the last two people on earth” started getting attention. I’m very lucky and thankful for everything that has happened, as the success of the videos has allowed me to work with so many people that I admire, and allowed me to play shows all over the country.
On the subject, what is the most courageous thing you've ever done for the advancement of your career?
I quit my day job. Which was very stupid I admit, and even my manager said not to. I spent many months not having money to afford food or clothes. I knew that this is my chance to make a career in music, and if I didn’t give it my all right now, it would never happen. And if it didn’t work out I can always go back to waiting tables.
With the release of Forever Yours and a brand new LP on the way, you've been on the road a lot more lately. What does DJing give you that music production doesn't?
Oh man, it’s so hard to describe. I have intense social anxiety, but for some reason when I’m on stage and interacting with the crowd, I feel at home. I’ve been playing in bands live since I was a sophomore in high school, there’s just no other feeling that can compare to performing and giving it your all and seeing the audience’s reaction.
On Instagram you made a post where you thanked your friends for their support in times of addiction and depression. When you're in those mental spaces, how does it impact your music? And what do you to go about feeling better in the moments you experience depression?
Antidepressants have saved me. I’m a big advocate for medical help. If you’re experiencing depression, you need to talk to somebody and get professional help or else you’ll always be in that hole. My addiction and depression has influenced my music, but only after the fact. I can only write when I’m feeling good and sober; and subconsciously and retroactively the shame and guilt and sadness I feel from the depression and addiction bleed into the music. When I feel really bad, the first thing is to text someone, talk to a friend you trust. And I force myself to listen to a happy song and not sad songs, my go to’s are:
Never fails to put a smile on my face.
Take us through how you began working with Majestic Casual, and how did you know they were the label for you?
When I was in high school before I ever started making my own music, I always kept up with majestic casual. And I thought to myself “if I could get a song on majestic casual that would be amazing.” And almost everyone around me doubted that that was a possibility. I was a young kid not going to school, working in a restaurant, and making music in my bedroom. Then one day I got a message from someone from Majestic and now I have an album coming out through them.
Apart from the new album on the way, what can we expect from DJ Poolboi in 2020?
I’ve been working with major artists, producing, writing a new album with incredibly talented feature artists. I can’t wait to release all the new music and get out on the road to perform.
10) So… 1) An artist/band you would have a D.M.C (Deep Meaningful Conversion), 2) An artist/band you’d love to party with. 3) Artist/band you would like to be within the studio for a week.
Thom Yorke / Radiohead
Post Malone for sure
Corbin or Joji
"it's good to hear your voice" link: