Dallas Observer Mixtape with Jethro Tilton

Joel Zoch represents the stranger side of Dallas DJ culture.
Joel Zoch represents the stranger side of Dallas DJ culture.
Joel Zoch

Joel Zoch, most often performing under his alias Jethro Tilton, bridges Dallas' DJ culture and its experimental scene. Zoch was on the front line in various projects and played the infamous Hazy Daze parties back in the rave days. His music knowledge of the somewhat obscure is off the charts, as his mixtape demonstrates.

Dallas Observer: How did you start deejaying?

Zoch: Around the age of 16 … two turntables and a cassette deck, mainly hip-hop and industrial stuff at that time. When I was 18 I picked up the 12-inch of “Voodoo Ray” by A Guy Called Gerald. That sort of changed my opinion on what electronic music could be. Before that I was into Skinny Puppy, Art Of Noise, Ministry … things like that … but that record really changed me. Then I got the first LFO 12-inch on Warp and my mind was fully blown … there was no going back after that.

How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?

I made it in Logic Pro. I tried not to slave over it too much … which is never easy for me. It’s sort of a mix in two parts … the first half is dark, relentless techno. Most of it is newer stuff. Originally the whole mix was going to be this style. But after I finished the first part, I wanted to get into some different territory, not worry so much about what will and won’t beat match well. So I did another mix of more acid, electro, and house, some slower tempos, styles all over the place … then stitched the two together.

What is your relationship with Dallas DJ culture?

I was probably most involved in the culture back in the days of the Innergalactic Groove Source record store in Fair Park that was run by the guys in Hazy Daze Collectif. I hung out there a lot, bought a ton of records there. Played at some of the Hazy Daze parties, playing records in the chill areas or doing some live PA’s with Phillip Walker with our band Sphota. We ended up putting out some records on Hazy Daze/IGS offshoot labels Wax On/Wax Off and Fair Park Records. Those were fun times … really fun times. I don’t get out as much as I should these days. I was pleasantly surprised when Cassegrain came to play a warehouse party some weeks ago. It sort of reminded me how much I really still like going out and being a part of that sort of thing.

How did you get into production?

Around 1990, my friend James Finn bought a Roland S-50 sampler. Why, I’m not sure … but I’m glad he did. After messing around with the sampler, I was hooked. I went down to the local music store and put a Roland R-8 drum machine on layaway. With those two pieces, a little MT-32 sequencer and a Roland JX-8P synth … Jethro Tilton was born. 

What other music do you get into outside of dance?

Oh God … loads. Totally into psychedelic guitar music like Butthole Surfers, Skullflower, Terminal Cheesecake, Boris etc. German and French progressive music from the ’70s. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Current 93, Death In June, Nurse With Wound, Coil, The Legendary Pink Dots, Skinny Puppy. Most things Mike Patton related. As well as the classic stuff from the ’80s…The Cure, Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Joy Division etc. Punk rock – Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Husker Du, Autechre, Aphex, Boards of Canada. FSOL. Alec Empire. Public Enemy. Atom Heart. Pink Floyd. I could go on for days.

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What has been the most profound music experience you have had in the past year?

Probably seeing Severed Heads in Austin last fall. One of my favorite bands ever.  And then chatting with Tom Ellard after the show, what a supremely cool and humble genius. The last Chelsea Wolfe show was pretty massive as well. And it was pretty cool to see Eagles of Death Metal take the stage again soon after the tragedy in Paris and totally rock it.

What up and coming producers are exciting you as of late?

Definitely a few on this mix. Berg Jaar has released two EPs this year that are stunning. Only heard his music for the first time a few weeks ago and my jaw pretty much hit the floor. The Afik Naim EP on Dolly is excellent, can’t wait for more tunes from him. Rustal as well. Really … there is so much quality techno coming out on a weekly basis it’s pretty insane just to try and keep up with it all. But I’m always watching labels like 100% Silk, Mord, Avian, Token, Subsist, 1080p, Lobster Theremin, Perc Trax, Blueprint, Downwards, Central Processing Unit, Dekmantel, Diagonal, Diffuse Reality, Emetic, Farbwechsel, Green Fetish, Hivern Discs, Houndstooth, Hypercolour, Ilian Tape, Opal Tapes, Infrastructure New York, L.I.E.S., M_REC LTD, Modularz, Nachtstrom Schallplatten, Northern Electronics, Ostgut Ton, Pampa, Planet Rhythm, Planet Mu, Warp, PoleGroup, Proibito, Repitch, Russian Torrent Versions, Semantica, Sonntag Morgen, Stroboscopic Artefacts, The Trilogy Tapes, Tresor, Wolf Music, Wunderblock. Just to name a few.

What’s in your near future musically?

I finished the last Jethro Tilton album “Breadline” in 2014. That was made after a several-year obsession with guitars, vintage pedals, and so on … I went off the deep end with that stuff for a while. It was fun though. It was a departure from the previous Tilton stuff as it was more drums and guitar, live instruments. I have been pretty busy with my 2-year-old for the last few years but I am really chomping at the bit to get back in the studio and make some crazy electronic tunes again. Hopefully soon.

Tracklist:
Current 93 – Blessing (Durtro)
Yan Cook – Strategist (Planet Rhythm)
Berg Jaar – NACR (ARTS)
Dorisburg – Dimension Sculpture (Myth Music)
Dubspeeka – K377 Unfriended (Drumcode)
Fixon – Tesie (Nachtstrom Schallplatten)
Pfirter – Message 1 (MindTrip)
Afik Naim – Gabirol (Dolly)
Post Scriptum – Interstellar Medium (Infrastructure New York)
Gesetz Der Oktaven – Semen Contra (Third Ear Recordings)
Rustal – The Hollows (Counter Pulse)
Imugem Orihasam – Basic Income (Flyance)
Basic House – Ursa Minor (Opal Tapes)
Identified Patient – The Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (Common Thread)
Buz Ludzha – Positive Vibes (100% Silk)
Kamikaze Space Programme – Choke (feat. Emika) (Trust)
Tzusing – Face Of Electric (L.I.E.S.)
Pleasure Model – Pill Towers (100% Silk)
Leon Vynehall – Wahness (Running Back)
TRP – Pano (Lobster Theremin)
Third Son – Alaska (Stil Vor Talent)
Gunnar Haslam – Nonservo (L.I.E.S.)
Current 93 – Valediction (Durtro)
Huerco S. – No Jack (Wicked Bass)

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