Troy Wadsworth has come a long way. Once a music nerd living in a small Texas town, he’s now running Seattle-based label Medical Records, one of the cornerstones of the modern synth and shoegaze music boom of the last decade. Alexander Robotnik, Seefeel, Rollerskate Skinny, Severed Heads, Laika, Gina X Performance, Pram and Locust are just some of the underground legends Wadsworth has helped reintroduce to a new generation.
In addition to a DJ, Wadsworth is also a working oncologist — hence his DJ name “Doctor Troy,” and the name of his label. For the past few decades he’s used his DJ sets to lay down sets of obscure synth music in his collection, much to the envy of other hardcore collectors.
In recent years, his focus has shifted to the dark underground techno sounds of Berlin, which has inspired the creation of a new techno sub-label, Transfusions. That's what you'll hear on this week’s mixtape.
Dallas Observer: How long have you been a DJ? How did you get started?
Wadsworth: Technically, I have been deejaying for about 18 years. My first ever DJ gig was for a medical school party. I was using a turntable and CD deck. Then, when in my medical training in Dallas, I slowly started getting gigs here and there opening for my many friends’ bands and the occasional art gallery, etc. I always played obscure new wave tracks which really wasn’t too popular back in 2000-2001, but as the “revival” took hold, I was lucky to have been there on the ground level which increased my ability to DJ gigs.
What made you decide to start Medical Records?
In the early 2000s, I became increasingly frustrated with the rising prices of cold wave and synth records. Ironically, they were actually much cheaper back then during the early days of eBay, but it was still like $30 to $40 dollars for a Drinking Electricity record. Over time, those prices became astronomical. As I learned about Vinyl-On-Demand out of Germany reissuing these gems, I became inspired to do the same thing — after I got a real job and could save up to do so. I sat on the idea for many years until finally in 2007, I was able to scrape up the money to start the venture.
What is coming up for Medical Records?
We have been working with Mark Van Hoen — Locust, Seefeel, Scala — and have been reissuing some of his work. His music is very important to me. We are releasing his collaboration called Autocreation which is an early ’90s masterpiece of dark ambient techno. We also are releasing a very obscure Australian 12” and bonus track by an outfit called Ironing Music. Other than that, we are releasing a new artist from New Orleans called Marker — magnificent dream pop with overlapping members from Belong. And of course we are working hard on continuing our explorations of techno on our Transfusions sub-label. Huge surprise coming soon from that front. Too early to divulge, though.
How many releases have you done on Medical Records?
We are coming up on 71, plus four Transfusions 12”s. So, 75 total.
How did you end up going down the techno rabbit hole?
Well, I have to give credit where credit is due. I was interested in early ’90s techno in college but never had a crowd of friends to nurture that, so I was out of touch really until about 2007 when you visited in Seattle [the author has known Wadsworth since high school], and I experienced my first Decibel Festival. After seeing Rob Hood and Frank Bretschneider, I basically fell in love instantly. As time went on, I learned that my favorite genre of techno is the darker, reverb-drenched, atmospheric material that embodies the Berghain sound, (which I didn’t know existed until six to seven years ago). To say I’m a mega-fan now would be a huge understatement.
What music outside of techno has been getting you excited lately?
Oh, that’s a hard one. I’ve honestly been immersed for a while. I’ve been really enjoying the RE-GRM series of musique concrete on the Mego sublabel. I’m also a complete fanatic of Pye Corner Audio and Not Waving. Absolutely perfect tunes. I’m very excited for the new Slowdive recording which will hit soon I hope.
Where do you like to dig for tracks? Online or in stores?
I collect a ton of techno vinyl, usually from word of mouth or social media. I also check out Hardwax and have been digging on Beatport as over time I have been focusing on deejaying on digital decks for techno.
Which new producers have been getting you excited?
I’m in a deep rabbit hole with almost everyone on PoleGroup and Mord. I can’t get enough of Psyk and Phase. Avian has been my consistently favorite label for several years now.
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Do you foresee a future on the production side? Do you have a favorite piece of gear?
I have been wanting to do this for years. It’s a time problem for me. Too much going on between day job, family, record label and supporting the scene/deejaying. My favorite toy is my Roland Jupiter 4. My favorite new wave record of all time is Human League Travelogue, and that synth is Travelogue in a heavy box.
What has been your most significant music experience of the past year?
So, I was finally able to visit Berlin and indulge in the Berghain experience last October 2016. I attended the Avian showcase which featured Shifted, Sigha, SHXCXCHCXSH and Pris closing out with a six-hour set. It left a profound mark on me, to which I will compare every techno experience to for the rest of my life. I still daydream about it and can’t wait to get back on that dance floor. Second place would be slightly over a year now, but Autechre at Decibel Festival. It’s a life-changing experience to see that mastery live in concert. Wow, just wow.
What gigs do you have coming up?
I am absurdly stoked to visit my old stomping grounds and play Dallas on March 11 with one of my oldest pals Blixaboy [the author]. The bill is stacked and includes Convextion and other local Dallas heavyweights whom I’m excited to meet and share the bill with. I’m also doing a two-hour set in Seattle the day of my return for some good friends at a basement venue in Belltown. Lots more on the horizon in Seattle too. We also host our monthly Medical Records Rx night which just had its one-year anniversary. It’s a vinyl-only night of Italo, leftfield disco, and synth debauchery at a place we call home [Pony].
Rrose — “Cephalon”
SHXCXCHCXSH — “MRD”
Kessell — “Pentagon”
Distant Echoes — “A Last Shimmer”
Truss — “Beacon”
Seefeel — “Vex”
Certain Creatures — “Pleasure Principle”
Regis — “Executive Ground”
Lucindo — “Act 133”
Radial — “Cru”
Convextion — “Consumer Identity”
UVB — “Anxiety”
Oscar Mulero — “Hyperbolic Paths”
Prince of Denmark — “GS”
Flying Lizards — “Gyostatics”