Community Artist Profile #2: David Sarrazin (a.k.a. Disrupter)

When I first moved to San Diego, I wanted to start a ‘meetup’ of musicians into electronic music. David was one of the first people I connected with. David had been producing music for a number of years with various instruments in the MidWest with an early incarnation of Savage Aural Hotbed. Since moving to San Diego, David has been involved extensively with ShareSD as well as performing both locally and and across the border with ShareSD’s friends from the BrokenBeat Network. I was able to chat with David this past week about his processes, Ableton Live setups, and his transition from hardware to software…


Morgan Sully: How did you get started making laptop-based music?

David Sarrazin: I first got a laptop so that I could make music anywhere. I had been using a desktop with Acid software and there was always a lot of mundane things that I needed to do like organizing samples, since I had a job at the time where I sat around reading most of the time I thought I should get a laptop and use that time on music instead.

MS:  From knowing you before this interview, I know you didn’t always use a laptop for your music making. What did you use before? What’s different and why the shift? Where do you see (electronic) music going? Is it all going to be laptops in the future?

DS:  I’ve been using a computer to create music since way back in the Atari ST days. Back then home computers were not capable of handling digital audio. I bought it to sequence midi and had samplers and synths and fx units all driven by the Atari running Cubase. As computers got faster I began to use them more as recorders and when Acid came along I started to ditch my outboard gear and focus on plug-ins.
“The future may lie in more personalized interfaces that utilize the performer’s abilities and strengths.”

Its really been a natural progression leading into laptops, its only been a few years since they’ve been powerful enough to do it all, I think they are here to stay though especially since the software is also getting so much more powerful. The future may lie in more personalized interfaces that utilize the performers abilities and strengths.

“The future may lie in more personalized interfaces that utilize the performer’s abilities and strengths.”

MS:  When I’ve talked to other people about your music, we often have a hard time tracking it down to any genre – not that we’re trying to pigeonhole you or anything;) What are some of your influences?

DS:  I don’t know what to call it either, but it is a result of my influences. I’ve always written music based on percussion because I was in drum bands so my first influences were African tribal music-anything complex and funky. As for bands, Meat Beat Manifesto, Richard Kirk/Cabaret Voltaire and later Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. My current style is what happened when I decided to stop trying to do a specific genre and just do my own thing.

MS:  What drives you to create the music that you do?

DS:  I really don’t know why I became obsessed with music; no one in my family is musical. What originally drove me was a lack of the kind of music I wanted to listen to, so I would just make it myself! Over time it just became a lifestyle for me, I get crabby and stressed if I cant spend enough time doing music.

MS:  I’ve seen you’re Ableton Live templates and am always baffled by how you can keep track of the channels, plug-ins and samples. It looks like liner notes for a Squarepusher album actualized in an interface. Any file management/programming tips for other artists using large batches of samples and plugins? How do you find a balance between absolute chaos and discrete articulation of sound?

DS:  My setup is loosely based on a standard 8-track studio, with each channel having filters, compressors and fx. I built it to utilize the architecture of the X-Station controller. I think it might be easier for me to keep it straight because of my background with large midi studios. I think Ableton’s biggest strength is that there is no right or wrong way to use it; each artist can create a system that makes sense only to themselves. It is easy to go crazy with routing and plug-ins in Live but since it can record itself so easily, you can record the output of anything and then its just another clip.

DS:  Why ‘Disrupter’ as the moniker for your work? Do you have any others?

Since my music doesn’t seem to fit into any particular genre very easily I think the name fits pretty well, it seems like labels, websites and DJs try to pigeonhole everything so much, its a disruption when something doesn’t fit so neatly in a slot. If I start doing some specific genre then I might come up with a different name.

Read more about David and his music at his website:

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