Returning to this side of the Portal as one of our most consistent guests, it's a pleasure to welcome Strattcat, aka Eric Stratton, back to the show for an exclusive, all-vinyl mix direct from Eric's globally informed crates. It's been an immense pleasure to continually share Eric's journey as not only a DJ, but a particularly dedicated curator of minimal house and techno grooves. Continue on below to catch up with Eric for yourself:
Describe how your journey with dance music has affected you.
I was introduced to dance music pretty early on in high school. At first, I was pretty skeptical of the music and the environment that surrounded it. I realize now that’s just because I hadn’t found the right sub-community for me. My family originates from Chicago and when I discovered house music it sort of just felt natural. As I grew, so to did my taste and investment in the scene. In college, I made friends with a few like-minded folks who were a lot more knowledgeable than me and it was a great learning opportunity. That’s when I started to discover what I liked and disliked and through that process, I started to get into selecting. I’ve always been extremely motivated by music but never felt like I had the right musical outlet until then. Fast forward through a ton of events, festivals, throwing my own events, and even an unsanctioned warehouse party; today it serves me as an outlet and a means of expression. I love the discovery process of new music and building a cohesive collection. Through which I’m able to select, blend, and build an audible environment for myself and hopefully one that others enjoy too. It’s hard to escape the hedonistic tendencies of selecting but recently it’s been less about the party and more about discovery and cohesion. I know that’s a bit cliché but it holds true for me.
The mix you've selected comes exclusively from your record collection. What were the intentions behind the tracks you chose?
I wanted to put together a selection that was invigorating but also easy listening. I’m drawn to tracks that come with a comparatively softer touch to what’s generally popular in the states. I can be pretty soft-spoken and to be honest cacophony kind of stresses me out so when selecting the tracks, I wanted to make sure that I minimized it while arranging something that flowed and developed throughout.
What has compelled you to begin collecting records?
I think it’s just the natural tendency to want something that others don’t have. Don’t get me wrong, the advent of digital music and the ability for artists to disseminate their music in mass is great, but I like what’s finite and not easy to attain. Popping into local record shops and finding low key EPs is like the absolute pinnacle of that for me. It’s pretty self-serving but there’s an entire community behind it and that’s where I find my focus and attention nowadays.
In addition to collecting records, you've begun experimenting with production. What is your process like, and what is informing that process?
I’ve been producing for a couple of years now. Truthfully, I’m still no good but that’s entirely okay because it feels really cool to build and arrange a track of my own. I typically start with a simple vision whether it be a genre-defining drum pattern or just messing around with soundscapes. Most of what I’ve been producing is simple and dreamy and I think that’s just an extension of that self-expression element. I follow a few folks who operate in the sub-communities I follow who are generous to offer insight on their production techniques and build from there. I find it difficult to be completely original so having those ‘tutorials’, for lack of a better word, really help to drive my process and personal growth.
With the United States music venues beginning to open up to in-person concerts and events, how do you foresee dance music communities responding?
I’m so excited to get back into the event sphere. Having been taken away for over a year now I’m sure that thousands of folks would agree it’s been really hard to not have that outlet. I think it’s important to note here that there’s a lot of problematic behaviors surrounding the event scene and I’m hopeful that, after being forced to take a step back, attendees and promoters will work together to address those issues in constructive and effective ways. That’s a pretty general statement so to be clearer I mean: an absolute zero-tolerance policy towards sexual assault/harassment, having concrete and organized means to prevent those situations and to support survivors, consistently more diverse lineups and representation, a greater emphasis on supporting local organizers and content creators, and all-around treating the space and the people with a greater sense of respect. I know there’s a lot of pent of tension to blow off so I’m hopeful that attendees and supporters will take it easy to treat themselves kindly as they return to events. It’s hard for me to know what it’s all going to look like but I’m optimistic at best. I’m not even sure what my role in it all will look like moving forward but I’m happy to participate in any capacity.
Also want to take a second to talk about how great shows like Peace Portal truly are. Local love is the foundation of the dance music community and without it, so many artists wouldn’t have the opportunity to share what they're passionate about. So big ups to you Forrest and thank you for everything you contribute.