TrevD, or Trevor D’Cruz, is one of Singapore’s best-kept secrets. He’s a veteran DJ with a penchant for the deep, dark, and gritty, taking audiences on a journey since the early days of Velvet, Kyo, and CATO. Distinctively organic in his approach, his global sound has travelled to Hong Kong’s celebrity hangout Kee Club and Bali’s underground spot Maria Magdalena, and you’ll feel his music more than you hear it. Wherever he goes, there’s always something banging and someone moving to his grooves.
Hi Trev! Tell us more about your entry into Singapore club music.
I was fortunate enough to play my first club gig in Singapore at Velvet when it was still around. It was to open for Aldrin at one of his One nights. That was special on so many levels – playing at a club where I had spent so many of my formative music years, that sound system and, not least, playing with a mate. This was in 2013 when I had just moved back to Singapore after being away for a spell. Some of the other early clubs I played at were Kyo, CATO, and Koi. They’re all gone now which is a measure of how quick things change here.
Who were your early influences?
Influence – that’s a vast question. In terms of DJs, just to name a few, there would be Danny Tenaglia, Richie Hawtin, Acid Pauli, Deep Dish and my mates Aldrin and Vinnie (aka Dodgy Yamamoto). Then there were the artists like Kraftwerk, Tears for Fears, U2, New Order, Iron Maiden, Wu Tang Clan – they formed the soundtrack to my teenage years. My dad played classical music all the time at home and I learnt to appreciate that too. It’s a mixed bag.
You play a pretty diverse range of genres in your sets. How do you select what comes next?
On the floor, the dancers rule so first, make them happy. The other considerations would typically be the theme of the night, if any, the time of the night and the venue. Given the time and space, I like to build things up and have a progression in tempo and vibe. And then sometimes you just have to play a new kickass track you’ve just discovered and which no one has heard – it can be hit or miss but when it works, it’s special and everyone’s happy. I like those moments.
Is there any criteria when you pick new music? There’s so much new stuff out there.
There is chiefly one thing I ask myself when I buy music – can I use this? Whether in a mix or a club. I rarely buy anything to just listen to. You’re right that there is so much being released today in the digital age but the range of quality is broad too so you still have to spend time trawling. Besides keeping up with the labels and artists that I like, my ears are always peeled for new sounds when listening to mixes or at gigs.
You’re a big traveller too. Which cities would be your top picks when it comes to the local underground scene.
Berlin every day and twice on Sunday. It’s still unsurpassed as a breeding ground for electronic music. I have heard a great deal that’s good about Eastern Europe of late, especially Romania, although I haven’t experienced that myself. Closer to home, I have had some recent good experiences in Ho Chi Minh, specifically The Lighthouse. Outside of clubs, there’s been a surge of quality festivals in the region which also cater to the those looking for that non-EDM sound. Wonderfruit in Thailand and Organik in Taiwan come to mind.
Where do you think’s the next big place?
I don’t feel too strongly about this but, if I had to name a place, it would be LA. Perhaps it’s already arrived in some ways (as opposed to the next big thing) but I go to LA every year and increasingly enjoy clubbing there.
Closer to home, you’ve been in the Singapore club scene for a while. Were there moments back then that you can’t really see anymore?
Definitely. I had the good fortune to start clubbing in the 90s when electronic dance music was new and exploding in the clubs. House music was new and everything was so exciting. There was a buzz in the clubs and people got excited by the music. It was largely about the music and Zouk led the charge in Singapore. Today, I feel it’s less about that and music isn’t always the main draw. That said, there’s also been a very encouraging development these last few years with many more home-grown parties by Clement (the duo behind Headquarters and Tuff Club) and Blackout (led by Zig Zach). These events often feature local DJs as the main draws. You would never have seen that years ago, and I think we are moving in the right direction.
Has technological advances changed your style of DJing?
Being a relatively late starter to the scene and having always embraced the available technology, I think the answer is not all that much. There are the vinyl purists who lament how technology has destroyed the art form of disc jockeying but I am well on the other side of that argument. Technology has made DJing more accessible, less expensive and, in many ways, easier. This means we have more people practising the skill and standards are consequently higher. The musical and technical dexterity that the new technology allows also means that there is a lot more you can do during your sets which you could never do on vinyl.
Where are you DJing nowadays?
I have a day job which requires me to travel constantly and the last nine months have been especially hectic, leaving me with fewer opportunities to play out. My last few gigs have been at Kilo which I always enjoy. There is always a good crowd there and it’s great to play to an appreciative audience. I will in fact be playing there again on our National Day holiday on 9 August together with Mr Has – come!
Describe your mix for us!
When I crafted this mix, I had in mind to create something that would be played at a home session or a long drive. It starts off deep and at 116 bpm and ends on about 123 bpm. Deep House, Tech House, Techno. This last year, I’ve been bitten by the Afro House bug so there’s a bit of that in there as well. I’ve also recently discovered with glee the Danish duo Baime and have used a couple of their tracks in the mix. You ought to be dancing midway. Play it loud!
Find Trevor at his sets at Kilo Lounge in Singapore.