Greg Oreck has been carrying the Thugfucker banner on his own for over two years now, embarking on a winding path toward self re-discovery. Since then, he’s been all over the world, exploring his musicality through performance and reinvigorating his creative inspiration along the way. A pioneer at his core and a former partner in one of the most iconic labels in today’s underground sphere, a bright future certainly lies ahead dance music stalwart as he finds his way.
His endeavors have additionally led to a full circle moment in his relationship with Desert Hearts, which harkens back when the now-iconic roving events brand and label was just starting to build steam. The call to the dark side via Desert Hearts Black has since brought Thugfucker deeper into the fold, after the veteran reconnected with Marbs and his sublabel co-founder Evan Casey to help kick off their new venture in August at the launch party. Now, the time has come to support the label even further by housing his only full release of the year, ‘Interdimensional Journeys’, on the imprint as its fifth release, following EPs from the likes of Tim Engelhardt, Lunar Plane, and Arude. As Thugfucker continues on his path as a solo artist, he certainly has plenty of reciprocated support from the Desert Hearts Black arena.
But what else lies ahead for Thugfucker, and where is he at now creatively? We examine his views on the dance scene at large, his current goings-on, global touring, and key lessons he’s learned over these past years spent alone in a holiday season chat with the legend.
Electronic Groove: Hi Greg, thanks for taking the time to sit with us today. What are you up to at the current moment?
Thugfucker: My pleasure! I’ve been spending the morning deep in my Elektron Octatrack. It’s kind of my current obsession. I’m not ready to throw my computer into the sea or anything, but I’m really enjoying using only my ears and not my eyes when writing lately.
EG: Can you fill us in on what you’ve been up to since becoming a solo act. Any highlights, lowlights, lessons, etc?
Thugfucker: It’s been really refreshing. It’s nice to shake things up a bit in order to grow in new ways. It can be a bit daunting at the beginning but also that uncertainty is very exciting. I’m so grateful for all the years touring and working together with Holmar, and I learned so much along the way. I feel like we really found ways to bring out the best in each other. But all things change and I think we’ve both found it exciting to explore more fully the directions we each want to take things. I’m enjoying it and I’m super happy to see him enjoying it too.
EG: Now let’s chat the rundown on ‘Interdimensional Journeys’ and how it came together. Did you sort of think of a theme and create around it, or had you been sitting on these three tracks and felt they fit together for the EP?
Thugfucker: A little bit of both. I’ve been focusing more on my creative process than on any one particular piece of output and, ironically, doing that has actually increased the amount of music I’ve been finishing and feeling good about. But stuff that was created in similar moods or mindsets seem to fit well together and this EP is an example of that for sure. I’ve been working on all kinds of stuff genre-wise but these 3 tracks really just poured out when I was in the midst of taking some personal time thinking about the kind of trippy stuff that interests me outside of my work life. Around that time I had just finished doing an amazing weeklong workshop with the legendary Dr. Stan Grof, and that whole experience was especially inspiring. So somehow I think that sort of creeped into this but I’m not sure I could quite say how. But I encourage anyone who’s curious to look into Stan’s work!
“Dance music is a community and that’s where its strength lies”
EG: You’ve been keeping really busy on the touring circuit. Have you felt inspiration to return to your DJ roots rather than producing?
Thugfucker: Totally. When it was time to take over the reins of Thugfucker on my own I decided to give myself some freedom to really explore where I wanted to go next and it seemed like the best way to do that was to really dive into my DJ sets and experiment with a more no limits approach to what was already a pretty eclectic style of DJing. I was always writing music in the background though, and I’ve been playing a lot of those works in progress on the road. But giving myself the luxury of taking my time with things has really paid off and I feel really inspired at the moment.
EG: What has been inspiring you most lately for DJ sets, production, etc?
Thugfucker: The dancers and the dancefloor. Ultimately that’s what it’s all about. Trying to play around with as many ways of connecting with them as I can is what really inspires me. Not taking the easiest route but finding creative ways to do that within my own unique perspective.
EG: Now tell us how you got so closely involved with the Desert Hearts family and helping launch Desert Hearts Black (ie playing the launch party, becoming one of the sublabel’s first releases). What’s your most distinctive memory with the crew?
Thugfucker: Very naturally! We’ve been spending more and more time together on the road crossing paths all over the place and they bring a deep love and passion to their work. That’s what’s always attracted me to them. They come from a very pure place and I really respect that. And they’re a whole lot of fun to hang with. That’s probably why my most distinctive memories with them are the most out of focus!
EG: It’s not often one sees a ‘high level’ act (in this case, you) releasing on such a fledgling label; especially for their only EP of the year. What made this the right call for you in terms of finding a home for your new music? Outside of this label’s clear potential and tastemaking abilities, do you think more artists of your pedigree should be doing the same thing when it comes to helping launch the careers of the next generation?
Thugfucker: We’re all in this together. It’s no fun when people just stick to their own limited circles or cliques. The interesting stuff happens when you mix things up! And if there’s one thing that everyone in this industry who’s reached a certain level of success certainly has a responsibility for it is to help out others as they’re trying to make their way. Dance music is a community and that’s where its strength lies. We’re all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us and with that in mind we should all be looking out for ways to give the next generation a leg up. What goes around comes around…
“When it was time to take over the reins of Thugfucker on my own I decided to give myself some freedom to really explore where I wanted to go next”
EG: You’ve voiced in the past that you gravitate toward trippier sounds that engage the mind and body. Where are you finding these attributes the most at the moment? Could be particular artists, labels, etc.
Thugfucker: Right now I’m really inspired by the stuff that can trip you out while jacking your body at the same time. There’s so much good stuff out there from great new acid house to crazy raver breakbeats. I love DJ Seinfeld’s new Young Ethics label and the music that he’s been doing is especially great. I also keep coming back to Mike Dunn and Kevin Yost’s stuff lately. Those guys have been consistently putting out great stuff for years and I’m so impressed by the sheer volume of quality music they put out. Loving the hell out of Craig Richards’ label and Jonny Rock really crushed that EP. Oh man, once I start down this kind of path I could ramble on and on. I’ll stop here for now.
EG: Finally, anything exciting things coming up in 2020 that you can share?
Thugfucker: Excited to share all the music I’ve been working on with everyone. Also I did a live ambient concert with my good friend Eli Janney (of Girls Against Boys fame) this past summer and we have an album we’re finishing and will do some more live shows in the upcoming year. Doing that made me start imagining a possible live/hybrid Thugfucker set to do in the clubs but I’m really just toying with the idea at the moment. Experimenting and trying to just go with the flow and see where it takes me. That itself has been a lot of fun so we’ll just have to see.
Thugfucker’s ‘Interdimensional Journeys’ is now available. Grab your copy here.