Up-and-coming producer AbdeCaf (nee Steve Vaynshtok) has gained a lot of notice lately, both for his track “Feed Your Brain” currently standing as Diplo’s only favorited track on SoundCloud, and for his heady, minimal compositions, which on the Unravel EP and other releases create a moody, sensous soundscape every bit as mysterious as obvious influences like Clams Casino. Heave was able to sit down with AbdeCaf for a few minutes after his North Coast Music Festival set to discuss his inspirations, his post-rock background, horror movies and more.
Heave: You’re at North Coast until late tonight, and then headed right to an aftershow, and then heading to New York for Electric Zoo, to play before noon tomorrow. How?
AbdeCaf: First I’m going to be here all day, then I’m playing the aftershow set at one [a.m.], then I’m staying there until close, I guess? Then I’m having the runner from the venue shoot me to the airport, catching a 6:30 flight, getting into New York about 9:30, playing at Electric Zoo at 11 and then I’m probably going to kill myself. (laughs) I honestly don’t want to live after that. I got, like, three hours of sleep last night.
Heave: You’re living pretty hard.
AbdeCaf: I’m living the only way I know how.
Heave: There’s kind of a push in electronic music right now, with a lot of producers working with more minimal sounds in reaction to the big-beat trend. What first attracted you to the more stripped-down feel?
AbdeCaf: When it came to production, I listened to a lot of Clams Casino, and Evian Christ, and Balam Acab. Honestly, I wouldn’t be giving him credit if I didn’t say that Balam Acab was the reason. He was the first artist that made me go “I want to make music that sounds deep and watery and sexy.” When I started the AbdeCaf project, and around a month later he was in town, the venue wouldn’t let me open for him. But he’s the reason I started taking [the project] more seriously.
Heave: I’ve read that you’d ideally want to be on the road for the majority of any given year…
AbdeCaf: My whole life.
Heave: What about being a road warrior appeals to you?
AbdeCaf: Being in a different city every night, and like…what just happened out there [the North Coast set] is the reason I’m doing this. I’ve never had such a great response from a crowd, so…I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s better than sex. I feel like if I do it every night, eventually every crowd is going to respond like that, whether it’s 100 people, or 1,000 people, or 10,000 people, you know? And I just want to be able to build up that fanbase, so one day I can come and have 10,000 people, and not just sell it out, but sell it out for a good cause, and see everybody’s reactions, and have those feed my reactions, and just know that the show is for something awesome, like Live Aid or something like that.
Heave: A lot of what I’ve read on you talks about your post-rock background, especially in context of the AbdeCaf project. Can you talk a little bit about how that earlier work informed what you’re doing now?
AbdeCaf: It definitely taught me how to texture my sound, by playing with clean guitars and delayed guitars and distorted guitars. It all gave me the background, so when I went in and started messing around, I could go “okay, so if I add gain or saturation or whatever to this synth, it’ll sound this way.” Post-rock gave me the foundation to craft the structure of the songs I wanted, and to texture the final mix like I wanted. And you know, I’m not done doing post-rock, by the way. I haven’t told anyone, but I’m starting another post-rock project, and it’s dropping in 2013, and you’re getting an exclusive right now. It’s going to be called Your Hand & Mine. Like with an ampersand, not the word “and.” It’s gonna be sick. It’s going to be like Explosions In The Sky and AbdeCaf at the same time.
Heave: What stylistic traits attract you to a record, whether for production or for personal listening?
AbdeCaf: The clarity of the mix, and how crisp and beautiful it sounds, and the songwriting itself. Explosions writes these crazy progressions that you expect to go one way, and it drops and it’s fast, crazy guitar, but it’s all so happy. I like sporadic stuff that builds itself out, stuff that you can listen to again and again while finding new sounds. I love Flying Lotus, and I’ll listen to him, and find shit that I didn’t hear before just from listening to it over and over again. I just listened to his new album, someone leaked it to me, and it was honestly the greatest thing I’ve ever heard.
Heave: If you could collaborate on a track with anybody, who and why?
AbdeCaf: Kanye, The Weeknd or Drake, or all three at the same time, because I respect them as artists and for what they do. And then Rick Ross, just for the humor of it. I think it’d be funny to hear one of my beats, and over it him going (in Rozay voice) “Huh, I’m the fuckin’ boss.”
Heave: What’s with all the Ryan Gosling pictures on your Tumblr?
AbdeCaf: Here’s the thing. I really love Ryan Gosling. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s nothing sexual, he’s just so perfect that if I met him, I would just start sobbing hysterically, because he’s so perfect. I’m in love with him, but it’s in a bromance type of way. He just does it for me in the sense that he’s perfect, and I want to be his best friend. (laughs)
Heave: You’ve talked on Tumblr before about your affinity for horror films. If you could’ve scored any recent horror movie, which would you have done?
AbdeCaf: Oh man. If I’d known about A Serbian Film before it came out, I would’ve scored it, and I would’ve begged the director to let me be any part of it. I love that director [Srdjan Spasojevic], and I love that movie. I recently named that number one when I did a “top five horror movies” list. It’s just…the political commentary, the practical effects are beautiful, the story is beautiful. The evil director, Vukmir, is the greatest villain that I’ve ever come across in a movie. And I just think that if I’d scored that movie, it would’ve been over.
Heave: That’s one of the single darkest movies ever made, though.
AbdeCaf: And I’m a dark person. (laughs) I’m just kind of naturally dark, even though I’m peppy and upbeat, you have no idea how I’m just like “blehhh” (gestures menacingly). But in a good way. I’m not, like, going to kill myself, I’m just like “Aw man, life sucks, let’s make music.”