Catacombs is talkin’ about a revolution
New Jersey based queer artist Andrew Deitch is stepping away from his previous group Grapefruit Sound Lab and out on his own. With roots in house music and the goth scene, Deitch, now known as Catacombs, is poised to bring a new sound and a new vibe to the New Jersey music scene. What can we expect next from this über-talented up and coming artist?
Michael Cook: So tell me, how would you describe the Catacombs sound?
Andrew Deitch: My sound is so varied because there is so much that I want to do and so much sound to be created. You know it’s funny, I took one of those personality tests recently, and the tag line for my personality type was, ‘he wanted to be a doctor, but also wanted to explore the bottom of the ocean in a submarine’… which is scarily accurate! [laughs]. I’d say it definitely takes a look back in time at some early electronic acts. I think knowing your history as a creative is absolutely imperative. It also can be side by side with some of the pop acts of today. It can be a little dark at times; it can be playful, soothing, but always deep, and danceable.
How does it differ from your work with your previous group, Grapefruit Sound Lab?
AD: I think Grapefruit Sound Lab was more of a collective of all our shared influences and ideas. While some of the lyrics were written by me, and some by others, we operated as a band with a maestro who did most of the production. Whereas with Catacombs being a solo project, the majority of the production is done solely by me, or whoever I’m collaborating with, so I can do whatever I want.
Many people have mixed emotions going from being part of a group as opposed to being a solo artist; what is it like stepping out on your own?
AD: I think the mixed emotions come from a place of both insecurity — am I good enough to make it on my own? Will people like me? Will my sound be similar enough to the previous work that I’ll keep the fans I have? To a place of absolute liberation — I can do what I want. I am able to create with whomever I want. It really makes you feel — to quote Frankie Goes to Hollywood — the world is my oyster. There’s also an element of no longer having to manage other people’s schedules. Currently I’m in school full time, pursuing a degree in Health Sciences with a focus on LGBT studies, working part time and pursuing a music career; I really don’t have time to be managing anyone other than myself. So, all in all it’s been a freeing experience.
Who are some of your musical influences?
AD: Let me just start by saying that I’m a huge fan of house music. Anything on the Strictly Rhythm label, Twisted, Nervous, Star 69, Defected. I’m a sucker for a Tuned Roland 909 snare too. I’m also a product of the goth industrial scene in the early 2000s. So, synth pop and EBM have a strong influence on my sound as well. Some diva vocal trance elements, some disco and pretty much anything that was an anthem in the ’90s and early 2000s in the mega clubs of yesteryear has my ear. Presently, I’m vibing somewhere between Sunscreem and Years and Years. I really love the atmosphere that they create, and his lyrics are just beautiful.
Remixes always seem to be the backbone of a lot of the music you create; who are some of your favorite remixers throughout the industry?
AD: I’m definitely a fan of remixing. I think that great remix is a vehicle to take someone’s record that only fits in one keyhole, and change it to open so many doors. There are so many greats to choose from for me: Murk, Peter Rauhofer, Junior Vasquez, Hex Hector, Danny Tenaglia, Victor Calderone, Razor N’ Guido, Tony Moran, Scumfrog, Freemasons, Jellybean, Giuseppe D, and Bimbo Jones. Of the newer ones I’ve discovered, I’d say MJ Cole, TCTS, Gryffin, Gorgon City and Seeb are turning out some amazing mixes that I love.
You have a love for music that comes directly from the dance floor. What kind of music can really get you on the dance floor and take you to that next level?
AD: I do. I really love dancing; it’s a big release of stress for me. I can get that feeling of being on ecstasy just by standing in the middle of the floor and letting the DJ take control. House, deep house, techno, trance, vocal trance, synth pop; music with properly mixed bass lines and delicious kicks that fall into a groove that is both driving and entrancing. All of the layers have to sync up for me. The more detail the mixer spends on the production, the more enjoyment I’ll find on the floor. I’m an audiophile. There’s nothing worse than an overproduction. But if I can find a beat, I’ll move my feet!
In a very crowded industry, how do you keep yourself so inspired to continue to create?
AD: True, it is crowded and there are so many artists, and so many records out there. I don’t let that bother me. At the end of the day it’s about expression. It’s about a release for me. I have a need to be creative, and so much to say. As long as I can move my fingers and hear sound, I will continue to create.
What’s next for you?
AD: I have my first single “It’s Over” coming out on Michael M (Dear Diary, The Kids Don’t Know) and Giuseppe D (currently holding the #1 spot on Billboard Dance for Kristine W’s “Stars”) label, Gonna Be Music; it will release Friday, Feb. 9, across all platforms. It’s a deep dark and danceable breakup song, I am following that up with a fierce and moody music video shot by Asbury Park’s own Carlo Anthony, which should be coming out around Feb. 14. It is perfect for Valentine’s Day!
After that it’s back to the studio. I’ve just signed a contract for a five-track EP on the Gonna Be label, with a little something for everyone, so look for that in the spring. I’m working on remixes for fellow label mates, Miami artists Droze (“No Time”) and Jei (“Your Woman”). A remix for the title track “Sparks” for the insanely talented New York City artist Corey Tut. I’m also working with Brooklyn newcomer, by way of Dallas, and altogether incomparable Dezi 5 on his track “Lose Control.” A possible collaboration with Daddy K, formerly of GSL, as well.
You can catch me this spring and summer performing in the tristate area and possibly across the country. Follow me on social media for dates and other shenanigans. I really just want to start a revolution with my fellow queer indie artists; it’s high time we took back the dance floor.