Galen Abbott’s Sunset Sound System (formally known as Pacific Sound) changed the rules of the game. As a resident DJ and as one of three founding members of the prestigious crew, his role can’t be overstated in Bay Area underground house and techno music.
How many times have you heard a friend say, “this is party of the year,” when referring to Sunset? They could have been referring to a multitude of Sunset events: Halloween Boat Party or the Sunset Campout at Belden Town or any one of the parties in the park or the holiday day-parties at Cocomo with Stompy.
Galen’s relationship with bass-heavy house music made him a natural compliment to Hotflush Recordings’ wonder-boy George FitzGerald and Dirtybird Records’ J.Phlip. We’re excited for his AYLI debut and look forward to building upon our blossoming friendship.
We’d like to thank J.Phlip, who despite an extremely busy touring schedule, took the time to put together a few questions for Galen. Take a moment to take in the interview and podcast by Galen, one of San Francisco’s most respected and accomplished hometown heroes.
You’ve been in the electronic music game now for a REALLY long time! When exactly did you begin to learn your craft? What were your tastes in house music at that time? And what were the first two songs you mixed together?
I have definitely been around the music block a few times. There was actually a year in the 90’s I thought this whole rave/dance music movement was gonna end and it used to give me anxiety. I didn’t really know what else to do so I’m glad we are sitting here today having this discussion.
Djing, producing music and events has always had a strong hold on me and probably the only passion that has never wavered. When I first started, I was influenced by the underground sound of San Francisco which was a funky, psychedelic style of house with a bit of acid thrown in. As much as my style has evolved there is always a twinge of old school in there.
My first try at mixing records was a bit unsuccessful as I had nobody to teach me and just tried to figure it out myself. It wasn’t until a friend came over and taught me a trick of mixing 2 of the same tracks together that I got my ear used to beat matching. I spent the next few days mixing Papua New Guinea by Future Sound of London back and forth.
Fast forward to now… what are your top 5 favorite tracks at the moment?
I draw influence from many differing genres and am always looking forward as well as backwards on the musical timeline. Here are some I’m feeling right now in no particular order:
1. Munk – Yes!Yes! – Endless Flight
2. Butch – Drummers Drama – Rekids
3. Cappuccino – Hell Dance With Me – Gamma
4. Rhythm Plate – Yeah x 10 (State of My Fate) feat. Clyde (YSE x 11 Remix) – Lost My Dog
5. M.A.N.D.Y. – Superstitious (Chaim Remix) – Get Physical Music
Who are your top 5 favorite DJ’s right now? People are so caught up in what producers are doing these days, but if there is anyone who would appreciate the skill of a great dj it would be you.
I can definitely appreciate a dj who truly understands how to work the decks! I grew up in an era where much of the focus went into a dj performance and having the ability to make adjustments on the fly depending of the vibe of the party. It’s a bit unfortunate that in today’s electronic music world mostly producers get the dj gigs. Being a good producer doesn’t always translate into being a good dj. Here are some djs that know how to move me, also in no particular order.
1. Eddie C
2. Robag Wurhme
3. Eats Everything
4. Carlos Souffront
5. Motor City Drum Ensemble
Have you ever played at an AYLI party???? What do you like about AYLI?
I’m very excited to be playing my first AYLI party! I believe it’s a first for both of us. I really appreciate AYLI’s commitment to bringing in new school artists and defining a sound for themselves as promoters. They seem dedicated to curating each event with djs that will form a strong cohesive vibe for the night.
You’re super busy as a DJ and throwing the Sunset Sound System parties year round, it amazes me that you find time to make tracks. Do you have anything coming out soon?
Why, yes I do! I have been working in the studio for some time now but do get caught up as promoter/dj and don’t finish releases as much as I’d like to. However, that is changing as we bring more people on board to assist in our event production. You can find my latest track “ICANCU” on the upcoming Dirtybird Players Compilation coming out in January. Also, look to Smoke N’ Mirrors and Get Physical Music for new releases in 2014.
Will you guys ever have another Sunset party at Golden Gate Park?
I truly wish we could have another Sunset Park Party in GGP. Due to past corruption with Rangers and new permit regulations it’s very difficult to do legally. I have heard of a few renegades going off but due to our large numbers it makes it challenging. We do however, check in every couple years to see what’s up. On a little secret tip, we are looking to make a return to one of our old school locations in 2014.
The first time I met you was at WMC Miami 2006. Here we are almost 8 years later and you haven’t aged a bit! What is your secret man? And I have to know, do you still get carded???
Haha. I remember that trip to Miami. I just tell everyone who confronts me with this that I never stopped raving, it’s the fountain of youth. Well, that and continually striving for a balanced life. I still get carded at times and usually the person is pretty shocked.
I’m super happy to see you are booked a The Garden Festival in Croatia again! Do you have any funny moments to share from playing there or the Dirtybird Ibiza party last summer?
We were invited back to produce another Sunset Boat Party at Garden Festival and I couldn’t be happier. It’s such a magical space and the people producing the event are down to earth music lovers. The adventure from Ibiza to Croatia last year produced much comedy and when you have Justin Martin around it’s pretty much guaranteed. There was this one morning after a fantastic night of music where Thugfucker, Justin, Shiny Objects, Maurice Fulton, Solar, and myself ended up on a little speed boat, barely big enough to carry us all. Needless to say it was a wild high seas adventure.
Would you rather go on a date with Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, or George FitzGerald?
I don’t think I want to go on a “date” with any of them but if these are the only options then I’d say: Ryan grosses me out, George I would like to get to know better before any dinner commitments, and Justin…well, for how main stream he is I do appreciate his talents. So, I’ll say Justin just so I can play him the bootleg mix Holmar Filipsson and I did with his vocals. I’m sure he would love it!
– J.Phlip. Dirtybird Records