Dh.hu: In the past you were the singer songwriter behind a rockband in Canada which eventually landed a contract and release on a Major label. What was the reason to change over from ‘Rock’ to ‘Dance ‘and ‘Electronic’ music?

Robert: I was going through a particular phase in my life where I needed to change and grow as a person. I had more or less pulled the plug on my career in music professionally for a lot of reasons and I was looking for something totally different. Electronic music just came into my life at the right time.

I think what appealed to me about dance music is the seemingly format-free outlet for creative self expression. Having found that kind of freedom in music is something that I would not trade for all the money in the world. So the ‘Rock’ stuff which was more commercial music for me at that time, took a back seat as I began to develop interest in more Eclectic forms of music.

My musical journey has been long, as I have been serious about producing music with synthesizers since i was a very young (about 10 years old). I could get into more detail, but I think the thread of continuity that I want to express here is that my music and my creative vision at this point in my life, reflects a very personal sentiment of meaning for me. My music is coming directly from my heart, soul, mind & body. I’m essentually making music to satisfy those parts of myself with out ego or concern for self observation. These are thoughts that I return to that every time I’m making an album or a new track. Essentially they are revelations that I discovered in life, that I never want to forget.

People pick up on the positive vibes & things have come full circle for me. I’ve made a lot of friends and discovered like minded people as a result of my getting ideas out there to the world. which is ironic and quite incredible actually. I am really open in terms of relationships and new friends, so things grow and blossom quite naturally.

Dh.hu: How did you meet with Jamie Odell (Freerange) and Osunlade (Yoruba), 2 respected labels of their kind?

Robert: Two different stories exist here. Freerange was sort of a bedroom producer’s ‘wet dream’ (if you will). I greatly respected and loved what they were doing as a label, so I mailed my stuff out (as an early version of my first album) to and they responded with interest. Jimpster’s commitment (at Freerange) then became and inspiration to me as I was working towards into the final version of an album and called ‘Quasars & Phasars’ .

Yoruba however was a different kind of experience. Lotus, who is a very kind and talented spoken word artist here in Toronto, took the mic at a gig where Osunlade (Yoruba Records) was playing and really blew everyone away. As a result, Osunlade wanted to hear more from him and it just so happened that I had done a few songs (in terms of production) passed on to him on a CDR. Osunlade and I then became creatively involved, as he released my first record ‘The Lotus & Strauss EP’, then later did a remix for me and now continues to release stuff for me today. Ultimately he is a good friend who has been like a mentor to me in many ways. He has been thru many stages of creativity aswell as his development spiritually, which is a huge part of who he is. At this point I really look up to, and respect him for many reasons, both personal and professional.

Dh.hu: In 2005, you had your first album released, along with 4 Eps, several remixes and so on…How would you sum up this year?

Robert: The year has been great and the next year is going to be just as exciting as well. I’ve got another new album that’s almost completely finished, and I have re-mixes coming along also. I’ve got a new remix out on ‘Pulver’ Records coming (March 2006) and I should have something new out on ‘Yoruba’ with other sort of very cool mixes of one of my current tunes out on his label.

Things for me are looking very cool at the moment. I am feeling very inspired and steering my life into my art in a sort of reality / experience caught on tape sort of a way. I plan to get over to Europe again on tour in March with some assistance from my main man Nick Matthews @ Best Kept Secret. So things are plotting to look very exciting and looking forward to 2006.

Dh.hu: How was the album release party in Toronto? How would you rate the Canadian clubbing scene and what are your European experiences?

Robert: The Album release party in Toronto was killer! On the other hand the Toronto club scene right now is really dead…

Things have globally shifted and receded as a whole in general when It comes to dance music culture, as I feel a lot of young people who would’ve been coming up into the club scene these days are now gravitating today towards Indie rock, which I think is very cool! To me this is clearly a sign that people want real music again. Music made with depth, meaning and a message. Indie rock gets back to the essence of what real meaning thru art can express and can convey about the human experience.

The Toronto club scene is gonna come around eventually, as this city seems to be expanding at such a rapid rate right now, that i am sure it’s just a matter of time. Locally, It’s fairly commercial house nights that rule the roost at the moment and not surprisingly, I am not hearing anything exciting coming musically from there. Reguardless I have my own very and different ideas about how to bring something new and fresh to things here in Toronto and beyond. Leading by example kind of like Larry Levan, David Mancuso and the lot. Just do what YOU love and feel for genuine reasons and people will ultimately tune into that same frequency also.

Things go in cycles and i feel that we are about to shift into another cultural revolution or phase when it comes to music and creativity. All things in this world are connected, so I’d expect other things to follow also; Fashion, Politics, etc..

Dh.hu: I’ve listened to your album loads of times and I have to tell you that the sophisticated fusion of funk, soul, brokenbeat and house is just brilliant. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ is one of my favourite tracks. Could you tell me a bit about the procedure of making the LP and the tracks on it? Who did you work with? Did you insist on a previously created concept for the album? Or is it just a simple collection of the pasts works?

Robert: First of all, I am impressed that you like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ as to truly hear all of what that is about musically is rather challenging. I am fusing so many different elements together there that I have never heard put with one another before, that it’s kind of like hearing five records playing at the same time, almost stitched together, or something like that…Ironically ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was the first track that I did for the album (Quasars & Phasars) with an outside vocalist. So it makes sense that I kind of approached things like I would an instrument. Previously my other tracks on that album were primarily instrumental, with me singing a vox hook (like on ‘Ouija’ or ‘Do it up’), as those were early tracks put together during the creative process of making of this album.

Generally speaking in terms of process, things evolved from one piece to the next rather organically. The tracks were done one after another as the whole thing pulled together and started take shape. Really, it was only about 8 months in total from beginning to end in terms of an album time line. I tend to work pretty fast (albeit not by Madlibs’ standard!!!…lol). I think something like three or four of the initial tracks from my first version sent to Jimpster at Freerange actually made the album. The rest were all new tracks made after taking some direction from the label about starting to work with some featured vocalists.

Once again, in Toronto we have got so much talent here its quite amazing. There are so many unknown and great local artists that i try to bring out the best of what I see here. Ritchie Henessey, Saidah Baba Talibah, Chris Rouse are some of my favorite people to work with here but I am always open to new talent. Toronto is a bit of an untapped resource, if you know where to look.

In terms of protocol or procedure, I generally try to approach an album like a DJ set. In that I have a pretty diverse range of music that I like, and ultimately I want the album to try to represent that. I need to have songs in every territory in order for me to really feel like things are a true balance of what I am about. In technical terms, I usually go into the studio often times focusing on rough sketches and the ‘process’ of making tracks as opposed to the end result. Similar to exercising a muscle or developing a routine of workflow, I need to be in top form to perform and produce music. For me producing is like capturing the consciousness and translating it technically, or like being able to ‘ literalize’ a creative vision. Repetition in terms of ‘Production Rehearsal’, is what makes this happen for me. Often times I’m in the studio ‘sketching’, and it is the out of these rough sketches that a track will appear and more or less rise above the others. Often times tracks that don’t make my final cut are recycled into album interludes, but this is just the procedure at the moment…It’s hard to say if this how things will always be, as they are always changing for me in terms of a creative process.

Dh.hu: It’s quite interesting that I’ve read a lot of positive reviews about the music you make, but there has never been an inteview published on the net in a written form. Please correct me if it isn’t true. The only thing I’ve found is a radio interview. What’s the reason behind this (If any)? and what’s the feedback you get from other producers, musicians about your music?

Robert: Writing is my least favourite form in terms of communication. I love to talk, dance (with the ladies) wink-wink (lol), and make music!

Seriously thought, It’s really great to hear from people who’s music you know and respect and then have them come up to you and say they really love your tracks! For me It doesn’t get any better than that…I completely side step any feelings ownership or greatness when It comes to my own music, so often times people feel quite comfortable with me and completely wide open in terms of communication. I am not a competitive person, so it’s quite refreshing hear from people who are like minded. It only makes sense in that music producers seek out each other and communicate, compare and just generally want to get to know each other because we really have something common innately as people, more than just the music.

Dh.hu: Your first LP represents a very original sound. What inspires you in the process of making music? Could you name a couple of labels or producers that had influence on your work?

Robert: Producers (past): Leon Ware who (Marvin Gay’s writer / producer), the Mizell brothers, Charles Stepney, Quincy and Rod Temperton. and the list goes on…

Artists (past): Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Patrice Rusian, Leroy Burgess. Generally a fusion of jazz, soul and funk made during the late 70′s and early 80′s. That’s really the main stay of my inspiration for making music. Oh, man (sigh…) to have production a budget like they had back in those days!

Artists / Producers (current):
- Jamie Lidell, His ‘Multiply’ album is really great. A brilliant fusion of very raw talent and some refined technical brilliance. I really related to that a lot.

- Peven Everetts’ new record ‘Latest Craze’ is quite soulful aswell. I’m a big Peven fan, as I find his records to be very personal albums which I relate to that immensely. You get a sense, that he’s doing things to satisfy very fulfilling creative needs for self expression, and i feel the same way about my music, so i really relate to Peven’s sound (as rough as the production is!!!) I only wish that there were more of that boldness in music creation today, which is why I also relate to guys like Madlib & Prince.

- Steve Spaceks’ ‘Space Shift’ album, all I can say is WOW!!! I met him a few years back when here was here in Toronto and he has just taken off!

- SA-RA are picking up where Slum Village left off for me in terms of pure physical gratification!!! Man I have got a CDR of some new stuff of theirs, and I would say that it’s definitely gonna be all about those guys in 2006.

From Germany, Sonar Kollektiv camp, I really love ‘Slope’. ‘Basscheck’ was very cool as a single track, but I really liked their entire ‘Komputa Groove’ album throught. I thought it was brilliant, very innovative, elegantly minimal, forward thinking, and definitely not what you’d expect. A nice balance between loose, abstract & non-precise combined very some some brilliant engineering.

Also I generally hear most of the work that Osunlade is creating. Lately I really like ‘Let The Record Play’, a great 12” featuring ‘Frank-I’ (produced by Osunlade). Also really feeling his ‘Reel People’ remix of a track caled ‘In the Sun’ also. He is coming out with so many great remixes honestly, he is one of the more prolific artists of the era. As always, I feel the of depth within his work, which is amazing considering how much he outputting.

Dh.hu: Who do you think are the ones to keep on eye in the upcoming years?

Robert: Globally: ‘Sound In Colour’ is a great label, I have had huge interest in what they are up to from the beginning. same with Freerange, Ubiquity, Sonar Kollektiv, Kindred Spirits, Raw Fusion and etc…A few cool things from that new label in Chicago ‘Still Music’… I think there is a fairly common ground of what everybody is listening to these days, perhaps furthered by the internet, as there is a general sense of continuity out there in the music making community of what is palatable.

Locally: There is a guy ‘Alister Johnson’, he goes by the name ‘Catalist’. He is the force behind several of the ‘Do Right’ remixes on John Kong’s ‘Do Right!’ label. He has got some great stuff and besides this he is very young. Also from Toronto we have ‘Middlefield’, cool bro’s of mine doing some amazing stuff (coming out on ‘Diaspora’ and few other labels). Also ‘Abacus’ is starting up his ‘Re:Think’ imprint again. That’s definitely worth a check out in 2006 to come…

Those are sort of at the top of my list in terms of local guys. Hopefully Ritchie Henessey and Chris Rouse have something brewing in the new year also. I have my hand in an outside project that involves both of them along with Glen Lewis and etc…but it’s really too early to say before anything materialized.. all I can say is ‘Agape 181′.

Dh.hu: Which one you prefer: behind the deck or in the studio? Why?

Robert: I Definitely prefer the studio, but i think anyone who is making tunes will tell you that…That having been said, i feel that both DJ’ing and Studio time have to exist in near equal amounts if you are making music to be heard on the dance floor. Speaking from personal experience though, and having come to the DJ’ing ‘aprés’ producing, I found that the perspective gained on production (as a result of Dj’ing) has definitely changed the way that I make music, forever! Both Dj’ ing and Production illustrate very different points of view, as things are made with different purposes in mind. Ultimately the idea is to straddle both home and club listening plurally, and this is something that is often very difficult to do.

Dh.hu: As you mentioned before also, on the website (www.robertstrauss.com) it says that you are making a remix for Tovishazi Ambrus (Erik Sumo), for ‘Pulver’ records. There are hardly any hungarian music addicts who don’t know this name. What’s the story behind it this collaboration?

Robert: Rino, at Pulver Records in Germany is a good friend of mine. We had a musical connection, and Ambrus (Erik Sumo) is a new artist on their label and he was interested having me do a remix, it is about that simple.

Dh.hu: Are there any people who you are helping in their work or vise-versa? Have you ever considered to come up with a different name and try new styles?

Robert: Great questions!!! Other production stuff? Not really…At the moment I am pretty wrapped up in my own music. I am trying not to spread myself to thin, as i am more focused at this point on developing my own sound as identifiable first, before i get in to “Production Pseudonyms’. Once these things fall into place I can then imaging that I will take on the responsibility of working as a producer for other artists.

Dh.hu: Have you ever heard about the Hungarian scene?:) If so, what is it you’ve heard? Would you like to come over to play the Hungarian public? What kind of music could we expect from you?

Robert: I don’t know anything to be honest about Hungarian music scene. I’d like to learn more about it! Looking forward to hearing more of it…

Bigups and thanks for the interview!!!