On the 3rd of September, Botnek played the headlining set at USC’s Silent Disco at Bumbershoot 2017. Rikki and I got the amazing opportunity to sit down with Erick and Gordon of Botnek, who are from Montreal (and Nova Scotia), Canada. They have had music released on Dim Mak, mau5trap, and OWSLA, and have collaborated with 3LAU, Snails, Zedd, and more.
Here are the highlights of our conversation with Erick and Gordon.
Botnek Interviews with RMR
Q: So are any members of your family musical?
Erick: Yeah, my sister is a music teacher, but that never really had an effect on me being involved with music, personally. I always just loved music. One person in my family is a musician.
Q: What type of music does she teach?
Erick: She is a school band teacher, so she can play like 20 different instruments. She’s like Beck. She doesn’t write her own music, she’s a full on teacher. That’s the majority of my family, anyway.
Gordon: Not really, like, my dad used to play the drums when I was a kid, he had a drum set in the house. One of the earliest memories I had of being a kid was when he took my fat little baby body, put his hands over my forearms, and put drumsticks in my hands. I’d just be like *spastic movements*.
Erick: Essentially the same thing you do as a DJ.
Gordon: He wasn’t in a band or anything, though. He didn’t play music for a living, he just likes it a lot. There was always music around the house as a kid, that’s probably why I got into it.
Q: So you guys are Canadians, I’m gonna ask this question. Rush. Yes or no?
Erick: Yes. I didn’t really grow up listening to Rush but now having been more aware of their existence as I’ve gotten older I respect them.
Gordon: I’m more of a Tragically Hip fan, I f*ck with Tragically Hip and April Wine. Those are two very Canadian bands. It’s kind of like, my heritage, listening to that sh*t.
Erick: Your dad listened to [Tragically Hip] didn’t he?
Gordon: Yeah, that was one of the first CD’s that I bought. That was the first concert I ever went to, when I was 11. My dad won tickets off of the radio.
Erick: That is so Nova Scotia. Winning tickets off of the radio. It’s amazing.
Gordon: Yeah so we got floor seats to the Tragically Hip in 1997 I think. It was wicked, I was like “Rock and roll is awesome. I wanna do this.
Q: So that was your first concert. What was your (Erick) first concert?
Erick: I honestly think that the first concert I went to, legitimately, and bought a ticket to was a Tiesto concert.
Q: That must have been trance Tiesto.
Erick: Yeah! I was like 18. Like, I’ve gone to like concerts with my best friend Chris. He’s a punk guy, so like, I’ve been to his concerts when I was younger, but not the first ticket I ever purchased to go and see a show. Which made sense because I was sitting in my room all the time making electronic music.
Gordon: Tiesto was a whole different thing back then.
Erick: That was the golden age, where he discovered deadmau5. Deadmau5 was on his mix CD and nobody knew who he was at the time. People began paying attention to him with Faxing Berlin. That’s how I got into deadmau5 was through Tiesto. so….lol.
Q: So you’re fans of deadmau5?
Erick: oh yeah I’m a big fan of deadmau5.
Q: How did you guys get in contact with mau5trap for his 5 years of mau5 remix?
Erick: That was just through our management at the time. They were sharing an office with mau5trap at the time. We were just chatting, and they said “hey, would you like to do a remix?” We said “Yeah of course!”
Gordon: It was a funny package too because it was like “Dillon Francis, Madeon, a lot of heavy hitters, and then there was Botnek, these weird guys.” It was actually really entertaining. I know that Joel had to approve all of those remixes, so that’s cool to think about.
Q: Any favorites on his label right now that you’re listening to?
Erick: I f*ck with No Mana hardcore. I love his sh*t. And it’s actually cool that he’s touring with Feed Me. I love Feed Me’s stuff, and it’s cool that he’s playing more techno sets. They were playing here and I was bummed that I wasn’t here when they were playing.
Gordon: I met No Mana when he was in LA. but I didn’t get to know him as No Mana, he has another project called Isqua, which is super seriously intense dub trap. Like Braniac, Aphex Twin EDM.
Erick: It’s like LAXX, but more crazy.
Gordon: the Sound design is nuts.
Q: Who are your favorite musicians to listen to on the road, just in general?
Erick: I’ve been really rocking the Moderat lately. Now I’m super bummed that they no longer exist, so that makes me sad.
Gordon: I only listen to electronic music when I’m, like, working out or like jogging. I only listen to indie rock and sh*t, like the new LCD Soundsystem nonstop.
Q: Oh very cool! Have you ever seen them live at all?
Erick: I’ve seen videos, but not like in person.
Gordon: When I first moved to Montreal, it was a musical awakening for me, because I was a kid living in a small town in Nova Scotia.
Erick: Me seeing Tiesto when I was 18 was the biggest electronic show in all of Halifax. So there wasn’t really much to offer.
Gordon: It’s all Irish cover folk bands *both mimic irish drinking song in accent*
Erick: Literally that’s the theme song of Halifax.
Gordon: But I remember going to Montreal, and there were just shows every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and I was like “there are bands and DJs here.” and I was going out all the f*cking time. It was wicked. I just soaked it all up. It was awesome.
Q: So that’s where your roots come from?
Gordon: That’s kind of where Botnek really came into shape, because I moved there, then Erick moved there, and we were just kids going out in Montreal, and just really stoked on meeting people. He’d go with CDs of music that we made.
Erick: I remember when you gave one to Laidback Luke forever ago, and he was like “I like your guys’ stuff” and we were like “YES”. We were both so stoked.
Rikki: I have a friend who’s actually from here, he’s a DJ, and he’s working with Laidback Luke right now. Now it’s him trying to get his music out. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Erick: Laidback Luke is awesome, dude. And also somehow a ridiculously well-decorated martial artist as well, which is crazy.
Q:He’s the Jack of all trades. He’s also a father. He’s got a whole family.
Erick: His wife is a DJ as well. Gina
Davis *note: I did some research, her name is Gina Turner, Laidback Luke and her have officially separated*. She’s a well-respected DJ.
“DJ Laidback Luke’s Wife”
Gordon: That’s what she should change her name to, I wonder if her handle is available. There’s probably some kid in Brasil who’s like “I’m Laidback Luke’s Wife. Come To Brasil. ” *group laugh*
Q: Have you guys ever played in Brasil?
Erick: No, we’ve flown through there. We played Paraguay, which is also in South America. It’s pretty crazy.
Gordon: I fell in love in Paraguay, with Andrea Benitez.
Erick: His future wife, but not ever gonna get married.
Gordon: We were making out, and my manager called, and I said “I’m staying in Paraguay forever.” He says, “you’re not serious”, and I said “yes I am”. I was drunk out of my mind, he said “You have to go to the airport, and go on your flight.” and I’m like “I’m not doing it.” He was pissed at me.
Erick: In South America, Electronic Music is huge there.
Q: Oh I imagine. They have Nicky Romero and Tiesto playing there all the time, for UMF Peru.
Gordon: I’m always shocked at the stories I end up telling people about all the places we’ve been, like f*ck we’ve done a lot of things.
Erick: I often forget about it, but I think perhaps sometimes the amount of beer involved helps to make that a reality. We’d be like “Wait what? What happened yesterday? Oh yes I remember.”
Q: So you have to be more drunk to remember. *laugh*
Erick: Yeah. I think it’s cyclical, like I’d be “too much, too much, too much, too much, perfect.”.
Q: So when did you guys meet?
Erick: I’d say about 2009-2010. We emailed back and forth when I was in school. and you [Gordon] were working.
Gordon: I was working at a software development place for the Navy, like weapons and sh*t. I didn’t have top secret clearance but I had secret clearance, so I was pretty badass for a while. I left it all to make sweet beats.
Q: Any current projects you’d like to talk about that’s coming up?
Erick: We gotta ton of new stuff that we’re working on, that we definitely want to come out sooner rather than later. *laugh*
Gordon: This is the first time we’ve had a bunch of stuff lined up ready to fire. Usually, like, we spent a whole year drunk, and didn’t have any new music to put out and were like “oh sh*t we should probably do that instead of touring all the time.” But now we’ve kind of, like, gotten older and wiser. We’ve started releasing our music independently now as well. We finished up our record deal. Now we’re just doing that all on our own.We were just going different directions with our projects, so we were doing more house-y instead of super big room, which is the mark of the new direction that we’re going in.
Erick: It’s more akin to the stuff that we did when we started. which is more house-y, maybe more electro-leaning a little bit, but not so immensely cranky all the time. We’re not gonna go and make Grindhouse version 5 or Vikings. I still like that sh*t but at the same time we’re less angry because we’ve gotten older.
Q: You’re getting more progressive, and experimenting with sounds.
Erick: Yeah, and trying to have fun with it. We wanna make sexier music now.
Gordon: “Don’t Need U” is the newest one that’s out, which is doing really well. and then we have another single. We have it done, we’re gonna play it tonight, called “Inside The Groove”, which’ll be out around sometime in October possibly.
Erick: Yeah sometime in October. We can put it out whenever we want, essentially. So I think in october is probably a good time.
Gordon: We’re gonna do a remix pack first for Don’t Need U. We’ve got a whole bunch of cool dudes doing remixes for it. We’re trying to push a bunch of acts that we love, like underground kids like Jameson Thieves.
Erick: I think I talked about modular synths with him for like two hours, just nerded out with him. He’s from Arizona, and he came to the show when we were down there, it was a lot of fun. Super cool dude.
Gordon: We wanna just support a bunch of young kids the way we were in the beginning, so we’re putting that pack out. We have three or four other singles that’ll be coming out within the next 6 months. A bunch of original house-y sexy stuff.
Gordon and Erick in Los Angeles riding their new whips
Q: What are some rookie mistakes that you’ve seen people make when trying to pursue a career like this?
Erick: A big one is openers playing our own songs before we go on. I’ve seen that happen so many times. We almost did it to Jack Beats when we were in England. We were cuing up a Jack Beats song and we were like “oh sh*t. Obviously can’t do that.” But people do it more often than you think, and the mindset is that they’re like “Hey, we love you, we wanna play your stuff.” But it’s like “I get that, but like don’t play. Let them do it.” It happens a lot, a lot of people do that. Not to us but to other artists.
Gordon: I think another mistake people make is that they make music people think is cool, but not necessarily their own voice. “Oh yeah, trap is big right now so I’m gonna make a whole bunch of trap tunes.” Not because they love trap, but they’re like “I should make trap because that’s what people like now.” If you make something out of the intention of utility vs. doing it because you love it, and it’s truly your own voice, the people can kinda be like “well yeah, it’s just a copy of this.” and it’s probably what it will be. It won’t be a truly great thing.
RMR: There’s no heart.
Erick & Gordon: Yeah exactly.
Erick: And the fans know when they hear something by someone who’s just “playing the game” vs something that you really wanna do. I do believe that.
Q: So if you had the opportunity to instantly speak a foreign language fluently, which would it be and why?
Gordon: I wish I was better at French. I’m good at it, but I think it’s such a sexy language, and when people dip into it, you’re like “man I wish I was better at it.”
Erick: I would totally do German. I would want to live in Berlin.
Q: What is your favorite food?
Gordon: I love Thai food, I love noodles with spice. Man, I love fried chicken.
Erick: Nashville fried chicken? Hot Nashville chicken is literally orgasmic. It’s so good.
Gordon: There is a spot in Minneapolis that I wanna shout out It’s called Byte. And it’s so good. I was talking to the chef, and he makes the best hot fried chicken sandwich outside of Louisiana that I’ve ever had. He’s just a good dude, he and I drank beer at 1PM until my flight. I was the drunkest guy in first class, flying back to LA. Anyone in Minneapolis go to Byte, it’s good as f*ck. And the fried chicken, oh my god. I can never eat a fried chicken sandwich ever again because it was so good.
RMR (Rikki & Isaiah): Never had a fried chicken sandwich.
Erick: Never? Never had hot fried chicken sandwich? It’s super spicy.
RMR: It’s like boneless fried chicken? Okay. I was imagining a chicken leg smashed in between two slices of bread. *laugh*
Gordon: We love spicy sh*t man. Our first EP on Dim Mak was called Sriracha and Beer, which is hilarious. We were more in tune with our brand back then.
Erick: We were just “lets just do what we like”
Gordon: Everyone was asking “Where’s the song called Sriracha and Beer?” Well we just wanted to call it that because we like Sriracha and Beer a lot.
Erick: When we were poor in Montreal we’d buy $10 worth of Pat Thai. We’d go through a thing of Sriracha in four days. Maybe a week. We’d spice our butts off. That’s what we’d do.
Gordon: That’s probably my favorite food.
Q: What’s the spiciest pepper you guys have had?
Gordon: I’ve had a ghost pepper sauce but not like straight up pepper. I’m not a fan of stuff that’s like spicy just for the sake of being painful. If it doesn’t have any flavor and it’s just like “BURRRRN” I’m like “okay well, then. That was…….fun.”
Erick: I really like thai food. We were in Portland, staying over and there’s this restaurant called Pok Pok. I love that stuff because it’s like super spicy, and delicious, but then it’s got sweet and sour, there’s some fruits and stuff in it, but you’re still like “woah why is this thing that looks just like a salad making my face feel like it’s on fire?”
Gordon: Love that sh*t. That’s my burn.
Q: What are some pre-show rituals that you have?
Erick: We’ve answered this question completely honestly when we were being interviewed for the MGM Grand, and our tour manager that day, she was so mad at us because it was a very fancy interview, and they wanted to put it on the Las Vegas ledger, and all these Las Vegas people were gonna read it. They asked if we had any preshow rituals, and we said “we like to take really long extended dumps before we play. We like to just get all the poo out of us.”
Q: Just poop the stress away?
*laughs* Gordon: If you’re a little anxious before the show, you know, just poop it out, and you’re ready to rock a couple of pushups.
Erick: A couple pushups, only two.
Gordon: Three’s too much, one is too little. All even numbers. I can’t do 4 pushups so I only do two. Now I would say a combo of that plus having a couple of beers. Before we go to a city it’s kind of the same thing. We kind of get ourselves settled, try to get something cool to eat. I like to go places where people go. Not a touristy spot. I wanna do what people in Seattle are doing, for example vs. going to see what was #1 on TripAdvisor. “GO SEE THE SPACE NEEDLE” F*ck the Space Needle.
Gordon: The Space Needle is in Seattle right?
I thought it was in Toronto?
Erick: That’s the CN Tower. *laugh*. Also sh*tty.
Gordon: I guess that’s like our pre-show sort of ritual. We kind of go around the cities. Have a couple of pops, experience the beers of the world. Get fat. And go play some tunes for the kids.
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