By Tom Charles
Asst. managing editor

For many college-aged fans of dance music, “CNTRL: Beyond EDM” was likely the first time they experienced the difference between “hands-up EDM” and “hands-down EDM” (Think OWSLA versus Kompakt). Informational panel by day, dance party by night, the CNTRL series was meant to inspire and inform young producers of new ways to use technology to help craft their music. Led by Richie Hawtin, the tour included several of the top minimal techno DJs in the world, including Loco Dice, Ean Golden, and Paco Osuna. Although the tour hit some speed bumps in the beginning (the concert in Buffalo was cancelled, as was the panel in Syracuse — both thanks to Sandy), it was ultimately a smash success. Here, Loco Dice reflects on the tour with 20 Watts’ asst. managing editor Tom Charles.

Loco Dice released his latest EP, Toxic, in early November.  You can download it here.

20 Watts: The concert was cancelled in Buffalo, and the panel was cancelled in Syracuse. Which was more of a disappointment?

Loco Dice: Both were disappointing, but we had to cancel them for safety reasons as the hurricane was coming closer. By doing the live stream from the hotel, we could still reach people and make them happy. Think about all those who were unable to leave their homes in NYC and New Jersey.

20W: What would you say were the most frequently stressed points of conversation during the panels? What did students find most engaging?

LD: Everything. We got an amazing response. Topics went from simple preparations to how to run your own business. The most important thing was to see all those students going out hyper-motivated to be a part of CNTRL, knowing that they’ll keep doing things in their neighborhoods and hometowns.

20W: Why now for CNTRL? Why not in the early ‘90s when the rave movement was still going on?  Richie’s been around long enough.

LD: With the boom of so-called “EDM,” people and media have become interested, and the door opened. So we walked through that door with our way of thinking and doing things — with our culture.

20W: Yeah, electronic music is undeniably more popular in terms of mainstream attention than ever before. How does it feel to have been a part of the movement? What was it like seeing it explode?

LD: It’s good to see that electronic music is getting popular. It means that people recognize it as a unique art form and expression.  But I’m not part of that — this EDM movement. I’m actually not a part of any movement, but a part of the culture that existed for over 30 years. I’ve seen ups and downs in the last 20 years as an artist, and it looks like we’ve reached the point where electronic music is simply there as part of the culture.  It’s no longer some random topic for the insiders.

20W: True, but the sort of minimal music that you and Richie and the rest of the guys make is still pretty underground in the States. Did you hope that CNTRL would boost people’s awareness of other types of electronic music outside of what’s mainstream? Or was it intended for the sort of niche audience that was already aware of the scene?

LD: CNTRL was intended for everyone who wants to join us and share some special moments with us. We were on the tour bus visiting universities, playing, sharing. We wanted to both give and receive as much as possible from this tour.

20W: Well from a fan’s perspective, it was definitely an awesome time! What else have you got coming up in 2012? 2013?

LD: We just celebrated five years of Desolat, my record label at Fabric in London. In January we’ll release our five years of Desolat sampler with a Loco Dice mix CD.  I’m also working on some ideas for the next album. Also, the CNTRL project and the tour became like a little baby of mine – like Desolat – and I want to go further with it. There is so much that yet has to be done.