InTheLab with Seth Hosko

by Gilles Wasserman

Fiction Lab is back with InTheLab! The series where we highlight talented artists from our local NYC underground scene. For the start of the new season we welcome Seth Hosko, a talented classically trained musician who's been around NYC's scene for years. He talks about   taking a little break from DJing and recently making a fresh start. Find out what else is new with Seth in the interview below and enjoy the phenomenal mix he made exclusively for Fiction Lab

It's been ages, haven't seen you and talked to you in a while, what's new with Seth Hosko?
A lot is new! 2017 was a busy year. I have a new job where I work with new creative challenges, I have a wonderful and deeply supportive relationship, and I’ve been traveling out to the west coast a doing lot and camping, from the Pacific Northwest to Death Valley and Joshua Tree. I love both the desert and the mountains – they’re great inspirational escapes for me.

Which trip was your highlight?
Death Valley over this past Thanksgiving. The park is huge, and we spent time finding the most remote areas of the park, covering 500 miles offload in 4 days with everything from canyons and salt flats to naked hippies in secret hot springs. Also, the experience of silence we found out there was simply beautiful. I love the feeling of being remote, almost like that feeling is something to discover in itself.

I was pleasantly surprised when you reached out to me since I haven't heard from you in while. You told me that you took a break from DJing for a while, that you deleted your whole music library, made a fresh start. The mix that you sent me sounded refreshing, like a new start for Seth, I really liked the vibe that I got it from it. Tell me more about the process of deleting the whole library, rebuilding it and why you did that?
I’ve been going through some transitions over the past few years that to me have really been beautiful, sparked by realizations of the work I needed to do to get where I wanted to go. As it turns out, personal development is really hard to do. One truth I had to come to terms with was that I’m a musician. I have been all my life, and music is one of my greatest loves, and I have a responsibility to myself to realize myself fully. I have a need to express myself, and hopefully one day I can be comfortable with the thought of being an artist. Music has been a wild ride and sometimes an uncomfortable relationship, especially the last 10 years. More recently, I was part of throwing a party for three years, and after a while I realized I didn’t like the music I was playing. I didn’t like the music I was hearing at the parties I was going to. I wasn’t inspired or excited, and it was frustrating because I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t a good feeling, and I needed to step away and figure it out from the beginning again. I had to show myself some kindness and compassion by starting over from the right place. I knew it would take time and it definitely has taken time, but I’m excited again. I see the path forward, I’m inspired again, and it’s really a relief!

Where did you start from, what was your 'second start' with building your music library?
In 2016 I was in Joshua Tree, and listened to Leandro Fresco’s El Reino Invisible for the first time. It was the first ambient album that opened me up to the transcendent qualities of ambient. I didn’t fully understand this before, but from that point forward it was totally new and wonderful. I also started buying vinyl, and since I was thinking about what would work in a DJ set, and from there just started paying attention to what I was buying again and quickly got re-hooked to the music I was discovering. I then realized I had a new point of view, and my old library was a different point of view. Actually, the truth is I accidentally deleted most of my library. I was actually trying to back it up and made a mistake. But it was a good one, I didn’t regret it and starting almost entirely fresh was a great feeling of clarity and purpose that I gained. It’s been interesting to re-learn what you like and why you like it. What experience you want music to give you, and how it’s going to work. I’ve been especially inspired by all the female DJs and producers that are taking over the world right now. Jane Fitz, Avalon Emerson, Octo Octa, Lux, and Inga Mauer especially. It’s also important to be inspired by your peers that are living their passion. Friends of mine like Andy Warren and Robert Ginkgo who do, Believe You Me and Spencer who does, Occasion Vibration, both in Portland. Also, back here in Brooklyn, the team behind House of Yes, and Ryan and Fabi behind Homage are some of the people I really respect here. They’re all putting in insane amounts of work to pull off what they’re trying to do. The hustle is real, and you need to be genuinely inspired by others if you’re going to succeed as well.

What is your new favorite label? 
Well that keeps changing! There are so many that I’ll stumble upon that I’ve never heard of and it’s a new favorite. I love Giegling and Hivern Disc for their consistency and dedication to their sound, but new favorites right now would be A Strangely Isolated Place, Astral Industries, Yield, and Arts. But I usually get more excited by new artists than labels. Right now, Franck Gerard and Sascha Uhlig are really special to me.

Do you produce music? 
Yes! Well, I’m working on it. It’s a work in process, likely for eternity. I was an orchestral and solo violinist for 12 years, and I really enjoy making music with my hands. Sitting in front of a computer screen to make music is less appealing to me. But I plan to build a studio next year. I’m taking music and technical tutoring in the areas I most need it, and I’m happy that I’m learning new things again with music. I love heavy sounds, ambient, and the transient and psychedelic natures of both so I’m interested to see where this work will eventually take me. It’s going to be a journey.

Tell me more about this mix and the process of making it
Since I started rebuilding my library, I’ve been putting ambient mixes on my Soundcloud profile but didn’t have anything that was more dance-floor oriented out in the world that encapsulated what I’ve begun working on. So that’s where this mix came from. The process of making any mix for me is to start with a playlist of music, which is always hard. Every track has to be special for a reason and has to be functional and workable. They are all ingredients for a cohesive and effective experience that needs to perform lots of different technical and emotional functions. For me the playlist is the hardest thing to get right and often I’m not sure what I’m making until I have the pieces in front of me. From there, then it’s all about the story it tells, how its structured and flows, like chapters of a book. The mixing itself is also really important, because for me the beauty of a DJ’d mix are the transitions — I like long transitions when possible that create new music. That’s where the magic is for me. When I go out to see artists perform, I always looking for something new, and it’s the same with my sets. I’m not afraid to be weird or out there. I see the role of a DJ as responsible for the curation of new sounds and experiences. You have to have a point of view and be OK that it won’t work for everybody, but for those that get it, they’re going to be really excited about what you did. That’s what is really rewarding for me.

Are you planning to play out more ambient or dance, beat driven music in future, where do you see yourself?
I’m constantly looking for music that emotionally fulfill me in ways that nothing else can, as an extension of me and who I am. When I play music for others, I want to take them places and give them feelings that they’re either not expecting or do not know how to access. People don’t know what they want to feel until they feel it. And it’s always an ongoing experiment. For me ambient and techno sit at both ends of a spectrum, and I think I’ll continue exploring both.

What are your plans in next few months? 
Continuing to stay low key, working on keeping my mindset in the right place and absorbing everything I can as I learn and putting in the work. The bottom line is, I’m excited about the responsibility I feel with my music again, and I’m just happy with how good it feels to be in love with what you do. And that’s enough for now.