Butch: Simple and Sassy

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Tech-house producer Butch is into simple pleasures: South Park, nice cars, eating sweets, and taking a good shit before a gig. “It’s horrible to DJ with a full stomach,” the producer, born Bülent Gürler, offers via email from a hotel somewhere in the heart of Deutschland. It might be Essen, Bingen, Bochum, or Lindau—a look at his DJ diary reveals plenty of stops in the German-speaking world and no sleep until late July at least.

Butch’s music has caught on like wildfire in the last two years, with a slew of 12-inches on Craft Music, Kontor, and Trapez painting him as one of the most playful names in techno. While minimal continues its slow descent into the K-hole of clicks ‘n’ cuts and trad house strokes its own idiom, Gürler rides a nice, smooth tech-house wave that’s neither predictable nor overly thought-out. “I’m open-minded in every musical direction,” says Gürler, who is of Turkish descent but was born and raised in Mainz, Germany. “I even used a classical German carnival sample in one of my tracks.”

His recent album for Great Stuff, Papillon, further reveals Gürler’s ear for melodic synths and ebbing grooves designed to slowly drive dancefloors to climax. Don’t be fooled by his overly masculine alias—Butch tracks like “Amelie” and “Jazzy Belle” have a flirtatious quality that most overly macho machine techno does not. Meanwhile, numbers like “Bad Weed,” “Ein-E,” and his popular “Mushroom Man” (the AFU single that samples Super Mario) hint at the narcotic culture that fuels all these late nights. Although Gürler claims to identify with Spanky Ham, the loud and obnoxious party pig from Comedy Central series Drawn Together, he ultimately appears to prefer studio time to drug-fueled antics.

Though Gürler’s popularity is relatively recent, he’s been dabbling in music for the last 15 years. “In the early ’90s it was hip-hop that started me off,” explains this child of the ’80s, who also used to be involved in BMX bikes and graffiti. “As you grow older, your horizon broadens a little, and other music also started to interest me. The first electronic music record I ever bought was [Armand Van Helden’s] ‘Funk Phenomenon’ in the ’90s. Back then, I also often went to a club named Prodo-X where many trance greats played, and producers like Kai Tracid and Silent Breed (a.k.a. Thomas P. Heckmann) really fascinated me.”

Eventually, he decided to channel all his energies into tech-house, and adopted an alias that was easier to pronounce than his real name. “I remembered a scene from Pulp Fiction where Butch (Bruce Willis) was asked by a taxi driver (with the last name Villalobos, by the way) what the meaning of his name was,” recalls Gürler. “He answered, ‘Names don’t mean shit.’ That’s basically what was on my mind. I just wanted to let the music speak for itself.”