I Want to Foster a Sense of Community & a Sense of, “This is What We Do Here.”

Sam Von Horn is a Los Angeles based producer and DJ signed to Fantastic Voyage. “He’s one of the most thoughtful, talented artists I know and has a so much to say. He’s vulnerable and sensitive about his music because he puts in 1000% of his heart, energy and emotion into his songs.” – Justin Jay

 

Sounds like you’ve been coming here for a minute, why this place?

  • It sorta has this old blood Santa Monica vibe to it. It makes you feel like you’re not among the gentrifying masses. You know what I mean, when you’re in this area? That’s not really why I come here though. I really love the pictures on the wall. They crack me up. There’s everything from softball teams to model head shots, and all kinds of shit that you would never expect to see in a restaurant. You look around, like in the back there’s Native American art and there’s so much random stuff, but there’s also a sense of community: It’s cash only. They make their salsa, they still give you pickled carrots. The guy at the front is always fucking with you when you ask him anything when you come in. There’s something about it that I think is missing in a lot of west L.A., Something true about old roots L.A., and that’s why I like it. I also just love Mexican food.

How do you equate that to what’s happening in Los Angeles for music? You’ve always been watching what’s happening, but now you’re going to be a part of it.

  • I feel like what I described about the warmth and the community of this place was embodied by Low End Theory eight years ago. And Low End Theory went and became this thing, and Brainfeeder became this thing, and Flylo is this guy, and that’s all wonderful and beautiful and it’s great that that music is exposed to more people. But in that process you’ve got sixteen-year-olds going, “Low End Theory!” And not knowing anything about the scene. And that’s fine. I’m not jaded against that anymore like I used to be, honestly. But I think that there is a little bit of a void when it comes to a venue that fosters a community of artists and people that come to those shows, and I want to be a part of that. That’s what I think the warehouse parties we’ve been doing have been going for, to a different degree because it’s late night and the focus is on dance music. Ultimately I would love to do something between Low End Theory and Lot 613. There’s this happy medium and I don’t know what it is yet.

Tell me about these warehouse parties that you’ve been a part of.

  • They’ve been awesome. It’s really cool because it reminds me of shit that I used to do when I was a kid, and I really kind of tuned out of for several years. I stopped making house music, I stopped listening to house music for a long time, you know?

Why?

  • EDM happened. EDM hit the mainstream and I was such a jaded teenager that I was like, “I’ve been doing this since I was thirteen, I hate it now. I can’t deal with all of you non-heads listening to my head music. I don’t like that.” Like, dude, Avicii used to make cool music! You know? There’s a remix of a song called “Lipstick,” that I used to play in high school before any of that “Levels” shit happened. Basically, all that happened and I tuned out.

What made you come back to it?

  • Justin. Justin is such a positive force in my life. He’s kicked me in the ass in the right way. He was already doing these, as he called them, janky house parties, around USC. It was the Fantastic Voyage crew doing their thing just out of school. I went to one of the early ones and we reconnected. Actually, I was making music with Danny down the street – his spot was around the corner from the pink house, where they had a bunch of shows, and I ran in to Justin. We hadn’t seen each other in a bit and I was like, “Yo!” He asked me if I was still making music, and I had actually just made “With You”, the first track that I made for the Zone EP. I was like, “Yeah, I’m actually making a house track for the first time in a long time,” and he got really fired up. And dude, it lit a fire under me again to make music. Not necessarily because it was house music, but because I realized that it was a language I was familiar with, and I could jump right in. 

What’s the future of this movement as it gets bigger? Where do you hope to push it?

  • Ideally, I want to foster a sense of community and a sense of, “This is what we do here.” You know what I mean? This is what this scene is about, and I’m grateful to have a community of people that are down with that. Ethan and Justin and all the Fantastic Voyage guys, the Admission guys, all you guys, you know? I mean, first show I played in ages was the second Admission show back in September, it’s been cool getting back into it. But anyway, back to your point, your question.

A lot of venues are closing, like we just mentioned. How do you feel about that?

  • Non Plus is closing, The Smell is going down. It’s a shame. Scenes come and they go, but I don’t know, I think we’re in this really interesting period for dance music particularly because of the fallout from EDM’s popularity. Now people are looking for something headier, something more, you know, human and real. And so I would love to take the warehouse party vibe that is way more on the underground and keep it a little underground, but it’s hard to say how it’s going to grow. I just want it to get bigger. Be more inclusive and have more acts want to play there. Basically, I want to come up with a venue. I want to come up with a community of people.

Do you think Los Angeles is a good city to do this in?

  • That’s a good question, I don’t know. I mean, it’s the city I know most, so yeah. For me it’s what I know how to do.

Do you think that there’s a lack of community in LA? Or is it a lack of people in the know about a lot of the stuff that’s happening?

  • L.A.’s way too big! Yeah, I guess I never really thought about it that way, because there is so much shit happening here. You just don’t know about it.

Who are you listening to right now?

  • Gabriel Garzon Montano’s new album. Have you heard that? Jardin? Also a lot of Pat Thomas. He has some older stuff that’s excellent too. He’s the next Frank Ocean or something, in my mind. He’s like Stones Throw’s new guy. I think he’s doing great work. And then, in the dance music realm, there’s so much good happening, and there’s so much good that doesn’t get enough clout, you know? Not really like the low-fi house music scene which is kind of popping off on YouTube with guys like DJ Boring and DJ Seinfeld, Ross from Friends and Mall Grab. People like that. You know, that’s an interesting scene that I’m interested in tapping into, but also I’m curious about, because I feel like it’s disingenuous to a degree. 

Where do you see Fantastic Voyage being when it’s at its height? What do you want it to be?

  • I see Fantastic Voyage having a residency somewhere. You know, like the Fantastic Voyage night. And that will mean something to people who go. I think the whole idea behind the label was to do something human, based in songwriting and personality. Justin brought me along because he felt like I had the right fire for it and I’m making music that fits with that vibe. Grateful to be involved with those dudes and sharing music with people again.

Big or small venue?

  • Doesn’t matter. A good venue. I don’t know. I know it doesn’t matter. A place that we could do what we do and people come to see us do what we do and take part in the experience. Like a proving grounds. The same way that Low End was a proving ground for deep music and deep musicians, and we could have residents like Daddy Kev and Gaslamp and stuff. I would love to be a Gaslamp of the Fantastic Voyage venue-to-be.

Where can we find you in the morning?

    • In “the studio” reading. Or I’d say, curled up with a joint and some anime or something. Or making beats.

What’s the environment you prefer, what time of day do you like to start making music?

  • It’s really unfortunate because I have a full time job, you know? But I love making music after midnight. I love starting shit after midnight. I love it being, I’ve been listening to this loop for six hours and the sun’s rising. You know? That’s my shit. I like being delirious about it. But you know, can’t do it much.

Do you remember when you made, lets say…Zone? Where were you and where was your head at?

  • I was living at my parents’ house after graduating college. I was working at a restaurant. I was bummed out most of the time. I had just made a song called Sad Boy, that I will release at some point. It’s got kind of like a hiphoppy vibe. With guitar and me singing like a sad boy. It was the first time I tried to sing on stuff, you know? And so I did that, and then I was like, “Fuck being a sad boy. I’m going to make a happier one and sing on it.” And it was the first thing I sang on ever with four on the floor. You know? I was in my parents’ garage, singing into my MacBook.

Anything coming up?

  • I’m doing Sound L.A. with Justin Jay, in May. It’s going to be sick.

What’s a random fun fact about yourself?

  • Oh, you’ll like it. I’m a mutant! I have an extra vertebra. Everybody has L5, which is your lumbar, I got L6. My torso’s an inch taller.

Mutant Sam.