CULTURE SHOCK 2021: TROLL
TROLL is the stage name of Troy Michael, a Bloomington-based DJ with roots in house music. His DJ career spans over the past decade, and he has opened for the likes of Chris Lake, Liquid Stranger, and Ganja White Night. More recently, he has started producing his own tracks.
How did you first get into DJing?
It came from multiple years of going to festivals since 2007. I was the lead singer of a band in high school, so I’ve always loved music, and I didn’t have any other hobbies I was super passionate about. I bought everything I needed for DJing all at once – controller, speakers, lights, and a new computer – so that I could be a one stop shop for any venue.
So, DJing preceded producing?
Absolutely. You can an awesome producer, but if you don’t know how to mix, all that effort you put into making your songs can be ruined if you can’t transition properly. So I thought it was a lot smarter for me to learn how to use turntables and a mixer before diving into production. Starting production from scratch has a big learning curve.
How long have you been doing the production side of things?
I started producing two and half years ago, but I released my first track on all platforms about a year ago. My second track release is coming very soon. I wasn’t as productive during quarantine as I hoped I would be. Being away from the energy of live shows made me feel stagnant. I’m excited to go full speed into production again.
How did you find inspiration during the pandemic?
At first, I set up a nice area in my house for livestreams and I was doing them several times a week. We would have a select few people over to listen, but eventually it just became me jamming out on my own with 1 or 2 people watching. It was fun, but it just can’t compare to having a huge crowd all on the same page as you.
How did you decide which genre you wanted to produce?
What first got me into electronic music was a heavy bass music show back in 2010 at the Bluebird. Then I went to a festival that catered more to house music, and that made me realize how much of a journey a house DJ set can take you on. It’s about creating a mood that guides the crowd, and it fits more settings than some more intense styles of electronic music. It’s great if you know how to dance, and it makes for nice background music. Once I started mixing with house, the transitions became more extended, and I started having more fun.
What are some of the biggest gigs you’ve played?
My first big show was opening for Ganja White Night at the Bluebird. Since then, I’ve played back to back with Liquid Stranger, Manic Focus, Dirt Monkey, and SubDocta. My personal favorite show was getting to open for Chris Lake. I also played a small festival in Grand Rapids called Bass Country where I opened for Walker & Royce.
Is this a full time gig?
That’s the goal. Before the pandemic, I was averaging one show per week. That’s not enough to make a living, but it was a nice side hustle. If I’m at the point where I don’t have to worry about another job, that would be amazing. I actually work a 9-5 now and I was in the restaurant industry for 10 years. I just became a beer distributor, so I’m driving around a lot – which is great because I can research music while I’m working.
What are your goals for the future, say, five years from now?
I’m hoping to get on the lineups of some of the top electronic festivals. If I start releasing enough tracks that gain attention, it will be very possible because I’ve made a lot of contacts with big name producers over the years. I started an LLC awhile back called TROLL Presents. I was bringing big name artists to my house. I would pick them up from the airport and host a show for them with my own lights and sound. Picking that back up could put my name on the map.
From DJ to DJ, what are your thoughts on the sync button?
The sync button is fine to use if you’re a newer DJ since it takes some time to train your ear for proper beatmatching. I only use it in situations where my tracks aren’t lining up as they should. I might tap it to get the BPM right, but I’ll still nudge the outside of the jogwheel to get the downbeats where I want them. I know some good DJs that use it, but for the most part, if you use it around DJs that have been mixing for a long time, they might be a little judgy. I just try not to use it as much as possible.
The full interview is available now on YouTube.
TROLL will be performing at the 2021 Culture Shock Music Festival on Saturday, April 17th at 2:45 pm EST. His performance, along with all others for this year’s festival, will be streamed live on the Culture Shock Website. The festival will begin streaming at 1:30 pm EST. WIUX will also be set up in Dunn Meadow from 1 – 6 pm selling shirts, sweatshirts, and other merch.