Interview: Roosevelt Talks His Most Personal Album Yet, ‘Embrace’


Amongst the techno-fueled clubs of Germany’s nightlife comes an indie-electronic artist named Roosevelt ready to take center stage.

He began his career in a slew of indie bands before joining the techno world in Cologne, even becoming a resident DJ at Kompakt‘s Total Confusion party.

Roosevelt may have popped on your radar due to his remixes for CHVRCHESFlight Facilities, or (one of the top-selling artists in the world) Taylor Swift, but he is now making a name for himself with a new album.

The album, entitled Embrace, was written, recorded, and produced entirely by Roosevelt as he traveled around the world working in improvised studios in order to spark his creativity.

We sat down with Roosevelt, just before his biggest North American tour began at Life Is Beautiful to talk about the album inspiration, his sound evolution, and pushing his creativity with a minimalist production process. Read below:

EDM Maniac: Many fans know your name from your remixes like your most prominent, Taylor Swift’s “Antihero.” How did the Taylor Swift remix come about and how did you turn it from a pop anthem into a funky indie electronic rework?

Roosevelt: Maybe she or someone from her team saw my music, but she was really involved in it and reposted my remix. For an artist of her level, it was quite surprising that she supported the remix so much.

It was just crazy how quickly I had to do it. I had to do it in like three days and I was on tour, but I kind of like the pressure around it because it’s such a rewarding feeling if you actually managed to do it.

They completely let me do my thing with it. They said to do whatever I want and with that kind of audience and being the most streamed artist right now it was quite a humbling experience. Even at that level allowing small artists a platform was really cool.

EDM Maniac: Your new album Embrace is your most personal yet, written, recorded, and produced entirely by you and stripped down from all the studio flash to improvised setups around the world. Can you explain your mindset behind this creative process?

Roosevelt: I had a studio in Cologne for a couple of years now and I realized on the last record that I was only using a small portion of it. I always went home after tour to do a record in a very conservative, old-fashioned way because I liked it.

I liked to be in my comfort zone and I always enjoyed being on tour and being able to come back and reflect on everything.

So I wanted to break it up and get out of my comfort zone. I took that step to just travel to places, rent Airbnb’s, sublet houses, and build little studio setups that often weren’t more than two speakers and a mini keyboard.

I reconnected with some production skills that I didn’t think about for years. I had this lazy workflow that wasn’t really inspiring anymore so I wanted to break it up.

The Roosevelt project started that way too where I didn’t have any equipment, just a laptop, headphones, and a mini keyboard. So limitations can be really good to see the essence of a song better than if you have too many choices.

EDM Maniac: The album is inspired by realizing the difference in lifestyle between your friends with “real jobs” and your life touring, leading to the name Embrace. How did this influence shape the album? 

Roosevelt: Embrace was at first just a working title because early last year, I was in this phase of considering taking a break for maybe half a year. But these songs just popped up in my head and I couldn’t really do anything about it.

It shifted how I felt and made me really realize that music is such a part of me and not something I can put away when I’m finished. I had a very personal reconnection with the project.

There was a moment when I realized my closest friends were all in serious jobs so I couldn’t take them on tour with me for two weeks and all these kinds of things that were so easy in the past.

That lifestyle is just easier to maintain when your closest friends are still in that bubble with you. So the album title refers to my changed perception because in my twenties, I still saw this as something I might do for another year or three to five years.

But I reconnected with the joy I felt as an 18-year-old doing my first little demos.

Embrace just made sense on so many layers because I realized a reconnection to my sound and even my very early sound. I was surprised by how much I am inspired by the simple things like sitting on a laptop with two speakers and making music again.

That’s something I didn’t really have on the last record. I mean, it was fun to make, but I had a very clear concept of that record and just executed it. Embrace felt way more like just a blank page to fill out.

This album is more like a mixtape to me in the sense that it captures a chapter where I didn’t want to limit myself to a certain concept. It has a much wider soundscape and I just allowed myself to do whatever I wanted with my signature sound in the middle.

EDM Maniac: You’ll be embarking on your biggest North American tour yet with Life is Beautiful, venues in Seattle, Colorado, and Texas, plus European dates. What can fans expect from this massive tour?

Roosevelt: I put a lot of thought into the song choice and show design in that it’s very new to me to be able to choose from such a wide variety of chapters.

This is a special tour because it’s around three times longer than any other tour I’ve ever done. People who have been to a show in the past, they know that there’s more power in the songs by adding live drums and live percussion and all that.

Songs that you don’t even think are dance songs suddenly turn into dance tracks when we play them live.

It’s a more energetic and dynamic playing of the record and we are trying to make it feel more alive. We are trying to make it something special.

All images provided by Shore Fire Media

Written by
Danielle Levy

Danielle Levy is an MBA with a concentration in Corporate Social Responsibility. Danielle has several years of experience in the sustainability education world and has held various positions in human resources and intern management. Danielle is passionate about the ties between sustainability and social impact.

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