Sam Dorko on Mixing EDM With Classical and Wielding an Electric Violin During His DJ Sets
Sam Dorko is pretty adept with a set of turntables, a laptop, and a few dozen tracks. Catch the 25-year-old when he performs either as DJ T.A.I. (shorthand for his mixmaster identity "The Asian Invasion") or with his longtime partner Andrew Hood their local EDM band Pastries With Teeth, and we're certain you'd agree. It turns out, however, he's even better with a violin.
Mohawk Photography Sam Dorko, a.k.a. The Asian Invasion
Dorko has been playing the stringed instrument since childhood, when he started receiving classical training, and frequently incorporates it into both his DJs sets and Pastries With Teeth performances. He'll also be wielding the violin tomorrow afternoon and evening at the Herberger Theatre Center when he plays the role of DJ during the Phoenix Contemporary Dance Company's fall showcase.
It won't be the first time that Dorko has expressed his penchant for mixing the fine arts with frenetic EDM, as he frequently mixes classical and chamber music with electronica tracks during his sets, resulting in an enticing soundscapes. The DJ and instrumentalists recently spoke with us about the combination of EDM and classical music, as well as other topics.
Name: Sam Dorko
AKA: T.A.I. (The Asian Invasion)
Genres: When I DJ, I really like playing anything with a broken beat, and I've been digging mid tempo breaks and house lately
Current gigs: I've been DJing more infrequently cause I've been working real hard on an album and rehearsing a show with Phoenix Contemporary Dance Company at the Herberger. But after Saturday, I'm gonna get back to DJing more.
How did you get into the DJ game?
I went to a rave when I first moved here. I watched Substation play a live trance set on all hardware and was just blown away. I was pretty much hooked from there on. It's funny cause I ended up getting to work with him every weekend when I was a resident with FUSE Fridays.
What will you be doing with the Phoenix Contemporary Dance Company?
I'm DJing some original experimental electronica I wrote for them with Andrew. I'm playing violin and guitar and Andrew's on drums during that set, too. It's a mix of classical violin/strings with a bit of glitch-hop and house influence. It definitely has a different feel to it, but I love the way the dancer's choreography highlights sections and vice versa.
How do you go about picking music for something like that?
I listened to a lot of really out there music. Some indie/electro bands like Black Moth Super Rainbow and Glitch Mob/Pretty Lights influenced what I put together. I didn't want to do mashups though, so I ended up writing original music instead. I have an extensive background in classical music so it wasn't too hard to write the violin and string parts
What's your background in classical music?
My mom is a piano major and used to teach lessons at home. That's what got me hooked I think. I begged my mom to let me play violin. I started lessons at age three after listening to my mom play classical piano. I've just kept on playing. In high school, I played with a few county- and city-related orchestras outside of school. I was a lot of fun
Have you used the violin during DJ gigs in the past?
Yeah before I became part of Pastries With Teeth, I was just DJing and playing a live instrument. It started out with guitar, but then I was gifted an electronic violin. I think the violin really hits home with audiences, and it's great to get back to playing my main instrument I never thought I would be playing violin in a dance club though.
How do you use it during your performances? As a controller or purely as an instrumental accompaniment?
Just as an electric violin. I run it through a few Boss effect pedals and Ableton.