Speaking from his Williamsburg, Brooklyn home, blogstraordinaire Blair Carswell chuckles as he explains his nom de deejay, Robot Blair. “If anything, I’m more like one of those sorta robots that… you know, like a Halloween kid’s robot [costume] that’s made out of cardboard and tin foil, or something.” Blair speaks in short hushed fragments, reflecting a thoughtful and affable side seldom seen in the self-aggrandizing world of DJs. As part of the collective responsible for the Pitchfork-riffic music blog Music for Robots (music.for-robots.com), Carswell’s rise as a DJ seems quite elementary (fitting for a dayjobber working I.T. for a K-12). The lifelong music fan began DJing college radio, started a music blog to stay connected with now-dispersed former college mates and began DJing out at clubs. “I spent a year in Manchester, England and went to all kinds of clubs, big and small, and was exposed to big-room DJs like the Chemical Brothers doing big crazy sets, as well as tiny little clubs that held, like, ninety people in a basement with everyone dancing to funk and soul and weird disco tracks.” That eclectic across-the-board appreciation remained with Blair as he began spinning mostly techno and drum ‘n’ bass in the late nineties, but gravitated more towards that wonky future disco sound now being championed by cutting-edge DJs worldwide.
Meanwhile, if you look at the Music for Robots blogsite, its musical coverage cuts a wide swath across the musical spectrum (from Tom Waits to 2 Many DJs) and has grown from the three original friends to six contributing writers. Robot Blair brings that same eclectic spirit to the decks, but keeps his mindset focused on the dance floor. “I tend to write about and post more dance music than the other guys because I am out there…going to friend’s parties [in New York City] and friends in the UK, and friends in Paris sending me new stuff… they end up being what I want to listen to and what I want to play.” Tracks from other-side-of-the-tracks record labels (like Kitsune, Domino, Gomma and Playhouse) pop up regularly in his mixes, as do clever juxtapositions from the likes of Spank Rock, Tahiti 80 and Hot Chip.
Drop into this month’s installment of Dark Wave Disco to catch a truly talented tastemaker, Robot multi-tasker and rock-star husband in action! Oh yeah, did we mention he’s married to electro-sleaze prom queen Daphne D. of Avenue D? (Duke Shin)
Robot Blair spins at Dark Wave Disco at Sonotheque, 1444 West Chicago, (312)226-7600, on September 28.