“My spiritual practice is writing pop songs. They’re a way to communicate to the world with emotional authenticity, express feelings, and give musicians a voice,” says producer DJ Trotsky.
DJ Trotsky is a Los Angeles, California-based producer and songwriter who works with pop artists and developing pop artists. He works in a variety of contexts, including turning in complete songs, collaborating from scratch, writing top-line, building tracks from beats up, and simply producing artists with already-written songs. Through these many guises, DJ Trotsky tailors his perspective to suit the situation. “Often the best approach in my work is just me disappearing and serving the song,” he explains.
Signature to DJ Trotsky’s aesthetic are well-crafted songs brimming with infectious melodies, and often intimate and vulnerable lyrics. From this core, he crafts sleekly modern tracks informed from a lifetime of crate digging as a DJ, and playing organic instruments in rock bands, and his tireless desire to always seek fresh sounds. Along the way, DJ Trotsky has played in funk bands in San Francisco. He has experienced the renaissance of modern electro dance music in Ibiza, Spain. He has reveled in the rumblings of punk, early hip-hop, and dance music in those seismic and formative music moments in New York City at the Mudd Club and CBGBs. And he has DJ-ed exclusive parties in vibey venues in Bali, Thailand, Ibiza, and Estonia.
DJ Trotsky is a global citizen born David Brownstein, and his chosen moniker is a playful shout out to the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his Jewish roots. He’s lived many lives, including being a Grammy-nominated music video producer and internationally-recognized career coach. DJ Trotsky has also released three albums as an artist of vibrantly varied electronic pop produced and recorded all over the world.
Select sample tracks that highlight the prismatic artistry of DJ Trotsky include “Across the Pond,” ”Strange Beautiful Dream,” and “What To Say To A Ghost.” The track “Across the Pond” has been described as “drum n bass n brass” and is a cross-genre symphony of acoustic guitar, be-bop trumpet, synth bass and electronic drum loops, showcasing DJ Trotsky’s songwriting smarts and his edgy production chops. This jam is paired with a warmly lo-fi, iPhone-shot video footage culled from visits to Bali, London, and Thailand that contrast the chaos and the calm of these tropical/urban paradises.
DJ Trotsky’s penchant for poetic lyrics, stirring songwriting, and boldly contemporary production is on full blossom on the track “Strange Beautiful Dream.” Here, he digs into his own personal story, revealing a dream about his father. Beat heads will note the tech house hi-hat groove, and relish the resounding bass tones reverberating off the track. Couched within this setting is almost a storyteller country song that could be distilled down to voice and acoustic guitar. It’s an intriguing artistic paradox that is emotionally satisfying as it is club ready.
A trip deeper into the DJ Trotsky story is “What To Say To A Ghost,” a poignant and powerful dose of gorgeous melancholy. The track is touched with soulfully weary vocals, a simple gem of a vocal melody, delicately emotive ambience, and live instruments like guitar and booming bass. Beneath this well-sculptured soundscape is an immigrant story song wherein DJ Trotsky explores his Jewish roots and his family’s voyage from East Europe to America. The song conjures emotionally arresting images, both literal and figurative. The track has been paired with a music video that’s something of a multi-media project, featuring still photography taken from DJ Trotsky’s travels to his family’s motherland, alongside historically contextual images that together form a powerfully sentimental journey.
DJ Trotsky has enjoyed a wildly fishtailing music career and life journey, and what keeps him inspired is discovering that next sound, crafting jewels of authentically emotive pop, and connecting with artists as a producer. “I love working with new people, learning about their creative palate—where they’re coming from—and finding common ground,” he says. “The experience is different with every artist, but the process is always surprising and exciting.”