One week before his much awaited performance in Marseille, Paradox and Le Cabaret Aléatoire sat down with Perc to talk about Techno, politics and the UK scene. The London-based label boss explains here his vision about the current trends production-wise, female legitimacy in the Techno world, and how the most futuristic genre is still obsessed with old formats and sounds.
- You will share the line up with Rebekah tonight, as 2 members of the UK techno scene, do you often meet her on gigs, do you know her work?
We play on the same line-ups a few times a year, though there is often no time to speak as one of our sets finish as the next person’s begins. Of course I know her music and DJ-ing, we’ve both been doing this for some time now!
- We read on several interviews that you got inspiration from different music genres. How far does the UK scene inspire you, what movement do you particularly follow (expect techno)?
There is just an attitude towards music making in the UK which runs from punk and industrial through electro and acid house to techno, hardcore, drum & bass and beyond. I like to think that producers from the UK are less purist and less closed minded than others and are more open to creating new music fusions. I like to keep an ear open to modern noise and experimental music plus some industrial. I also still have a love for IDM and drum & bass, but it’s rare that I hear anything new that really moves me from those genres these days.
- London is for sure a must visit spot in the Techno circuit. Any special venue you would recommend there?
These days I generally play at Village Underground or Corsica Studios, both of which I love. London has a crop of new clubs such as Fold, Steelyard and the Cause opening recently plus huge new venues like Printworks but it’s been a while since I’ve been to a London event that I’m not playing as I am away most weekends playing in other cities.
- As a DJ and label owner, you must come across loads of promos. What do you think about the current production in the techno circuits? Is there enough sense of creativity or innovation according to you?
I always find it hard to discover new tracks to fall in love with but that just means I love them more when I find them. I often think that there are not enough people taking chances with their music, but then maybe someone else might think my music or Perc Trax’s output plays it safe. As the years go by the average standard of production and engineering of tracks and demos keeps going up but a creative and innovative track that really takes you by surprise is harder than ever to find.
- After the revival of the early Rave sound and Electro, what would be for you the next revival in the techno scene in the next couple of years?
I hope that right now we’ve reached the peak for retro references. Yes, it is possible to do something fresh and interesting with classic rave, electro or acid sounds, but people need to realise that you can make a track that will have integrity without having to rely on an old skool reference to legitimise or authenticate it. As for the next trend I don’t know. There are a few more melodies popping up right now and I’m not afraid of something sounding slightly trance but there is a huge difference between good and bad trance.
- In your opinion, why do female artists struggle to find a legitimacy in techno music? Do you pay attention to women representation on your label?
I think the situation is definitely changing which has to be a positive step forward for everyone. Of course there are people that always try to challenge a female artists’ DJ-ing or production skills but generally this is jealousy from people who think they should be travelling the world playing gigs purely due to the size of their vinyl collection or how long they’ve been DJ-ing in their bedrooms. As any artist gets more well known (and I’ve experienced this myself) the haters come out the woodwork and will attack anything you say or do. If you listen to these people you will go crazy so it’s best to just block them out and follow your own path. If people are talking about you at least you know your music is getting out there and people are reacting to it, which has to be better than no one giving a damn about that you do.
- You define yourself as a political person. How far do you think music in general and Techno in particular has to be or can be a political media whereas music is seen mostly as an entertainment media?
Of course techno can be political. The act of dancing can be a political act depending where you are doing it and taking any illegal substance is always a political act, where the user makes a conscious informed decision to step outside the law. At the moment there is definitely a trend for being seen to be politically aware and active as an artist and some of this true but a lot is just posturing for credibility or press. Often the people most active and committed on a grass roots level to change things in their local community and scene are the ones that shout about it the least on social media.
- If you have to musically illustrate the political context in Brazil today, how would you shape the kicks and the percs of the track? What would be its title?
That’s an interesting question. I’m not as knowledgable about the Brazilian political situation and their new leader as am of the UK situation, but I know it is a big change for them and has brought about a lot of worry and apprehension. Without actually making the track it’s hard to describe how it might sound, but I’m guessing it would be stripped down and tough rather than anything too atmospheric or melodic.
- Is the fact that the crowd is looking for harsher techno sounds related to the atmosphere of our modern society that is being more and more selfish and aggressive?
No, I don’t think so. I’ve never liked that cheap assumption that if you like tough, energetic music you must be a violent or angry person. I always like to think of my music and Perc Trax‘s releases as energised and passionate rather than aggressive or violent in any way. To go back to the question I think people are looking for harsher, faster music because they are bored of dull slow atmospheric techno and sterile lifeless commercial techno. They want to be shocked, surprised and challenged and they want music that triggers an immediate physical response. Not something that you listen to for 10 minutes waiting for something to happen (which often never does) before you can form an opinion about it.
- As you may have noticed, life & humans are full of paradoxes ! What would you describe as paradoxical in electronic music?
The classic one is the notion of techno being the most futuristic of genres when it is still obsessed with old formats and sounds from vinyl to the classic 909, 808 and 303 and rave sounds. These elements are of course the foundation of the genre but there has to be more to modern techno than regurgitating the same old blueprints that have been around since the early to mid 1990’s.
- Besides visual art, what would be for you the best suited non-musical discipline that can be incorporated in a techno event?
Obviously dance has always been incorporated into techno events but more structured dance performances coordinated with the DJ or live act can be interesting. This has occurred at festivals like Atonal and Mutek, but I’d like to see more of it as long as it feels like part of the music and not a show that the audience has to stop dancing to watch. Some techno artists have also used interpretive dance in the videos for their tracks, which can also be interesting if done well.