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BASS: Interview with drum & bass DJ/producer Photek

Since the mid-1990s producer Rupert Parkes, AKA Photek, has released over 100 drum & bass tracks for everyone from LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking label to Goldie’s Metalhedz as well as Virgin imprint Science. Most recently Photek has been working in Hollywood doing scores and working on various projects. He has released material under the alias Special Forces on his own Photek Productions label and started a new, harder edged label TekDbz. Lately Photek has found time to start performing more in clubs and events in America.

During his recent appearance at San Francisco club 1015 Folsom, WORD’N’BASS.com’s Sam "Supa" Arroyo interviewed Photek as he smoked a cigar and took in the local scene. Sam reports that during the interview, fans approached the personable Photek, who smiled, puffed away at his cigar and chatted with everyone. Sam interviewed Photek about the future of his music, technology, the speed of drum & bass, Trent Reznor and Miami Vice.

SA: What drives you as a producer and composer?

PHOTEK: What did I say before? To keep Drum & Bass competitive with mainstream music. That’s what keeps me going really. I’ve been doing it for a long time and there are different reasons. To try and keep Drum & Bass up with mainstream music. Keep it relevant.

SA: How do your earlier tracks feel now?

PHOTEK: Thankfully there is nothing that I did that sounds out of context with the song in which I’ve made. There’s nothing I’m embarrassed about and I’m pretty proud of everything I’ve done. The old stuff sounds pretty good to me still.

SA: Has the new technology drastically changed the way you work?

PHOTEK: The last 3 years there been acceleration in how technology changes, like month to month there is always new stuff coming out. Before I used to be a lot more comfortable working with the same equipment for like six months or a year at a time and then more recently you have to be adaptive to the technology. Technology is almost interrupting the music right now.

SA: What would you describe as your working methods?

PHOTEK: That relates to the other question ‘cause I think right now the main thing is to not get distracted by the technology available. My working method is to focus on the end product, like the actual (music), keep focused on that and don’t get distracted by the possibilities.

SA: How is music different than noise to you?

PHOTEK: (Laughs) It’s a funny line especially with Drum & Bass. Sometimes when I’m at a club I think yeah this is noise Drum & Bass-wise and I think people got to be careful to apply real standards to what they’re doing to try and avoid crossing that mark.

SA: Do you have an opinion on how fast Drum & Bass is getting?

PHOTEK: Well there’s been a lot of talk about "slowing it down". At the moment I’m making tracks that are at about 175 (BPM or) if it’s got vocals maybe 180 BPM you know, so when you play it at the club you don’t have to pitch it up too much. In the club I’m playing at about 182 BPM. Some people are a little faster. As long as the musical content is good and it’s working then it doesn’t matter too much. It does have a tendency to go a little too fast these days.

SA: Who’s currently making music that interests you?

PHOTEK: In Drum & Bass, Hochi and Infiltrata the guys on my label really. They’re the newest sign to my label TekDbz. System Noise, two guys out of Norway and Tee Bee you know. You know the regular guys like Goldie, Roni, Dillinja. I’ve always got time for them. The newer guys you might not have heard of probably Hochi and Infiltrata and System Noise.

SA: Having remixed so many artists is there anyone outside of electronic based music you want to work with?

PHOTEK: There’s a lot. There’s a lot and I do see most of the ones I want to work with happening. It’s the way it works. I think if you stay true to yourself you attract the people whose music you’re interested in. So you know like most recently I worked with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. It’s just because we have the same taste in music. I think most of the people I want to work with I’ll end up working with.

SA: What are projects are you excited about putting out this year?

PHOTEK: The upcoming single from Armanni and Sharpness, Fahrenheit 215, I’m excited to see that come out.

SA: Will that be on Photek Productions?

PHOTEK: It’s probably gonna be on TekDbz. Also a track called Mama Mia from a guy called Deadly Hunter, like a Dancehall/Reggae guy I’ve done a Drum & Bass mix of. I played it tonight. I’m excited about all the music coming out on the labels this year I’m really happy about. The label being not the most prolific label, it’s more about the occasional quality release. I think I have so much stuff now that is of a good standard, the output of the label is increasing. Everything that’s coming out I’m excited about!

SA: Brilliant! So what are your top five influential films?

PHOTEK: Films? Heat, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, Scarface and Ran.

SA: I love Heat. Heat I can watch that film endlessly, yo.

PHOTEK: I met Michael Mann in Miami like three days ago!

SA: For reals?


SA: He’s probably doing primaries for the Miami Vice film.

PHOTEK: Yeah, I spoke to him about the music for it.

SA: Ever see Thief?

PHOTEK: Of course. James Caan!

SA: A lot of people can’t take Thief, they think it’s too raw.

PHOTEK: It’s the precursor to Heat. He’s made Heat three times now. He did Thief, L.A. Takedown, then Heat. It’s the same movie three times over.

SA: So what’s important to you right now?

PHOTEK: Quality time with my wife. Progress with what I’m doing. Expanding the music. I’m into to more people. Having a good team around me as far as like minded musicians. Not flying too much. Not going too far from home unnecessarily.

Thanks to DMarie and the Groundscore crew for hooking up the Photek interview and throwing fun events!



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