Monday, October 28, 2013

Interview: Parris DJ

Ahead of his Fabric debut for our Keysound room this Friday - though in all honesty it was started many months ago - I spoke to, and grabbed an exclusive mix from, the talented and emerging 130 DJ, Parris...

DOWNLOAD Parris in the mix here.

Blackdown: OK first interview question. introduce yourself: who are you, what are you up to, who do you roll with...

Parris: My name is Dwayne, but my artist / DJ name is Parris. At the moment I currently work in BM Soho as well as running my own label Soundman Chronicles and am forever running around town doing something music related... At the moment I currently run with an assortment of people but if I had to narrow it down, it would mainly be Wen, Etch, Lex (Sepia use to be there but he's gone back to Isle of Wight now) and I have a couple of other friends I roll with every so often but they mainly play drum and bass.

B: Can you tell me a bit about when you first really got into music and its roots?

P: Music has always been around me in some respect or form, I've played different instruments at some point, I've done keyboard, trumpet and tuba, but I was never really too interested in sustaining it at the time because I was quite young and found the thought of playing them quite boring but my uncle use to DJ and so when I would go round to my nan's house I would sit down and watch him play if I was allowed. I just remember him having a ridiculous record collection before he moved to America. After that I just remember getting this Sony MP3 player when I was about 14/15 which I would keep on me all the time and just load it up with loads of Hip Hop and listen to it whenever I was at home and always check like the billboard charts and stuff like that for new hip hop.

B: Those memories of your uncle as a DJ, did they overtly influence you or was it just something that subconsciously affected you. I ask because in a way, we are exposed to all kinds of positive experiences as kids, but don't always go on to spend time doing all of them...

P: I honestly think it did in a lot of ways, but I would say more subconsciously if anything. I think he's about 11/12 years older than me, so I looked up to him loads and would always enjoy spending time with him (I was probably just that annoying nephew who would bug him when I was round). When he left for America, I was around 10/11 years old so I don't think that I had any interest in DJing / Records at all past that point probably spent most of my time just searching out music online for personal use really.

B: So at some point you started going out to clubs, right? We've talked a bit about you meeting DJs in dubstep, grime etc, getting to know them...

P: As I got more into music, I use to spent a lot of time at my best friend Joel's house, but he was probably more in tune to the underground scene then me, so I had an iPod by this time and I use to just raid his hard drive for music which most of the time ended up being drum and bass, dubstep and grime which was probably around 06-08 times. After I got the bug for it, It was about making that step to going out, but sometimes especially when you're young, you only end up going out with your social groups which became quite frustrating for me because a lot of my friends at the time never wanted to go to the same nights as me... I went clubbing a couple of times with them but to places I would never enjoy so when I was about 19 I finally made the decision to go by myself... After I had gone out for a meal with my girlfriend and her friends, I made a decision to go to FWD>> for the very first time (my girlfriend and one of her friends came with me). And after that first experience I was pretty much there every week in the front row regardless of whether I was with someone or by myself enjoy the vibe and the music. After that it eventually it was about mustering up the courage to actually start talking to DJ's because these were people who I grew to respect deeply, and sometimes I guess you would feel a little bit nervous when you spoke to some people for the first time especially when you don't have a CD of tunes or anything to offer them... I think every person or DJ I've spoken to for the first time I've been nervous but everyone has always been pretty cool tbh... and after that most DJ's / artists probably saw me at most raves going down in the London area for a good couple of years so I guess I just became a familiar face.

B: Can you describe the change from going from someone who found some music they liked to someone who wanted to be more involved. Because this is a simple but quite fundamental threshold to cross...

P: It's quite hard because I cant really remember or describe the exact moment that I wanted to become more involved, but I guess when you really have a passion for it, it all just becomes natural. For me its become more of a natural progression and just delving deeper and deeper without even realising how far you are down the rabbit hole. When I actually started DJing and collecting records I don't even know if I had thought that far down the line of I wanted to be involved, I just started collecting records and rolled it out from there. I would have never imagined four years ago being as heavily involved as I am now in all honesty. The music I liked has progressively changed over the years so I guess at the point of finding dance music, it was something which resonated more with me, to a point where I was willing to search it out regardless of what I had to do to find it, whether it was Rinse, blogs, Dubstep Forum or raiding friends for music. After that I was felt comfortable whenever I was in that zone, in that music, in that space, so the decision to become more involved felt comforting, it felt I was doing something right, something which I can put my all into...

B: Can you describe what you feel is going on right now?

P: I feel like there's loads of interesting things going on right now. Dance music as a form of music has always been very evolutionary and has moved on to different phases and I guess the current one is now starting to emerge. I feel like there's loads of producers who are taking influences from other forms of music and twisting them around and making it their own sound. You have people such as Wen who has heavy grime and dubstep influences who has then rearranged them into his own vibe, or Etch who uses his love of jungle and breaks in his own unique way as well. There's many other producers such as Beneath, Facta, Rabit and Acre who are all doing music which feels very fresh and authentic in a way in which it just pushes boundaries and keeps things moving. I guess these kinds of things start to happen when people aren't hearing what they wanna hear out, with the re-emerging popularity of house and techno (its always had a heavy level of popularity but crossed over into other scenes) and the commercial popularity of dubstep over the past 3-4 years. Its just nice that loads of hungry people took it as an opportunity to try new things and now we have loads of hungry producers making fresh beats. I was very bored of a lot of music early 2012 where as now theres so much fresh music it's hard to keep up with all of it!

B: OK next question, lemme play devil's advocate: isn't this stuff you're part of just dubstep slowed down, and nothing more?

P: Hmm... I would think that a natural part of music is change, and from what I have seen / read about other scenes, wouldn't this just be a natural response from individuals who are not into how a sound has developed and therefore taken on their own perspectives? I still think that a lot of sounds that I listen to are rooted with dubstep, and I still listen to dubstep (an extremely limited amount), but then being rigidly at 140 isn't for me anymore, I feel like having dubstep rooted at the specific tempo limits its range and dynamics, "Fat Larry's Skank" is 132bpm, but its still dubstep, it was a track on Hatcha's Dubstep Allstars Vol.1, and even Loefah's "Root / The Goat Stare" are both 136bpm and are still classed as dubstep. I feel like there's loads more to explore in dubstep territories but there's many other ways to do it!

B: My 0.02p here is that conditions have changed since dubstep evolved and new influences and styles have emerged; dubstep began to be build from the ashes of UK garage with grime it's more raw, road peer. But for this new stuff, grime is an influence not a peer, same with UK funky, juke and all the neon synth stuff. So what's being done now is being built in the context of some of dubstep's influences but also influenced by things that came through after dubstep did. The ingredients for cooking up the next batch are different, basically! So, next question. Alongside Threnody, Dusk and I, I see you as one of the key DJs in this emerging 130 movement. When I log into your mix chat it's like "oh look there's E.m.m.a, there's Wen, there's Etch etc…" I say "DJ" because while many of the other producers also DJ and you also produce, your primary focus seems to be DJing. Can you describe your sound and selection at the moment?

P: I guess my current sound and selection is a mixture of things at the moment, I normally play around 134 which I think allows me to play stuff of a varying tempo (126-140bpm). From there everything for me is about a vibe. I feel like with all the tunes I play its about supporting music from my friends and the people around me who have also given me the same support as well as having the same ideals musically as me. My love of it all will always be based around sub bass and the low frequencies so I guess thats one of the things which unites my tracks selections at the moment, but theres also certain people where I always try and ensure I can slip at least one of their tracks in the mix at all times which includes Wen, Beneath, Etch, Acre, Facta, and Gantz because I feel like they make music with so much vibe and energy, and that's what I feel like I have to bring within my sets. I guess I try to use a lot of tracks which I may see as DJ tools. As I primarily mix for long amounts of time, I need something which will fit in the mix perfectly and effectively help me in building a new tune. My best example is Wen "Untitled (ft. Dot Rotten)." The reason why I love this track so much is because it's hollow, the drums are sparse, the sub bass is raw and the vocal carries the track and the vibe. These elements make it perfect for me to mix with other tracks because its the bare essentials and can flow easily with others Throughout my sets I normally throw in quite a lot of classics, which are normally old dubstep tracks such as early Tempa and DMZ releases with maybe the odd garage and grime tracks thrown in as well. I do this because I think that a lot of that music is timeless and sometimes it fits with the vibe of the new stuff that I play but now moving forward I'm gonna start to do that less and less. The reason for this mainly comes from you and some of the statements you use sometimes 'dub 4 dub'. I was saying to Moleskin the other day as much as I love the classics, they have all had their era and their time, and for me to carry on playing these doesn't mean that I'm gonna be able to bring back that vibe again. I want to start bringing a more upfront selection so that I can start introducing people to the new producers which I love and bring their vibes to a new set of people. Its also enjoyable to see people react to music they not have heard because you will normally know how people will react to the old DMZ's but you won't know how they will to a new Etch or Wen track.

B: Can you talk a bit about why you make the brave and increasingly rare decision to still cut actual dub plates (rather than DJ with CDs, USB, Ableton or Serato etc)?

P: I guess there's a number of reasons for why I cut dubplates. I guess one of the first ones is the fact that I don't actually own any CDJ's at home lol, and I love the feel of turntables. When I first got into DJing it was the first format I picked up, and I just haven't seen the need to move on from them yet. I find that it can be more fun to work with the pitch and its more about feeling the groove on turntables. I also use it as a way to narrow down my track selections. The problem sometimes is when you get sent tracks, when using formats like CD's or Serato you end up maybe playing things you might like or think you could give it one or two goes cos it's OK, but with dubplates I have to be committed the track. I've been at people's houses before and played on stuff like Serato / Traktor / CDJ's and it gets quite jarring when you have so many tracks to choose from, especially on CD's; 20's tracks on 20 CDs is like 400 tracks, and when you have so much choice it makes it even harder to know what to play. I have to love it enough that I'm willing to incur the cost and go to my cutter and say 'I want these tracks on a dubplate', because for me I want to be able to deliver the best quality sound to the people I'm playing for. Not everyone may have the greatest mixdowns sometimes so I can at least ensure that all tracks have had a light mastering and are at their best quality. I've kinda accepted that at some point I may need to move on but for now I'm happy enough with the format, and I haven't encountered too many problems yet other than running turntables but that's just kinda standard these days.

B: You've recently been producing and have collab'd with Wen: how are you finding this process and what are you aiming at as a sound?

P: Production has been quite a difficult road and I'm still trying to find myself creatively and just get a lot of my ideas out. I started out with Fruity Loops (FL) a good couple of years ago but because everyone around me was on Logic, I thought was the way to go and didn't really bother making progression with FL. It was properly around summer last year where I hooked up with Wen and Etch where they started to help me out along the production road. From there I started to invest a lot more time in to the program and I was able to get into it more. From there I was then able to start getting more samples and sounds which kind of fitted into what I liked. Because it's still what I consider early days I find that I tend to create loads of small loops which I struggle to then expand upon, whether this may be drums or even just a collection of sounds, and once I actually start laying out tunes, I guess it's quite hard to take yourself out of a sound or progression and see it as a spectator rather than the person who's making it. I'll have tunes which will just make it to 64 bars and not got any further while others which may be 4 minutes and I just don't feel like I like the way the track has progressed and moved on therefore becoming part of an infinite pile of incomplete tunes... Sound wise I'm still exploring different sonic territories and BPM's which I feel comfortable but I'll always make sure that the bare essentials of drums and bass hold the most groove and then I'll try to find other sounds from there, but I always feel as though I end up swinging towards two step drums because of the fact that I play around mainly between 126-134, but everyday is a new learning experience when playing around with production programs. The collaboration with Wen came through after he had come back from Australia from his tour. I think that after working with Epoch out there he was more open to the idea of collabs and came round my house before a booking. We started a tune and I gave him the FLP. For the next session I went around his house but the original project didn't work and he had already started rebuilding the project differently so we carried on from there and we managed to finish a track in such a short amount of time. It's really nice working with Wen because we can understand each others vibes perfectly and know what we both like. I speak to him every day and most times we fire each other tunes regularly which we will think we would both like. We may not agree on every tune but I think thats what makes it work even more, we both play completely different sets out but can respect and understand each others tastes. When we were in Bristol together playing for a night we went record shopping at Idle hands, I recommended him some tunes because I felt like those were tunes for him, we understand each others vibes and I think he bought two of them. I've done other collabs which have never been finished or even get past a certain stage but its natural, not every combination works, Me, Etch, Lex and Sepia tried to do tunes together but we never finished a single one lol. After the first studio session it just felt right that we carried on so we have some other projects on the go at the moment but we haven't restricted our tempo, we just go by the general vibe of the moment and see where it goes from there...
  • Catch Parris in Room 3, Keysound takeover at Fabric this Friday with me & Dusk, Logos + Mumdance, Moleskin, Luke Benjamin, Wen and Rabit - hosted by Katja.

1 comment:

benny froobs said...

sick interview, lookin forward to the mix too! severely gutted i cant reach fabric )-: sounds like an unreal night