John Heckle TALKS #2


We’re massive John Heckle fans round R$N Towers. So when our friends Klasse announced they were throwing a party; SIlencio at Off Sonar next week at UPLOAD in Barcelona and were bringing Mr Heckle (and Arttu & Young Marco too!) along for the ride we jumped at the chance to speak to him again. Picking up where we left off last time we talked machines, a potted youtube insight into a Birmingham techno education, Planet Patrol Outlaws and more machines… what a gent he is.

Where are you from, where are you now?

Born on the Wirral, now living in Liverpool.

“I think any machine can be molded to make new and interesting sounds, or at least can be used in interesting ways.” John Heckle, R$N 2012.

What new piece of kit have you been moulding in your own unique way recently?

I got hold of a Poly61 recently and have been pushing that as far as I can take it. It can do some nuts stuff with the chord memory and arpeggio, especially when combined with another sequencer.

What was the music of your teenage rebellion? You talk about growing up buying a lot of Birmingham techno. Can you give us a potted history via youtube of that education?

This is the first record out of Birmingham that I bought: BMB Rule By Law
I have the record in a special place at home, with Regis and Surgeons signatures and the words DONT MESS WITH LIVERPOOL written over the front. I cant remember what I got next but Ill give you some of my favorites from back then.

Female Backlash:

I love the way it slowly opens up into this metallic squeal in the middle. Nuts   

Surgeon Prowler:
This record is dark as hell but still has the funk.

Regis Execution Ground:
Pagan Techno as a friend calls it.


Hardfloor Strikeout (Surgeon Remake): 
Makes my head want to explode.

Paul Damage Running Machine:

Melts your face.

Regis Montreal:
This is the ultimate in how to make techno full-stop, not just the Brum stuff.

You talked about another Phantom Planet Outlaws EP will we be getting to hear that soon?

I havent been able to get as involved as I would like to of late, but yeah there is some stuff in the pipeline. We did our first live set as a group a couple of months ago which was 90% brand new material, so watch this space.

I’m completely obsessed with The Last Magic Maker from last year. It seemed to be quite a tempo shift and side step in your sound. Has this been influenced anything in particular?  It’s got that slower tempo but the production’s got an amazing rawness to it.

I think I had just got the Kawai K4 and was using a lot of the metallic drum sounds off that, so there was an industrial influence. But the tracks for that LP were mostly made in one session so each recording sort of blended into one another. There wasnt much time to think about what I wanted it to sound like. A lot of it was improvised.

Will you be bringing your 707 to the gig next Thursday? What kind of set up/mind set will you be bringing to the party? 

The one I have was broken at a gig a few months ago so I wont have my own! But Ill certainly be using one if it is available. I have a couple of effects units Ill bring along as well, anything to increase the pressure a bit.

Have you played out at the Off parties much before? What’s your experience of the whole ‘Sonar’ week?

I played at a secretsundaze party last year yeah. It was an outdoor daytime thing so pretty far removed from what I imagine this party is going to be. What Ill be bringing with me this time will be for dark rooms!

I have only been to the festival-proper once, in 2006. Jeff Mills tore the festival a new one right after Chic and Nile Rogers.

First and last record bought?

No idea what my first record was. First techno record was probably something by the BMB or Dave Clarke. Last record I bought a couple that I heard round at a friends house recently. Ghecko Firelight and Code Industry Method of Assembley. And I got a Yazoo 7 from a record shop around the corner today.

Whats your favourite place on earth?

I dont think Ive been there yet.

Complete the sentence: I’m proper techno because..

Haha. I dont think theres an answer that question without sounding like a fool. At the end of the day everybody who likes the genre thinks they like the proper stuff.

What are you obsessed with at the moment?

The Smiths. I went to see Johnny Marr recently and that set me off again.

Where is the strangest place you’ve woken up naked?

I woke up on the stairs once but I had my kit on.

What’s your answer to everything?

Go ead.

John plays Silencio next Thursday alongside the excellent Arttu, Rush Hour’s superb Young Marco and more.  If you’re in Barcelona next week, get yourself there. Proper like. 
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