Spencer Parker is ace. A unique take on house music has earned him props with many, many a person of taste. An experienced and adaptable DJ and producer and a pemanant resident of Berlin due to "girl troubles" – his words – we caught up with Mr Parker ahead of his Delfina
appearance next month. Read on…
Hi Spencer! How are you, where are you and what did you have for breakfast?Guten Morgen, I’m very well thank you, and hope you are too? For breakfast I ate 2 apples. Both were delicious.
What have you been up to recently? Any upcoming releases?
Pretty much the same as usual, really. Making records, playing records, remixing records, editing records to play when I’m invited somewhere to play records and, of course, BUYING records.?
Release wise, I’m very happy to say that King Street have decided to release my remix of Mood II Swing feat. Carol Sylvan “Closer”, backed with my remix of P’taah’s “Your Soul On Mine” on vinyl. I did these mixes over 2 years ago, but they’re just recently available on vinyl. I am especially happy about this as the “Closer” record is one of my all time favourite tracks, so to be able to remix it, was a real honour. I’ve also remixed a track by Lee Pennington which will be coming out next year on the Channel Zoo label.
?In addition to that, I have a new single due with Ian Pooley, scheduled on Ovum, with a rather great Radio Slave remix; and I have my new single due soon on Tsuba, with the first ever remix by my friends Italo Johnson, which, obviously, I am very excited about as they don’t really do remixes.
As well as all this, I have launched my own label called Work Them Records. The next release on that label will be an EP from Pittsburgh Track Authority and after that will be a single from S:VT with a couple of phenomenal Arrtu remixes. I’ll also be releasing a track on Work Them that will be backed with a Ryan Elliot remix. You’ll already be able to find this label in your local RECORD shop. ?
You live in Berlin, what persuaded you to make the move?
What are the best things about Berlin?
Well, where do you start? I love Berlin for lots of different reasons: peoples’ general attitudes, the pace of life, the general lack of what I would simply term “aggression” that I was noticing more and more in London. It’s a very easy city to live in, getting around is easy, the public transport is great. Obviously it has a worldwide reputation for the nightlife but to be brutally honest, you could take every club, bar and record shop out of the city and I’d still live here.
?I had lived in London for all my life and for personal reasons, wanted a change of environment. I could have chosen Barcelona, Vienna, Amsterdam or a myriad of different European cities, but I chose Berlin because I had a very good friend here who was kind enough to help me out, by letting me stay with him for a few months, while I got on my feet here. In those other cities, I didn’t have that. So, for me, it was never a case of “I should move to Berlin as it’s got great clubs etc etc”, far from it.
Do you miss anything about London? Will you EVER return?!
No and no. 😉
Obviously I miss M&S roast beef sandwiches, pints of Guinness, Walker’s Cheese and Onion crisps, Nandos and even, occasionally, my friends and family…but through gigs and stuff, I’m never away that long to really get in any way “homesick” for the motherland. I have no plans to return but, hey, who knows what the future holds
You’re renowned for your open opinions, how often do they get you in trouble?
Not that often really, I do have an opinion on most things but I doubt I’m alone in that. I try not to be outrageously mean to anyone in a personal way, but still, some people take stuff personally sometimes, which is a shame. I commented on my Facebook page recently that one of my favourite records was being covered and said something along the lines of “no one should touch it!!” And then the guys that covered it got all upset and started explaining why they did it, and then their friends got upset at me too etc; but, honestly, I think that people take the whole Twitter and Facebook thing a little too seriously. People post their personal opinions, and that’s it, if you agree, cool – if you disagree, that’s cool too, but I think a lot of people get too worried about it. I’m sure a lot of people think my records are not especially great, but that’s life!??With regards to social media, I treat my Facebook as a blog – it’s a great way to let the people who are into my work know what I’m doing and what I’m into. I also post up pictures of cats doing funny dances, enthuse about records I love, or someone’s dj set that I really enjoyed, or join in on stupid “in jokes” that and my friends and I post. You’d be hard pressed to ever read through my Twitter feed or Facebook and go 4 or 5 posts without finding a piece of blatantly obvious self promotion – that’s what these sights are for, non…?
Mais oui! Speaking of open opinions – what are your thoughts on how ‘electronic dance music’ has infiltrated pop culture this year?
Well, I live in Berlin, I’m learning the language but I’m still very much a beginner and I don’t have a television connected here, so I’m maybe I’m not the best person to ask in regards to “dance music” and pop culture… Personally, I have mixed feelings about it, I think it’s potentially a good thing, as “EDM” could be a good hook/entry level for people to get into house and techno music, then maybe through that, they dig a little deeper and discover someone like Carl Craig for example. So, in that way, I think it’s positive.
I think a dance music record going into the UK top 40 is a great thing too, and a massive achievement, so I’m definitely happy to see this happening, and good luck to the people doing it.
But, having said that, these types of records and the whole ‘EDM’ thing in general, are not really relevant to me and the clubs that I play at, so, to me, it’s a completely different world and one I’m very happy to have no involvement with. I still consider myself a huge fan of house and techno music, so if I’m not djing somewhere, I’ll often go to a club to dance or hear one of my favourite dj’s play and speaking for the music I like and the clubs I visit, especially here in Berlin, you simply never hear that type of music.
Talk to us about your opinions on the playing live/pushing a button debate?
I don’t care.
Do you think the ability to play vinyl records should be a basic skill for any DJ, or are you fine with DJs just playing digitally?
Again, I don’t really care.
Speaking personally, I am only interested in having the best music possible at my disposal, so I use USB sticks and vinyl. I can play you new music that is not out yet, fresh from the studio, I can play my own unreleased edits and I can play you a remix I just finished that afternoon. I go record shopping every week, both online and actually visiting stores, here in Berlin, and, often, if time allows, in the city I am visiting that weekend. So, if there is a record that’s in a limited run on 200 or so, I can also play that, as I make the effort to shop and source these records. I often aim to record all my vinyl as wavs and put them on my USB’s but I rarely have the time to actually do this. And I still enjoy mixing and playing records, so it’s no real hardship to throw 50 records or so in a bag when you travel, I’ve done it for many years with many more than 50! In my mind, I have it all covered – all my secret weapons and unreleased gems from myself or friends like Radio Slave or Ryan Elliot and the absolute best vinyl from the worlds best stores. It works for me, everyone has their own way of doing it, and well, that’s mine.
I mix live, using my preferred formats and that’s my choice. I do find it very interesting that a lot of DJs trot out the old “mixing is easy, anyone can do it” line when they get caught playing with a totally synched set up. If it’s so easy, why not do it…? It may be easy to play a simple 2 note bassline on a bass guitar, but if I go see a band, I still want to see the bass player ACTUALLY PLAYING it, and not miming! Mixing 2 records together IS a skill.
What I do have a massive problem with, is most laptop dj’s and their fundamental lack of respect for the people playing before or after them. I’m not saying it’s ALL laptop dj’s, but in my experience, most of them really need to learn some manners. It’s a situation that’s getting worse and worse, from people shutting off entire sound systems by accident as they can’t set up properly, to people fucking around in the booth for the last 30 minutes of your set. I’m sure the few laptop dj’s that DO know how to act would agree with me on this, because they have to work with these fools too.
Which DJs/producers are you most excited about at the moment?
Ahhhh, too many !!! As I said, I still consider myself a huge fan of this music, so this list could be a little longer than you expected…?I always enjoy hearing Ryan Elliot and Matt Edwards (Radio Slave) play so I have to mention them. In addition, I am a huge fan of established dj’s like DJ Deep, Mike Huckaby, Marc Schneider and Steffi. Boris (Berghain resident) is undoubtedly one of the best dj’s I’ve ever heard and able to play everything from beautiful obscure disco to hard as nails techno with ease, and I am astounded he is not a bigger name ! He truly is the “secret weapon” of Berghain, in my opinion.
I have a great deal of love for the Discodromo guys here in Berlin, the Horse Meat Disco crew and Dan Beaumont, Kevin Griffiths and Dan Lively, all London based too; these are all great dj’s that constantly impress and inspire me, in equal measures.
In addition to these, known names, there is an array of great new dj’s (new to me at least) that I always make time to go listen to, people like Albert Steenbakers and Marian in Berlin and Behzad from Concrete club in Paris.
Who, in your opinion, is absolutely killing it at the moment?
Again, toooo many to mention! I’m definitely loving the Never Learnt label, they seem to have come out of nowhere and just been on point right from the start ! The “Best Of”” record, by Nyra, is definitely one of my records of the year. Shed can really do no wrong in my eyes, whatever name he is choosing to use this week. I’m a big fan of XDB’s stuff, Omar S’s productions, and Boddika’s Non Plus impint is another label I’m a fan of. The Stablo and Italo Johnson white labels have been great this year too, as has the It’s Not Over series. For more techno leaning records I love producers like Truncate, Eduardo De La Calle, Developer, DVS 1, Maan, Skudge, the Modularz stuff…the list goes on…
Tell us, how excited are you about Delfina next month?
What can we expect from your set?
Lot’s of music you haven’t heard before, but will definitely enjoy…
What about your fellow headliners, Sam Russo and Simon Baker, please share your thoughts on them with us!
Well, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with Mr Russo before so I’m looking forward to sharing the decks with him once again. I’ve never played an event with Simon (I think!) so I’m equally looking forward to that. I think I play quite contrasting music to of them, so I’m sure that will make for a great night.
And our venue, Plan B? Any experience there?
I’ve played once before, but it was quite a while ago, and my spies tell me it’s since had a refit, to make it even better, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking it out.
What was the last record you bought?
Young Male “All R” on White Material Records
Which of your records can you always rely on as the one that will bring the house down?
Unknown “9994” Stablo
What’s a record that you love but you won’t play in case it clears the floor?
I’m not scared of that in the least, if I love it, I play it!
If you could close any party with any song, what would they be and why?
Well, that’s already happened actually. Last year I was asked to play the closing set at Panorama Bar on a Sunday night. As I started, going on after Green Velvet to a packed floor, I was already kind of thinking of what I should play as my last track…. And 7 hours later I finished up on one of my all time favourite house records, “The Nightwriters’ “Let The Music Use You”.
Catch Spencer at Delfina on 15th December. Full details here.