Creating balance is something that LA-based drum & bass pioneer Photek (Rupert Parkes) is particularly good at. Famous for his sonic sketches and deep musical journeys through d&b, ambient cascades, house music and beyond, his newest, and hotly-anticipated artist album, 'Ku:Palm' dips from lush dancefloor material to super deep headphone listening.
Following on from his 2011 uptempo ‘Avalanche EP’, it paints a complex picture that’s beautifully pleasing to the ears. After hosting Christmas for his entire family who’ll be jetting in from four corners of the globe, Photek starts his year with a set on New Year's Eve at the Beauty Bar in Las Vegas. He wouldn’t be drawn on the new collaboration project he’s currently working on, but he would reveal his Lucky 7 tracks…
The track that really sums up your childhood?
“Duran Duran ‘Rio’. I was obsessed with them. I bought the album on cassette and it was actually the song that got me playing saxophone, in a very cheesy '80s way. And that led me onto all the cool music like John Coltrane and a lot of jazz. But Duran Duran were definitely a big part of my childhood. It coincided with Miami Vice, which was also a huge influence on me. It was probably Top Of The Tops that got me into music.
The last time I played saxophone was on that track ‘Age Of Empires’ on Metalheadz, I needed that weird Arab horn sound, that Middle Eastern noise, and on Venice Beach there was a guy selling bamboo saxophones, a sort of 10-inch long piece of bamboo tube with one octave and then a cheapo saxophone mouthpiece reed. I bought one and it played like a saxophone.”
The first record that you ever bought?
“It was ‘The Message’, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. It was on 7-inch and I bought it from Boots the chemist! They used to sell vinyl. They had a vinyl department in Boots, I bought a Thompson Twins 7-inch [from there], and I think I even bought Ice T ‘Rhyme Pays’ there. And they used to have that next to the home brewing department. Moon shining and vinyl sales in Boots! I don’t have any of them anymore, sadly. I’m sure I could find all of those records in a used record store now. It’s actually one of my proudest moments buying that record, it could have been Kylie Minogue or something.”
The most embarrassing record in your collection?
“Probably the other one I mentioned. I think it was Thompson Twins ‘We Are Detective’, something like that. But I don’t have it anymore. I probably would have kept it if I thought about it.
I did drop a lot of my records at a friend’s house when I moved recently, in the last couple of years. I gave crates and crates of records to a friend of mine. Records that I’d paid hundreds of dollars for, rare jazz records. I don’t think I’m embarrassed of any music I’ve got though.”
The track that’s guaranteed to make you cry?
“I’m not really a crier. But you know what did make me cry, was when my dog died and I listened to ‘Maps’ from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I’m terrible, I don’t cry at the most horrific things but I listened to that when my dog died and it made me cry.”
An album that you’re currently into?
“I’d say Lana Del Rey ‘Born To Die'. I was really late on Lana Del Rey. I only heard of her this year and did the remix a month ago. I didn’t meet her, it’s one of those where you get sent the parts.”
The most valuable record in your collection?
“Emotionally or cold cash? What’s the most valuable one? I probably just gave it to my mate. It might have been a Roy Ayers album called ‘Come Into My Knowledge’, his RAMP project. I think I paid about two hundred dollars for it at a shop in Tokyo. And then when I did the last of my many moving houses recently, I just couldn’t take the records any more and I sent them to a good home. Or maybe Ramsey Lewis ‘Sun Goddess’, I know I paid a lot of money for that record, released in 1974. They were pristine original copies.
“Half of my records were jazz and jazz funk records. I kept a couple of crates, which were mainly white labels of my own music which I couldn’t part with. I thought I would need at least one copy of everything I’ve done. And then I thought I also want one promo of everything I’ve done. And I’ve got one crate of weird techno and house records. I think they’ll be harder to find in the future. But here you need to have them in air conditioned storage, because it gets so hot.”
What’s your all-time favourite track of all-time?
“Massive Attack ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. And it could have been anything from Jimi Hendrix to Bizarre Inc. But if I had to pick one, it would be ‘Unfinished Sympathy’. It’s a classic.”