4 stages. 3 days. 2 nights. 1 unforgettable experience of getting lost in the woods…FARR is a boutique festival held in a deserted wood just outside London. Playing Bygrave Woods between 27th and 28th July will be East Everything, Miguel Campbell, Waifs & Strays, jozif, Huxley and Bulgarian Kink. As such, we asked the The Rush Hour producer and live performer extraordinaire a few questions ahead of the event…
How did you first get into electronic music? Is there a good scene in Bulgaria?
I`ve been listening to very cheesy dance music since I was a kid, but in 1992 I heard a very unusual track on the radio and I loved it! The radio dj called it “Techno” and since then I was completely crazed on that sound. It took several years till we had electronic dance music events, as I remember the first one was in 1994, but this sound became really big in thelate 90`s. Аlmost every young person in Sofia was going to the big events, which were happening on a regular basis. Most of the events didn’t promoted the more underground type of music I liked back then, however, there were some nights with unknown, but very good foreign djs. The fact that we had foreign guests was enough to attract few thousand people in the room. Those people were opened to any kind of music,because they didn’t had much knowledge of this music, they just liked it. Now it`s harder, this music is not new anymore, the audience have preferences and expectations and of course they go for the type of dance music that`s most easy to consume. But we have some local talents with good ideas, so I believe this will push the scene forward in few years.
Did your early formative years impact the music you make now do you think? What music did you grow up with?
I was most opened to new music in my teenage years. It happened that the freshest material I could find here in Bulgaria at the beginning of the 90`s was some early stuff by Richie Hawtin (F.U.S.E.), Joey Beltram, Jeff Mills and also Orbital and the Future Sound Of London, The Orb, KLF. In my first years of being an electronic music fan I got into hardcore / rave and jungle music as well, stuff from The Prodigy and Altern 8 to Krome & Time and Remarc. I became addicted to the electronic music, I guess partly because I haven`t got a good access to this music in Bulgaria. We never had a market for underground music, singles and e.p.s.. However, In 1995 discovered a small record store in Sofia, they we selling a lot of stuff from labels like Warp and Ninja Tune. That`s how I heard more of Aphex Twin, LFO, Autechre, Squarepusher. This sound blew my mind!
Now I try to expand my horizons, I look at the music from today and I check some composers, who were active in the 19th century, but the early sounds of techno, house and experimental electronica will always be part of my life and music.
How much kit do you travel around with when playing live?!
I often have stressful flight connections from Sofia, sometimes my checked in luggage arrives a day later, so when I started to travel with the live set, I knew I need to find the right balance between having enough gear to have fun on stage and fit all the machines in my hand luggage. My live current setup is mostly digital, a Novation X-Station keyboard / audio interface, asmall device with pads and knobs by Akai, two Launchpads and some rare additions like Eowave: The Ribbon – the most useless machine in my setup, but the one that gets the most attention from the audience. It looks like a laser sword! However, i`m currently working on compact, but fully analog live set, maybe suitable for more raw, techno or experimental oriented gigs.
How much do you plan your live sets out in advance?
When I started about two or three years ago – many things were pre-arranged. What changed during the time was not the sound content, but the options I found to literary play live, not only press buttons and twistknobs. Now there are still some things I repeat every show, like performing 3-4 of my most successful tracks in a similar way. Also it became a tradition for me to compose an acid tune on stage with the help of the audience, I repeatthat almost every show and I have a lot of fun! But beside that – I don’t really know what will happen. I might do a house beat on the fly and record a piano chords progression, I might go techno and use my voice through a vocoder, to make dubby stabs. Or I can play a jazzy Rhodes solo on top of something… it might be the last track of the previous dj.
Do you write music with the idea of playing it out live or are they separate things?
They are separate things. I`ve been a producer and a dj for longer than being a live act, I`m still trying new things with live set, so for now when I make music – first of all I try to satisfy my musical searches and I`m happy if my music is suitable for the djs.
You seem to work/play with Neville Watson quite a bit – why do you two get on so well?
My breakthrough happened because of few records we did together on Rush Hour`s sub-label Hour House Is Your Rush. That is quite a strong connection by itself, because our early work changed my life. But after we met in person I found that Neville is really amazing guy. Very positive,creative and dedicated to what we do. He is a very reliable partner on stage and one of the best djs I`ve heard. We have the same type of lifestyle, so it`s just easy and fun when we are travelling together or we are in the studio.
Can we expect an album from you any time soon? What’s stopping you?
I`m planning to make an album for a while, the original idea was to release it at the end of 2011. However, there are few things holding me back: I couldn’t manage to stop making remixes. I have a few collaborations, some of them – with Neville Watson and Marc Romboy, which beside music production involves working on separate live show. I work on some local Bulgarian projects with my partner in life – Rachel Row, which includes writing music and stage performances and on top of that – my busy schedule with international gigs and learning on the fly how to make a good live show, as I`m not a musician originally, just a dj and a studio enthusiast. With a few free weeks before the autumn, I`m very inspired to do new material and I hope I can write enough good music in the next few months, so I can think of an album release in the spring of 2013.
What should people expect at Jacks Festival?
Contrasts. Getting deep and going wild. Honest music, a lot of fun on stage!
What else have you got coming up?
I just released an e.p. on Rush Hour, using the voice of Rachel Row. We finished two tracks with Neville Watson and we are adding final touches on new material with Marc Romboy. I`m about to concentrate on my album and eventually this raw analog live show I mentioned above.
What do you like to do outside of music?
There is not so much time for me out of music, because it`s my hobby and now even it`s my full time “job” – I`m still addicted to it and it`s so hard for me to leave my machines in the studio. But when it happens – I like to be with my girlfriend or to meet some old friends in my hometown – Sofia.
All time top 5:
Discotheque – Disco Special
Aphex Twin – Windowlicker
Autechre – Eutow
Johnny Harris – Footprints On The Moon
Phuture – Acid Tracks