The England born, Los Angeles transplant known as Photek seems to have dabbled in virtually every facet of the world typically known as the electronic music industry. Coming into the scene as a drum and bass producer in 1992, Rupert Parkes defies the monotonous mold that has been applied to today's production specialists. With an impressive list of releases under his belt, Photek is no doubt considered one of the most prominent and impressive minds to come out of the the dark caverns of the English rave scene. Countless collaborations, remixes, and originals has yielded him utmost respect from fans and fellow artists new and old. While the past few years have been considered a hiatus for the veteran, in reality his flawless production antics have been firing at full speed. His deep musical roots have made him one of the most versatile artists in the game, allowing him to dabble in the world of Hollywood movie scoring, an industry sought after by many young producers today.
KU:PALM, Parkes' newest album, illustrates that his time off was far from wasted. Released on his own label, Photek Productions, KU:PALM defies any previous conceptions of his genre limitations and focus. Armed with a variety of different styles and techniques, this album emerged as one of the most impressive of 2012. Without further adieu - the father of English D&B, the king of versatility, the Photek.
Everyone is talking about the "return of Photek." Did Photek really go anywhere? Did the production ever stop or are you sitting on more unreleased tracks than we can imagine? It’s funny when you hear that because I feel like I’ve been productive, working on different projects, trying new things etc. Then you realize that the releases that count. If you stop releasing music then you are just AWOL!
That being said, why return now? Is this a personal reflection or that of the music industry? Well there was the personal epiphany that I needed to get music out there to be heard, but a big part of the reason is my management suggested doing a series of EPs and spot releases rather than worrying about an album right away. That definitely took the pressure off and got the output flowing again. The whole music game has shifted massively from when I first started. For a while I was just annoyed with the way the industry has changed, but then I just decided either move with it or move on.
Are there past releases that you think define you as an artist? Are you comfortable with these, or do you find the need to transcend them? There are definitely a few that have defined Photek for a lot of people – Modus Operandi, UFO, Ni Ten Ichi Ryu etc. Having said that, there were some key releases that brought Photek to that point in the first place, like “Into The 90’s” for Metalheadz or “The Water Margin”. There are even earlier like the tracks I did for Certificate 18, Basement and Good Looking. There were some really definitive moments with all those releases over the years. I’m comfortable with all of them in context with the time, but yes, I do feel the need to transcend all of them whenever I can.
I think it is safe to say that you made your climb up the ranks of D&B, but your production has spanned across the electronic spectrum. Ku:Palm is an ode to a passionately experimental sound of its own. how does this represent your development and progression? How have you been able to adapt your production, but retain your signature sound? is this a new Photek or a capitulation of your all your styles of the past? KU:PALM is a mix of a few things. Some tracks are a current version of a fairly classic Photek sort of sound. I think the most typical “Modus” sounding tracks would be Pyramid and Shape Charge. There are a few echoes of Solaris on there too. Quevedo and Signals are more a reflection of my music from before those albums. I always thought of D&B as being experimental music. For me it used to walk the line between art & street. It’s a bit different now – mainly because the it’s long been established as a genre which makes it more of a formula.
"Sleepwalking" is a beautifully powerful track, how did you meet Linche? What was it like collaborating with her? Do you think you will work together again in the future? We met through our publisher – I was supposed to be meeting with Pelle from the band and then they sent over a demo of "Sleepwalking" with Lina on vocals and it just blew me away. It was really a case of having a great team of creative people at Chrysalis thinking we would be a good fit and putting us together. We had some real laughs working together – actually we did more writing sessions together on some other tracks, so you can expect some more collaborations with Linche in the future.
How have dubstep and D&B differed in their effect on the industry and music as a whole? Well D&B has definitely given birth to dubstep, but I feel like dubstep has had a far greater reach than D&B. I think the slower tempo has helped it to cross over to metal and hip hop heads. A big factor could also be that we are just 15 years or more down the road since D&B – there’s been so much more exposure to electronic music since then. There’s now a whole generation who have grown up not knowing a world without electronic beats in their face in everyday mainstream media. That’s pretty amazing. When I was a kid it was a miracle to hear hip hop on TV.
How has the industry changed over the past decade? The industry has changed so much! Then was pirate radio, now is Soundcloud. Then was ravers, now is demographics. Then was records, now is files. Then was 1988, now is 2013.
How has your involvement in TV/film affected you as an artist? Do you think your success in this field reflects certain aspects of your music? The main affect that working to picture has had on my music is that I’m less afraid to try different things than I used to be. You get asked to do stuff outside of your comfort zone all the time when working on film stuff. It’s actually a really great exercise to try things that you might not do normally do given a blank canvas. It teaches you to direct your music when needed, which is the opposite to what I’d always done when making records, which evolve more randomly.
Who are your favorite producers right now? Apparat, Switch, Gesaffelstein, Grenier,
What do you like about living in LA? The climate, happy people and valet parking. You can get really lazy living in LA.
What is your craziest rave/festival story? I was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and they were transporting me together with Source Direct to the festival. It was a long journey from Tokyo and we were getting pretty close when suddenly the driver swerved off the road at about 60mph into a wall running along side. We all got showered with glass and banged around a bit. Nobody was seriously hurt, but the bizarre thing was the driver got out and bailed. We stood at the roadside a bit stunned and had to laugh when we realized the driver had run away across a field. About 2 minutes later, a van happened to come by with some friends from Tokyo and they got us to the festival in perfect time like nothing had happened.