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Spencer Parker | Off The Record

Kicking off a new feature on Rhythmist – Off The Record – we’ve tapped up Work Them Records boss about some of the music that has informed his life to date. Spencer Parker has been churning out dynamic, organic and uncompromising dance music for some time now, with his intricate productions making him one of the most reputable names in house. As well as possessing a number of top-tier releases on the likes of Ovum, Buzzing Fly and Tsuba, the Berlin-based brit makes regular appearances at institutions like Berghain, Fabric and Zouk; those who’ve seen Parker DJ will be familiar with his relentless energy and meticulous craftsmanship behind the decks, with each set heightened by groove and energy, and underlined by an exploration for unknown dance floor gems.

Parker’s latest project comes from fellow Berlin-based artist Setaoc Mass, who has a four-track EP out on his Work Them Records in September, as well as forthcoming releases from Anthena and a remix EP of Dan Beaumont’s “Spirit Talkin”. Info on all that is below, as well as much more about Parker’s musical make-up to date.

You recently closed your Berghain set with the jungle, breakbeat Classic ‘Valley of shadows – Long Dark Tunnel’. Your recent track ‘Silly Club Song’ is also Jungle, Breakbeat inspired – are you a big admirer of the genre and what other jungle gems have you got in your collection? 

I grew up in South East London and one of the first clubs I started going to was Lazerdrome in Peckham, so I was always kind of aware of jungle/drum n bass as I was growing up. I was more into house and US garage, but I loved going to dance at Lazerdrome, as soon as i finished my Saturday job of stacking shelves in Sainsbury’s! And I would tune into the pirate stations occasionally, buy the odd record from Wax City in Croydon on Unity, or Blackmarket in Soho, London. I have a few of the classics like X Project “Conquering Lion, Foul Play’s remix of “Lord Of The Null Lines” and “Renegade Snares”, “Helicopter” etc etc.

The reason I played the remix of “Valley Of The Shadows” in Berghain is because my penultimate record was Underworlds “Dark and Long” (Dark Train), so i thought that would link nicely into a record that has that otherworldly vocal talking about “long, dark tunnels”. I always like to play records people don’t expect, especially as the last track of a set,  and after 4 hours of playing techno I thought that a slice of breakbeats would sound phenomenal on that system and get a great reaction, and it did.

You have a great upcoming release by Setaoc Mass, what can you tell us about that and what else have you got coming up on Work Them Records? 

YES! We have a great 4 track EP coming out in September by Mr Setaoc Mass – who is also a great dj too – so don’t sleep on him in that department either! He’s a really great producer, introduced to me by Behzad and Amarou, residents at Concrete in Paris. He also has an EP out this year on Len Faki’s Figure label, so I think he has a bright future ahead.

I’ve been playing some of the tracks for the last 8 months or so and they always get great reactions, Ryan Elliott asked me for a copy of the EP, so he’s been into and playing them as well, which is great to hear.

After that release we have remixes of Dan Beaumont’s “Spirit Talkin’”, these will be dub versions of the original so this 12” will be entitled “Spirit Dubbin’” as a homage to the great Grace Jones and her “Nightclubbing”/“Nightdubbing” albums. The remixes will come from myself, Jamie Fry and also Patrik Sjeren from Sweden, who many will know from his releases on FXHE. Following that we have a 4 track ep by Anetha, a dj and producer from Paris who plays at Concrete and is resident at a really great techno party called Blocaus. It’s her first ever EP and the tracks are phenomenal, so we’re really excited to release that in November. Then we have remixes of the CAIAZZO EP we released earlier this year, they’re taken care of by the amazing Christopher Joseph from Flexxseal and the aforementioned Behzad and Amarou. After that, who knows?!?!?!

 What record has had the most influence on you?

Hmmmmm… very tough question. And one that the answer to will probably change every day.

But for today I will say Soul II Soul’s “Club Classics Vol.1” It was such a great album and really worked as an entire album you could listen to from beginning to end, which is a rare thing. That achievement of an album that ebbs and flows but still completely holds your attention is something I think of a lot when i’m trying to make new music myself, even if its just a 12” club record. And to have the balls to title your debut album THAT – and being pretty much being true – I think is amazing.

Do you have a favourite release on West End Records?

From a label of that stature, there is a huge catalogue of great releases to choose from, but for me there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Larry Levans mix of Taana Gardner’s “When You Touch Me”. 

What record first got you into electronic music?

I can’t say for sure, I would go to my local discotheque and among all the commercial music there, there was a 30 minute period that could be loosely described as house and garage, mainly the records that had crossed over into the pop charts or were about to. I would love everything from Robin S’ “Show Me Love” to Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman” to NRG’s “I Need Your Lovin’”. It was these crossover records that first piqued my interest, and then I started to dig a little deeper from there…

What are some of your favourite albums?

Tooo many to mention! Off the top of my head, today, right here and now:

Gangstarr “Step In The Arena”

Alexander O’Neal “Hearsay”

Soul II Soul “Club Classics Volume One”

Phoenix “Alphabetical”

“Sex and Lucia” Original Soundtrack

Nikka Costa “Everbody Got Their Something”

Diamond D and The Psychotic Neurotics “Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop”

What do you feel your best record is / the record you are most proud of? 

Hopefully the one I have yet to make… that is what keeps me going and continuing to produce. For now, I would say that “Faster Forward” on my own label, is the one I am most proud of. I really wanted to make a record in that Detroit tradition of Galaxy To Galaxy, UR or Octave One, where you would still have powerful and tough drums but they would be accompanied by an emotional string section, some piano chords or melodies, and together, they would just “work” and create something totally other. I’m not sure my productions are worthy of touching the hem of the garments of any of the aforementioned acts, but I was very happy and proud of that record and how it sounded.

What album and single would you have on a dessert island? 

I’m a dj ! so…… I’d simply have to make myself a double cassette/ double cd  / 2 playlist compilation of all my favourite ever records !

Disco classics in Panorama bar or Techno downstairs? 

I’m extremely lucky to have the chance to play both rooms and I love them both utterly, completely and equally.

If you could have the opportunity to release a record on any label?

I very much doubt it will ever happen in my lifetime, but if I have to name one label, and we’re shooting for the stars, then –  to see my name on an Underground Resistance record label would be a dream come true 

What’s your favourite record to play at the moment?

It’s a toss up between Chaka Khans “Any Love”. It’s one of my all time favourite records and it just gives me so much joy to play it out loud and sing along (badly) to it in the booth (where thankfully no one can hear me) and the excellent “Last Evening” by Anetha.

Who is your favourite DJ? 

I have so, so, many that it’s hard to choose just one. I still consider myself a huge fan of house and techno and disco music and I still really enjoy going out and hearing great dj’s and great music.  The person who last completely blew my mind (which is pretty hard to do!) and completely inspired me, was an italian dj living in berlin called Freddy K. He played what I think ended up being a 11 hour closing set on a sunday in Berghain, and it was phenomenal. He may be a new name to some but he is resident at Homopatik and has been djing for many years. He is truly an amazing dj – if you get the chance to see him- don’t miss it !

What was the last record you bought?

Anthony Parasole “Point God” on The Corner. 

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

it’s  a toss up between Mad Mike Banks, Chaka Khan and Kanye West.