In his inaugural ‘Focused Beams’ column, The Waveform Transmitter’s Jack Threlfall talks to DRR’s Tom Page and Dany Rodriguez.
You know us at The Waveform Transmitter, we always like to bring you something new. That is why our man Jack Threlfall has taken it upon himself to bring you his new column; Focused Beams. The aim of the Focused Beams series is to bring you news and interviews with local and national labels and nights, to allow them a platform to tell us what they are all about (ticket competition at the bottom of the page)…
Liverpool’s electronic music scene is awash with an indelible wealth of talent. It is on an inexplicable upward trajectory, with the city’s local residents persistently forging an indomitable reputation and the event promoters consistently calling on the world’s leading artists to display their party credentials to the baying masses of Merseyside hedonists.
This regular column seeks peel back the curtain behind the inner mechanisms of the city’s party scene and gain insight into the visions of Liverpool’s party masterminds.
This first instalment takes a reflective look at one of the city’s leading techno heavyweights, Tom Page – the man behind Disjointed Reality Records (DRR) and the techno party label tRiBe – and the incredibly talented Spanish DJ/producer Dany Rodriguez, who has been working closely with Page and DRR. You can check out an exclusive DRR mix from Mr. Rodriguez after the ticket competition at the very bottom of the article!
JT: Tell me about the journey of Tom Page and the birth of tRiBe and DRR. How would you describe the vision for DRR?
TP: I began DJing in 1996 and although I love many different genres – having played guitar and drums throughout my school days – once I discovered techno, through Jeff Mills‘ Axis & Purpose Maker releases, as well as labels like Basic Channel, Cosmic and also early Floorplan releases. It became pretty obvious very early on that this was something I was going to pursue in the long term.
I had been going to illegal raves in the Lake District where i grew up in the late 90’s, these were amazing times, but when a very good friend introduced me to the legendary techno club The Orbit, in Morley (Yorkshire) in October 1999 that was it. I walked through the door to hear Claude Young “warming up” by juggling two copies of Marco Bailey’s Play it Back on the Intec imprint (a record I had at home), he was cutting it up in a very hip hop style at 140+ bpm at 8:30pm! This completely changed my perception of what was possible with techno, a truly inspirational moment.
Moving forward, I had played in many clubs, illegal raves and parties over the years without being really focussed on trying to forge a career in music, which is something I think I had always subliminally longed for. Something changed in 2015, I started working really hard on projects and thought, I’m in my mid 30’s if i don’t get serious about making a career out of this now, I never will.
Disjointed Reality Records started out as a monthly 2 hour internet radio show in August 2015 on Cuebase-FM in Germany, it soon became a 4 hour show with some pretty esteemed guests such as: DJ Skull, P-Ben, Jay Denham, DJ Hell, Jon Nuccle, Axkan, The Fallen, Virulent, Construct, Marla Singer, Cari Lekebusch, as well as resident mixes from more local and up-coming artists.
As a result of the radio stuff I started talking to some artists from all over the world in the underground techno scene and was soon receiving upfront, unreleased music from quite a few talented producers. Launching the label was a sort of ‘light bulb’ moment for me. Construct (Sam Armus) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a very talented young producer, had sent me 4 tracks with a view of me playing them in my radio shows. One of them in particular, Implements, instantly grabbed my attention, I turned to my girlfriend and said “this music is unreleased, shall I speak to Sam and start a record label so I can release it?” I spoke to Sam and he agreed to let me release the track, and that’s how it all started.
The tRiBe project was very much the brain child of my good friend Danny Jarrett. He was studying Events Management at university and wanted to launch a small, low budget night for residents and local guest to give a couple of his friends opportunities to get some gigs, whilst giving himself the chance to get some really useful hands on experience of the nuts and bolts of the events industry from the bottom up. There was no real grand plan to grow the night into anything more than that.
tRiBe launched in February 2016 with 4 of us playing as residents. Danny organised 4/5 parties in the first half of 2016, with no big name guest DJ’s – literally just residents and friends -for the enjoyment of doing it and to learn more about an industry he wanted to build a career in. We took a break over the summer, as is general practice in Liverpool, when the students are away, then Danny and a couple of the residents, including myself, put our heads together with a view to booking some professional underground techno DJ’s to see if there was a market for this in Liverpool, a few of us pooled our resources and we booked Cari Lekebusch for October 2016.
The aim of tRiBe in a society that seems to be becoming increasingly divided (at least that is the perception the media gives us), is to provide a safe and friendly environment with a welcoming atmosphere where everybody can be equal irrespective of age, gender, race, sexual orientation or any other differences, forget about our troubles and unite in our love of techno music.
JT: Who are you working with at the moment? When collaborating with artists what are the elements that you look for in their music?
TP: In terms of DRR, the first EP which was released on vinyl in April 2016: Construct – Implements EP (remixes from P-Ben & Jay Denham) I really was making it all up as I went along with no real master plan. With investing a lot of money and time into tRiBe, the label kind of took a back seat for a while as tRiBe grew, I was still learning a lot about label management and talking to producers, picking up EP’s for future along the way, but I couldn’t give it my full attention.
Late 2016 I really started working more on the label with a view to having a consistent output for the 2nd half of 2016. The next EP is P-Ben’s Sound Of Tymeo EP (with a Dany Rodriguez remix) which will be released on vinyl and digital in June 2017.
My long term aim with DRR moving forward is to release music from both unheard producers – to give them a break they may not otherwise get – and top level globally touring artists, bringing both together for vinyl release parties in many different cities across the UK, Europe & the rest of the world. I’m starting things local and I am very much at the start of my journey with this project.
JT: Does a producer’s persona factor into whether you want to work with them or not? To what extent does your label influence the tRiBe parties that you host? (Do you see both entities as having a direct influence on each other – label and party label?)
TP: For me personally, persona plays a massive part in it. I think to work with someone for months, as is the case with a vinyl / digital release, it’s quite an involved process. I think there has to be a certain level of connection between label owner / promoter & the artists you are working with.
I love doing the tRiBe party’s we have done so far, we have had some great talents such as Cari Lekebusch, Cleric, Lucy and Dustin Zahn, all of them have been really easy to deal with, humble, down to earth guys; when you are just flying someone in to town for 12/24 hours to play for you it isn’t always easy to develop a more fulfilling long term working relationship with them. The aim with the tRiBe x DRR projects is that with releasing peoples music and bringing them to town to play a gig, you can develop a much more meaningful long-term working relationship the artists you are working with, so with these type of projects I think persona is crucial, and everyone must leave their ego at the door and focus only on the music.
JT: The P-Ben Sound Of Tymeo EP is an incredibly diverse release, it showcases moody, dread laden techno and a hypnotic, eyes-closed brand of sound – tell me about the process of working with P-Ben and how the sound of the EP was shaped.
TP: It came about originally as I was playing a lot of P-Ben’s tracks he was releasing on labels such as KMS (Kevin Saunderson), Flash (Florian Mendl) and Motech (DJ 3000). I first approached P-Ben for a podcast for the monthly radio show, I soon discovered he was a really nice, sweet, gentle natured guy and he gave me a terrific journey of a podcast. So, when working on Construct’s Implements EP he was seemed like the obvious choice for me to approach for a remix (as well as Detroit legend Jay Denham who I also started working with for a radio show. I really enjoyed interacting with him and approached him for a remix).
With regards to the release being diverse, soon after deciding to launch a record label, being a DJ that plays right across the board in terms of techno, I knew that when releasing other peoples’ music I don’t want to be limited to one specific sound or sub-genre of techno. If its good, I want to feel free to release it. Liikewise with artists I am working with, I want them to have complete artistic freedom to go in whatever direction they see fit, the only proviso being: release peak time techno music geared towards the club of many different shapes and sizes.
JT: What releases can we expect to hear from DRR in the near future?
TP: I can’t say too much right now on this, but Construct – Implements EP [DRR001], which came out on vinyl in 2016 will see its long awaited digital release with a couple of previously un-heard remixes. P-Ben– Sound For Tymo EP + Dany Rodriguez’s Remix [DRR002} will see a full vinyl and digital release. I am working with a few up and coming artists for some digital only releases. I also have a couple more vinyl EP’s lined up for later in the year which I can’t say too much about right now, but I will say that one is from a legendary Chicago of house and techno music who has been a true innovator since the 90’s.
JT: How did you end up working with Tom Page and DRR?
DR: Tom e-mailed me to speak about the possibility of him remixing P-Ben – I had released some of P-Ben’s music on my own label Recode. I instantly connected with Tom and couldn’t say no!
JT: What attracted to you to the DRR project and how did you see yourself presenting your sound on the label?
DR: I was inspired by the original track from P-Ben Expectation of Work. Tom, his crew and label seemed like they wanted to develop cool and interesting ideas and I like to collaborate with people who have the same kind of visions as me.
JT: Your releases “Acid Birds” and your “Explore” EP reveal an extremely well refined style that is distinctly Rodriguez – how do you approach production. Are there particular elements that you feel most comfortable with or do you like to experiment?
DR: Thank you! I work on my productions when something has inspired me in my everyday life or by music that I listen and re-listen to. When I to go into the studio, I don’t go because I have to … I go when it is the perfect moment. I can spend 8 weeks without touching my equipment once, but then I could spend another 8 weeks working every day and night. It really depends on my mood and what I want reflect from my own experiences.
JT: What hardware/software do you feel allows you to express your style the best? How do you think your productions influence your style of DJing? Does production benefit the art of DJing?
DR: I use a few old synthesisers and effects hardware. I think the machines are personal and have to fit with the way you want to present your ideas. It doesn’t really matter if you have lots of equipment – it is all in your soul!
JT: Do you think that your productions benefit the art of DJing if it is all in your soul?
DR: To be honest, first I’m doing it for myself and my own happiness. If someone likes a track I have made and they use it in DJ set, it makes me realise that happiness for the DJ and audience is the key.
JT: You have collaborated with a whole host of techno royalty – Marco Bailey, James Ruskin, Joey Beltram and Mark Broom to name but a few – how do you feel that working with producers of this calibre have influenced your sound and current standing as a DJ/producer?
DR: I started to listen to electronic music with all of those producers as key influences, so, YES, it has influenced me in a huge way! I feel very honoured to have had the chance to work with them on musical projects and it has helped me shape my own style.
JT: Your credentials as a DJ/producer are well established and suggest the upmost professionalism – with a plethora of your own original productions and remixes. Do you approach remixes differently to your own productions?
DR: Well thank you so much! I think I have to learn much more than I am currently capable of and every day I’m still learning and exploring new ways to develop more and have more fun.
I really have fun on what I’m doing… that’s the most important for me… to turn the engine ON! I also to have a fantastic family and friends – there is so much love from everywhere that’s the sunshine for me – music is kind of my food for life.
JT: Can you tell me about your current project with DRR?
DR: My remix of P-Ben’s Expectation of Work will be out on 12” format and also digitally. I really have a great feeling about my friends from Liverpool, the connections we have made are cool and full of peace. It fits perfectly with my musical style.
JT: You are working on an EP collaboration with DJ Surgeles, Touchdown to Another World and it has a very space orientated theme. Why did you want to explore to the space/futuristic sound? Do you think that, like Jeff Mills said, “techno is a futurist statement”?
DR: I have been a fan of space and the universe since I was a child and Jeff Mills has inspired me a lot throughout my career. On this EP – together with DJ Surgeles – we try to reflect something which is inherently science fiction and a futurist statement. The cool thing is that we have the feedback from the audience that we have a unique vision with this EP – it is true to our concept.
JT: There are a few ambient tracks on the EP that draw a very hypnotic feeling – was the ambient sound something you felt would be heard in space or a different world?
DR: The musical, ambient tracks are really my favourite because they put the audience in the context we want to reflect with this EP. So, if you feel a ”touchdown to another world”, our job is done.
JT: Was this project something that you and DJ Surgeles had discussed a lot before you made the EP? Do you have a good relationship with him?
DR: Yes we discussed to be a particular sound. I don’t know DJ Surgeles personally, but I know his music very well, which makes this a really proud moment for me.
JT: When can we expect this EP to be released on the Axis label?
DR: It will be available on my own imprint RMR on August 7th in both CD and digital format.
JT: And are you looking forward to making your Liverpool debut on the 12th of May?
DR: Definitely YES! So looking forward see you all. In a bit LIVERPOOL !
Tom Page brings his two passion projects, tRiBe and DRR, together on the 12th May for a DRR label showcase at 24 Kitchen Street in the Baltic Triangle. The line-up sees Dany Rodriguez making his Liverpool debut. Local lad and former WAXXX resident Jamie Haus bolsters the line-up with a much anticipated return Liverpool; Tom Page makes up the rest of the roster. This is not to be missed.
You can win tickets for DRR‘s label showcase party here. We’ve teamed up with the guys at DRR to offer our lucky readers the chance to win one of two 4 x ticket prizes. That’s right! Just FOLLOW The Waveform Transmitter on Facebook, LIKE the post below, SHARE it, and TAG three pals you’d like to take along. Simple.