We talk Techno with Perc by Alvaro Sandoval
This month, My Cup of Tech readers will be getting a state-side perspective on Techno. Los Angeles, California is going through another resurgence in great underground events as the appeal of the hard hitting side of Techno is becoming more accepted. Lucky for us Californians, that means more events and a wider selection of great artists. This week, we sit down with the industrial master who’s leaving a searing mark on the Techno scene, Perc.
Most people, because of his unique style and constantly growing fan base, ask Perc his opinion on the current state of Techno. I can only speak to the current state of Techno in Los Angeles in that there’s some people complaining about the “rinse and repeat” lineups that are becoming more common to find as the genre continues to grow, just like any. Whenever I hear people complain about that, I’m excited for their journey deeper into Techno but I also feel bad for them because they’re already missing out on so much great music by going to those same events and venues. In the darker corners of the scene, you’ll find Ali Wells, AKA “Perc”, who left an ever growing mark on the scene with his 2011 release, Wicker & Steel.
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Alvaro: First off, your tour schedule is busier than ever so I wanna say thanks for taking the time to chat with myself and My Cup of Tech. Considering you don’t get to make it out to the states much, I wanted to get your opinion on the crowd and venue at Compound’s inaugural event – presented by Incognito, Dirty Epic, Work by 6AM, and Synthetik Minds.
Perc: The event was great I thought. I could see quite a buzz building up around it in the weeks before the event and I had a rough idea of the size of crowd they were expecting so I kind of knew what to expect. I thought the venue worked perfectly for the event, it had a slightly damaged vibe without being a completely run down warehouse. The crowd made the event though, they seemed to know and love the music and added so much energy to the room which then travels to the DJs and back out through the music played. It’s a feedback loop that makes a good party great.
I’m like that in day to day life as well. I get my head down, try to do what I need to do the best that I can and keep pushing forward with what I believe in.
Alvaro: You absolutely killed it, man. I heard from multiple people that night that your set will be one they never forget. I would even go a step further and say it’s one of the most intense performances I’ve ever witnessed and I’ve been waiting to jump on a chance to experience one of your sets.
The sound and energy being broadcast during your performances border on the phrenetic but your body language emits a state of of focus and enjoyment. Do you feel like you take on a different persona when you’re on stage, or has Perc become an extension of your daily personality?
Perc: I like to think I’m the same person on and off stage. I don’t adopt a persona or wear anything special when I’m playing to differentiate the two roles. Despite the music I play I’m fairly shy on stage and don’t do a lot of rock star moves behind the decks. I’m like that in day to day life as well. I get my head down, try to do what I need to do the best that I can and keep pushing forward with what I believe in.
Alvaro: Saturday’s performance was from about 3am to almost 7am. How do you replenish your energy when you’re on the road so much?
Perc:I do my best to rest as much as possible, eat sensibly and drink water etc but often these things go out of the window as travel schedules and the food available in airports conspire against me. Eating crap food when tired is really tempting, but I’m trying to do it less. My main source of energy is hearing the music coming out of the sound system at that volume and the feedback from the crowd. Seeing people being into what I do always gives me a boost whilst I’m playing.
My main source of energy is hearing the music coming out of the sound system at that volume and the feedback from the crowd. Seeing people being into what I do always gives me a boost whilst I’m playing.
Alvaro: You put out a third compilation last spring, and just announced the reworks as your “Bitter Music Remixed”. Pessimist, John Heckle, Matixxman, Dax J and others are featured on this release. How did you decide who to have rework these? Do they contact you, you contact them, both?
Perc: For the remix projects that come after albums are released on Perc Trax I try to reach out to artists that have not featured on the label before. Every artist on the Bitter Music remix package is new to Perc Trax apart from Lucy who did a remix for the label back in 2010. I wanted artists that covered a wide range of sounds rather than seven straight up Perc Trax style techno remixes. I contacted all the artists myself to request the remixes. Some of them I knew fairly well already, whilst some like Pessimist I had never spoken to before. I’m really happy about the way the remix package turned out. It is quite different for Perc Trax and is not really the in your face industrial techno you might expect on the label, but don’t worry there is a lot of more abrasive techno coming too.
Alvaro: Your mixes are so unique and abundant that it just blows my mind for one person to have such a large quantity of great music. How often do you get Great tracks sent to you from other artists, both known and up-and-coming, that you end up using in your performances?
Perc: I get sent roughly 100 to 120 promos a week, that can anything from a single track to a 3 or 4 track EP to much bigger albums and compilations. I try to listen to everything I am sent and I often use tracks from new artists that I was not previously aware of, so it’s not just a case of only playing tracks from well known producers and my own close circle of friends. I try to check new music every day so I don’t end up with a mountain of a few hundred emails to go through. I also dig deep into the digital back catalogues of labels and also whatever I can find on Bandcamp.
I try to listen to everything I am sent and I often use tracks from new artists that I was not previously aware of, so it’s not just a case of only playing tracks from well known producers and my own close circle of friends.
I buy a lot of CDs of older techno, which generally only cost a few dollars each, a lot of the time there are gems hidden away on these which will never appear on Beatport as the label closed down a long time ago. My apartment is full of techno compilations that I bought second hand just for one track and I often stare at the tracklist a few years later wondering which track I actually bought them for. I also do a lot of remastering and re-editing of tracks, just to get them right for a way I play. About a third of what I play has been re-edited by me before I play it out.
Alvaro: Anything you’d like to say to the LA crowd from over the weekend?
Perc: Just thank you for a really memorable gig. I tend to play LA about once a year and each gig seems to get bigger and better. LA is definitely one of the strongest scenes in the US right now and I’m already looking forward to getting back there as soon as I can.