Interview Julian Perez: Guest of the House
Following up from one of his hottest years yet, trailblazer Julian Perez takes a step back to compare his work on wax to his infamous live sets ahead of one of what’s looking to be an experimental year.
It declares in the final sentence of his Soundcloud bio that ‘the best way to get to know and enjoy Julian is to listen to him in his own world behind the decks.’–– such a statement could true of all artists, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to hear what goes on inside the mind of Julian Perez in his own words.
And there's a lot to talk about. With sets almost every weekend, multiple projects expecting a 2016 release, Julian still finds time to jam everywhere from Denmark to the UK, it's safe to say he's on one hell of a successful run. Alongside Fathers & Sons Productions, Julian's label, readying their movements over the next 12 months and Julian headlining Reckon on Friday, we thought we were due a conversation.
Calling from his current HQ in Ibiza, Perez expands on his label's decade so far, clubbing's state of affairs and his weirder releases around the corner.
Words by Reuben Tasker / Photos by Carlos Carrillo
You maintain you’re an independent artist pioneering Fathers & Sons. Is remaining independent whilst running a label challenging?
I do my own stuff, I have my own label, I was doing my stuff with my parties and I’m really happy to release on other people’s labels. But at the end I consider myself independent. I don’t really belong to another brand, to other brands. I like to be a guest. I don’t want anyone to say ‘Okay this guy is from this’, to point at me in a direction like ‘you are from there, you are this level’. I am just from my level. I have my own brand and... myself. I am my own brand.
It’s changing a lot… this sense about branding. It’s what I mean by ‘independent’: people who want to book me, book me and people who want to release music with me, release it with me. I’ve campaigned in Ibiza for a lot of promoters, a lot of parties but I don’t belong to anyone y’know: I’m just a guest.
Why do you like to release music on other labels such as Recycle or Act Natural? Why not release those on your own label?
I’m releasing on other labels and have upcoming releases on Subwax Barcelona because I like the guys and I like the label. I could release all the stuff [with] my own label but I also like to share with other people, with other labels. The good thing about doing it the way I do, is that I do what I want. I release when I want and nobody can tell me anything, it’s freedom.
But I like to share with other people like releasing on Drumma or Cocoon. [Doing] this you can share your sound with people who aren’t reaching your label. Also they’re friends, it’s good to share with them. It’s not like I’m releasing on every label, because they are a lot of labels asking, it’s just how I’m feeling. If they are flexible, then it’s gonna work.
You don’t want to put restrictions on yourself.
I like to choose the way I wanna do it. I don’t want to feel a pressure that there’s a brand telling me the way I have to dress or how to play. I don’t like that, I have my own personality, my own way of thinking, way to dress, way to play, whatever. I like to be myself and then, if you invite me to your party and I like it, I go and I do it. But I won’t belong to your party, I won’t belong to your brand. And with the music it’s the same, you have a nice project, you have good ideas for your release that you want me to be in. If I like it, you’re flexible, we go for it.
Do you think it’s the duty of a good artist to bring others up with you when you’re established in the industry?
I think so, I think that’s the point of the label. I mean... the sense of the label is that. It started with releasing our stuff and doing things the way we wanted to do it. [But it’s about] supporting the other artists who really needed the support. Fathers and Sons is this, the fathers supporting the sons.
That’s what the name is from?
Yeah, you become a father when you’re supporting a son, so everyone who’s playing our releases like Ricardo, Zip, Sonja, Margaret, Cassy, Dorian. All of these guys are giving us support playing our stuff in their sets and obviously we have some taste in common.
Ricardo is one of the people who can be considered as a father, [he's] been supporting many other artists along these years and he's still doing it. A 'father' here is who helps selflessly. A 'son' [is] a talent yet to be discovered. We need more fathers in the electronic musc industry. In other words, the ones who were discovered by someone, will discover someone else and will become a father.
It’s a cliche, but what’s said about running your own label, especially if it’s not a big enterprise is that it runs like a family-- is that something that rings true with Father and Sons?
Yeah… something like that. Some brands and labels want be like ‘Yeah let’s do this as a family’ and then there’s only one person telling everyone else what to do. Or maybe everyone at the label is not allowed to release on other labels and that’s not the idea. That’s not freedom, that’s not what I want to do. I want to support the artist and we are not [holding] anything back from them. You can have S.A.M.. He has like two labels, I think three labels because he started another one, but he’s still releasing with us, he’s still with us and he’s free to come and go when he wants… there’s no pressure.
The label has just capped off its tenth release after four years. Do you have plans to continue the series?
Yeah of course. Actually we’re working on the next one, but we [do it] one by one ‘cos I don’t really spend all my time in the label. I’m the main person who's working with [F&S] so I just go slowly and smooth... some people send me tracks, if I like them I put them out. I think this year maybe #11 and #12... maybe we can release #13 this year.
Do you have any dream guests to add to the Father and Sons roster?
Actually I don’t have anyone in mind besides us, we stay the same. I’m open to sign anyone, not just friends. There’s people there that aren’t just friends like Sakro. He’s a Mexican guy who [released] on #10. He was in Ibiza and I was playing his tracks so we met up and we were jamming in the studio one day and we did a track [‘Falling Again’] and were like ‘alright let’s do it for Fathers and Sons’.
Julian Perez & Sakro: 'Falling Again' (Fathers & Sons)
Spontaneous, in the moment almost.
It’s in the moment, like maybe I’ll go to London now and work with the Fuse guys and maybe there’s one track with we do like a rave [track] and [we'd be] like let’s put it on Fathers & Sons’ and that’s it y’know, it’s easy.
You’ve mentioned previously that you can’t really be focused on one particular style. What new sounds or styles do you want to experiment with either now or maybe in the future?
The music I’m doing with people now is different all the time. The work with Livio & Roby is some experimental stuff, then more housy, techno stuff with Premiesku and when I’m working alone I’m doing kind of deep, dub techno. That techno is something I didn’t think I was close to making but I’m doing it now. [It's] not really dub or proper techno, it’s something weird. That release is with Subwax, it’s coming up in 2 months.
I’m really into ambient stuff now, I was in Copenhagen with Sam and Mikkel Ulriksen (he’s part of the team) and we were doing field recordings and recording feedback from the tape machine, I discovered some ambient stuff, playing a lot with effects. We have a lot of recordings now and we feel like we’re gonna do something. This ambient [music] is something new for me and I really like it. I don’t wanna go too far, I want to be able to come back to house and techno like I used to do.
Your DJ sets are your self-described ‘stories’ but your singles make up a huge part of your discography. What’s more essential: your sets or your singles?
I met some people who didn’t know about me before they came to my gig and they saw me playing and there were like ‘I really like your set and I really like the way you play’. Then right after they went into my Soundcloud and they were checking my releases and they liked it. They were expecting something like they saw on the night and they found it.
That’s cool because at the end [people] like what you play but also what you do. It’s really linked. People know about that, people really feel it. They feel the connection between the music you play and then the music you make.I think all the stuff I play in one set is the stuff I make it’s like when you listen to the Enter set from the last summer. It’s pretty techno, but then if you don’t know me and you go listen to my records, it’s the same sound. You feel difference but you feel the same sounds.
It’s the same sound no matter where you hear it, but the experience is very different.
It’s very different, because in a set I go up and go down and I make a story that could be really special. Even with the speed, I can go from 122 to 128 and then can go back to 122 at the end. I’m trying to move the dancefloor. All these people that maybe didn’t know me before, they check into my stuff after and they like my sound. There’s also the opposite: people who know me from the releases but it’s not that common...the people who know my releases are mostly DJs.
Do you think about the audiences when you are recording with your label mates or alone, as well as performing live?
It’s always different. The people who are listening to the set but weren’t there, they don’t know the party so they don’t know if it was busy or if there was nobody there.
But then, I think they get it, they have some sense. That question is special because when you play a set in a club you play with the people and then the people who are listening at home, maybe streaming, they don’t have the same experience. They are not in there and they don’t know what’s going on; they’re sober in their house. I think that’s a good thing, that’s a good experiment. If you put a set online and people like it, people know that in the party it was three times better.
Has there been a decline in interest in the art of a DJ set?
You know how it works, people are more focused on the tracklist than listening to the set and they are just not listening properly. Because most of the people that listen to this stuff are DJs or just want to be DJs. They are more focused on the tracklisting than the way you play it, the way you mix and the set itself.
But the other people that just want to listen to the music, they feel the connection. They just listen from the beginning to the end, download the set on their phone. Some people aren’t really enjoying themselves, they just really look into the tracklist or ask for track IDs but that’s how it is now.
Would you ever consider doing a live show with the material you record with?
Yeah I was thinking about doing it. I’m using MPCs, I’m using mixers, drum machines and synthesizers and now I feel I have enough music. It wouldn’t be really complicated, but sometimes I enjoy just doing a live set with all my tracks and sounds just by myself. [With the recording equipment] I cannot really play the same way I play with a DJ set, I can’t be as flexible.
I really enjoy playing records, I’m playing a lot of different people’s music so I have a lot of variation and I don’t get bored. I think I would because I know myself. From one week to the other I only make 2 or 3 new records. You need to make a lot of music every week to not get bored of your own live set. But that’s my opinion. I think many are doing great with live sets and I feel them but I think I have more fun just playing someone else’s music, digging into old records and playing some cats that I’ve never played before. It’s more natural.
It comes back to not putting a restriction on yourself…
It’s never the same set every gig, you’re just gonna play different records because you have 70. You don’t get bored of your own sound… that’s what I’m afraid of. But now with this techno I am doing, I have enough to make a 1 hour live set, I think I could. I will try one day… maybe next month. I feel I have more music to play with.