Seeing as we can never seem to go too long without having the Tsuba crew back in town, it’s no surprise that we extended an invite to have them back on 2nd February so they can lay some of their sheer, irrepressible grooves once again on Room Three. This time though, not only have we got label chief and exceptional man of musicianship, Kevin Griffiths, making a head long dash for the booth, but we've got two of the finest producers from his label roster in Horizontal man, Matthew Styles and Spencer Parker - a firm favourite in our Farringdon circles for his enviable knowledge of underground house and techno. In the past he's tested our Room One and Two systems to the limit, so we're very much looking forward to hosting him upstairs in the more intimate surroundings of Room Three.
Parker's strong ties with Tsuba have been laid bare since the imprint's inception in 2006. Having cut his teeth on his first ever remix for them on Dole & Kom 's 'New Disco' and releasing some of his earliest singles with them, he's proud to have his searing catalogue as part of Tsuba’s discography. His seemingly ever-widening range of influences comes from the freedom to experiment afforded to him in his hometown of Berlin where he's been known to play regular super long sets at Panorama Bar. There’s a lot more to know about Spencer Parker than meets the eye and he’s not afraid to talk all about it in this interview that precedes his appearance in Room Three a week on Saturday.
So... how has January been for you? Did you hop on the detox bandwagon or keep your party spirit going strong?
As always, it was a little bit of both. I am currently fully aboard the detox bandwagon, yet, I was still standing in a club at 8am on January 5th to see my good friend Severino deliver a 6 hour masterclass in DJing, here in Berlin. So a little ying, and a little yang.
You have a long standing relationship with Tsuba. Tell us about how it started and how you’re looking forward to playing in Room Three for them on 2nd February?
Well, Kevin has supported me right from the beginning of my production career. I did my first ever remix for him and released some of my earliest singles with him too, so I've always been incredibly proud to be associated with the label and very happy to have been involved, from pretty much the start.
I played a Warehouse party for Tsuba in 2012, in London, alongside Gerd, Kevin, Ethyl and Sascha Dive and it was probably one of my best gigs of the year, with what can only be described as, an absolutely crazy atmosphere, so I’m sure this same special vibe will be evident again when I get together with Kevin and Matthew Styles in Room Three, come February 2nd. Also, previously, I’ve always played the other 2 rooms of the club, so I’m especially looking forward to my Room Three debut!
Tell us about your vinyl only release ‘Show Him You’re The One’ on Tsuba Limited coming out soon?
It's a track I made about 18 months ago, Kevin really liked it and spoke to me about releasing it on Tsuba, which I was obviously very happy about, and that was it. I wanted to make a record that was a little "deeper" than usual and in the style of great artists like Norm Talley or Rick Wade, so that's what I was aiming for with the original mix. Whether I achieved it, is another question entirely! I also did a few more mixes (that will be released digitally) that are a little tougher and probably closer to what I actually play when I DJ at "peaktime" in a club. So, hopefully, a few people will find something that they like amongst all the different mixes.
For the flipside of the 12inch, Kevin had been a big fan of the ItaloJohnson white labels, as had I and he suggested them for a remix. I approached the guys as I knew them personally and they knew I was a big supporter of them since pretty early on, so, due to all these factors, they very graciously agreed to give us quite a coup in the form of their first ever remix. Which, as you can imagine, myself and Kevin were pretty damn happy about. And that was before we had even heard it, afterwards we were even happier!
How's life in Berlin? How does the city inspire you?
I love it here, just the city in general, the pace of life, the people, everything. I've said in interviews before that you could take every club, bar and record shop out of Berlin and I'd still happily live here, and that's something I totally stand by. I never moved here because of anything music related so, for me, all the amazing clubs and record shops, and the culture that surrounds them, is just a bonus. But the scene here is very inspiring to me, for sure, from the opening hours of the clubs, to conversations had in record shops to meeting fellow DJs, producers and clubbers and I can't see that changing, for me at least, in the near future.
Tell us about playing regularly at Berlin institution, Panorama Bar? What do you enjoy most about playing there and what does this special artistry time allow you to do that you may not be able elsewhere?
Yeah, that place - what can you say? I'm always incredibly honored to be invited to play there and from a DJ's point of view, it pretty much delivers everything you could ever hope for. A great sound system, a knowledgeable, ready to party crowd and amazing resident DJss to play alongside.
For me, personally, it's just a dream to play there and be given the time (an average set would be 4 hours or so) to be able to present all the music I love, to a great crowd, on a incredible soundsystem. I think I've played every set there from warm up on a Friday night to closing set on a Sunday (which was eventually seven hours long!) but regardless of what time you play, it's pretty unique due to fact that the crowd will accept everything from an old Loleatta Holloway disco classic to the very latest white label. And that, I think, is every DJ's dream come true, to have that kind of freedom.
You’ve released on many house and techno imprints such as Rekids, Tsuba and Liebe Detail. Can you pick five key productions of yours and explain why they are special to you?
Mood II Swing feat Carole Sylvan - Closer (Spencer Parker's A Gun For Hire Remix) [King Street]
This was pretty much a dream come true for me. I met Hisa, who runs King Street (named after the address of the legendary Paradise Garage, fact fans), when I was playing in Tokyo at Womb, and was very shocked to discover that he not only knew who the hell I was, but actually wanted me to do some remixes for him. A few weeks later, we agreed on the remixes and I twisted his arm into also letting me remix what is probably one of my all time favourite records. I have fond memories of hearing this at seminal London clubs like Release The Pressure and Rulin', so to get into production and get to the level where I could actually remix it myself, was crazy for me.
There were no parts, just what appeared on the 12inch release, and an acapella, and while I love to make/remix house and techno tracks, working on a real, original US Garage record was definitely a challenge, and one I enjoyed. So, it was pretty tricky, but I hope I managed to tastefully update it.
Spencer Parker and Ian Pooley - Untitled [Cabin Fever]
This one was made a few years back, very much pre-dating the current (over) obsession with "90s house" that a lot of people seem pre-occupied with and it's by myself and the legend that is Mr Ian Pooley. It seemed to go under the radar a little bit, as limited vinyl pressings sometimes can, but it's a record I'm really proud of and still play to this day. I see it as our homage to a timeless style of house music, done, without, resorting to tired cliches. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I?
Spencer Parker and Dan Beaumont - The Look [Saved Records]
The closing track of my album on Saved Records, I'd always wanted to make a great, simple, sample based track, and, alongside one of my favourite London DJs, Dan Beaumont, that's exactly what we aimed for here.
Spencer Parker -The Improvised Minotaur [Rekids]
Probably my biggest record for my Rekids family, I was never really sure if anyone would "get" this record as it's not really a easy record to play sometimes, but, luckily, a lot of people picked up on it immediately, and it did pretty well. Proof that "weird" is always good!
Lee Penningston - Sleep Paralysis [Channel Zoo]
My latest remix, for the excellent resident DJ of Ibiza's Zoo Project/Channel Zoo party. I've been playing it out a lot recently, as have people like Ryan Elliot and Radio Slave and the reactions have been great. Simple house music, to dance in dark discotheques to.
What are you looking forward to most about this year?
This year will mainly be concentrating on my new label "Work Them Records". Yes, as if being a house/techno DJ and moving to Berlin didn't already make me enough of a total cliche, I've decided to go one further and do something else "oh so original", and start my own label. The next release will be by the wonderful Pittsburgh Track Authority, the following by Sven Von Thulen (with some excellent Arrtu remixes) and the one after that will be by myself, with a remix by the Berghain bomber- Mr Ryan Elliot.
I'm also working on a remix for Miss Kittin at the moment and will release a new album before the end of 2013 as well.
What’s your secret to reading a crowd? Who else do you look too for inspiration in their ability to do this?
I don't really think I read crowds, per se. I just turn up and play my favourite records. I'm quite militant in my approach and subscribe more to the "give 'em what they don't know they want yet" school of thought as opposed to the "what would they like to hear?" approach. And I honestly don't mean that anywhere near as arrogant as it sounds! When I go to see my favourite DJs, I don't really want them to pander to whatever crowd they see in front of them, I want them to play me what they think is the most amazing music they have in their bag, so I take the same approach when I play myself.
As for other DJs, I'm always inspired by seeing Boris from Berghain play extended sets, as he is simply phenomenal at being able to play everything from techno to disco to house and back again, while constantly keeping the crowd guessing, but enraptured at the same time. Not so easy to do over the course of a 14 hour set, but that's exactly what he did when I saw him play last. I'm constantly confused by the fact that he is not a bigger "name" after seeing him play so many amazing sets at clubs like Berghain or his own Cocktail D'Amore nights (alongside the also rather bloody good Discodromo guys).
Finally, can you describe this killer mix you’ve put together for us?
Of course, it's really simply a representation of what I would play in a club - house and techno. I really enjoy playing and breaking a lot of new/unreleased music, so it's mainly made up of that, alongside some new/unreleased tracks/edits by myself, a couple of tracks I've picked up on my weekly record shopping rounds and some older, more obscure records, that have always been personal favourites of mine. That's it, hope you can dig it, dig it, I hope you can?
On 2nd February, Tsuba take over on Room Three. The Nothing Special return with Scuba and Dense & Pika (LIVE) in Room One and Blawan and Barker & Baumecker (LIVE) take heat in Room Two. For more info and to get tickets go here.