US producer, DJ and visual artist, Mike Parker, has been releasing records for over two decades now on his own label Geophone, as well as with other outfits like Defective, Labrynth, Aquaplano with more material to follow later this year on Prologue. He works both in art and music (his day job is as a lecturer of fine art at New York State University) and Geophone is an outlet that reflects his passion for audible and visual creativity. Taking his early influences like Throbbing Gristle and Einsturzende Neubauten as jump off points, his workings in techno are abstract at heart but are filled with complex and compelling bass work that makes him just as appealing to heads as experimental fans. This unique make up has also fuelled his consistent DJ career with Parker playing techno’s most prized places from Berlin and London.
His next visit to London will be to join Omar S as the guests for LOST’s Room Two takeover this Saturday. He’s kindly recorded us an exclusive promo mix and allowed us in to get to know him a bit better in this interview. Read on for an introduction to Mike Parker.
For those who don’t know already, can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I was born in Oscoda, Michigan, USA. I spent my formative years growing up in an area located between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. Later, I studied art at the university level in Pittsburgh and Buffalo. College radio introduced me to DJing.
How did you come to start making music?
I was intrigued by electronic sounds very early. I began experimenting with my first synthesizer, a Korg Mono/Poly in 1982, I think. I still have that synth and I'm 45 now.
You’re an artist too, do these practices relate to each other in any way?
Yes, because the visual stuff is often used in the presentation of the music. I'm interested in creating things that are tangible, such as the hand printed jackets. I hold a masters degree in printmaking, so it’s natural for me to design and produce things in this way.
What drew you to make the strain of techno you produce?
For me, techno is something that can be transcendental, abstract and open ended. I also think that the structures can be loose or rigid, depending on their purpose. Techno should be an experience of the mind, not just the body.
What music do you listen to away from the DJ booth?
I'm very diverse. I just bought a nice repress on Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers' album, Moanin'.
I read that you mainly play your own tracks in your sets, or is this exclusively now your catalogue has naturally grown? Is this true?
Not entirely. It's true that I play many of my own tracks and my back catalog enables me to do so. However, I still enjoy playing a mix of other artists.
Can you tell us about your label Geophone?
I started the label because I desired creative freedom to express myself in the way I wanted to. I have no schedule. When I am ready to publish an EP, I do so at my own pace. Most editions are small, about 350 copies perhaps.
What’re you currently working on?
I'm making recordings for Prologue. Also, I recently finished some remixes, one for Brendon Moeller on Electric Deluxe.
What music are you currently enjoying listening to at the moment? Anything you could recommend to us?
Well, this one will be obvious - I really like the music that Shifted is making. In fact, we exchanged some remixes recently, which I hope will be published later this year.
You’re playing for LOST as they host Room Two here on 30th of June, can you tell us about your history and relationship with their party crew?
I know LOST from the music. Steve Bicknell captured my attention a while back with his interpretation of techno. And I'm familiar with other artists associated with LOST and the Cosmic label. It will be a pleasure to mingle with them in person and I'm really looking forward to it.