This is part of our ongoing series covering Even Furthur 2016. Read previous parts here.
Long before our dreaded Minnesota winter ended, I was daydreaming about summertime music festivals. I didn't have the money or the ambition to go to any big-name festivals and the local circuits of jam, funk, and bluegrass festivals just were not doing it for me. When Even Furthur was announced, however, I knew how I would get my music and camping fix.
The idea of an off-the-beaten-path electronic music festival was enough to seal the deal for me, and regardless of who would play, I was excited to see how people from around the Midwest would represent for techno and beyond. I snagged a flyer from Communion when the line-up was announced and scanned the bill the following afternoon on my dance partner’s couch. I’m not much of a traditionalist when it comes to genre and I didn’t know much of Even Furthur’s legacy prior to attending. I had low expectations for recognizing anyone on the bill, but I was elated to see that Perc was listed as one of the headliners.
Not only does Perc produce seriously gorgeous industrial-minded techno on his own, but he runs Perc Trax. Through this label he puts out some truly cutting-edge artists and some of my favorite names in the scene, including this ultra heavy-hitter called Ansome. His style is bleak, haunting, and sometimes harsh - yet comfortingly rhythmic. For me, percussion is queen in techno and Perc nails it. His label features a range of sonic textures and moods, from the grating and intense to the nostalgic. The label's 2014 compilation "Slowly Exploding" is an excellent way to dip your toes into these waters. Perc's taste in soundscapes as both a producer and a label curator earned him a top spot on my list of DILS (DJs-I'd-Like-to-See), and I was so stoked to do just that at Even Furthur. It was magical to hear tracks that I am fond of during his performance, including remixes and artists put out on his label, for which I parked myself firmly in front of the Function1 speakers.
We connected with Perc to talk about his experience at Even Furthur and beyond. He was also gracious enough to share a recording of his set from the festival to go along with the interview, available exclusively at Chosen By The Funk! See below for both.
What had you heard of Furthur and the Drop Bass Network before this year?
I knew of the Drop Bass label and I knew that they had been running events now for a long time, but to be honest I was not aware of Furthur as a series of parties. My main connection with DBN was collecting Woody McBride records for years.
What made you the most enthusiastic to be a part of this year's Even Furthur?
Just the whole community spirit and excitement that I could feel by looking at the hundreds of posts on the event page. It clearly meant so much to the people attending and that rubs off on you, even if you've never attended one of these events.
How did Even Furthur compare to other festivals you have played?
Festivals are different in every country and city that I play in. Though there is nothing I've played at that had the same vibe as Even Furthur. In terms of the crowd it had the feeling of some of the free parties that happen in London but it terms of the location it was out in the middle of nowhere a bit like Gottwood in the UK or Tundra Festival in Lithuania. I really liked the size of it. It was big enough to have good sound and a great atmosphere in the tent I played in, but it still had that tight, friendly, family vibe rather than just being some sprawling, impersonal mega-rave.
What was it like to see all those inflatable hammers flying through the air?
Well...I knew nothing about them before I started playing but I've been in situations like that before, things flying though the air, dancers getting too close to your equipment, ice cannons, fireworks etc. I guess you have to be ready for anything and I like things like the hammers happening. It keeps me on my toes and adds a extra dynamic to the set on top of the music and lights.
There was a rumor going around in Detroit that Ian Lehman/Doubt was tasked with helping convince you to play at Even Furthur, is there any truth to that?
No, that is the first I have heard of that. It was Dustin Zahn that told me the most about Furthur and what this event would be like. I was always interested though, I don't usually need much convincing to play somewhere that I've never played before.
You dealt with some delays on your way in, how long had you been on the festival grounds by the time you started your set? Were you able to stick around or did you have to head out after your set?
The night before my Even Furthur set I was playing in Mexico City. The gig was good, but as soon as I finished playing I had to go to the airport to get a flight to Chicago and then on to Minneapolis. When I got to the airport at 4am to check in my bags and there were huge queues everywhere so I knew something was not right. My Chicago flight was cancelled and they were re-booking everyone. I eventually got re-booked on a later flight with a different connection to Minneapolis and after a short delay this flight took off. Near the end of the flight we were told the plane did not have enough fuel for the circling that the airport in Chicago was asking it to make so we had to divert to St Louis. When we landed there we spent an hour on the tarmac and then took off again to fly to Chicago, by which time I had missed my connection again. So once again I had to be re-booked on to a later flight, which predictably enough was delayed by a few hours.
By the time I finally got to Minneapolis my driver was waiting for me and we sped to the Even Furthur site. I arrived about one hour into my original set time, but Kurt had shuffled around the DJs and I still got to play my 2 hour set, but starting an hour later than planned. It was such a stressful and long day of traveling and queuing up in airports, but it was worth it in the end. Kurt and the team were in touch with me a lot and did everything they could to help me. I was on the site for about half an hour before I started playing and stayed for a few hours afterwards talking to some of the DJs there that I knew there.
How do you experience the dance floor differently now, as opposed to before you were a producer?
I was producing electronic music, even if it was not techno, for a few years before I was old enough to go to any proper clubs or festivals, so I have always had an analytical ear for the music whilst I'm enjoying it on the dance floor. That said I'm not the type of total geek that lets this get in the way of their enjoyment and I can still lose myself fully in the music if the atmosphere and tracks being played connect with me.
How do you think curating a label compares to curating a festival line-up?
I've never curated a festival, but I've put together multi-room Perc Trax club events. The difference is that with a label you have time for it to develop and gain its own identity whereas with a festival you want to provide a range of interesting music right there and then. I'm generally not a fan of events that have techno in every room as I like a mix of music. Even Furthur seemed to be on a similar wavelength to that and even during the short time I was there I heard a range of different types of music and people also spoke highly of the house sets they had already heard that weekend.
Was there a particular dance floor experience that made you want to become a producer?
It was probably when I went from living in a small village in the south of England to going to university in Newcastle, which is a medium-sized city in the north of England. There I went to my first proper clubs. In my first year there I saw Orbital, Aphex Twin and Vapourspace play live plus a host of great DJs such as Carl Cox and Dave Clarke. This was the first time I'd heard this music on a proper system rather than the speakers in my bedroom or car playing at full volume. I had loved this music for a few years by this point, but hearing it properly in a club solidified it all for me and convinced me that this was what I wanted to do. In terms of when I started I was a producer first, then a live act and then a DJ but now I think I can do all these things to about the same level.
When I spoke to Kurt Eckes, he said he thought you played a harder set than usual - that you and the other artists wanted to do something special for Even Furthur. What, if anything, were you trying to accomplish with your set for this festival?
I knew that the whole Drop Bass sound was quite hard, fast and acidic, so I wanted to touch on that whilst still representing what I do myself as a producer and a DJ and also to showcase what the Perc Trax label stands for. I did end up playing faster than I planned, but I guess I just got caught up in the moment along with everyone else. I played similar tracks to those that I had been playing over the summer at festivals in Europe but they were getting played a fair bit faster than usual.
Listen to Perc’s set from Even Furthur exclusively here at Chosen By The Funk!