“The reason why I started DJing in the first place was for my own personal fulfilment, and just to pick up something new” says Soundman Chronicles founder and Keysound Recordings affiliate Parris, who started collecting dubstep before evolving into many other genres. “Around the beginning of 2012, I started slowing down the BPM and exploring different sonic spaces at different speeds, which then bought me into the place I’m currently in.”
“That place is inspired, both musically and in terms of DJ technique, by Youngsta, Loefah, Loxy and Pinch amongst others and means Parris’ music is drenched in dub and dread, placing a large emphasis on wide open space and rippling sub bass. So far it has come in the form of tracks like We At War (which was played by Dusk and Blackdown on Rinse) and Cold Nights (played by Oneman on his Solitaire Vol.2 Mixtape) with much more to come in a similar vein in the near future. Citing his peers as the likes of Etch, Wen and E.m.m.a, Parris has co-produced with said people and has also managed to establish his Soundman Chronicles label as a buy-on-sight imprint after only its first couple of releases. After such a great start the future looks set to be even more exhilarating for both Parris and his increasing flock of fans alike.”
If you’re a fan of the new wave of 130bpm producers slowly taking over, you’re more than likely to have come across the DJ, label owner and producer extraordinaire Parris. And if you’re a 140 head like me, you’ll maybe have discovered him on Minimal Mondays or the recent announcement Parris (and Keysound compatriot Wen) have landed themselves a Tempa release.
Ahead of his second appearance gracing the sound systems at Fabric with a few other members of the Keysound outfit, I caught up with Dwayne to talk vinyl, record shops, playing Reconstrvct and more…
Easy Parris, how’s it going? Hey man, all is good at the moment. Couldn’t really ask for anything more!
Great stuff. For those not in the know, who are you and what do you do? For those who don’t know, I go under the artist name of Parris.
I’m currently involved in a lot of different things, but to keep it simple: I DJ, I produce music on a solo basis (as well as with some of my friends) and I work in BM Soho – among other music-related ventures, like working with a couple of labels as well as my own.
Let’s start with your job with BM Soho. What’s it like working for one of the best record shops in London? You must meet some pretty interesting characters in there?! Yeah it’s a fun role. I’ve worked there over the past 3 and a half years in a variety of different roles, so I’ve been able to get a better rounded idea of how the shop works.
It’s been an interesting experience to say the least. The shop has gone through many changes through the years (in more than one way) and it’s always interesting to see how different environments adapt in the change of musical landscapes. There are always interesting people there as well as people who are just popping in for a casual shop or chat.
You’ve popped up on Rinse FM a few times recently; guesting on Youngsta’s Minimal Mondays show. How would you best describe the ‘Parris’ sound? How did you first get into DJing? That was a lot of fun and I have to definitely give props to Youngsta for allowing me on his show in the first place. It was quite surreal to have an opportunity to play on someone’s show who I’ve not only listened to for years but also have a huge amount of respect for.
I’m not too sure about how I describe my sound really. I feel like a lot of the music I play is rooted in soundsystem culture. Everything I play is normally full of alot of sub bass and low end. I don’t restrict myself with the styles of music I play and play across a variety of tempos and sounds. I normally start quite slow tempo-wise and then work my way up to a place I feel comfortable. Throughout this process I’m then able to pick out the music which I feel is the strongest and then use those essentially as ‘DJ Tools’ to build a mix which is pretty concise and relevant to me. The people who I generally play and support the most is generally Wen, Beneath, E.m.m.a, Etch, Acre, Facta, Mumdance, Logos, Acre, Gantz, Rabit, Epoch and Strict Face. There’s also a lot of other people who make amazing music like Neana, J-One, Filter Dread, Hodge, Alex Coulton, Batu and pretty much everything Livity Sound related (which I support to the fullest).
I first got into DJing from watching a couple of friends play around with various different kinds of either midi equipment or just DJ emulating software on computers. I thought it looked fun and felt like if I was going to do it, why not go in at the deep end at invest in some turntables! Within a month, I was given a turntable by my stepdad, had bought a mixer and then eventually bought a second turntable.
After that, I pretty much spent all my money on vinyl. I originally started collecting dubstep vinyl, but when I started collecting records seriously it was around the time that Swamp had just released Footcrab and labels like Hessle Audio started slowing down the tempo and then started making things interesting. During this time, I was still heavily collecting dubstep vinyl but would start picking up the odd bits and pieces of other stuff which I also felt were interesting.
You run Soundman Chronicles and are known for your enviable collection of heavyweight dubs. How did your love for the vinyl format start? Why do you think it’s the one format that never seems to become unpopular? I guess with vinyl, because it’s the format which I started to how to DJ with, it’s never really lost its appeal with me. I love the feel of vinyl as well as the sound. The dynamic range between vinyl and digital is definitely different, with digital being louder as a format. Vinyl (and dubplates) gives me a level of restriction which I think a lot of people don’t have these days. To know that I only have what’s in my bag to me makes things more interesting, it means that I need to know my tunes properly and how I want to use them. It also means that the bag is all killers, no fillers!
I’m not too sure if vinyl never becomes unpopular, because for a lot of different music scenes, there always seems to be a period where vinyl is not the stronger format. I know that dubstep has definitely gone through that phase where a lot of labels were only releasing digitally, whereas some went back to the format. I think that for vinyl in general, the reason why it as a format will never really die is because of its collectors valuable. When hanging out with some friends it’s always nice to draw for those rare and exclusive vinyl which you know won’t be repressed. Sometimes it’s like a proud moment to say “you were there” for this, or for others it just has a significant meaning of a piece of music which you love so much you feel like you have to own it on that format. The sound is definitely different from digital as well, the way things sound are different between vinyl and other formats, so I guess for some they prefer raw analog sound.
Of the dubs in your possession, what are the three you always draw for?
As far as Soundman Chronicles goes, what can we expect from the imprint this year? We’ve already had the first release of 2014 with Epoch (following on from J.Robinson’s SMNCHR001 and Etch’s SMNCHR002 from last year) – what else is in the works? The next release is from one of my favourite producers of all time – Facta. I think this kid is an amazing producer and I’ve been cutting his tunes for the better part of a year and a half, so I’m really excited that we were finally able to get this record done. The record has already been mastered so once we have TP’s in hand then we can announce the tracks. At the moment I have a couple of other things on the go with the label, so once they are all sorted out and confirmed they will be announced.
What’s your process for signing/ choosing releases – given there’s such an abundance of amazing bass music floating around these days? There’s no criteria really. I don’t really do the whole demo thing. A couple of times it’s been a situation where I have just heard the tune and literally said ‘I WANT TO SIGN THAT’ and signed up the tracks. Other times it has been that I have a heavy interest in the artist where I feel like they can deliver a pretty amazing 12” and we decide on tracks together, so in this situation there may always be a lot of chopping and changing in tracks but then we eventually settle on something we are happy with. A good example of this is when I worked with Etch, the tracks which we put out were completely different from the tracks we originally had interest in when we started talking to each other.
You’re part of the Keysound crew – and recently went out to New York and played Reconstrvct with the guys. How was the show? How did you first link with Blackdown and Keysound? The show was amazing. Big shouts to the Reconstrvct guys all day every day! Luke and True Nature have something amazing building out there, and to share the experience with Dusk and Blackdown, Beneath and Wen was such an amazing opportunity.
I first linked with Blackdown originally online by sending some beats. Originally, I only sent tunes to people like Wen and Etch (and a few others) – I’m sure they both have an abundance of my WIPs on their computer, especially Etch! I sent one tune to Wen who told me to send a tune to Blackdown (We At War) which was actually played on Rinse that month. A little bit later, we all played a booking together in Margate for Seeerious, a local bass music night in Kent. I spoke to Dusk and Blackdown quite a bit at the event, and after I played my set they were both impressed and both very supportive after that night. From there the relationship has just developed and I go to them for everything now. I ALWAYS need to give a shout to both of them because they have both opened up so many doors for me which I am extremely thankful for. Blackdown has always been so supportive and I respect him loads so to continually have the opportunity to work with him is an amazing experience.
You seem to fit with the new wave of bass music/ grime producers coming through at the moment. Why do you think the sound you and your peers are playing and creating is so popular at the moment? I’m not too sure to be honest. I just try to go my own path and play music which I believe is amazing. I play just what I feel is right, but I guess it seems to fall into a category of stuff which is strong at the moment. I guess that we all bring influences from music which we all enjoy but manage to mould it into something which we can call our own.
We’re coming up to the next Keysound FABRICLIVE takeover in two weeks. What’s it like playing in one of London/ the UK’s best venues for electronic dance music? It’s always an amazing experience. The last time I played Fabric (in November) was quite surreal! I had been attending this club for many years and then suddenly had the opportunity to play in a place where I have watched some of my favourite DJs play was quite an opportunity. I couldn’t stop jumping around for the first twenty minutes, then I eventually calmed down a bit haha! I’ve been looking forward to this since I was asked to play so I’m definitely coming with some fresh dubs!
Other than Reconstrvct and shows at Fabric, what recent gigs stand out in your memory and why? 4 seasons was a pretty awesome gig. Shouts to those guys, they have a really good thing going in Bristol. I loved it because it was an opportunity to play with my friends, so it was with E.m.m.a, Etch, Moleskin and Facta was there as well because he goes to uni in Bristol. The decks were set up pretty nicely and worked! But the vibe was good so when you have all those things it makes playing out so much better!
In terms of production, what’s your studio set up like? What’s your most valuable production tool – the one you couldn’t do without? Nothing heavy really, just a laptop with FL Studio and some HS50Ms. They do the job and allow me to listen to my music properly. At some point I would like to invest in little bits of hardware but those things will come in time I’m sure. I’m not too sure if there’s anything that I couldn’t do without but if I had to choose something… It would probably be the Fab Filter plug ins, they are pretty amazing!
As far as releases go, what can we expect you in the coming months? Anything in the pipeline? At the moment, my close friend Wen and I have a release forthcoming within the next couple of months on Tempa. It’s pretty known now as Youngsta announced it on his Rinse show a couple of months ago. It’s a two track 12” with the tracks Caught and Collide, but there will be more info nearer the time. Hopefully in the future we will have a couple of other things lined up, there’s some interest in some of the other collaborative tracks but until things are confirmed then I won’t really have any more info!
Last but not least, any final words or shoutouts? Yeah, thanks to all the people who support the sound and the music really.
Have to shout out my good friend and production partner Wen. Always someone I can come and talk to about everything and who has helped me grow loads as a producer and musically. Without spending loads of times making tunes with him or just sending him WIPs, I’m not too sure if I would know what I do now about production. Shouts to Etch for listening to all the WIPs I send him on a daily/ weekly basis and all the stuff I’ve been able to learn off just sitting in his house playing with FL Studio. Allowed me to learn a lot!
Hold tight E.m.m.a for being my life coach. She makes amazing music and I will always support her. Let’s geddit poppin’ homie! Shouts to Beneath for not only being one of my favourite producers ever but also being the first person to cut my tune to a dubplate. I will always have time for Beneath and his music.
Shouts to Dusk and Blackdown, Youngsta, Oneman, Elijah and Skilliam and all the Butterz Fam, Logos, Mumdance, Facta, Strict Face, Gantz, Filter Dread, the whole Keysound fam and all the supporters of the music!
Click to DOWNLOAD (136MB)
- Asusu – Too Much Time Has Passed [Livity Sound]
- Wen and Parris – Blessing [dub]
- Facta and Hodge – Untitled [dub]
- Acre – Poison [dub]
- Kowton – Jam01 (Beneath remix) [Livity Sound]
- Alex Coulton – Ground Zero [dub]
- Hodge – Resolve [Punch Drunk]
- Wen – Finesse [dub]
- Beneath – Dum [dub]
- Asusu – Velez (A Made Up Sound remix #1) [Livity Sound]
- Beneath – Witches [dub]
- Hodge – Prototype Fear [Punch Drunk]
- Mumdance and Logos – Legion [Tectonic]
- E.m.m.a – Boat Life [dub]
Parris and the rest of the Keysound crew join Butterz and Soul:ution (and their respective artists) across Fabric’s three rooms on Friday 16th May. Order your tickets for £18 on the Fabric website here – or they’re £19 OTD (£13 for students and fabricfirst members) or £10 after 3am. Doors are 11pm to 7am.