MASSIVE QUESTIONS with PERC


Everyone keeps banging on about Perc, don’t they? They do though, don’t they? EVERYONE. Even I’ve been banging on about him! I reviewed Perc’s new album, The Power and The Glory, on THIS website the other week and scored it 9/10, which is highest score you can get without getting a 10/10. Yes, it might have a scary cover and yes, it might be full of scary music but underneath the horror is a lovely young man called Ali Wells who, on Friday night, was kind enough to meet me outside the Queens Avenue flat I used to live at in Muswell Hill for this EXCLUSIVE interview.

We walked and talked around the corner to the Broadway and sauntered cockily past the queue at Toff's, where I ordered us both my usual; chips, two saveloys, brown sauce and a can of Dr. Pepper. Each. We sat on the wall outside St. James' Church and tucked in as a dozen 4x4 people carriers in different shades of black created traffic and a line of white, long-haired, teenage boys with guitars over their shoulders tracked the pavement back to their enormous houses off the Muswell Hill Road looking like Alex James before he turned twenty. When I was their age I was knocking on factory doors in Oldbury wondering why I was bothering to breathe.


After Perc and I finished our chips, we went to O'Neills to finish the interview and got fucking hammered. Here's what I remember:

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Q) For anyone unfamiliar with the name Perc, could you tell them who you are, what you do and why you do it?
A) I’m a producer, DJ and label owner. Based in north London. I make something close to techno but hopefully a touch more interesting than a lot of what passes for techno in this day and age. I do it because I love making music, I love releasing music by other people and I love DJing, but mainly I do it because I hate seeing music that I dislike doing well, so instead of just sitting there watching crap get celebrated I like to fight back with music I really believe in.


Q) Is Perc short for Percussion, Percolator, Percentage, Percy or something completely different?
A) You were right first time; it is short for Percussion, though now it just seems like my name and is not really connected with its origins. I still love the name, though I can’t stand it when people ask me to play Percolator as my opening track. Next time that happens they’ll get the Van Dyk remix of Binary Finary instead.

Q) Has establishing yourself in the music industry been quite hard to do or has everything just fallen onto your lap?
A) I’ve had a few lucky breaks but generally it has been a long, slow grind. It is a cliché but you make your own luck, by working hard and doing your best not to be an arsehole. I always try to remind myself that it did not happen overnight and it could all end tomorrow, so be a decent person and enjoy it while it lasts.


Q) The Power and The Glory is ‘punishing, often superlative techno’ (Drowned in Sound), ‘beat music’ (FACT), ‘too fat, too dirty and complex’ (Electronic Beats) and ‘fucking brilliant’ (Weekly Review of Dance Music). How would you describe your new album?
A) It is very ‘me’, very personal and it captures a certain period of my life, which I hear the moment I start listening to the album. Being at the centre of it all makes it hard to know what people will make of the album, but I am happy with it and the reviews that matter (yourself included) have been good so I can’t ask for more than that.

Q) You told Vice that track 5, David & George, is a song about the current Prime Minister and his Chancellor of the Exchequer. I’ve listened to it about nine times now and I just think it’s a song you can dance to in a nightclub. Who’s right, you or me?
A) It’s intended for people that like to dance in nightclubs to songs about senior government officials, so we’ll call it a draw. A niche sub-genre I know, but one that I think has some potential. Currently I’m working on a 4-track dub techno EP based around the life of Harriet Harman.



Q) High-pitched vocal “let’s go!” or a one bar rising snare roll with cymbal clashes on each of the four beats?
A) The "let’s go" sample every time. If you are going to use a snare roll it needs to be at least a minute long. With a one bar roll, by the time you hear it, it’s already over. Pointless.

Q) When you were growing up, did you ever toy with the idea of prefixing Perc with DJ, like a proper DJ (DJ Perc), or suffixing it with something more exciting like Hertfordshire Hammer (DJ Hertfordshire Hammer) or Sick Beatz (DJ Sick Beatz)?
A) Perc works for me right now. Some DJ’s with ‘DJ’ at the start of their name sound good, whilst for others it makes them sound like total knobs. One prominent website did call me the Haringey Punisher once, which some friends call me for a laugh, but I’m not too keen, it makes me sound like a serial killer.


Q) I know Christopher Lee’s daughter, Christina, and she told me that her dad loves Wicker & Steel (Perc's debut album). Have you had any other celebrities say they are a fan of your music?
A) Not really, I don’t really count the big techno DJs as celebrities, though some people might. Christopher Lee is a big one though; I’m a massive fan of the Hammer horror films, so this has made my day.

Q) You played House of God in Birmingham last year. I went there by accident for their 19th birthday and was blown away by how friendly, mature and musically sound it was – I came back for their 20th birthday and am sorry to say I had to miss it this year because, although I was up in Birmingham that weekend, I was there to see my Nanny Kath who had a fall the other week. She fell over by the shops, banged her head and needed stitches. She then had an infection in the stitches and they turned septic so the doctors had to drain her forehead. She’s 88 now so I went up there on the 22 February to see her because you never know when it might be the last time you see your Nan so, unfortunately, I couldn't really go to House of God and get trollied like I usually do. Know what I mean? My only gripe is that every so often someone would get on the microphone and scream something like, “Get on your knees, sinners!”

When you played there, were any of your tracks MC’d over in a darkly theatrical manner? I.e. did you have a good time?
A) Yes, the MC was in full flow when I played, but it fits the event and crowd perfectly so I love it. An MC that raises the tension and energy of a night is fine, if it is just some bloke desperately trying to rhyme together whatever random word tumbles out of this drug-addled mind then I’m not a fan. BTW - hope your Nan is on the mend now.



Q) Stone cold sober or absolutely fucking terminated?
A) Recently it’s mainly been the former, but if the time is right then there are few things better than getting wrecked with friends. I’m past the point in my life where I’ll party hard in any club, the music and company has to be right as well. Being wrecked in a club, just because you can, when someone is playing awful music is not my thing anymore.

Q) You look very serious in press photographs but I’ve heard that you’re supposed to be a very cheerful man. Are the media demands for moody looking DJs appropriate given that the people who actually go to clubs take drugs, listen to their favourite music and have some of the happiest times of their lives?
A) Good point. Dance music press shots usually fall into two camps: looking all serious and moody or larking about, trying to be funny and subsequently looking like a bell-end. I prefer the former, though the occasional photo of me smiling might be a nice addition to my press shots. I think generally the dance music media likes ‘moody DJ’ shots as it adds weight to their serious appraisals of new releases. Writing 500 words on a techno concept album when the accompanying photo is someone acting the fool might seem a bit weird.



Q) Lisa Lashes or Anne Savage?
A) I’ve actually met both in a former job of mine before I was doing the Perc / Perc Trax thing full time and I would have to say that Anne Savage was the nicer person.

Q) Do you have any advice for the many young DJs and producers who read the Weekly Review of Dance Music?
A) Try to sound like yourselves and not someone else. If you make a track or sound that sounds like one of your heroes, learn from it and then delete it. We already have the perfect Chris Liebing, Ricardo Villalobos and BK, better to be the best version of yourself than a crap copy of an established name.


Q) What are your plans for the rest of 2014, work-wise or otherwise?
A) The album tour is happening right now and a 3-track remix EP from my album is out at the end of March. After that I have a few gigs at Awakenings with Truss which I am really looking forward to. Then the 2nd half of this year is all about the 10-years of Perc Trax releases and events.

Q) Any other business?
A) Not really, just fighting the good fight as always.

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What a lovely man! If you're somebody interested in doing something in dance then read that interview again and join me in wishing Perc all the very best for the rest of 2014. Spend your pocket money on both of his albums and go to see him live as much as you can. If you see Perc in the street, don't hassle him for an autograph; a nod of the head or a wink will do.

BUY The Power and The Glory here: perctrax/the-power-and-the-glory

Follow Perc: @perctrax

"Like" him: facebook.com/PercTrax

Support him at gigs: UPCOMINGS


I'll be back next week with more news, reviews and interviews. On Friday night, I'll be signing copies of THIS Weekly Review of Dance Music at The Shelter in London for UltraDisko. Come down and ask for Tonka. I'll buy you one pint of beer.

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