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Baker's Dozen

Chewed Corners: Mike Paradinas' Favourite Records
Joe Clay , April 28th, 2014 10:01

The pioneering electronic musician familiarly known as μ-Ziq, Planet Mu label founder and one half of Heterotic - who have just released their second album, Weird Drift - gives Joe Clay his potted biography in 13 top records

Mike Paradinas is a veteran of the British electronic music scene, still going strong more than 20 years since Tango N' Vectif, his debut album under the µ-Ziq moniker, was released by Rephlex. Paradinas has done more than any of his contemporaries to keep supporting and promoting the scene through his label, Planet Mu. Since RDJ last released a "proper" album under his Aphex Twin alias (Drukqs in 2001), Paradinas has put out a plethora of new music under various guises, as well as curating the ludicrously prolific Planet Mu imprint, which continues to unearth underground electronic music stars and push new styles, such as Chicago footwork. His latest project is Heterotic, a collaboration with his wife, Lara Rix-Martin, dealing in abstract techno, ambient and esoteric electro-pop, influenced by "Fleetwood Mac and old Nu Groove records." The first album, Love And Devotion, was released last year and featured vocals from Nick "Gravenhurst" Talbot. The second offering, the beguiling, sexier Weird Drift, has come barely a year later and features the aching falsetto of the French vocalist Vezelay (aka Matthieu Le Berre).

For such a talented musician, it is strange to hear that his formative years weren't very musical at all. He grew up in Raynes Park, South London, a few miles from Wimbledon. "My mum wasn't into music at all. I don't know if something happened when she was a child, but she wasn't allowed to play music because her dad didn't let her," he explains, picking up the story over the phone from Brighton where he lives now. "My dad was into music, but he was at work pretty much all the time. He was a doctor; quite a young doctor at that time, working his way up. He'd come home drunk and play on the piano the theme from The Third Man I remember and stuff like that. He used to play Abba, but only the one song, 'Fernando', because that was his name... He was drunk quite a lot of the time when he was at home."

His parents separated in 1981, so the big musical influences on the young Paradinas were his uncles; his mother's brothers. "There was a lot of music in my grandmother's house. My uncles were musicians. My uncle Henry played piano for the Royal Ballet all his life. My uncle kept his piano at our house because there wasn't room for it at his. So I used to muck around on that."

For most of his teenage years, Paradinas was in a band called Blue Innocence. He isn't coy in talking about them, though he confesses that the music they made wasn't really his thing. A quick Google turns up a video of a slick, youthful outfit playing groovy, polished pop, somewhere between Tears For Fears and EMF, with a young Mike P pounding the keys of a Roland D-50. The break-up of the band coincided with his going to university to study architecture at Kingston and falling in thrall to the rave and techno scene. A certain Richard D. James was at the same uni but on a different campus, and when a mutual friend passed on a tape of Paradinas's first solo compositions, RDJ was quick to sign him to his Rephlex label. For a self-confessed Aphex obsessive, Paradinas was understandably delighted. "I had a little wank," he chuckles.

Paradinas's Baker's Dozen is pretty much a chronological journey through his life in music, up to the point he was signed by Rephlex in 1992. Making the list also gave him time to reflect on how things have changed since he started out. "People don't really seem to be as excited about music nowadays," he explains. "In the eighties and nineties, music seemed to be so much a part of life, cultures, sub-cultures… You'd show people your personality by what you were listening to and what you were wearing as well. It all seems to be so much more mixed up now. Everyone's a bit more removed really. It's that hipster ironic thing, you know. I suppose that is the fault of the internet. But then again, you've still got Lady Gaga's Little Monsters and kids who are really into One Direction and all that sort of stuff. That reminds me more of how I used to feel; being so much into one thing that you ignore everything else."

"It seems to me as if the value of music is less," he continues. "I'm not just talking about Spotify or anything, but it's everywhere – on adverts, YouTube. Everything is available now. I'm not sure if I was young now whether I would feel the way I used to. I'm not sure that music has the same emotional effect on people."

Weird Drift is out now via Planet Mu. Click on his image below to begin scrolling through Mike's choices

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