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INTERVIEW: Andrea Parker
Christian Eede , February 16th, 2016 14:24

Ahead of her appearance at Bloc, the DJ talks to us about mixing exclusively with vinyl and running a label as well as a look ahead to this year's weekender at Butlins Minehead

Last week's news that next month's Bloc Weekend will be the last ever, with the organisers planning to focus efforts on their East London venue, was met with great sadness. After all, where else would you have the chance to watch the likes of Jeff Mills, Holly Herndon and Objekt in the surroundings of a Butlins holiday park? Nowhere, that's the answer.

With the last ever edition of the Bloc Weekend approaching at Butlins Minehead, we thought it a good opportunity to catch up with one of the DJs on this year's line-up - Andrea Parker that is - to discuss, among other things, the festival itself and the balance of DJing, producing and running a record label.

You can still snap up chalets for the last ever Bloc, which runs from March 11-13, and check out the full line-up here right now.

Do you find at all that DJing is taking precedence for you over anything else at the moment or are you still happily balancing that with working on your own productions and running your label, Touchin’ Bass?

Andrea Parker: Well it gets me out the house and, to be honest, I’ll go anywhere where there’s free booze! No, seriously… its nice to be able to do it all, but it’s all about balance. I’m a lot more selective about the gigs I take these days so I don’t play out as often as I used to. There was a time where DJing was pretty much all I was doing. The thing with DJing is that the real work happens behind the scenes - the research, the knowledge, searching record stores, making endless lists, amassing daunting stacks of vinyl and digging out treasures from the vaults is the time-consuming bit. It’s tricky putting a two-hour set together when you have so much music, but ultimately that’s the part I love, satisfying that unavoidable need to share music with people. It’s pretty much the same running Touchin’ Bass and aperture records; it’s that love of finding new music and sharing it, although, again, I am way more fastidious nowadays and that ultimately results in me putting less new music out. I find that more time-consuming, certainly more frustrating and stressful, as you are taking someone else’s work into your own hands. The onus is on you and, in that long line of processes from demo to release, a lot can happen and/or go wrong.

But with all this, to answer your original question; yes, DJing and running the labels has taken precedence in terms of my own productions, finishing my album. I would definitely say it’s something I need to start focusing on more but I guess that’s the positive thing, you can pick and choose when you like and divide your time appropriately. To me, you should be in the studio when you feel inspired, not because it’s a job. You should listen to someone’s demo when you’re in the right head space. I’m saying all the right things but, let’s be honest, its a bloody nightmare juggling it all at times!

What plans lie ahead for you and your labels in 2016?

AP: I’m not too much of a planner, I like to take each day as it comes, but I am pretty excited about 2016 as I will be celebrating the 50th release on Touchin’ Bass, hopefully with something extra special, along with the 10th release on aperture with something a bit unique. I don’t like to say too much, I’d rather keep it under wraps until it actually happens! I’ve got a few other projects in the pipeline so hopefully they will see the light of day, including my new album and some new material from me and Daz Quayle. I’ve also blown the dust off my cello and am having a pick-up put in. I’m getting some vocals down that will be drowning in reverb so you can’t hear what I’ll be droning on about and I’ve got some interesting gigs stacked up so will no doubt be devastating a few more dance floors too.

You DJ only with vinyl so when it comes to selecting records for a large-scale event like Bloc, how do you decide on what records to pack?

AP: I just close my eyes and pick a winner! Firstly, I find out what room I’m playing in (otherwise it could go very wrong) then I decide on the direction I’m going to go in as I play a lot of different types of sets. I roughly get it all together in my head first and then start trawling through my records and patchwork them together… then hope for the best! Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. For me, DJing is ultimately about placing the right records at the right time, structuring a set over two hours and giving people something that they might not expect, but that I want them to hear. The thing about playing vinyl is that once you’ve packed your bag and left the house, there’s fuck all you can do about it. It’s not like taking a laptop where you can change direction as you’re playing, although I’m sure all vinyl DJs have a few get out of jail cards at the back of their box, although mine never seem to do the trick!

Could you give attendees of this year’s Bloc any inkling of what to expect from your set?

AP: Expect the unexpected! As always, it’ll be an experience. There’ll be no hands in the air, snare rolls or theatrics on the mixer, just a load of bottom end and some decent dark tunes to get involved in.

Is there anything you’re looking forward to catching at this year’s event too?

AP: A fish!? I’m looking forward to stumbling upon the unknown. I love going to festivals and discovering artists that I’ve never heard before, playing in some random room. I’m also looking forward to seeing Ugandan Methods featuring Regis & Ancient Methods, Trade featuring Surgeon & Blawan, Powell, Objekt, Evian Christ, Daniel Miller, Jeff Mills and a bit of Fast Eddie of course.

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