|Beyond deep: Patrice Scott
Patrice Scott's raw and emotively charged sound is at the forefront of the latest wave of electronic music from Detroit, but he definitely isn't the new kid on the scene. RA catches up with the deep house don in the middle of his European tour.
If you've had your eye on the new blood coming out of the Motor City's electronic music scene over the last few years, then you'll almost certainly have heard Patrice Scott's name uttered more than a few times. But while fellow new faces such as Kyle Hall and Kris Wadsworth are still learning how to shave, Scott witnessed the first waves of Detroit house and techno, becoming known on the local DJ scene and holding down residencies in both his native city and just across the border in Toronto. It wasn't until 2006, though, that he entered the world of recorded music, releasing the melodically rich deep house of the Atmospheric Emotions EP on his own Sistrum Recordings. And it's been difficult to ignore him since.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Scott has shied away from making Sistrum Recordings a Detroit-specific imprint, picking up producers from Italy (Ksoul and Ra.H), Ireland (Leonid), Germany (XDB) and Los Angeles (Mike Edge) to further the label's vision of deep house and techno. However, it's Scott's raw and emotionally charged cuts that manage to stand out from his impeccably selected roster, with tracks like "Raw Fusion" and "Motions" already becoming modern classics for Detroit aficionados worldwide. With DJ gigs all over Europe and a semi-regular slot at Fabric (including a main room set before Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh last weekend), Scott is slowly and deservedly rising through the ranks of the DJ elite.
There's quite an emphasis on melody and musicality to your tracks. Did you ever have any musical training?
When I was younger I took some piano and guitar lessons, but I'm nowhere near a musician, so most of it I picked up along the way. My parents used to play music around the house all the time though—Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Roy Ayers—stuff like that.
What was your introduction to electronic music?
Patrice Scott in the lab
The first time that I was turned on to electronic music was when I was about 13 or 14, when I went to this party down in some backyard down the street from where my grandmother used to live. It was a local Detroit group who called themselves Sharevari, and the DJs at the party were a local Detroit crew called Direct Drive. That was my first real experience with... I don't know if it was really considered electronic music back then; I think it was so-called "progressive" music. A lot of the music that they were playing—and this was around 1984—it was music with instruments and things like that, but it was still dance music. Music that was generally derivative of disco, but they called it "progressive dance music."
From that point on, I had already wanted to be a DJ, but I was DJing more regular music. I say regular music but it was more popular music—things that were being played on the radio like Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa, Soul Sonic Force and things like that. The Sharevari party definitely changed me and got me into playing a different kind of music, the more progressive style of stuff.
What really set me off was a friend who gave me some mix tapes from Chicago. His cousin would send him recordings of the shows on WGCI and WBMX. Of course, I'd be listening to Charles Johnson—The Electrifying Mojo—every night at 10 PM as well. I was DJing somewhat up until the mid '90s, and from that point on I was in and out of the DJing game. I went to college, I was doing other things, and then in about 1997 I think, I got my hands on some equipment and I started to make tracks but I didn't really go too far with it because I'd just started a job and I was working long hours, so it kind of kept me from going further with the production thing.
You only started releasing in 2006, but you'd been in the game for a long time before that. Was there something that happened in your life that made you really think that you needed to get some tracks out?
Really I just looked at it man, and I said "the trouble is that I'm getting older now, so if I really want to do this for the rest of my life; if I really want to take it to the next level before I get too old, I need to go ahead and seriously do some producing." It was maybe four or five years ago, that I started to really get serious about it, and then I felt comfortable with my material in 2006. I would've released the EP way before that, but I just wasn't too comfortable with it. Then I thought "why do I keep doing this? I'll just put it out, and if people like it they like it, if they don't, they don't"—so that's how that came about.
Did you start Sistrum because you were having trouble getting your material signed, or did you just want to have total control over every aspect of the release?
I think it's a little bit of both. You want to have control over your stuff. The reason I started my own label was I was shopping my music around to a few different labels, and at first they would tell me "I would change this, and I would do this," so I said "hey, forget it." I'll do it myself. So to speak, it's about keeping control of my stuff.
Was there any reason why you chose the sistrum instrument to represent the label?
Honestly man, I can't say that there is a real reason behind it. The Sistrum instrument, the sound it makes, you know, it really doesn't symbolise any of my music, but I like the symbol, I like that it is different. I never heard anybody talk about it or speak about it, and actually, most people don't know what it is. Some people do because they look it up and go "oh so that's a Sistrum... I get it now." But there's really no correlation between the music and the symbol. I had a slew of names that I could've used, but I liked the sound and meaning of Sistrum.
Do you run your own club nights in Detroit?
Five of Patrice's best
Arguably Patrice Scott's finest work so far, the immersive synths and growling bass tones of "Raw Fusion" combine to create a hypnotically jacking slice of deepness that consumes you when played at loud volume.
The blissful, swelling phased pads and sedate strut of the original version would already mark this twelve out as essential for deep house heads, but the trippy beats mix and astral bleepiness of the "Sunrise Dub" round off a near perfect package.
Visions Of Mantada
Deep yet dynamic, this strutting anthem from the second volume of Underground Anthems
is one of Scott's most dance floor-friendly productions and has become quite the Panorama Bar anthem after plays from residents Steffi and Prosumer.
Do You Feel Me?
Rattling modulated percussion and wonky intertwining synth lines are the order of the day on this lush minimal cut, Patrice's contribution to the first Underground Anthems
Evolutions Pt. 1
Scott opts for a more dark and epic style on this track, building up the tension before dropping a killer wiggling acid line that will stay in your head for days.
No, no. It's too hard to have a club back in Detroit. The year I launched Sistrum, Keith Worthy and I started a night in Detroit, but it just didn't work out, man. We weren't patient enough. To make something work you've got to sit on it for at least six months before you can really get a following. I think we might have done a month... No, we did it for two months and, you know, we didn't get too much of a response so we just thought "waste of time."
How is the club scene in Detroit doing at the moment?
There's not too much of an underground scene. There are a few people here that are trying to do some things from time to time, but it's nothing like Berlin. I think the best time of year in Detroit is the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. From time to time, you'll have some of the big names in Detroit and people will turn up, but for the most part, every weekend you can't just pick and choose where you want to go like some of the bigger European cities. It's not like that at all.
What do you think about the way that the DEMF has changed over the years?
I mean, you know, I have no problem with change, man. Change is good, but it's under different management now, so I guess they have their own philosophies and reasons for doing what they do, but as far as my opinion on it goes, I think they should have more Detroit artists playing. It's good that they have European artists playing, expanding things and giving a broader perspective of what's going on internationally as well as in Detroit. But I do think that they should have more Detroit artists like they used to do earlier in the festival.
I was just telling somebody that I can't believe Omar-S and Scott Grooves have never played the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. That's ridiculous. This is just my opinion again, but why not have 50% Detroit artists and 50% European guys? Like you say, it is titled Detroit Electronic Music Festival, so showcase the Detroit talent.
It is almost as if there's some heritage there that should be preserved.
Definitely. I think that it's good that people like us are continuing the reputation of Detroit. You know where it all started with those guys. I think it kind of seemed like—for a point—that maybe that was it. Then came along Omar-S in about 2002, and now you've got Kyle Hall and myself, so that's great.
Are there any Detroit artists that you think are underappreciated on the international scene at the moment?
Scott Grooves. As far as a DJ, I just like his mixing and the way he puts two records together—it's phenomenal. Producing—he's on another level. He's a true musician and he's been around for a long time. He's done collaborations with Parliament, George Clinton, Roy Ayers—speaks for itself. Now he's a little bit more techno, but he's one of my favourite producers. I know that he's fairly well known, but I think that he should be DJing more in Europe. He just made his first DJing appearance in Germany back in March, and I found it amazing that he's never played Germany. He may get some press, but for me he should be playing in Europe all the time.
You split the Underground Anthems EP series across Sistrum and Keith Worthy's Aesthetic Audio imprints. How long have you known Keith?
I've lost track of how long we've known each other. At least fifteen years, maybe longer. But that's a joint collaboration that will continue, we've just been busy working on other projects. We plan on bringing out Underground Anthems Vol. 3 on Sistrum, which will be myself, Keith and XDB, and then Underground Anthems Vol. 4 on Aesthetic Audio which will be Keith, myself and Tony Lionni. We're releasing volumes three and four on the same day, so when they come out, you will know! We wanted to do them before the year is over, but we'll have to see what happens. That's the plan though.
Do you have anything special planned for your tenth Sistrum release?
Sistrum 10 will actually be out in a few weeks. It's called The Excursions EP, and it's three tracks that are a little bit more up-tempo. They're faster than the stuff that I normally put out—usually my tracks are around 120-122bpm but these are about 125. On the A-side, the drums are a bit harder but it's still got that deep house feel to it. It's got this techy acid sound to it. In the fall I'm planning to release my first full album, which I'm working on right now. There'll be some old tracks on there with different mixes, and about three or four new tracks.
How did you come to sign up Mike Edge and Leonid for Sistrum releases?
Mike and I have known each other for a few years, and I wanted to do something a little different on Sistrum. His stuff is deep house, but it's deeper with a softer edge. I consider some of the stuff I make a little raw, but his is mellower. Like the first release that I did, it was deep but it had a raw feel to it—you know what I mean. I just wanted to try and do something different on the label. With Leonid, I contacted him after hearing his release on Statik Entertainment, just asked him for some tracks and picked the ones that I liked best.
"I've always been on the house
side of things—I've played like
this since the beginning."
You've been DJing for quite a while, to say the least. When Detroit techno was in vogue and current, were you playing that sort of style?
I've always been on the house side of things—I've played like this since the beginning. Early house, the Chicago style of house, a bit of Detroit stuff that was coming up by Juan and Derrick and all those guys, I'd mix a bit of disco. My style really hasn't changed—it's still the same. But I probably played a few more vocal tracks back then—I still play some, but not hardly as many.
What can people expect from your DJ sets at the moment?
When I'm playing out, I'm usually playing at about 3 or 4 in the morning, so most people aren't really looking to go real deep or real slow. Honestly, that's just not my style. When I DJ, I'm more up-tempo. I do drop some deep stuff, an assortment of things. Some techy, some hard, but I throw in some deep stuff too.
Trus'me has invited you and Keith [Worthy] to play at his Disco 3000 festival in Croatia this summer. Did you hook up with each other when playing on the same bill?
No, we've never played together before, but he contacted me in regards to the festival, said he liked my music and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, so I said "Sure, why not?" I played in Croatia for the first time last month, and people there really knew about the music. I didn't really know that it was going on there—I mean—I knew there was a scene going on, but as far as people following this music, it was pretty good.
Do you get many gig offers in the US?
No, not really. I make my first New York appearance in June, at a party in Brooklyn.
Ever think of moving to Europe?
No, I'll never permanently leave Detroit—it's home. Right now I'm splitting my time between Berlin and Detroit. I've got an apartment in Berlin, and place in Detroit. I'll never get rid of my place in Detroit, but I'm just staying here while I'm on tour. I love Detroit—that's where I'm from.