The Panorama Bar resident steps up.
The first time Roi Perez played Panorama Bar, it was a ten-hour closing set, for which he'd been called in just hours before the gig. "They said it would only be maximum five hours," he said. "Basically I played all my records." A serendipitous path had led him to this point. Perez grew up in Israel, and became a DJ in Tel Aviv's "midweek bars and mini clubs." Then, armed with little more than a case of 100 or so CDs, he set off to travel the world, bouncing around the US, couchsurfing across Scandinavia, and finally arriving in Berlin via bus from Copenhagen. Since then, he's immersed himself completely in the business of collecting and playing records (selling them, too—he works at Phonica's Berlin outpost).
Perez is a DJ through and through. "When I joined [Ostgut]," he wrote in Electronic Beats, "they asked me if I was going to start producing, too. I replied that I would like to dedicate myself to DJing for the time being... They accepted that, and we've never talked about it again." This dedication comes through in his sets. In terms of style, Perez might be Panorama Bar's most versatile selector, with an easy command of many different styles and eras of rave music (how else would you nail a ten-hour set?). But his most striking quality is something subtler, and more fundamental to the art of DJing: his way of using other people's music to express himself, creating something distinctly his own, as he does on RA.647.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been touring and DJing quite a lot this summer. Meeting and dancing with so many amazing people around the world was a huge inspiration. I'm currently on a tour in the U.S., I played an all-nighter-set in Portland, and then a set in The Closer, a new queer daytime party in L.A. The West Coast was great and I am now in NYC getting ready for several gigs.
When and where did you record the mix?
I recorded it a week ago at my place in Berlin, with a pair of CDJS, two 1210s, and a Rane MP-2016 rotary mixer.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I had few tunes that got me inspired from the get-go, but in general I didn't want to stick to a single idea. I wanted to let things happen and discover a direction in the process of making it. My goal was to be diverse on one hand, but also make it all work together on the other. That is often the challenge I'm facing with my sets. The result in this mix is a lot of rave music, breaks, some percussions and some trippy '90s house and techno tunes. The energy is quite different from what I've released online so far. I built it up around a few key tunes in a way that at first seemed counterintuitive, but I think (and hope) that my attempt to get them all to make sense together came through.
Tell us about your relationship with records. You're a DJ through and through, you've said you don't make edits or even use the loop function on the CDJ. Where does this deep respect for the original music come from?
I've been collecting records for quite some time now. My relationship with my collection goes back to when I was living in Tel Aviv, and now in Berlin I spend a lot of time in record shops. I'm also doing the records selection at the little Phonica Records branch in Berlin, and I'm lucky to have a chance to listen to so much new music every week. In general, I'm not editing my tunes, but I did learn to use the loop function lately if needed! For example, if it's an old tune and is changing BPM constantly in the mix etc.
It's hard for me to say where it comes from, I guess I'm a bit old school in that sense. I feel like the music is getting different interpretation anyway when it's placed in a DJ set, because it's put in a certain context that can change the feeling of the original music. But that is also the beauty of it all, so I'm just trying not to change it too much—with filters, loops, effects, etc. There's so much interesting music out there so I'm more like, "Why not just let it play?"
You're a recent addition to the Berghain / Panorama Bar family. How has that residency changed your DJing?
I feel like my DJing has definitely developed during my time as a resident DJ. When I listen to recorded sets from the past, or even when I return to a venue and try to capture the feeling I had in previous sets and compare it to my current ones—it feels different. I love that feeling, it's a process and I hope it will never stop. Berghain / Panorama Bar is probably my favorite place to play in the whole world and a constant and growing inspiration. It's really cool when you get to know the crowd and try to do something special for them each time, to bring new moments to the dance floor. It's also great to have the opportunity to experiment and try out new materials, see what works in the room and what doesn't really fit. I learned a lot from being a resident DJ, and also became broader with my music choices, so I can now play sets in both rooms—Panorama Bar and Berghain, which I find very exciting.
What are you up to next?
After playing in Unter, a wild mixed, queer party in NYC, I'm looking forward to tour from north to south, east to west in Europe until the end of the year. I feel privileged to visit the different cultures, clubs and scenes and will hopefully strengthen these ties further in 2019. But earlier in 2019 I will focus on discovering new places in Asia, with plans to play in Vietnam and India for the first time! After that I plan to go back for the European festival season.