Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Roger Perry: mixing it up

For New Zealand Music Month, I've hauled out some old magazine articles on local musicians and DJs that I wrote a while back. They give you a snapshot of artists earlier in their career...  originally published in NZ Musician magazine June 2001.

Roger Perry has been at the forefront of dance culture here since back in the day when he started DJing at a club run by Russ Le Roq (now known as Russell Crowe).

Roger's name became connected with all the best clubs throughout the '80s, Club Mirage, The Asylum, The Playground and The Siren to name but a few. He spent some time in the UK in the early '90s, returning here in '93, hooking up with the Stylee Crew, a DJ posse comprising DLT, Stinky Jim, Dubhead and Slowdeck.

Roger then drifted away from house - a style of music that he was particularly fond of - but was drawn back to it when promoter Chris O'Donogue from Lightspeed asked him to mix a tape with some of Chris' records, which were fuelled by funk. He started DJing at Calibre nightclub, building its enviable reputation as the happening place for house sounds in the City of Sails.

Late last year saw the release of 'BPM Mix 02', a collection of Roger's favourite DJ tunes covering a bunch of funky dance gems, mixing foreign and local sounds seamlessly. Included are some of Roger's own compositions, put together with Joost Langveld (Unitone Hifi, Subware) as Reactor Music.

Former Box resident DJ Rob Salmon pops up from his New York base with a tune, and Soane's collaboration with UK DJs Dick Johnson and Ben Davis as Troughman gets remixed by Greg Churchill (responsible for 'BPM Mix 01') and Peter Van der Fluit (ex Screaming Meemees). Roger is keen to jump further into production and is now the proud owner of an Akai MPC 2000 sampler. Some of his productions have already been released overseas on vinyl and have also featured on the 'Algoryhthm' compilations from Kog Transmissions, whom he has also worked with, under the Toolbox and Kingsland Housing Project monikers.

"Since I got back into DJing at Calibre and getting into house again, I really like taking two records and messing with the beats, mixing them up. A natural extension of that is getting in the studio and making original music. I'd like to get to the stage where I'm producing music, and DJing a lot less. I'm not so into just being a gun for hire. It's too easy to play yourself out.

"The local tracks (on 'BPM Mix 02') are showing that we're doing it here, and they're all very different too. We've got to push our own thing. I've been in and out of this business for almost half my life now, and I've watched so many people try and emulate the overseas thing. You're never going to see a local identity coming through if you do that. We should be proud of where our music is going."

Given Roger's long involvement in DJing, what does he make of the local dance scene at present?

"From where I'm standing, like, with Gatecrasher, where they get 4,000 people along, that hard house scene, it's like the new rock music. It's a mainstream thing and man, it's getting big. The dance scene here is really good. I travel the country a lot now, and to go to somewhere like Whakatane and get 500 people, by the end of the night all going like this (hands in the air) and loving it, that's crossed over, ay. And it's not radio support for it. I think there's a lot of youth coming through who think differently and like different things."

Top Five tunes? Roger ponders for a minute: "That's a hard one, ay. The Clean - 'Boodle Boodle Boodle'. Anything by The Clash - the way that they took reggae, disco, and punk and mashed it and made something out of it. New Order - 'Everything's Gone Green', or any of their early EPs. And Joy Division - These Days, from the B side of Love Will Tear Us Apart. Definitely anything by Roy Ayers. Masters At Work - Just A Little Dope. Anything by The Fatback Band, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

"Grandmaster Flash on The Wheels of Steel. That's the record that made me go 'Fuck, I want to teach myself how to mix!'. A Certain Ratio - Shack Up. I gave that record to my sister when she moved to Wellington, and I've been looking for that record for 15 years, mate. I picked it up in Dunedin, at Roi Colbert's shop last year. Shack Up was this weird ass funk. Killing Joke - 'Requiem', The Sound - 'In Jeopardy'. With Reactor Music, with Joost, we draw a lot on that period of early '80s music, especially the British stuff, like The Associates, Orange Juice. I couldn't give you just five, but there's a few!"

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