25.04.2019 | Words by: Jasmin Hoek
Paula Temple has been around for a while. She started collecting records at the age of 12. At 16, Paula was working at a record store in hometown Preston (UK). Around the corner from this shop was a cafe, Bone, which Paula describes as “bizarre and punky”. Here she witnessed a DJ for the first time; two turntables and her favorite electronic music mixed together. “These sounds, they worked together, it was like a 3rd track was created on the spot. As soon as I saw that DJ, I knew I wanted to do the same.” So, Paula bought the cheapest belt driven turntables. After 6 months of practicing, occasionally up to 8 hours a night, she was able to beat match.
Producing followed not too long after as she got more and more invested in researching her favorite artists. “I learned about a duo called LFO, they were releasing on Warp records, and I found out from one of their interviews that they had a Roland SH-101. At 17 I didn’t know that much yet about mono or poly synths and drum machines, but I saved up and got one. I was making noise and crazy bleeps, just exploring mostly. Then after a while I got my first drum machine, I couldn’t get a 909, so I got a Rave-o-lution 309. It was a bit crappy sounding, but I was still exploring. When I was around 21 it all finally started making sense, and going where I wanted to. At the time I was so painfully shy, I couldn’t imagine releasing music.” Until one night when Paula was on the internet chat forum of an online radio where her friends, Space DJs were doing a set: “I was on there in the middle of the night with one other guy, Chris McCormack. He was friends with my friends as well, and he said ‘Oh you’re Paula? I heard great things about you, can you send me some stuff?’ He loved them, and released them on his label.” This marked Paula’s first EP "The Speck of the Future
" in 2002 on Chris’ label Materials
. Several releases followed, including 2 genre-pushing techno EP’s on R&S
and her merciless monster track Gegen
on her own label Noise Manifesto
, as well as mind bending remixes of artists as The Prodigy
, Fever Ray
and Perera Elsewhere
Still, it’s merging the art of djing and producing in her hybrid sets that Paula might be best known for. She co-developed the first MIDI controller made for live performance inspired by DJing, the MXF8
(which stands for MIDI-crossfade 8 channels). Around 2000 Paula’s friend and Detroit producer Claude Young, introduced her to inventor Gerard Campbell. “His first invention had just came out, the Notron, an amazing sequencers. There weren’t many of them, but people like Björk and The Prodigy had one. I ended up getting one, and then me and Gerard just hung out loads. He had a new idea and asked me if I wanted if I wanted to get involved in co-developing it. The concept was to bring the studio live, like a DJ does. Around the same time Ableton live beta just started to come out to the market, I managed to blag a copy through a dj/producer friend. At some point Gerard go to know some people at Ableton, and then we managed to get legit copies.” This marked the start of Paula’s iconic hybrid sets. “It was really a game changer, which was exciting to be part of, but I spend so much time working on it, that I kind of neglected the DJ side and raising my profile in that area. I just focused on developing my hybrid sets, which just work for me.”
Now, 17 years after her first EP, Paula will be releasing her very first album “Edge of Everything”
on Noise Manifesto. And she will be celebrating its release in our basement this Friday.Q: Can you tell me a bit more about the album?
A: I’ve been on and off working on it. I’ve been experimenting and performing parts in my life sets, especially in the more occasional experimental live sets I’ve done in the past 3 or 4 years. I only started to focus in January last year: I took a few weeks off and gave myself the impossible task to make an album of ten tracks in two weeks. I achieved it in a way, were I made ten sketches, from those I used 5 sketches that I eventually developed into 4 tracks. I also went through what I made the past 2 years that was not released. There was some material I’ve been performing in my livesets and liked to take forward. From about 30 tracks these 10 made sense together. After January I started touring again, which meant that everytime I had very little brain energy to finish it and had a hard time focusing on its direction. In the end, it was about October where I felt like these were the tracks, and in November and December I mixed them and got the tracks mastered.
Then I realized, after the album was done, I wanted to make a second version of the title track Joshua and Goliath
. I felt like I wanted to explore those synths more, experiment with it, slow it down, and give it more space. To me, it made more sense for the synths to really tell it’s story. The second version, the slow version
, was only made last January and it’s digital only. Because when mastering for vinyl, you end up sacrificing a lot of frequencies to fit on there, and I did not want the slow version to be sacrificed at all as it sounded exactly as how I wanted it to sound. So it needed to be digital only.
The track is about a mixture of power and sadness, how we have great activists and movements. Yet, we so easily destroy them and overlook things, and go in the wrong direction. Joshua and Goliath was inspired by a documentary
I had watched about a teenager, Joshua Wong, from Hong Kong. Joshua and his friends inspired The Umbrella Movement. They saw the takeover of a non-democratic system, and how that was growing into changing their education and freedom to think. Their group recognized how important this was, and took the moment to say that what was happening was wrong; such a pure moment. But just looking at our history as a species, we often destroy people like this who are actually gifts to us and try to get us on the right path. Q: When listening to your productions, including your last album, I tend to think your sound is heavily influenced by other genres, like post-punk or rock. Is that true?
That has a lot to do with my teenage years. Around the same time I got into techno and electronic music, I was really into indie-goth, grunge and post-punk. My record collection at 12 and 13 was all that kind of sound, like Sonic Youth, PJ Harvey, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Then Nine Inch Nails came. They were a big crossover into techno. Their first album was a drum machine. Today, in what I DJ and produce, that punky and rock-y edge still feels natural to me. It’s actually a side of myself that I’d like to explore more. I didn’t do it on this album, but I hope to still do that in the future. Maybe I’m not ready for that yet. I’ve done this cheeky remix
of a Sonic Youth track when I just started Noise Manifesto seven years ago, there’s vocals of me on there. I’d love to be able to just grab a mic and rip it out like Peaches
does. Q: Then again, you’ve also remixed artists that could be seen as pop artists I guess, like Fever Ray and Perera Elsewhere. How does that come about?
A: Being friends with them, I know their sense of person, what they believe in, and what they care about. I strongly connect to that. Then we channel this initial connection through our music. It’s a beautiful and natural way for me.
I don’t really remix techno to be honest. I get requests all the time. I feel bad for saying no to most as I simply don’t have the time, especially with working on the album. However, I do feel more natural working outside of techno, then it feels more like a collaboration. I’m bringing something of my skill set and my world to another world that’s not related, but we do have a common ground. There’s not much that I can still add to a techno track that’s already perfect.
There’s plenty of pop artists that I’d love to remix, I’m very thirsty and interested in doing that. Maybe after the album has been released for a while. It’s mostly on the fringes of pop that I listen to and am interested in the most, like Fever Ray
, Moor Mother
or others that are on the edge. There’s something really appealing about that.
Besides, I’d love to work people like hackers or forward-thinking congress people, I’m fascinated by the idea of sharing economy and the way we can use technology for that kind of purpose.Q: This reminds me of your label name, Noise Manifesto, which is a reference to Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto. It seems like you’re concerned with the more political side of techno as well, am I right?
A: I wouldn’t call myself a real activist, as I’m not risking my life. There are real activists out there who are really on the line. But when it comes to music, I did realise making music is not about me, and in some areas I can influence a bit of change that benefits others, and offer a platform myself. Sometimes It’s just as simple as being visible at a festival, there’s nothing more I can achieve there than being on the line up. I’m not interested in being a headliner or anything like that, but sometimes I have to fight for that with my team and my agent, because that means visibility and influence. Otherwise, I get wiped out and 'don’t exist'. The things I do are really mild, and so easy to do. It was a lot harder for me when I first started speaking up. For example, saying no to a festival booking because I felt like I was being exploited or when I was offered a platform that could have been easily given to an artist that deserved it more, instead of booking only white women to satisfy some funding agenda. As more people speak up, and do not let it go, it makes it easier to do so actually.
There are still enough things to worry about, in this area, but also the way capitalism taps into these kind of things, and climate change. I worry a lot about how we’re not willing to change these things; we could be flying greener and not everything should be in a plastic package. The biggest problem is that were not willing to give up our privilege or realize how lucky we are. I believe that we just need to get on a new system fast and get rid of capitalism, like sharing economy and source economy. New technologies are coming together, like blockchain, that could enable decentralizing economic power. Then again, we have to be aware of not continuing supremacy within technology. We have to be critical of who is making it and put it in the hands of people who do see the implications of racism within technology and intersectional oppression. I’d say when it comes to these kind of things, I’m half optimistic and half pessimistic. As I said, I’m very much interested in working together with others to see how we can use technology to change the system we are in.Q: Your sets are mainly hybrid sets, which means it’s in between djing and a live set. So there’s still tracks by other producers in your sets. How do you involve the tracks that are not your own in your sets?
A: There’s so much good techno out there. Besides, techno has a social aspect to it; djing is about playing others’ music. It wouldn’t make sense to play my music alone. My tracks need to be put in a context and needs to be amongst other people’s music too. Sometimes I play snippets or a small part of someone else’s production. Sometimes I think the tracks is perfect as it is, and don’t want to ruin it. I’m quite an impatient person though, so some tracks I do chop up and rearrange to get to the exciting part quickly.
I get impressed and excited all the time by how other people produce. Recently, I’ve been fascinated by this new warehouse and rave sound. Some young French producers are making this kind of hardcore and techno crossover tracks, or the 140 - 150 bpm techno coming from Denmark. They’re not afraid to push it. We’re kind of breaking away from this linear Berlin techno sound, which feels narrow in some ways, and all these new producers have blown the definition of techno wide open again. When I started clubbing at 16, there was no big split between techno, trance or acid, it was all together and broad. Even though you had a specific Detroit sound, even these producers had a broad sound. Like Jeff Mills; he made and played all kinds of techno from groovy, to fast, to hardcore. Back then we didn’t had that much of a sense of division nor snobbery about it. That developed later on, and things like journalism, especially British music journalism, had a lot to do with that as they loved to create sub genre titles, to have a journalistic edge. I guess that was just really unnecessary, it was all techno and great. Q: You’ve invited AZF and Sentimental Rave to play the release party of your album Friday night at De School. How did this come about?
A: I’m really excited to have them over for an Amsterdam crowd. For me, they’re really exciting, they represent the French scene I talked about before. This young techno energy that’s really unafraid and fearless. I played with both of them before, with AZF quite a few times already now. I saw Sentimental Rave play only once in Geneva, and right away I was like “wow she’s awesome, I want to see her play more”. I’m really glad they accepted my invitation. It’s going to be an impressive night with these two for sure.Paula Temple, Sentimental Rave and AZF play our basement Friday April 27th. Tickets are available online and at the door.