A six-time DJ Battle Champion and vice-champion of the Singapore DMC DJ Championships 2010, Perk Pietrek has his eyes set on becoming the next big thing.
We’re curious, how did you come up with the stage name “Perk Pietrek”?
My real name is Pietrek, and Perk simply came from removing the alternate letters from it. But here’s a little insight that not everyone knows: my parents originally named me Patrick when I was born, but they legally changed my name to Pietrek when I was 4 or 5 years old after consulting a renowned fengshui master. I’ve never quite asked them what was that all about but this story always makes people go “ohhh” and resolves the curiosity issue behind my name.
On to serious business. What sparked your interest in becoming a DJ?
I’ve always been a music person since young because it was something I could turn to every time. But a huge part of me wanted to be more than a listener. I wanted to be part of it, get creative with it and most importantly share the music. DJ-ing opened part of that for me. It allowed me to put through my energy and emotions so fluently and that’s what really drives me, which is to be able to tell a whole story through bits and pieces. But when I got into producing music, that was it. It became another platform to express myself musically. To watch a crowd get my song when I’m playing it out during a DJ set is indescribable.
Do you consider yourself a self-taught artist?
It was all really experimental, I sort of dived into it and never looked back. I did a lot of things the wrong/weird way. I learnt how to scratch and beat juggle before I learnt how to mix properly, and figured out scratching using trance records when the normal route would be through hip-hop. I referred to the Internet a lot as well, but I got bored of following step-by-step tutorials. All I did was just approached it with an open mind and practised like my life depended on it. Same goes for music production.
Talk us through your relationship with Far East Movement. How did they take notice of you and bring you on board their label, brednbutter?
My work ethic has always been to do things constantly so that I keep improving myself. I was doing a lot of remixes and was putting new ones out every week for a period of time when I had creative blocks and couldn’t seem to nail down any originals that I’d be really happy with. Long story short, I sent them one of my remixes and they hit me back up asking me to do a VIP version on one of my own tracks “Sleep Is Over” for them. I actually didn’t realize it was Far East Movement until a while later so that caught me by surprise. Since then, I’ve been constantly sending them new music and when I shot the track “Busy Gyal” over to them, they picked it up pretty much instantly. On the backend, it was genuinely a whole lot of hard work.
Speaking of “Busy Gyal”, which will be released later this month, what can we expect from this track?
As a producer, the music I’m writing is usually about what I’m feeling at the moment. “Busy Gyal” came about during a period of time when I was super busy, possibly sleep deprived and still trying to meet deadlines. But I wanted to get things moving no matter what it takes, so the drive was scary real. There’s a lot of energy in this track, you just have to listen to it when it’s out in order to understand what I mean.
Despite being a young aspiring artist, you’ve actually found a way to give back to society through your music. Tell us more about that.
I actually ran a mentorship program for a group of aspiring DJs sometime back with ETracx DJ Skool and it was a really fruitful experience. It reminded me that as much work you’ve done, people pay more attention to yourself as a person rather than what you’ve accomplished. So it’s important to keep yourself in check if you want to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Versatility is key to becoming an excellent artist. How are you achieving this?
One of the things I’m producing right now is a live set that showcases my musicality, creativity and skill set with my DJ-ing background. From the looks of it now, I’d say it’s a performance that could be comfortably slotted into indie music festivals because it’s more art-based and expressive as compared to my club sets which are more fast paced and packed with energy. I’ve got tons of originals now too so I’m just sifting through the ones I want to put out then we’ll be scheduling them with the labels to be released at the right time.
Do you think that the art of turntablism been lost in recent time?
It’s funny because to gain something, you need to lose something. And we seem to only pay attention on what’s lost instead of celebrating the art that’s in front of us. From my point of view, we have just became more musical instead of being technical. This is thanks to the current technology we have but it’s all about taking the art forward and modernizing it. There are still many really talented local and international DJs out there who are still representing, taking the art forward with great style too.
Who else’s work impresses you, both within the local scene and overseas?
My list is quite extensive because I listen out for everything. I’ve a habit of curating my own personal playlists to listen to while I’m travelling, or ones for pre-shows to get me into the mood. I’d say Vandetta, Linying, bittymacbeth, RedMoon, Intriguant, Myrne. I also really dig everything that Major Lazer is doing now. Collectives like Syndicate and ATTAGIRL! especially have really impressed me with what they’re doing because it’s so positive.
In your opinion, what will it take for people to start taking more notice of artistes like yourself?
I think as long as you keep striving to improve your craft, be spontaneous, dare to take risks and maintain a style that you can call your own, it’s only going to be a matter of time before people notice you. This can be applied to pretty much anything creative related and it doesn’t matter where you’re from. Then you got to find a way to make it interesting enough for them to talk about it. It’s important to keep moving forward and be focused on wherever you want to go. I think that’s all that matters.
This interview with Perk Pietrek has been edited and condensed.
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