Autosea Interview: SPENCER PARKER
Now based out of Berlin, Spencer Parker masterfully straddles a heady mix of house, techno and disco. He’s a DJ who doesn’t care about limits between styles, and one that captures the attention of the audience like no other.
Including his own label, Work Them Records, Spencer has releases on Tsuba Records, Saved Records and Radio Slave’s, Rekids, just to name a few. Alongside his productions, remixes and edits, his technical skills have seen him become a regular at legendary spots like Berghain/Panorama Bar and Concrete.
Ahead of our second birthday at The Bottom End on Friday the 8th of June, we were lucky enough to have a quick chat with Spencer about how, and when he was first introduced to house and techno music, what prompted the move to Berlin, and what he’s got in store for the remainder of 2018!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us ahead of our second birthday on June 8th! It’s been a few years since you were last in Melbourne, how are you feeling about coming back?
Can’t wait! I’ve played in Australia quite a lot in the past but it’s been a hot minute since my last trip, so I’m excited to visit again.
Can you tell us a little bit about how, and when you were introduced to house and techno music?
Mainly through just going out. I’d buy my favourite records I heard that night, almost like a souvenir of a fun time. I never had any intention to DJ, but I had a lot of great records and then offered to play a friends 18th birthday as I thought it could be fun. And it was!
Having originally been from the UK, what prompted the move to Berlin? Did you feel it was the next step that had to be taken to further your career?
Err, no - it was pretty much the complete fucking opposite of that. My girlfriend at the time cheated on me in a pretty brutal way, I was devastated and my good buddy Matt Edwards (aka Radio Slave) who was living in Berlin said “look - just come to Berlin, stay on my couch - you’ll be fine”. So, I packed up my heartbroken ass and did just that. Had Matt lived in Amsterdam or Barcelona, I’d have been in one of those cities instead. I’d already been touring internationally for about 10 years before I arrived in Berlin. So there was no idea or need to have to put “Berlin” after my name on flyers etc. What was kinda funny though was, I actually moved over and the following weekend played Panorama Bar (and, ended up going directly to the airport via an after-party for my gig the next day...) so it was a baptism of fire, to say the least.
Aside from Berlin’s underground music scene, is there anything else that has made you fall in love with the city?
Well, I’m lucky enough to have some amazing friends here, that I love, so that is very important to me. Added to that is that, it's cheap, laid back, easy to navigate and fun! So there's definitely worse places to be.
Culturally, do you prefer Berlin or the UK?
I love them both, often for entirely different reasons.
When you’re not touring, what’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
All the normal things, I guess... I’m a real cinephile so I go to the movies a lot. I often visit galleries like C/O or the Helmut Newton Foundation, and I still go out to clubs to hear friends or my favourite DJs play. I’m still very much a fan of house/disco/techno culture and happy to support the scene by being on the dancefloor.
Having played in Australia on more than one occasion, how do you feel the electronic music scene is here compared to places like Berlin or the UK?
I think it’s just different, as it should be. I’m lucky enough to travel to different countries and play - and it’s every place being so different, that makes it so much fun.
Considering your hectic touring schedule, and the number of different artists you’re regularly getting the chance to see, who are some to keep an eye out for in 2018?
I would definitely say P.Leone, who is from Brooklyn and releasing on his own E-Missions label as well as Rekids (and Work Them Records too!). I recently played with Peach, who I thought was just an amazing DJ... I’m a big fan of Debonair, I’ve played a couple times recently with DJ Fettburger who is just a killer DJ, and a few weeks back I was dancing to a great Paramida set in Panorama Bar. Lawrence Lee is a producer whose work I’m always interested to hear... the list goes on. As I said, started a fan - still a fan!
During 2014 you founded the label, Work Them Records, which includes releases by not only yourself, but Radio Slave, Ryan Elliott and Rødhåd, just to name a few. What were your intentions when first starting the label?
There was no real master plan to be honest, I just wanted to release records for DJs to work on the decks and for dancers to work to on the floor. It’s always quite funny when I sometimes read reviews of what we put out, and the review will say “it’s just a DJ tool type track” - because that's exactly what we are aiming to put out! I have no interest in releasing anything that is not built first and foremost for people to dance to.
Any upcoming releases you want to give our readers the lowdown on?
We have a great album coming out by a Russian artist called Valya Kan, which is a little more on the deeper, acidic type tip. That will be available digitally and on vinyl as an album sampler. Our next release is a record that I think could be pretty big from initial reactions, and that one is by the aforementioned P. Leone and is called “El Dorado”. And after that - who knows?!?
Finally, what’s in store for the remainder of 2018? Anything that you’re particularly looking forward to?
I think it’s more of the same, which I’m extremely happy about. More trains, planes and automobiles around the world and playing my favourite records very loud in nightclubs - which is still my absolutely favourite fucking thing in the world to do.
Thanks for having a chat with us Spencer!
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Photo Credit: Yonathan Baraki