[Interview] Pheek Exclusive for MNML.nl

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Daniel Logikal
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[Interview] Pheek Exclusive for MNML.nl

Post by Daniel Logikal » Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:11 am


Jean-Patrice Remillard became interested in acid house in the late ’80s and raves in early ’90s, inspiring him to DJ his own radio shows in Sherbrooke, Québec. From his college years to university, he played techno, house and anything exciting to people whose ears weren’t as close to the ground.

Upon moving to Montreal in 1997 to study computer science, JP met Mateo Murphy and found they shared similar musical interests. After performing a show with Gez Varley, Mateo and JP decided to work on a live concept of their own, based on improvising beats on the fly and mixing in other synthesized sonic textures. It was at this point that JP adopted the name of Pheek after a Richie Hawtin/Plastikman performance at Medialounge, a show that would forever change his perspective on music.

After further honing their live show together, Pheek and Mateo opened for Chain Reaction at the FCMM in 1999. They were spotted by Hautec and offered to release a 12", marking a turning point in their fledgling careers.
The few years that followed saw proposed releases on Hybrid Structure and collaborations with Mitchell Akiyama on various projects – a creative period that proved a catalyst for JP’s later success.

The next pivotal point in Pheek’s career was meeting Éloi Brunelle and subsequently being invited to join to the Epsilonlab media collective. JP played with them since the very first night of their existence and for almost every show to follow. His first release for Epsilonlab, 2002’s Paysages Matriciels, was a critical success and was nominated for Quebec’s prestigious ADISQ music awards.

Another milestone was the label Minus who noticed Pheek's demo and Richie Hawtin who started playing his music along with Magda. That kind of feedback from major DJ made him move forward in his production. Then he got in contact with labels such as Contexterrior and Telegraph with who he released some material.

These days Pheek is running the highly successful netlabel Archipel as well as his record label Kalimari, in addition to doing live shows on a regular basis across the globe.


You’ve been producing electronic music and performing live since the mid-ninties, what has been your most satisfying achievement to date?

There has been many. I could even say that each time I finish a song that I really like, I feel it’s an achievement since it’s never easy and that I’m so slow, it’s almost pathetic. But more seriously, there’s a few things worth mentioning such as being released on Minus was a great feeling. Richie was the one that made me feel I had to produce so when he wrote me back to tell me he liked my demo, I felt I was getting at some point that would be quite special.

I can also say that I felt really excited when I received the first Archipel vinyl that I produced. After many frustrations, issues and many adventures, it was a very emotional moment to see my work getting to a result.

After a couple releases on labels such as Hautec & Hybrid Structure Productions in the late nineties, you released your first work on your own label Archipel, which at the time was a limited run of 50 CD-r’s. How did Archipel?

Archipel at that point was nothing more than a personal project and those 50 cd’s were made to finance my second Swiss tour. We had to pay for our plane ticket and I left my day job so I since I had music available, I just thought I could make a few bucks with those CDs. Everyone I know bought one and they were gone in 2 weeks. Now I get emails of people around the world who would like a copy of it but I prefer not to release it and keep it special. We also did another limited project which was a bit more artistic. It consisted of 3 CDs in a package and all tracks were all related.
This made me think I wanted to do all future Archipel releases in a very artistic way but it was too expensive to do keep up since people were not interested in paying for it.


At what stage did you decide to publish Archipel as a netlabel as opposed to the limited CD-r releases, and what was the main catalyst for this?

I was at first working with Epsilonlab for some years, both as an artist but also as A&R. Eloi’s label became something I didn’t feel was me and thought we could do so much more. I came up with samplepack projects and also, to do a netlabel that would sound different from release to release, but Eloi didn’t feel it. It became clear at that point that we had to split. Archipel started as a sub-label of Epsilon but then came an entity which took all my time. I’m always hungry to do something beyond so I get always the impression I need to do more and more.

In an interview with meerestief.com they described you as a pioneer of the netlabel scene. Do you see yourself as such?

That’s flattering but I’m not sure what to think of it. If they’re referring as me being part of it for a while, I guess it’s true but there’s other players who have been there much longer. I’m quite happy that I could grow out of it and use the netlabel scene as a promotional tool, exactly like I described to anyone who asked why I was doing it. As for myself, I don’t know how to see myself; I just try to do my best.

From CD-r releases to netlabel releases, you have also released some vinyl releases for Archipel. Has this been a success?

I think I can say I have reached my goals and that is a success. To someone else’s point of view, maybe it is not. It is not about making money, but I’m happy to say I’m covering all costs and am able to pay my artists a little bit as well as getting them some promo too. That said I think I can say it’s a success for me and hopefully, the best is ahead.

Last year you also kicked off another record label, Kalimari Records. What is the concept behind Kalimari & how does it differ to the Archipel project?

I mainly started Kalimari by being inspired with the more “druggy” techno, coming out of Berlin and from which I had friends like Lee Curtiss who would make very inspiring music. When Lee was looking for a label for an EP, I thought I’d had to create a sub-label for Archipel who is more about melodies and a little more upbeat. The schedule was also booked way ahead and Lee would have been released in late 2006.

After much experimentation, the labels are taking shape. I know where I’m going and am very happy about working on those 2. They do take a lot of time but it’s worth it. I’m even working on a 3rd project, we’ll see about that this year.

Can you name some of the artists & people who you respect and draw inspiration from, both musically & in other walks of life?

I could go way back and name many people but I’ll try to name the most inspirational. The Orb, Plastikman, Juan Atkins and Mad Professor have been my early inspiration in terms of music. Then as I started to do more music, I became interested in the concepts, approaches, life styles and way of working. I became very interested in jazz, mainly for Miles Davis. I also was interested in Tom Waits and Lee Scratch Perry. But I guess my main interest and person I started to follow was Ricardo Villalobos. His music is an endless pool of inspiration for creativity.

Now and then, I listen to a lot of demos and tracks I find in Netlabels and anyone can inspire me in a little trick they do or for a general idea. I like things that are accidental, random, positive, abstract and hypnotic. It was the general theme of my last album.

Now, the tech questions; without giving too much away, what are some of the VST plug-ins that you use on a regular basis? What is your favourite piece of kit, software or plug-in in the studio?

I don’t like to discuss about tech stuff but I do have a blog that I use as a personal journal where I discuss and share some of my current ideas on production. Since I collect VST and have different ones every week, it was necessary that I took note of where I am. It was just fun to share it openly, sharing knowledge is practical. I invite you to get your own answers on www.pheek.com.

Do you still use any hardware in your studio, or are you fully digital?

2007 is the year when I turned 100% digital. I just reinstalled my whole studio and bought a new sound card. Since I’m very slow, I like to have everything in front of my eyes and I try to avoid moments where I need to transfer sounds to external gear and such. At the moment, I’m interested in programs, plug-ins and sound design. I have a few friends who work on programming little plugs for me and it’s a lot of fun.

How often to you perform live as opposed to DJ sets? What does your live performance consist of?

I’m not very comfortable as a DJ and will try to avoid doing sets in public. I’m too much of a perfectionist to do it. At the moment, I’m more interested in doing DJ sets in Ableton (I know a lot of people don’t like DJ sets in that software but its so much fun and offers so much possibilities) and have loads of different tracks looped, effects and take risks. I find it more interesting than my dj sets, where I feel trapped. I will do it from time to time in occasional events but I will most of the time play live instead.

My live sets are pretty much complicated and take months to prepare. I try to create a few scenes (either from tracks existing or new ones) and then will fiddle around with uneven loops to create a feel of never ending loop. I believe the real challenge is to let mistakes happen themselves, which makes robotic sets feel more human and warm.


What cities and parties have been a pleasure for you to perform at, or attend as a party-goer? Some of the more memorable ones perhaps…

I was lucky enough to have many good parties. I had surprises though which will remain in my memory. Parties in Switzerland, in Colorado (USA) and in Munich have been quite crazy. Those moments where you see that everything falls in place and that people are reacting as you expect them to makes the night exhilarating. I also will remember very intime and warm parties in Utrecht (Poema), St-Louis and London (Runsounds).. but I’m sure I’m missing more.

As for partying, nothing beats Club Der Visionnaires in Berlin. Nothing. Ever. AH!

What inspires you outside of the music scene?

Many many things. Probably too much to mention but I do dance, cook and do/watch theatre. I do listen to a lot of music and mainly, anything else than minimal. I actually don’t listen to minimal techno at home. I will be always into jazz and ambient, IDM and classical instead.

What type of theatre do you enjoy?

Here in Quebec, we have some traditional art that combines the ice Hockey approach and theatre improvisation. Of course, there’s no ice rink, just a stage but people wear jerseys and it’s all about experimental acting and humor. I have been performing as an actor in different leagues/troops for 16 years now. It is a passion that is almost as strong as music. The funny thing about this is, a lot of people who know I do improve and come to see me play, can’t understand I do music for living. As if it was a contradiction. For me, it’s actually quite complementary.


What do you hope to see yourself doing in 10-20 years, or is this something you have not considered as you live in the ‘now’?

Oh man, I don’t know. I would like to have my own restaurant or club. That would be the last thing on my “to-do” list before I die! But I don’t believe it’s worth looking so far when tomorrow is already a mystery.

What are some of the things that really get up your nose about the music industry? Don’t be shy ;-)

There’s a lot of course but I try not to be bitter because there’s not much to do besides just working hard on my own labels and music. I think what makes me sad is how people behave with artists and music. There’s a lot of point of view about piracy, for instance, which discourages me a bit. In a way, if people were paying for the music they use (at least professionally), it would give us ways to buy better equipment and make better music.

Also, people want us to make weirder music and not be commercial, but when you go in that direction, no one wants to buy it. So it doesn’t offer a support to. I guess when you go on a more commercial path, people complain you do, but buy it too.

This brings me to a story that happened in Montreal. A friend was in a home party and brought one of my early works. When he played it, many people came to him, asking him to use the computer to make copies to everyone, which he refused. Then someone played a rare album by Peter Gabriel and everyone checked right away on eBay to buy it.

To me, this is absurd. Who needs support here? A new comer or the millionaire? Why do people act this way is mystery to me.

Same thing about top 40 music; people listen to it on the radio all week long, then go buy a copy and when they go out, they want to hear again. Again, there’s something wrong here.

What releases and remixes can we expect to hear from you in 2007?

I don’t have too much planned; I try to not be a production machine who tries to be on as much labels as possible. I really don’t like to see too much of something so I’d like to take it easy, have less releases and wish people won’t get bored.

So far, here’s what planned:

Feb: my album “En légère suspension” is coming out on Archipel as 2x12”.
Remix on Aesthetic Records
Remix on Dope Recordings
EP on Kalimari

I’m trying to do EP’s for Sushitech as One Token Left and another one on Adjunct. I find really hard to get in synch with other labels to fulfil their tastes. It reminds me why I started my labels!

Related Links:
Interview conducted exclusively for mnml.nl by Daniel Filipovic
Last edited by Daniel Logikal on Fri May 23, 2008 2:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by plaster » Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:27 am

always something new from pheek.
Drop the idea of becoming someone else, because you are already a masterpiece.

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Post by Harm Rhebergen » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:53 am

Nice interview Daniel!

Hope to see you in Holland somewhere soon again JP! :D
*I support southern fruits*

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Post by pheek » Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:33 pm

Harm Rhebergen wrote:Nice interview Daniel!

Hope to see you in Holland somewhere soon again JP! :D
Took me quite a while to fill this one but it was fun :wink:
Yes Harm, will be cool to see you again in june!

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Post by fredrik_h » Sun Jan 28, 2007 7:51 pm

nice interview, hoping for more interviews in the future... and yeah, big ups for pheek - can't wait for your new album.

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Post by gillsans » Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:51 pm

Thanks Pheek!
Keepin' the beats deep in the groove bunker

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Post by -ix » Tue Jan 30, 2007 12:29 pm

Very nice interview Daniel and JP!
Thanks! Hey Pheek, tell me more about June!

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Post by pheek » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:11 pm

-ix wrote:Very nice interview Daniel and JP!
Thanks! Hey Pheek, tell me more about June!
There's good chances I play in Amsterdam. When I'll know more I will of course advertise it here! Would be cool to meet you again, Vincent! :D

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