Contrary to what his name might suggest, Pariah is certainly no reject in the world of electronic music. His solo offerings have showcased soulful, melancholic sounds that work both in and outside of the club. Now he’s formed Karenn with his mate, Blawan, for producing and performing badass techno in full live analogue mode and the pair have established their own vinyl only record label. Busy as he might be, Pariah took some time to answer a few questions for us, ahead of his visit for Origin NYE.
This is your second venture down under. How was the first tour? Did you get much of a chance to check out Australia, outside of the clubs?
When I came over in May with Blawan it was the first time that I had ever been to Australia and I had such a great time! Unfortunately, because Jamie and I were only there for a few days, neither of us got a chance really to check out much of the country which was a real shame. This time, though, I’ve got a couple of days off in between Sydney and Perth so hopefully I’ll get a chance to do something!
How did you learn to produce? Are you self-taught?
Yeah, like a lot of people, I’m self-taught. I got myself a copy of Logic about three and half years ago and figured out how to use it. I’ve always been envious of those who have studied production and engineering because I know that I still struggle with getting mix downs that I’m happy with. I’ve found, though, that since moving more towards working with hardware than on a computer I’ve begun to learn so much more about the technical side of things which is great because it’s something that I’ve always been interested in.
You and Blawan are working together under the guise of Karenn. You also a run a label, Works the Long Nights, together. How did you come to work so closely with Blawan?
We were playing a lot of shows together around the time where he had his first R&S release out and we became friends through that. We have pretty similar tastes in music and it just seemed like a good idea to try to write some music together. The label stemmed from the fact that, despite having offers from labels to do a Karenn record, no label wanted to put out the three tracks that we wanted to put out. It made sense, therefore, just to do it ourselves. It is only since we started the label that our vision for where we want to take it and who we want to release has really started to take shape.
The techno styling of Karenn is really turning heads. It’s quite different to your solo offerings. Have you always been into techno, or is this new territory for you?
If anyone has heard me DJ over the past couple of years then they will know that a lot of the music that I play is either house or techno so, no, this is not new territory for me. It is, however, relatively new ground for me from a production point of view and I understand that there’s a big difference between Karenn and my solo stuff but we don’t view Karenn as collaboration between Blawan & Pariah. It’s not supposed to sound like a mix of our respective styles or sounds. What I think has cemented the project as something that can be considered as separate from what we do on our own is the live show and the way that we now record our music. For example, all the tracks on SHEWORKS004 are one take live recordings.
How do you find playing live compared to DJ’ing?
It’s a totally new experience for us both and though we’re still learning, the shows that we’ve done so far have been great. For me playing live is completely different from DJ’ing. In some aspects you have more freedom than when you’re DJ’ing because you have total control over every single element of every single track that you play but, simultaneously, you also more restricted than when DJ’ing because you only have a very limited material to work with.
What are you trying to accomplish with Works the Long Nights? Is it a platform for your own productions or are you looking to break new artists as well?
Well primarily, it’s a platform to release Karenn material but we want to release other artists as well. We’ve already released one record from an Irish guy called Sunil Sharpe and next year we’ll be releasing some music from some other artists. We don’t have some massive plan for it. We just want to release uncompromising, raw club music on the format that we both love the most.
Finally, what can we expect come NYE? Any unreleased goodness in the bag?
I went through a phase where I was playing a lot of unreleased material but not so much anymore. It got to this point in the UK where you had all these people playing certain tunes that were unreleased but as soon as they came out everyone stopped playing them as if, somehow, the fact that they were available to buy meant they were no longer worth playing in a set. Of course, it’s nice to have a couple of exclusives or new tunes, but that is never the focus for my sets. I like to play a wide range of material both new and old and somehow make it all make sense together!
Interviewer: Thomas Phillips