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Interview: Cleric [Figure/Clergy Records]

We sit down with the techno don to speak about his tour and return to Los Angeles
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1)  First off, a massive thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You mentioned you’re not one to really do these, so I really appreciate this. Let’s start from the beginning. How were you introduced to electronic music? What was that first record that blew your mind? What were some of the first events that you went to?

I was introduced to electronic music quite naturally, with house music being popular while I was in high school. We would send tracks to each other on our phones when we were in lessons.

DJing and producing was introduced to me by my sister's ex-boyfriend. He had a pair of 1210s and I was mesmerized by it when I was about 15 years old. This then led me to steal my brother's ID card and head to clubs like Sankeys and the Warehouse Project in Manchester (UK), and eventually bought my first set of vinyl decks.

The first record that really blew my mind would have to be "The Aztec Mystic aka DJ Rolando - Nights of the Jaguar” ...I think this was one of the first electronic tracks I heard that was really telling a story throughout it.

2) Building off the last question, what was your “Oh shit” moment, where you realized that electronic music was your way forward?

I never really thought that I wanted to make something from it, but there is one moment I remember really well. I was 2 years into an apprenticeship as a Hairdresser at Vidal Sassoon and rang my Dad and said, “Look I’m not sure I want to do this anymore, I want to go to a DJ/production school”. I expected him to slam the phone down as he had paid a lot towards my apprenticeship, but he was really supportive and he helped me look for a course.

3) Were there any lessons you learned early on in your career that you still carry with you today?

Stay humble & grounded….I have spent far too many hours at after parties, where a DJ or promoter is constantly promoting themselves or have too big an ego.

4) What does both a typical day look like for you, and an ideal day look like? How do you spend the first 90 minutes of your day? Do you read or meditate?

An ideal day would probably be a successful day in the studio, then to go out for a few drinks with friends or family. For me, just being alone in the studio producing a track is quite absorbing…I guess it’s meditating in its own way

5) You and Dax J collaborated on a three-track EP a few months back. How did that come to happen? Working together with someone can be either sensational or a massive headache, so how do you suggest people go about doing it the right way?

Funny enough my friend Jake who was quite new to techno just turned to me one day and said “…you know a mix of you and Dax would be sound ace” and I told Dax on the phone and he was keen on the idea. Then it flowed really well, we had finished 7 tracks in no time. I think when it comes to collaborating with someone, it's important to understand each other's styles and know your own weakness

6) When you are at your wit’s end and have reached a massive writer's block, what do you do? How do you overcome the frustration and get things moving again?

It’s a good question, maybe try to do something a bit out of the ordinary. Try something you haven’t tried before, then the excitement of using something in a different way will encourage you to be more creative. I also listen to a lot of different styles of music from Hip Hop, Indie & Jazz which can sometimes spark some creativity from a different angle.

7) Speaking of you and Dax J, you’re both coming to play here in LA on the 19th, and we couldn’t be more excited. With the underground movement growing stronger and stronger every night, what are your thoughts on Los Angeles, and America as a whole when it comes to techno? Btw, have you experienced In N Out?

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The scene here is definitely growing. It’s still very underground but there are some real key people pushing it and it's all for the right reasons, which is important. Some countries have quite a developed scene, but this could also attract a lot of DJs/promoters who are in it for the wrong reasons. I’ve actually never tried in N out, but I've heard a lot about it. Maybe it's time to lose my In N Out virginity this time.

8) Your record label, Clergy, recently put out an EP from Kymle. If I’m a producer looking to get on board with you, what is it that you look for when looking for new records to sign? What is the best way to get your attention?

I was playing a lot of unreleased tracks from Samy (Kmyle) and he really got my attention. His output just keeps getting better and better and I’m really looking forward to putting out his next record.

It's hard to explain how I would sign a new artist to the label because as much as I’d like to go through all the demos that are sent to me, it can be overwhelming. I think it would help all of the label managers and A/R people out there if producers were much more targeted when sending demos. There are a lot of tracks that are sent to labels that are clearly not a good fit and the drawback to that it prevents us from getting to music that is a good fit. As DJ’s we are constantly traveling and interacting with people whose music could work with a certain label. The personal connections we create usually end up being important.

9) Let’s get negative for a moment. What are some things that younger, or older, DJs and producers do that you just absolutely hate? Maybe simple mistakes that could easily be remedied?

I try to not concentrate on anything negative nowadays. I met someone recently that went into detail on the rules of attraction and it’s changed my outlook slightly.

But if you put a gun to my head and I really had to pick out one thing that irritates me in the scene, it would be the constant airport pictures by traveling DJs. I am still yet to meet a DJ that likes airports so I’m not sure on why they feel the need to post a shitty picture of one.

Social media has the potential to be really positive for upcoming artists and the music scene, but instead, it's draining the art out of it slightly. Anyway that's just my opinion, some people might actually like airports

10) Dense & Pika recently mentioned what they call “plastic sounding techno”. What do you think about the state of the scene as a whole? Do you think things have gotten stale or are starting to get exciting?

I guess that’s their opinion. I think it's become easier to release music nowadays but there are both pros and cons to this. The scene might be slightly oversaturated with ‘average' tracks, but you have to think about some of the really talented people that have shone through this. The same was said about bands in the 90’s where anyone with a guitar formed a band and there was a lot of average music, but because of this some incredible bands also came through. One major benefit of improving the accessibility into the scene is that some producers who are talented but maybe too shy to approach other labels are now also able to create an independent label themselves and release their music.

11) Mental health has become an important topic recently. It’s so easy to get sucked into the party life. How do you stay sane when on the road? Any suggestions? How do you keep going when things get dark?

Luckily I haven’t experienced this myself, so I’m probably not the best to comment on it. But if I was to suggest something it would be to find time for friends and family away from partying. Being on the road all the time can become a bit of a bubble, so your friends and family are usually the best at keeping you sane. Also taking time for yourself to do something aside from clubbing like walking & taking in some nature.

12) Last question. What would you say is the single most important piece of advice you could ever give to a young artist?

It's probably something they would have heard a thousand times, but be yourself. Don’t aspire to be like anyone else or sound like someone else, Individuality is key. You’ll never find happiness in competition and it’s a hollow success if your art is not from the heart

Catch Cleric and Dax J at Lot 613 for Prototype 059: Droid Prime

For tickets, click here.

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