We were fortunate to have the opportunity to catch up with Bill Patrick for this interview and podcast that he’s included for us to feature. We’ve been hearing about Bill since his days as a DJ in legendary New York city clubs such as The Limelight & Vinyl & Arc where he charmed his way into our hearts and moved our bodies. He continues to shake things up playing mega-festivals like Sunwaves in Romania or super clubs like Ibiza’sPacha, Berlin’s Panorama Bar and Rex club in Paris. Always striving to do more, Bill Patrick’s enthusiasm not only translates through everything he does but also who he is… Enjoy in his own words as he talks to us about the history of the dance scene as he knows it…
Questions & Answers with Bill Patrick –
– When did your music passion become an actual career?
Well, I started DJing in 1998 and like most of us, I struggled for a while before making it a career that I could financially depend on. I was living on friend’s couches, I was taking those shit gigs for no pay and “good exposure”, I was sleeping with the occasional promoter. No, just kidding!
Anyways, I would have to say things started to really blossom into a career around 2001 when I got my first residency at Vinyl/Arc in NY. I remember thinking, “Ok, this is big, I can make a career out of this. I’ll put in another 5 years.”
– How has the American’s underground music scene developed?
It’s taken a while but things are finally moving forward. For so long it seemed things were a bit stagnant and even moving backwards in a way. But with the addition of some new clubs in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, great promoters committed to good music like Link and Plot in Miami, Dax in San Francisco, Verboten and Blk Market in NY, Safari in Philadelphia and Dino and the Wavefront Festival in Chicago, the underground dance scene is really kicking off. With that whole EDM nonsense and the commercial success it’s found, you have this subsequent wave of underground parties going off as a result. So when people bitch about how terrible EDM is (and it is), you have to look at it in a positive light and see how it helps develop a stronger scene all around.
– Can you point out strengths and weaknesses of the underground scene in America?
Well, America will always be behind Europe but good things are happening like I was mentioning above with clubs like Output and Verboten in Brooklyn, Wavefront festival in Chicago and of course the Detroit Movement Festival, which I consider to be the best techno festival in the world. I just played there last week and was blown away. I’ve been going for years and playing after parties but this was the first time I played the actual festival. It was an incredible experience.
As for the weaknesses? I guess EDM is the obvious weakness but again, it’s kind of a gateway drug for many kids. I remember back in 1998 when I first got into this music, I was listening to Paul Oakenfold and BT. I then took it upon myself to explore things further and that’s when I found DJ’s like Danny Tenaglia, Sasha, Richie Hawtin, Sven Vath, etc. So if some little raver goes out to hear an EDM act and that opens his/her world up to a whole new sound then maybe they’ll explore a bit and eventually educate themselves to more underground acts.
– What does New York mean to you?
New York means home. It’s where I was born and raised. It’s where my family is. I still consider it to be the best city in the world. I’ve been missing it more lately and have decided to move back there come October. Not permanently but only for a few months. After 5 years abroad I’ve realized nothing else quite compares. But I kinda knew that when I was living there too.
– How would you describe your sound?
Fuck, let’s see. This is never an easy question. I play a ton of stuff in a night. Anything from Lawrence to Marcel Dettmann, Kevin Yost to Pig & Dan. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. I dont care, I play what I want to hear. I enjoy playing the deeper stuff, more trippy and cerebral, fucking with people’s heads at 5am instead of banging them over the head, ya know? I’m trying to make it interesting for me, which entail will make it interesting for the crowd. I do realize it’s a party so my goal is to make people dance and not be up my own ass, musically speaking.
– You have become a prominent DJ in the international scene as a result of your acclaimed DJ sets. Do you think there is still hope for upcoming talents to become prominent DJ’s without producing music?
Someone recently asked me if I had any advice for them as a new DJ who was looking to make a career out of just spinning records and I told them yeah, produce music. It’s a shame, but that’s how it is now. I started at a different time when DJ’s were getting booked for how they worked a party not for having a record on a trendy label. It sucks that there are promoters out there asking agents, “what label has he released on?” before they decide whether to book you. Fuck those promoters. Actually, I take that back. Don’t fuck those promoters. Fuck the crowd who is coming to that club. They’re the problem. Actually wait, I take back the part about the promoter again. They suck too. They should be trying to educate their shitty crowd by booking interesting DJ’s instead of the Flavor of the Month.
There are only a handful of clubs who have a respected booking policy. Panorama Bar, of course, is one of them. People trust the club and know they’re going to hear good music regardless of who’s playing and what night it is.
Anyways, I think there are other ways to make it in the scene without producing. Start a label, have a crew of friends who inspire you and play great music, play after-parties and make a name for yourself playing different music. Take chances and don’t follow any trends. It may take a little bit longer but someone will notice and you’ll carve a nice niche for yourself.
– Is there an upcoming DJ we might haven’t heard of that has stimulated your interest lately?
Well, they aren’t up and coming but Ben UFO and Gerd Jansen played b2b in Detroit recently and blew my mind. What was I saying about taking chances? They do it and they make it work. Really impressive. Other DJ’s to look out for, Bella Sarris, Randall Thompson and Julian Perez.
– Is there any particular project you’ve been involved in that you would like to talk about?
I love my radio show, Private Stock, but I’ve been so busy lately and on the road that I havent had time to find a studio and more importantly, any guests. So I haven’t had a chance to do it the last two months. I’m sad about this because it’s something that is really important to me. I’m going to try and get things back on track this summer.
– Who has been a major influence in your music career and why?
My influences are constantly changing. What influenced me 10 years ago definitely isn’t influencing me now. So I would have to say going out and experiencing those moments that inspire you to do better. Watching Ben UFO and Gerd Janson recently was definitely one of those moments. Playing Panorama Bar for the first time was another one. Constantly having a great group of friends around me like Guy Gerber, Ryan Crosson, Shaun Reeves, Seth Troxler and tINI, who are pushing things forward and doing things on their own terms and not conforming to a certain style or trend.
Also, my mom and my grandmother. They have always supported me and told me how proud they are of me, how lucky I am to be doing what I love and to be seeing the world and meeting so many amazing people. I’m always thankful for the support they’ve showed and it’s helped me to go out and try to make them even prouder.
– Is there a record you can’t live without and you always carry in your DJ bag?
Cevin Fisher “Love you some more”
– Do you think it’s more important the way a DJ approaches music or the tools he/she employs to play music?
I’ve seen people using all sorts of technology to play music. These controllers with all these stupid effects and traktor and loop machines etc, but all that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t approach it the right way. I’ve seen just as big a response when playing vinyl records with no effects and no fancy technology than when someone is filtering the fuck out of a track and adding all that delay and reverb.
– What’s in the pipeline for your summer 2013?
I’m currently living in Ibiza for the summer and holding down a residency at Pacha for Guy Gerber’s Wisdom of The Glove night on Wednesdays. We’re 4 parties in and everything has been amazing. We’ve exceeded the expectations I had and I’m really excited for what lies ahead with great acts like Four Tet, Nicolas Jaar, Actress and John Talabot. I’m also playing for Marco Carola’s night, Music On, plus tINI and the Gang on the beach in July. Not to mention the summer gigs off the island.