Gemma Dunleavy on her “everyday chat dressed as sonics” and the community injustice that spurs her on
Since signing to Warp late last year, patten has released a surprise EP, shared an ongoing, maze-like series of re-edits, and put out a new album, toured internationally, remixed Jon Hassell, kept things moving with his label Kaleidoscope, and started the 555-5555 parties at London venue Power Lunches.
Bearing in mind he's done all this within about 10 months, it's fair to say that he's one of the busiest people in electronic music right now, so what better time to reflect on his year and to look ahead to the future than now?
Ahead of his set at Wastelands festival in Ghent tomorrow (August 9th), where he'll play alongside Mykki Blanco, Palmistry, Gary Wilson, Amen Dunes and more, we caught up with the experimental producer over email to see what's going on in his world.
Last time we caught up with you like this was in March just after 'ESTOILE NAIANT', your second album and first for Warp, came out. Congratulations again. How's everything been?
patten: "It's been quite a crazy year so far. Been traveling all over, so many cities and amazing people. The US, Japan, all across Europe. Hoping to make it over to play more of Asia before too long. Japan was incredible – everywhere was really. It's quite Zen, the whole touring thing. Flying around, semi-nomadic. There but not there, if you see what I mean – constantly passing through. I've seen some beautiful things and have been hosted by amazing and warm-hearted people all over the world. Such a special time.
"Then there's 555-5555. Right now, that takes the form of clubnights, which are starting off back in London. There's a whole new phase of the Kaleidoscope label around the corner… really looking forward to sharing that with people out there. Then there's a lot I can't really tell you right now. Mad times, really."
Are you working on new music?
patten: "Always – it's a constant thing. There's so much being written right now. I chose not to go too full-on with the festival shows so that I could have clear space to really disappear into it again. It's been an amazing summer in that sense, with everything perfectly balanced between heading out to travel and play, and just pure immersion in writing."
What's the thinking the behind the 555-5555 nights? What was the impetus to start a new clubnight in a city inundated with them?
patten: "Well, looking around at what's happening right now in London, it's like everything's there, everyone's coming through and playing, but it's very stratified – it's all fairly separate and compartmentalised. There's a scale thing too. I'm into all sorts of spaces, but there's something about a certain scale of club. Those intimate venues where you're physically circulating in just a few feet but travelling such distances in your thoughts. A kind of deep intensity. Like the person right up close at the front and those hanging down at the back are having a similarly decent sonic, physical, and emotional experience.
"I think friction between things can be really valuable and with the 555-5555 nights, it's fully intended to have no real restrictions musically. There's so much to explore – so many voices adding something to the conversation. It's really about putting together those people out there looking for something special, in a tiny room with an unbelievable system, and incredible, incredible artists. What we're putting together is a music-first environment where what's being presented can be experienced in a really visceral and intensive way. We're super-particular about that environment. Just trying to make it a really special experience for everyone there – artists and crowd. Going out is an important part of all this and we felt there was something missing. It's a lot of fun. I've seen audience members really losing it in there. Really going for it. That's how it should be."
"I remember trying what ended up being the seed for 'RE-EDIT5' one night at Bossa Nova Civic Club, and these two people dancing near the booth were singing the lyrics as I cut this vocal element in and out of the mix. It was beautiful – really singing these words from deep down like they were written just for them – for that precise time and place. Some of those fleeting moments stick." – patten
Is the 555-5555 experience and spending the best part of a year of touring playing shows having an effect on your own music?
patten: "Undoubtably. It's all in there. I mean, you can see it in the 'RE-EDITS' series, which is maybe more transparent, process-wise. When I was in the States, for example, particularly in New York, I'd be out walking around in the day, soaking up the city – the feeling of a place, and in the back of my mind generating ideas for new edits, different little ideas to look at. I'd come back and get lost in testing those things out on earphones at the hotel, seeing where they could go, pushing sound around. Then the next thing, time's flown and I'd be running out for a cab to go play a DJ/re-edit set and carry on exploring it all further, alongside an audience. I remember trying what ended up being the seed for 'RE-EDIT5' one night at Bossa Nova Civic Club, and these two people dancing near the booth were singing the lyrics as I cut this vocal element in and out of the mix. It was beautiful – really singing these words from deep down like they were written just for them – for that precise time and place. Some of those fleeting moments stick. So those experiences, all the live A/V sets in different environments, and of course all the million and one things felt day-to-day outside of all that, have definitely fed in. It's really always connected, everything."