As head of the ever forward-thinking Planet Mu label, Mike Paradinas can easily assert himself as one of the most influential and original voices within UK electronic music. After rising to prominence in the early 1990s as ｵ-Ziq within the then-radicalising realm of techno and IDM that bore Aphex Twin and Autechre, Paradinas built Planet Mu from the ground up to become one of the best labels around. His own music has since come to reflect the journey of the label, and has most recently been treated to a compilation of previously unheard tracks entitled ‘Somerset Avenue Tracks’, which sees selected productions from his mid-90s period pulled together in a limited edition LP release.
The clarity and scope of these tracks are a testament to Paradinas’ progressive work, and his most recent project alongside his wife Lara Rix-Martin as Heterotic carries on this legacy with a renewed intensity. Heterotic are set to release their debut LP ‘Love And Devotion’ on Planet Mu on March 25th, and to celebrate the upcoming release, Heterotic have brought us an exclusive mix of their singularly greatest and deepest rooted mutual influence – Detroit techno – and Mike spoke to us about their collaborative work, the influence of Detroit and what’s next for Heterotic.
Why do you feel the contemporary fascination of electronic music with Detroit continues to this day?
Mike: I’m not so aware of it these days but back in the 80s and 90s, the lure of the exotic, US import 12“s had a lot to do with it. I’m sure that many a musical sin was forgiven if a record came in a shrink-wrapped sleeve. I immediately think of certain sax-laden electronic jazz-funk records which received wall-to-wall acclaim much to my surprise/disgust. Maybe that’s what inspired me to make Jake Slazenger. But more specifically, obviously the socio-economic conditions in Detroit have had a long term impact on its musical outlook. I still hear new music that has the same spirit that attracted me back in 1990, such as Kyle Hall and Omar S.
How would you describe your new LP to someone who hasn’t heard your work before, and how does it tie into your love for Detroit, if at all?
Mike: Well, because I immersed myself so much in Detroit records (though not exclusively of course) back when I was learning to DJ, they’ve become part of my subconscious musical language. In that sense, they seep into almost everything I do. As for describing it, I think it is an electronic pop album has a sense of romance, but a deep melancholic tinge too.
You haven’t release solo material for a long time – what spurred on the Heterotic project, and particularly in terms of the collaborative element?
Mike: It started while I was teaching Lara ‘Logic’ and it just evolved very naturally from that. I hadn’t really written anything for a couple of years apart from the odd remix. We started playing around and writing tracks to learn the software, but I think we were both surprised that the results were very good. And that’s what you hear on the first album. Lara is a great partner because she is just naturally and un-self-consciously musical. Her confidence also spurred me on to write more solo material, and there will be a new ｵ-Ziq album this summer too.
What attracted you to working with Gravenhurst on the LP, and what do you think the vocals lend to the production?
Mike: Lara and I thought that some of the tracks would suit vocals. Marcus Scott from the label agreed, and suggested Gravenhurst to us. I like the soft lilt of his voice and agreed that it would suit the tracks, so we got introduced and sent over some MP3s. I think the results added to the sense of melancholy – which exists in the original instrumentals too, trust me! – and obviously Nick’s lyrics and melodies add a lot of content and depth to the album.
What does the next few months hold for Heterotic?
Mike: We are planning to play a gig at the next Planet Mu night with Gravenhurst singing live in May or June in London, and we are also preparing our second album which is almost done. We’re working with with Vezelay (AKA Matthieu de Berre) on this one, singing his unique falsetto on most of the tracks. It’s a very different, in my eyes more poppy, Lara says it’s more “trip-hop”, so just wait and see…
01 Rhythim Is Rhythim – Strings Of Life (Model 500 & Carl Craig Remix) (Transmat/Buzz)
02 Piece – Free Your Soul (Future) (Planet E)
03 BFC – The Climax (Retroactive)
04 Vice – Mindmelt (430 West)
05 Octave One – Nicolette (430 West)
06 Underground Resistance – Gamma Ray (UR)
07 Underground Resistance – UR-046 (NSC)
08 Model 500 & The Martian – Search Your Feelings (Red Planet)
09 The Martian & Eddie Flashin’ Fowlkes – Sex In Zero Gravity (Red Planet)
10 Psychic Warfare – Tensions (Black Nation)
11 Jay Denham – Last Dance (Black Nation)
12 Psychic Warfare – Tails From The Crib (Blak Nation)
13 Jay Denham – Black Trax (Black Nation)
14 Jay Denham – Plus (Black Nation)
15 A Relic – Long Ago (Transmat/Buzz)
16 R Tyme – R Theme (Transmat)
17 69 – My Machines (Planet E)
18 Paperclip People – Paperclip Man (Planet E)
19 Fix – Flash (KMS)
20 Frequency Vs Atkins – Industrial Metal (Lower East Side)
21 Underground Resistance – Message To The Majors (UR)
22 World 2 World – Amazon (UR)