Pocketknife is a DJ from New York that makes purists either party or puke. His mixes at Allez-Allez and BeatsInSpace are trips through screwed N chopped hip hop, space disco, power rock, Trax-era house and horror synths, his releases with his buddy Cousin Cole have made it into the record bags (or, more likely, the iTunes playlists) of Diplo, Todd Terje and loads of others, and he’s reworked artists from Lykke Li to Yeasayer to Liars.
Of course, this resume may not read so well if you’d rather see scenes stick. “Yeah, some people get upset about the erosion,” Skooby Laposky (probably his real name) says over Skype from Brooklyn. “But that’s at the heart of the whole sampling culture from the beginning, you know? And yeah, I’ve never been a purist. I read an interview with JD Twitch [who’s well into Pocketknife, btw], and I totally get his attitude toward music – seeing similarity rather than difference. I DJ out of thirst, you know?”
It was a chance meeting with mentor Theo Parrish at art school that got him out of hip hop and into house. “He approached, then took me under his wing, showed me his philosophy. After he taught me how to use the 1200s I got from the pawnshop, that was that – skipping meals to buy records, the whole deal.” A stint in graphic design (“Music and colours – they’re very related”) lead to a day job at MoMA as a visual merchandiser and their resident events DJ. Now, EPs like Canyon Dancing and Tambourine Dream on his own Flagrent Fowl imprint have turned his hobby fulltime.
Later in the year, he’ll join the dance-geek trinity of Walter Gibbons, Larry Levan and Francois Kervokian when he remixes Arthur Russell on a new record of of rarities and collaborations. That’s months away though. We’ll next get a chance to see him when he’s over in April. “Yeah, Cousin Cole and I got some cheap flights, so we’re going to take care of some business and play a few parties. I’m looking forward to it.”
Funny thing is, despite his “eclectic” CV, he’s totally got his own sound. But he’s buggered if he can work out what it is: “Yeah – I like midtempo, space, heart. Anything interesting. On these EPs, I’m trying to work what I sound like.”