In our second series of Global Insight we chat with DJ/Producer/Label/Club Owner, Pav Parrotte, to take a deeper look at Philippines’ capital city, Manila, where we have seen a rise in underground electronic music in recent years thanks to him and his team’s relentless effort to push for what they believe in. In this series we discuss his early years as a DJ and where his influences came from along with his personal opinion on where Underground music is heading for the Philippines and Asia in general. Pav is also scheduled to make his debut performance on the island of Guam this Saturday for the 6th annual SESSIONS.
What were your first memories of electronic music and which DJ/Producer would you consider to be someone that has influenced you personally?
My first memories were of the rave culture in the early nineties – It was at a time when the beats were faster than they are today and the tunes were all so full of energy. There weren’t all the sub genres that we see today, it was just House, Techno, Hardcore and Jungle or DnB as it is known today. I guess the first person to influence me in this scene was my brother, who would take me to raves whilst he was on leave from the army. I had the time of my life during those times and it was the start of a very fun time which has led me to today.
Tell us a little bit about your journey from living in the UK to permanently settling in Manila? What was the transition like and how did you manage to adapt?
I was sent to Manila to start a project (for my day job). I was only supposed to be here for 3 months but here I am almost 10 years later and I’m still in Manila. The transition was easy for me as I had been working on ships in the merchant navy for many years, travelling the world, seeing, experiencing and learning different cultures. Having said that, even after being in Manila for this long I still see things that surprise me every single day, some good things, some bad things but I still have this love for the Philippines which cannot be broken nor explained. During my first year in Manila I didn’t get involved in the scene at all as I wanted to concentrate on making sure I could get the building blocks in place for my day job to keep me here. This happened quite easily and then once my professional career was stable and I knew I could stay here in Asia I began to get back into the scene and started to make friends, get gigs and get fully involved in the scene again.
Time in Manila is becoming a well know landmark in Asia’s underground electronic music community. Most of us in this business realize the difficulties and challenges faced as an owner to run a nightlife operation. What would you consider to be the key to success as you recently celebrated your three year anniversary.
We did just celebrate our 3rd anniversary but come January 2015 we will have been open for 4 years. It is a very tough business to get into and you have to immerse yourself in it whole heartedly. When I joined forces with my partners to start this journey of what has become TIME in Manila, making money from it wasn’t my first priority. For me it was about having somewhere for people (most especially myself) to got to get their fix of underground music. It was at a time when there were no other outlets to get this fix and at a time when the “super clubs” really started to go on a roll and cater to the masses in Manila. This was good for us tho because we were coming in with something different and I knew that as long as we could stick to our guns with our music policy we could weather those all important first 2 years of business to be able to position ourselves for the long run.
I am really proud of what we have been able to achieve and yes, to be getting the kind of recognition that we see today about being one of Asia’s underground landmarks is brilliant and it would not have been possible without all of our DJs, Promoters and staff and most especially my partner, Jay server who is at the business end of the club whilst I take care of the music side. We have gone through good as well as difficult times together but we have always backed each other up with our ideas and concepts and most importantly in my eyes we have kept the idea of underground music being our anchor and this is what I truly believe has enabled us to still be around after almost 4 years.
How did you get involved with the Asia Music Label and what was the vision behind the brand and how have you been able to balance between operating a club and running the label?
Asia Music was actually started in 2007. It was just a one man show at that time and was the project of Oscar Oka who dreamt of a platform for Asian artists to release music on and showcase to the world. I became a partner in 2012 with the aim to push the label and it’s artists further and to put the label on the map in a global sense as a brand. Being a label boss has been fun and I have met a lot of personalities along the way and been able to extend our little network into a much bigger circle which in turn has led to much more of the music we release being bought by punters all across the world. The vision of the label still largely remains to be a platform to Asian artists but we have opened up this vision to include non Asians that live in Asia and will soon be opening up to having artists releasing on our label regardless of where they come from as long as the music can be remixed by an Asian or Asia based artist so that we can retain the “Asia” aspect of the label on all releases. Balancing the label and the club is easy as they both compliment each other well…it is busy as hell but I love it and I have learnt so much more about this very tough industry.
Philippines is a country currently dominated by commercial club music. With that being said, what do you think needs to happen in order for underground electronic music to be properly delivered, but most importantly accepted by clubbers and festival-goers in the Philippines? Do you think bringing in household names like Richie Hawtin, Dubfire, Sven Vath, Adam Beyer to the Philippines would draw enough attention and buzz to expand the movement?
Commercial music is king in the Philippines but I think that is the same in most countries. There will always be a commercial side and people will and do make lots of money from it but underground music is not supposed to be popular and it really does only cater to a niche crowd which is only a very small percentage of any club going population. I do not believe that bringing in top acts for festivals and big room events is the sole answer for expanding the movement. It will be good for the scene and that coupled with having somewhere like TIME where you can rely on the delivery of fresh underground music will certainly help but the reality of sucking in and educating the masses to listen to something different will be short-lived and most would soon go back to their glamorous clubs where they can book tables on the dance floor and have bottle service from their very own assigned waiters and where they can have their pictures taken with local celebrities. This is a reality that we have accepted but not one which we not have given up on. All of the above is not to say that we should not have these big, traditional, underground acts play in the Philippines because we should and TIME and or Asia Music will get involved in that when we see that it makes economical sense to us. It is a huge investment and one which needs to be thought out very carefully as it would not be a fast sell out as you see with many of the big events with the more commercial acts on the line-up. It would be a wicked event for me even if only a few couple turned up but that ain’t gonna pay the bills for the event itself. The key for putting on a show like that would very much rely on sponsors covering most of the costs and sponsors prefer the more commercial acts for obvious reasons.
There seems to be a vast pool of talent in Asia that are mostly unknown in the U.S. or Europe. Who are some of the producers from the Philippines and Asia that you particularly follow? and who are some up and comers that you think are on the rise that deserves some attention?
Asia is often overlooked when it comes to talent in this industry but there is a so much out here. The first pioneers for Asians in this industry were Ken Ishii and Satoshi Tomiie they took the world by storm over 20 years ago and they remain to be big influential underground acts today. Fast forward to today and we find even more talent. For me the best producers from Asia are Satoshi Fumi & Ryan Pamatmat and one to watch out for is Apsara, of course, all 3 are Asia Music artists and they bang out some wicked beats and are pretty solid DJ’s.
Have you ever been to or heard of Guam? What are you looking forward to during your weekend stay on the Island? And what can some of our guests at SESSIONS expect from your set this Saturday?
This will be my first time to Guam but I have sailed past on ships when crossing the Pacific Ocean. My set on the night will depend on what the crowd want but I am hoping they will be up for some floor shaking, energy driven House and Techno. I am really looking forward to seeing the few people from Guam that I have met whilst they have been on trips to Manila and I am really excited to come and play for all of them, meeting some new folks and joining forces for putting the wheels in motion for making sure we all have an absolute blast that night.
As we come to the end of 2014, what has been some of the more memorable moments for you this year? And what can we all expect in 2015 from both TIME, Asia Music, and your personal agenda as a DJ/Producer?
2014 has been a whirlwind year, I released a 3rd EP on Plastic City with one of those tracks being included on Terry Lee Brown Jnr’s “Terry’s Cafe Vol.16” compilation and DJ mix which was recently released on Plastic City. http://www.beatport.com/release/terrys-cafe-16/1407789
I have continued to work with my best mate Ryan Pamatmat on original productions and remixes and we have put out a few tracks together including a remix for Satoshi Fumi on Bass Works Recordings which in my opinion is the best collab work Ryan and I have done together. http://www.beatport.com/track/all-nite-ryan-pamatmat-and-pav-parrottes-freq-remix/5282964
Ryan and I also remixed a track for L2 Music where the finished product was a more peak time dance floor oriented techno number and one which opened me up to experimenting a little more on that side of production. http://www.beatport.com/track/memories-i-keep-ryan-pamatmat-and-pav-parrotte-freq-remix/5867322
2 tracks from 1 EP by Marshall White were included in a Transitions mix by John Digweed this year, which for us was a massive confirmation that we are doing something right. We also got Jimmy Van M onboard for a remix and we are now talking with some other big named artists for some future projects. http://www.beatport.com/label/asia-music/15363
In 2015 as a producer and as a label I/we aim to do a lot more collaboration work with other artists and labels. I am currently talking with 2 well known Japanese artists and we plan to start working together in 2015 on both production and label work. In my opinion working on collaborations allows you to learn so much more, it also opens up your network of colleagues many of whom become very good friends…..not to mention the fun involved. Ryan and I have another remix for Satoshi Fumi due out in early 2015 on Bass Works Recordings and we will continue to work together on productions.
TIME will continue the same way we have done, we will continue with our flagship nights and we will continue to showcase regional artists alongside the best acts that Manila has to offer as well as having our special events with the bigger international underground acts every couple of months.
The thing I look forward to most in 2015 is having an absolute fuckin blast 😉