A host of great producers are turning their hand to vintage sounding house, making tracks that touch on the soul of Chicago while remaining fresh and contemporary. Perseus Traxx is one of them and This Is Our House caught up with him to talk about pre internet frustration, self releasing records and of course, house music.
Perseus, son of Zeus, and his mother Dannae were cast away from Argos, out to sea by her father Acrisius. Acrisius was warned by the Oracle that his daughter’s son would one day kill him. Perseus and his mother found refuge on the island of Seriphos, but endured decades of turmoil and violence at the hands of monsters and rouges, until the day Persues would return to Argos and slaughter Acredies.
And now, a man has come forth who bears the legend’s name, wielding vintage synthesisers and slaying sub-standard productions with unique and interesting rhythms.
Nigel Stephen Rogers is 35 year old, Cambridgeshire born Perseus Traxx. He’s had two releases – a wax stamped pressing on his own label Future Flash and the latest release from Dutch label Bunker. It’s Nigel‘s inherent soul and breadth of style – which can go from classic 303 manipulations, to a deeper, more atmospheric composition – which is also catching the interest of labels like M/O/S.
Tall, relaxed and broad shouldered, Nigel‘s non descript tee shirt and jeans hang casually, wisps of grey interjecting a mess of brown hair. His laughter is infectious as he chats in a soft Yorkshire accent about some early musical explorations.
His interest in dance music began at twelve, when reading about acid house while delivering newspapers, but with one record shop full of Indie and the other staffed by people exhibiting fairly typical, aloof behaviour, it was a struggle to feed his interest.
Then he received a small radio as a present. It had an antenna that clipped onto your inside aerial, picking up channels from around the U.K. He set about making some modifications, and with wire running over his lights and across the ceiling, he leaned dangerously out of his bedroom window and clipped it onto his gutter,
“That was it! On a Thursday night, for a few hours, I could pick up the Abstract Dance Show before it turned to fuzz at about one in the morning.”
Nigel exudes this can-do attitude. He leans back and talks modestly, but with deserved pride, about his first release, ’Remake 508’, a record which he funded with a settlement from a housing situation that went wrong.
“Guy [Tavares] at Bunker was interested in my stuff, but he had other music to release first, so I mentioned I was going to start Future Flash and he suggested I do ‘Remake 508‘.”
But releasing a record is not easy. Nigel’s demo was branded “too retro” by distributors who also requested a ‘big name‘ remix on it. Overcoming countless knock backs he eventually got a yes from Chris Duckenfield at All Ears Distribution.
After getting 100 pressed, Nigel hand stamped them with a wax seal, a task which nearly killed him. The sealing wax wouldn’t burn hot enough, so the wick had to be removed, leaving a pile of red lumps. With some angle nosed pliers, an empty tuna can and a small gas stove, Nigel began melting the wax down inside the tin and started branding each label.
“I stamped a hundred records. The fumes were brutal, I could feel them tearing up my lungs.”
Every copy of ’Remake 508’ went to Japan almost instantly, prompting Nigel to risk his life again and press another hundred for the distributors that had previously shunned him.
’Remake 508’ was a distinctly Chicago record – a sound that Nigel has set out to achieve – however his latest release, ‘Untitled‘, on Bunker, explores a wider sonic range.
Those tracks were composed over eight years, with a variety of hardware and software, under various living conditions. But, thanks to the expert selection of Guy Tavares, it works as a complete composition of interesting house music.
“’Untitled’ deviates from the Chicago sound a bit, some are more Detroit, and others, like ‘U-Boat’, I done quite a while ago.”
Some were even composed at a time when Nigel had become disenchanted with music. He was penniless and stressed, prompting him to sell his machines and begin a forestry course to take his life in another direction.
“It didn’t last long though, I was soon tinkering with software.”
Experimenting with Reason and Ableton, Nigel also began to incorporate some old samples from his machines, creating some of the acid sounds that feature on the record.
“I dropped out of the course and began buying equipment again, so some tracks are all hardware, but I don’t think you can tell the difference. It all sounds nice and fuzzy.”
And there is momentum building for his style of warm, analogue music. Nigel is already lined up with a release on legendary label M/O/S in the summer, as well as seeing offers from a few underground labels based in the U.K as well.
Perseus Traxx stands among the core group of producers that have one ear in Chicago and the other in the present. And just like the mythical Greek hero he is a battle hardened soldier, fighting against mediocrity and stagnation on the dusty plains of house music.