Fred P aka Black Jazz consortium has released on his own imprint “soul people music”, jus-ed’s “underground quality”, Dj qu’s “strength music” and well known as an important artist&dj in the modern new york house scene as well as jus-ed, levon vincent, Dj qu and Anthony Parasole. anyone who followed the development of house music made in the usa in the last decade will certainly have met the art of fred peterkin aka fred p aka black jazz consortium. Since a while the new york city native that is working on his very own music for almost 20 years is on everyone’s lips as he is releasing some of the gentlest soul infiltrated four-to-the-floor house creations you can get. His musical set phrase isn’t new or special as he is often simply melting shuffling percussions with elementary melodies. but he does it in a sense that the heavy used and abused phrase “deepness” finally gets a fresh truthfully new meaning. As a man who danced in his younger years in legendary nyc clubs like the red zone, sound factory or tunnel to dj sets of larger-than-life selectors like david morales, frankie knuckles or danny tenaglia, he learned that sometimes less is more. and that he should rather listen to his heart and soul, then to the susurrus of the music market.
let’s talk about the new label, Perpetual Sound. What was the motivation behind this one? Was the idea to create something stylistically different to Soul People Music?
Totally, yeah. This is actually a completely different scenario. With Soul People Music, the way I like to look at it, it was a bit of a growing process. I was brand new with that, I was coming out at the beginning of the digital age because it started off as a digital label and then became physical around 2007, but started in 2005. I did a lot of releases through that, but it was more of an education process because I didn’t know that much about the business and went through all the growing pains of that and just a year or so ago, my distributor closed. This was right after I did the second Incredible Adventures of Captain P album, Escapism, and it ended in a way where I felt I needed a fresh start and I didn’t exactly know how I was going to go about that. But I did know that what I wanted to do moving forward was something that wasn’t just solely based on me, being the sole artist on the label. I wanted to do something more collaborative, work with other artists and spread it out genre-wise – enough that would make sense with the narrative that I would like to put together. The concept behind Perpetual Sound is: sound is perpetual, it’s consistent, it never stops.
You’re prolific on your own, you’re able to bang out albums quite readily. So how do you approach the collaboration process?
It came about naturally. Let’s take Minako for example. I met her in 2009 on my first trip to Japan and we kinda hit it off. She let me know that she sang and we just developed a friendship from there and began working together. That’s how she came to appear on almost all of my albums. She’s amazing. But if we fast forward to Slikk Tim, I was basically looking at what some of my limitations are. I mean, I’m great at chord progressions and finding interesting chords, but I’m a terrible bass player so when putting together some new material I became frustrated. I put a call out there for bass players and a friend of mine put me in contact with Slikk Tim. We talked and he was down to try some stuff and from that moment we did a lot of work together. He’s featuring heavily on my next album. In my opinion he’s a virtuoso – he can play bass guitar, keys, sing, he does everything and he’s an amazing talent. He has a project called Gary Gritness which is pretty awesome, and hopefully we’ll be releasing some of his music on our label later on.
There’s something very particular about a Fred P chord progression, melancholic yet optimistic. ‘Mystery of Fantasy’ on the new EP is a prime example. How do you technically achieve that?
Very painstakingly [laughs]. It depends man. There’s an infinite amount of combinations but there’s a finite amount of ways to get particular voicing. I’m not a classically-trained keyboard player by any means but I know what I feel and I sit in the studio for hours just finding my way around a keyboard until I find that space, like ‘That, that’s what I’m trying to articulate’. It’s one key at a time until I find that space.
You used to do hip-hop before you came back to house music. Who are some of the producers and MCs that were particularly inspiring to you at the time?
It was the golden age when you had to be on point so everyone was fresh and new at the time. Off the top: Tribe, De La, D.I.T.C., Showbiz & AG, Diamond D, Cella Dwellaz, Da Bush Babiez, Masta Ace, Lord Digga (production), Rahzel (he MCs also), The Roots (they came later near the end), Gang Starr, Leaders Of the New School, Black Sheep, Shakey, The Beatnuts, Black Moon, Mobb Deep, Pete Rock and CL Smooth and the list goes on and on. They all make up the my history and still inspire me today.
Have you brought some of those lessons that you learned listening to and making that music into your house music production today?
Well, listening to music in general, there are things that I adapt and apply to help me express my voice. That touches a lot of genres, from hip-hop to rock to pop to classical. I mean in the sonic sense not so much the content, more of the experience of the listener. For example, how does if feel? More clearly how does the sound make you feel? So I adapt from influences more than technique or content or even sound. Feeling is where it’s at, the exploration of it and the possiblities.
Do you have a formula you tend to use?
Not particularly. The thing is, every song is different. Even if there are similarities, the process to get to it is different. I look at it the same way as digging for records to play a set. Every song has its own energy, its own vibe, but the person playing it will play it in a way that is singular to them. So when putting together a tune, it’s the same kind of process. You know where the finish line is, but how do you get there? The journey is what actually creates the song, that’s what makes it special.
Your various aliases seem to express mostly the same feeling but through different rhythms, different grooves. How do you distinguish those different identities in your mind?
It’s a mood thing. Fred P stuff is pretty straightforward. If I’m doing a remix or a reshape, I take the material that I’m inspired by and then reinterpret it as if it were my own tune, whereas Anomaly is pretty stripped back and functional for the dance-floor. There’s a whole catalogue of Anomaly music that I just play in the club that’s never been released. So when an Anomaly record does surface, it’s because it’s like ‘Okay, this is more than just a DJ tool, there’s an actual tune here’. The FP197 stuff is just me doing weird, leftfield stuff with a dance floor perspective, and Captain P is just me reminiscing about growing up in New York, what those influences are musically and how I feel nostalgia about certain things. For example the Escapism album, I was basically musing about walking around New York back in the ’90s and what that sounds like, what the influences were like. So that album was about getting out of that, travelling the world and everything. It’s usually just me musing on memories, so the sounds will come across emotionally as different moods.
Can you talk a bit about how you hooked up with Move D and Jonah Sharp?
This is a good question because the history of it is very organic and cosmic—I never get tired of breaking it down. Also I get to shed some light on some facts that may have not been mentioned. My first solo EP on Soul People Music was called No Looking Back, and it got some attention from a very talented forward thinking DJ and also a very sweet and amazing person, Tanja Harde, who at the time was playing the title cut on a show she co-hosts on Frankfurt radio. I was then invited to play a couple of gigs in Germany, which was my very first time overseas. One was at a very special club called Hafen 2 and other was at another very special place called Cube. There I met Move D, and right away I was like, “this guy is really cool.” His playing style was on a different level, and he blew me a way with his technique. So there it all began. Here is where the story gets cosmic: Jonah Sharp—one half of Reagenz—is also Space Time Continuum, which was and is still a huge inspiration to me back in 1999-2000. This is when I was getting back into production in the first place. He and Move D did a rendition of “Everyday” from the No Looking Back EP live in Japan, and this track went on to become “Keep Building” from the Playtime album, which still to this day makes me believe in the power of music and how it brings people together, as these guys are heroes of mine that influenced me and made an impact on my life years before we met.
Jazz clearly has a major influence on you.
Oh yeah man, I love jazz. Back in the day, there was this radio station called CD 101.9 and I guess it would be considered elevator music, but they played amazing acid jazz and alternative jazz and I used to listen to this radio station for years. Sadly they went off the air about 10 years ago, but it was a huge influence on me because aside from the pop and R&B stations, they played a lot of great electronic stuff sitting right next to proper jazz music. It was different from everything else that was happening on the radio and that was what made it so influential for me. I’ve always been left of centre, I always want to hear what’s different because what’s popular is apparent. It’s like ‘Okay, we know that this is the thing that everyone is doing, but what’s the thing that no one is doing?’ and CD 101.9 was that station.
What’s next for Perpetual Sound?
A collaboration between myself and Deetron which is definitely dance-floor focused. Then an album which is currently in production, it’s taking a bit of time to get together but it’s coming along nicely. I’m having a really good time working on it because I’m slightly out of my depth, which is where you should be if you intend on taking a step forward. I’m also putting together a Soul People Music compilation and releasing some music from Simbad and a couple of other artists which I won’t mention yet.