T.O.P. Interview: Dez Williams (Elektronik Religion)

Words by Helena Markos

Tales of Psychofonia travels to Wales and meets Dez Williams, a well established dj and producer with unfading productions and a long career in the electronic music scene. Dez Williams has numerous releases on labels such as Earwiggle, Trust, Bedouin, MinimalSoul, Acruacree, Cheap, SCSI-AV, Blase, Voodoo, and Ben Sims‘ Native imprint.

Dez Williams is the founder of the UK-based label Elektronik Religion and his music oscillates from IDM to techno and electro. Dez is an endless source of dance-floor “bombs”Sounds carefully moulded, reflecting a knowledgeable and skilful artist. UK influences finely blended with subterranean Detroit beats. Ghostly synths, robotic vocals, demonic beats, distorted filthy cuts and driving baselines create Dez’s sci-fi world. 

Albums like his debut Elektronik Religion LP, released on UK’s SCSI-AV back in 2003, are an example of his original and inventive style. An artist who expresses himself through his machines and he actually does it very well.

Dez is the definition of the underground sound and he has not stopped impressing us, as he recently did with his fresh “Against your Will” EP, another diamond added to Bedouin’s collection.

T.O.P. is incredibly happy and honoured to share with you his real and honest words about his long journey into the music, memorable moments with big names of the scene and his viewpoint on music making and the modern clubbers.

 

elektonik religion

T.O.P.: How would you describe your music journey so far? Are there any people, moments or places that have marked this journey? 

D.W.: Well the music journey for me so far has been a struggle for sure, but also enjoyable with lots of twists and turns…

Even as a child growing up in the early 80’s hearing electro and synth pop, I knew that this was something that I wanted to be part of. And then as a teenager travelling to Leeds with friends to a club night called ‘The Orbit’, that was a life changing time. Until this day I’ve yet to visit a techno club that is as good as that place was.

It was there that I met an amazing bunch of guys based in Bradford who were also making tracks and were running their own record label ‘Acruacree‘, they were known as The Vonn Trapp Family. From there I was later introduced to Daz Quayle who ran SCSI-AV, this in turn lead to my first EP on his label and then later my ‘Elektronik Religion’ album.

 

T.O.P.: Is there any special characteristic or state of mind  that leads you to music creation? How does this work for you?

D.W.: I’ve always maintained a full-time day job in a factory, and many friends and people I meet question this. Well for me it’s a way of keeping a balance, as I know it would become  tiresome making music full-time just for the sake of it…You can’t force art! And this way I further appreciate the short time I have in the evenings to make music, so use it as best I can.

I turn on my equipment, and I make some music…Depending on my mood in that moment. It can sometimes start with a hard techno track or a weird experimental ambient track, or perhaps an electro track or a funky jazzy thing…Sometimes I make 1 track in a session, sometimes 12 or more. I could make an album or two in a day given the time and mood for sure.

Most of the time I do everything on the fly and usually keep everything as pure as possible with very little, if any editing afterwards. Capture the moment as best as I can without losing any of the true basic form and feelings.

T.O.P.: What is the biggest challenge in terms of production?

D.W.: I’m my own worst enemy. I love making music so much but when I make new music it’s never good enough, I know I can do better! It has always been an enjoyable challenge to make the best electronic music that I can for me personally, and hopefully others will enjoy the same pleasure while listening to it.

T.O.P. : Your recently released Against  Your Will EP is a strong reference to the Drexciyan world. What is the idea behind it? Is there any type of nostalgia for the old-good electro sound? Is there anything you are missing from the contemporary sound?

D.W.: Well I love electronic music so it was inevitable that one day I would stumble onto Drexciya’s work.. Which was quite a long time after I was already producing electro style stuff to be honest. I remember some people saying certain tracks from my Elektronik Religion album sounded similar to Drexciya, but I wasn’t really aware of their stuff back then. I’d been more into the heavier techno stuff (even had a gabber stage) before I chilled a bit and started to appreciate the deeper sound of techno. So as much as I love their music, I have never tried to produce any music that sounds like them, but sometimes it just turns out that way…Perhaps a similar state of mind at times.

I’ve always had massive respect for Underground Resistance (I once emailed Mike Banks back in 2003 to see if they would like a demo of my tracks, he was really cool in replying and told me to send a CD over to them at Submerge…But fuck I was too scared that my music would not be good enough so never did, haha!)

With Regards to the title of the EP ‘Against Your Will’.. Well I could go into a lot of stuff about that, but I think I’d rather leave it for others to have their own thoughts on it all…

T.O.P.: Any upcoming plans?

D.W.: Upcoming plans…Well, I’m always making new music, so hopefully lots more releases in the future. This latest EP on Bedouin is out now digitally with vinyl due July 2nd if I’m correct…Then I have another 3 vinyl releases due before the end of the year and also a couple of digital things on my bandcamp page coming soon.

I’m currently taking a break from playing gigs for a few months as I feel I need to recharge myself personally, and also to spend some time working on new music.

I have chatted with a few other artists about doing some collaborations, but nothing solid as yet…But who knows.

 

T.O.P.: Coming from North Wales and having a long history in the scene of electro/techno music, how do you see Rave culture nowadays? How do you see the change?

D.W.: Back in the 90s there were a couple of club nights happening regularly in North Wales, but that died out over time and nobody has really pushed anything here since. North Wales has always been a bit quiet on the electronic music side of things. Too be honest there’s no scene here of any kind.

But travelling over the last few years and seeing a new generation of clubbers is exciting. There is a younger crowd with a great passion for the music again, and hopefully we will see a lot of good new producers coming from that!

 

T.O.P.: Any memorable moments whilst performing?

D.W.: I’d say every time I have the pleasure of performing is memorable. Seeing people enjoying themselves and dancing to my music is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a teenager.

But performing in Amsterdam for Dave Clarke was probably one of my most memorable times so far. I’ve been a long time fan of Dave, so to have the honour to play at his event alongside himself, Dopplereffekt, Umek and Anthony Rother was truly amazing!

 

T.O.P.: Finally,  we always ask from the artists to share with us a record or piece of music which would ideally work as “painkiller” for the mind or soul. Which would be this for you?

D.W.: Very hard to chose as it would depend on the pain I had to kill hahaha! But if I really have to pick a track off the top of my head it would be ‘The Martian – Stardancer‘.

The first time I heard that track was in the club night ‘The Orbit’,  and it totally blew me away! So many great elements within the composition and it holds a lot of memories for me.