Just like the house music he's long been admired for, Fred P's relationship with records is a spiritual one. Possessing a warm energy and pensive gaze, the Brooklyn-bred, Berlin-based producer (real name Fred Peterkin) weighs in and is completely absorbed by the intrinsic value of his collection. "All the records you see here allow me to communicate," Peterkin says, while flicking through shelves of vinyl wedged between the production gear in his apartment-turned-studio in Berlin's Friedrichshain area where he's lived since 2014. "If you're true to yourself, you'll also find things that'll help you communicate with others," he continues.
Cutting his teeth in New York's hip-hop scene as an aspiring breakdancer in the 90s, Peterkin would later break through in house music around 2006 under his Black Jazz Consortium alias, and later on with his Soul People label. He'd soon begin collecting Nite Grooves compilations mixed by Ron Trent, Joe Claussell and Danny Krivit, as well as with American DJs like Jus-Ed and his wife Jennifer Mayanja—all who'd share his penchant for the jazz-infused, soulful tropes of house music. And with self-labelled "reshapes" for artists like Daso and Deetron, and lengthy DJ sets in holy rooms like Berlin's Panorama Bar, he's long been someone who travels deeper than the rest with his work. "When it comes down to house music, there's a variety; there are levels and steps," Peterkin muses, as he unpacks a record bag fresh from a weekend of gigs in Japan and Korea.
On the eve of his new album 6—an overly meditative take on his signature style, and second entry in a trio of LPs for Tokyo's Mule Musiq as FP-Oner—we asked Peterkin about his love for jazz, his time in New York, and what's been burning a hole in his bag. "I buy the records that touch me," he says. "The ones that make me feel, and remind me of something."
THUMP: What's a record that you've been digging lately?
Fred P: It would be some of the stuff that's actually in my bag right now. I'm really liking this new Mosaic. It's not super pristine like most of [Mosaic's] other records are and it has a little bit of lo-fi, but the bottom is really banging. It's like a really beefed up disco edit. It's not so deep, but usually when I play, I like to play party music.
Is this record representative of your surroundings in Berlin? Do you think it would it go down in New York?
It can go down anywhere. It's the type of music that I like which doesn't stick in any specific category. It's universal and is good for any time, anywhere, and has that timeless appeal. I try to avoid music for the moment; i'm looking for stuff I'm going to keep and enjoy forever. Four or five years ago, something like this wouldn't be in my bag, because what I was doing then was more personal, deep, and introspective. And this is the opposite of that. It's more extraverted.
Let's pick out something that's the opposite of this, something a bit introspective?
This is the soundtrack to Giorgio Moroder's Cat People, starring David Bowie. I saw this movie when i was a junior in high school, and the thing that struck me about it most was the music. It's an all electronic soundtrack. The movie is itself is sick too. It also stars Nastassja Kinski, and who doesn't love her! But the music itself is like all sequenced moogs and sounds that have never really left my head. It was proper electronic music at a time when I didn't really know what that was. Ever since then, I've been looking for this record. Eventually I found it in South Africa.
Does cinematic or soundtrack music reach out to you nowadays, or is it more of a nostalgic thing?
Actually I'll still play this today. There aren't many, but there are some soundtracks that stick out in my memory and are influential and exceptional. This is one, and another is Alphabet City. Nile Rogers did that soundtrack and it was like brilliant pop music. But I don't think that soundtrack was ever released.
What's a deeper cut from your bag?
I've been playing this since I got it, and since the day it came out. I'm wearing a hole in it. Both sides are ridiculous. Mark De Clive-Lowe is a brilliant pianist, keyboardist and jazz musician, and he's an amazing artist, so the collaboration [with Ge-ology] is genius. And for the record to be on Sound Signature makes total sense. It's electronic jazz that you can dance to, and that's a beautiful thing these days because it's a nice change from the purely soulful aspect, and the harder, tech-ier aspect. It's like a merging of the two with a nice icing on top. It's not obnoxious or overbearing, but enchanting, and only a brilliant musician can do that. Anything Theo Parrish touches, I trust. Not just his own releases, but his A&R which has a sound and aesthetic that he holds true to. I think this is the best record of the year.
This one's from Dakini9 and Jenifa Mayanja, who is DJ Jus-Ed's wife. They have a label together called Sound Warrior, and it's a compilation of tracks by themselves, plus other artists that they're introducing. These records are dope because these types of music really aren't out there in the forefront. This is the kind of thing that people will most definitely catch up on a year or two down the line. If you play any type of set and introduce one of these tracks, it's gonna have a profound effect because it's not in the air as much as something that's more common to play out.
This Patrice Scott joint is different from his other work—it's a jazzier record. It's not electronic jazz, but closer to traditional jazz. I've never heard Patrice do anything like this before, so it's very unique. I keep referring to jazz because it's the basis of everything; I like the blues, the chords, and certain artists are able to perpetuate that in a way that's influential for me. I also like minor chords, F chords and things like that. So when [those things] happen in dance music, it's totally on my wavelength. I'm totally attracted to jazzier elements and emotive elements, and the spirit and energy of it all. Letting go and what comes out is what it is. Patrice put his foot in this!
Is there a record which reminds you of your days in New York?
"Fly To the Moon," by Indigo. This record has a little bit of a cheesy vocal. A little bit. The reason why I say that is because it's a bit of a dated sound. But the piano stabs are so dope, and it goes through changes. There's a beginning, middle and end, and each part is different. The pads in it are really complementary. When I get homesick, I play this. I listen to it and it might give me a lump in my throat because it connects me to a friend. I play both sides at Panorama Bar, actually, and had to get a second copy.
Do vocals play a big part in your music at the moment?
I'm working on it. I have a vocalist I work with all the time who is an amazing talent. Her name is Minako. She appeared on "Free Your Mind," which I think is probably one of my best records. I also work with Christina Wheeler, who's appeared on Codes And Metaphors and will be on some things going into the future. With a singer, it's about the marriage between the right lyrics, melody, and ability for the vocalist to get immersed in the music.
What about percussion?
As you can see, there are no real drums here in the studio. I try to use high quality samples and then create my own patterns. I'm really big on the percussive element and I've used it a lot since the beginning. There are some tracks that are more stripped back and electronic, but when I get into the "deep" thing, there's definitely a percussive element. I like polyrhythms and the idea of filling a space with percussion, while still having enough room for other elements and not letting it get too crowded. It's like if you're cooking in the kitchen, you gotta make sure you got all the right ingredients otherwise the food's not gonna taste good!