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Brighton Mixtapes - POoK - Episode 024


Kurk

Brighton Mixtapes: POoK 024

We're so excited to continue our Brighton Mixtapes Series. Since the success of our beloved Berlin Mixtapes Series, which has featured awesome guests so far, we are on a mission to showcase more of the exciting talent that is right on our doorstep.


Next up we welcome one of Brighton's longest running DJs and Berlin-Brighton resident Matt POoK. Inhabiting a harmonic ecosystem from inception, he has spent a lifetime gathering inspiration from artists as diverse as: Hawkwind, Hendrix, King Kurt & Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns – and from genres ranging from punk, break beat, psychobilly and acid house.


With solid foundations hammered into the cold, dark, granite of the Welsh Mountain free party scene, his musical journey has seen him stick to roads less travelled and choose to remain in the darker realms.


Initially concentrating on carving out his space as a DJ, organic growth from the 90s rave scene and through early progressive house - it was then that breaks became a real thing.
Fully embroiled in the scene and never content to simply exist, it was during this time (circa 2000 onwards) that his much lauded brap.fm radio show “The Beatroute Sessions” received regular nominations for “Best Radio Show” at Breakspoll. With breaks his chosen rhythm for nearly a decade it was not until 2010 when he rediscovered techno and prog-house that his focus switched back to 4/4.
It was with this move across to driving beats that also came the decision to hone his production skills – PS1 Music Maker made way for Logic which was then switched for Ableton and rather than selling his soul for quick fire success, spent time diligently putting in the hours to learn and craft the exceptional skills he holds today.


Now certain in his sound and ability to consistently deliver; initial releases including “Lola” (Dino Audio) have seen huge support from the likes of Dave Seaman, Davide Squillace, Aly & Fila, Paride Saraceni, Danny Tenaglia, Paco Osuna, Cid Inc, Solarstone, Soul Button and many more. Since then releases have come far and wide with a recent signing to Hollens label - Prospect Records plus EPs on Krafted, Nightshift as well as Meat Katie’s label Lowering The Tone Records.


To take things a step further, POoK has launched Red Giant Recordings which has seen a string of top ten releases and achieved a number one on Beatport in the techno charts.

With regular bookings across the UK and as a central figure in Brighton’s inspired, underground, electronic music scene; POoK is a rising star with sights, much like his beloved techno, set firmly on the future and all that his hard graft and undeniable talent will bring.



Hi Matt, how are you and what have you been up to this week?

I’ve had a busy week, to say the least! I’ve been focusing on a few exciting projects. First off, I’ve been working on promoting my latest EP, ‘Concrete Jungle,’ which is currently doing well on Beatport, ranking in the top 30 on two charts.


I’ve also been handling the administrative side of things for an upcoming release on Red Giant Recordings. It’s a great two-track techno EP by Tony Bruno, and I’m looking forward to its release.


In addition, I’ve been collaborating with Lola to plan some events for 2024. I can’t spill all the beans just yet, but we’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline.


And the cherry on top of this week has been signing with 7Artist Management. They represent some amazing artists like The Orb, John 00 Flemming, and African Headcharge. I’m genuinely excited to be part of their artist roster.


How long have you been DJing?

I’ve been DJing for quite a while, actually since 1991, which means it’s been a good 32 years now!


POoK


What inspired you to start DJing?


Music has been a constant thread in my life, and I’ve worn many hats in the world of sound – from drummer to guitarist, bass player, and even a front man. However, it was the electrifying experience of attending raves that truly set me on the path of DJing.


Witnessing the transformative power of DJs on the crowd was mind-blowing. In that moment, any lingering aspirations of being in a band faded away, and I wholeheartedly embraced the vibrant rave scene. It was only natural for me to take the leap onto the decks, and I’ve never looked back since.


Weird Fish

You have a legendary CV and musical history, especially playing and partying at some of the classic raves in the 90s. What are some of your favourite memories & parties from those days?


You’re making me blush. The early ‘90s party scene was a special time in my life. Some of my dearest memories come from Spiral Tribe parties. I consider myself fortunate to have been part of that era. What made it truly magical was the unique atmosphere - it was a brand new experience for everyone, and that excitement can’t be replicated.


I was lucky to attend Castlemorton Common, but honestly, the Letchlade party the week before was even more remarkable, with giant laser-shooting robots and all sorts of creative detail. Those were wild, unforgettable days, and fortunately, there’s not much photographic evidence.


In terms of DJing, some standout moments for me include playing at iconic venues like Turnmills, SE1, The Cross, The Gardening Club, and Leisure Lounge. These venues no longer exist, but they played a significant role in shaping the underground clubbing scene in those early days, and those memories are extremely dear to me


Banxi

You often like to share tracks on your socials from those times. What are some of the standout tracks of that era for you?

I’ve got a whole catalog of tracks that can instantly transport me back to those unforgettable times. For instance, ‘Genaside II - Narra Mine’ – which, by the way, recently had a fantastic remix package released, so do give it a listen.


Then there’s ‘Mark One - Hoovers & Spray Cans.’ The guy behind it, Choci, used to run an incredible record shop in a Soho basement called ‘Choci’s Chewns,’ it was the place to go for music.


‘Incubus - The Spirit’ was another gem. I loved it so much that I even tracked down where they sampled the vocals from and incorporated them into my own track ‘Spirit Come.’


‘Rabbit City Volume 1’ Both sides of that record were superb, written by Gordon Edge, the genius behind the massive anthem ‘Edge Records One.’


One more that always takes me back is ‘The Brothers Grim - Exodus (The Lion Awakes).’ This one was a big Spiral Tribe tune for me, instantlytaking me back to some field in Gloucestershire. There are so many good tunes from that era; I could go on and on



Where was your first gig and how did it go?


Now that’s quite a story, my first-ever gig also happened to be my first time touching a pair of decks. This was back in 1991, and it happened because a friend of a friend was running a venue and wanted to host a rave night for students on a Monday. My friend knew I had records, and perhaps assumed I could DJ. I didn’t correct him.


The Glow Company


Your musical taste and what you play has changed over the years. What sort of music can people expect when they come to see you play?

It very much depends on the night but it will be underground. For nights like Berlin, expect synth lead progressive tech that’s deep, raw and vibrant.


Nights like SiZE I’ll play heavier rolling techno but still with big synth flavour.


Then on occasion I get booked for nights like Brighton Loves Jungle and Junglizm where I’ll either be playing oldskool hardcore or very early DnB.


POoK playing for Berlin at the Green Door Store
POoK playing for Berlin at the Green Door Store


You moved to Brighton some time ago. What made you make the switch?


It was 2007, I’d been living in London for the last 15 years. The decision wasn’t complex; it just felt right. I came down to Brighton for a couple of nights out, and it had that feeling of ‘coming home.’ London had served its purpose, but at that point, there was nothing really keeping me there. The move to Brighton simply made complete sense.




You also run a night with your partner in crime Lola called SIZE. Tell us more about that.


I couldn’t be prouder of SiZE and what we’ve achieved over the last 10 years. We hold the distinction of being Brighton’s longest-running techno night, and at present, we’re riding a wave of success. The Volks, Brighton’s longest-running underground venue, has become our true home, and we’ve hosted some fantastic parties while bringing exciting acts to Brighton, such as Hollen, D.A.V.E The Drummer, and Meat Katie.


Looking back to where it all began, in the basement of Sticky Mikes Frog Bar, and seeing where we are now, it’s a source of immense pride. SiZE wouldn’t be where it is today without Lola. A key factor in the success of any event is making sure that the people who attend feel like they’re part of something, that they’re welcomed and valued. Lola embodies this inclusivity, ensuring that this crucial aspect is not only acknowledged but well and truly achieved.

POoK at SIZE


You have been avidly involved in Brighton's music scene for a very long time especially with your life partner Lola. The both of you carried on playing and promoting the music that you love even though you had three children, including twins. Tell us more about those early years, raising a very young family and still trying to power on doing what you love. How did you do it?

It turns out, we like to be busy. Just having a job and children can be hard work but right now, we both run businesses, events, produce, DJ and run a record label. But it doesn’t feel like its hard. I think because we both have such a strong passion for what we do and we are both on the same page with it, it just works.


We have each others backs and bounce off each other. It also helps that we are blessed with amazing children. They have their moments but in the most part they’re just excellent.


POoK and Lola for Berlin at Pride at Zahara
POoK and Lola for Berlin at Pride at Zahara


How is musical life at home? Do you involve your children in your musical world?


It’s fantastic to see that our kids share our love for music. While they’re not quite at the DJing or production stage yet, we’re excited about the prospect. Its not uncommon for us to set up a mini sound system in our living room, complete with lights, lasers, and even a smoke machine. It’s safe to say they absolutely love it.



You also focused on studio time during those early years of bringing up your family, something that has certainly paid off as you now have a number of releases under your belt. How has your production style or musical creativity changed since your first release with our own Brighton label Dino Audio back in 2018?


Music production is a continuous learning process, and I’m always tweaking and improving with each track. One significant change I’ve made is working in a studio away from home. This allows me to have a dedicated creative space without distractions for about 5 hours every week. It keeps me in a creative mood since I won’t have been in the studio for a week.


With regards to style, it kind of changes all the time. What comes out, comes out. Most recently I’ve been down quite an oldskool fuelled rabbit hole. However, I’ve just finished a remix for Meat Katie which is completely different and, I think, the best thing I’ve written.



Do you have any advice for any aspiring producers as to how to get further and break through?


To make progress, consistency and effort are key. There are no shortcuts. If possible, consider one-on-one tuition to enhance your skills. You’ll find plenty of valuable tutorials on YouTube for learning. However, the most effective way to improve to the level where you will catch the attention of labels is to finish the tracks that you start.




You started your own record label not long ago called Red Giant Recordings which has achieved some great success already including a Beatport number one. Tell us more about the label, the name, its artists and your vision.


Lola deserves credit for coming up with the name, Red Giant Recordings. Our label primarily focuses on techno, but we’ve also ventured into progressive tracks and breakbeat. ‘Rockets’ is the man behind achieving a Beatport number one, a significant milestone for a young label.


Our vision is straightforward: to release good music. We understand that there’s an abundance of talent out there, and it can be challenging for lesser-known artists to get their music on a label, even if it’s of high quality. We’re more than happy to bridge that gap and provide a platform for emerging talent.




You have also put in a lot of time into an amazing compilation called 'F#ck Cancer' which features big guns such as Meat Katie, Chris Liberator, Dubspeeka and Lee Coombs to name a few. Tell us the story behind that release.


In December 2021, I received devastating news. My good friend, Dave Tointon, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, with a prognosis of just 8 months to live. Music was a significant part of our connection – Dave used to DJ as ‘Dirty Habit,’ and I was the resident DJ for his event ‘Breakfish’ back in the early 2000s. To honor his memory, I decided to create a track named ‘Dirty Habit’ so that a part of him would live on. We thought it fitting that all proceeds from the track would go to cancer research.


The track gained traction and reached number 3 on the charts, with a remix by 601. However, the music business being what it is, the financial support it generated was minimal. So, I set a higher goal. I reached out to every techno producer I could contact, and the response was heartwarming. The result is an album with 20 strong tracks (or 22 on Bandcamp), featuring some outstanding music. It was a lot of hard work, but it was certainly worth it.


I urge everyone to consider buying the album, as every penny will support Martletts Hospice, an organization that provides vital assistance to those going through tough times



F#ck Cancer Compilation


The compilation has been rocketing through the digital charts, especially on Beatport. What are you hoping to raise?


Any money we raise will help. The initial aim is to get to £1000 which is proving tough work. We get a bigger cut from sales through Bandcamp so if you’re wanting to help, buy it through there.




You have been a resident for us since very early on, perhaps one of our first residents and partied at Berlin-Brighton and hang out with the crew a lot. What is it about the night that is special to you?


The Berlin events have indeed brought some unique and special moments into my journey. Playing alongside incredible headliners at amazing parties has been a fantastic experience. Berlin has played a pivotal role in boosting my presence on the Brighton clubbing scene, and for that, I'll forever be thankful. Most of all, it's been an incredibly enjoyable and fun ride.



POoK with Thomas Schumacher for Berlin at the Green Door Store
POoK with Thomas Schumacher for Berlin at the Green Door Store


Where's your favourite place to just kick back and chill in Brighton?


At home with the family, nothing compares. Or indeed the rare occasions when it’s just me and Lola, wherever we may be.




And equally, where's your favourite place to let loose?


Im never more inclined to let loose than when at a festival. A particular favourite is Noisily. If you haven’t been you really should go.




Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?


There are many but Victor Ruiz, Julian Jeweil, Drunken Kong, Mha Iri, Jay Lumen come to mind.



Juliet Fox, POoK, Lola & Markus Saarländer



You have compiled our latest Brighton Mixtapes Series Episode 024 - Tell us more about your mix.


So, the mix is, as expected, a bit of a banger. It comprises some recent tracks that are working for me right now but also, some absolute belters from over the years. It has moments of big synths, heavy rollers and old favourites.



Preworn

What else can we expect from you soon? What's next on the horizon for DJ gigs, where can people see you next?

I have releases coming up on Lowering The Tone and Red Giant Recordings. DJing, you can catch me at Berlin 9th birthday in November, SiZE free party (secret location) in December. Theres a lot in the pipeline for 2024.


POoK playing for Berlin at Zahara


Travel Luggage


Exciting stuff! It's been an absolute pleasure as always talking with you Matt. Next up here's the Quickfire Round:

Genre: Techno

Favourite Colour: Green

What do you put on your chips: Ketchup

Apple or Android: Apple

Can you juggle: Yes

Weridest/Coolest item of clothing: Octopus socks

First record ever bought: Adam and the Ants - Kings of the Wold Frontier

Do you collect anything: Music

Favourite place to hang out in Brighton: Block

Best club: The Volks

Where does the best roast: The Better Half

Best place for food in Brighton: 64 Degrees

Coffee or Tea: Coffee

Favourite beer: Whitstable Bay IPA

Weirdest food you have eaten: Snake

Favourite Track right now: Matt Goddard - Provoked

View on Seagulls: Sky Mafia

Favourite seafood: Mussels

Favourite word/expression: Shenanigans

3 words to describe your mix: Big and Beefy



Banxi - 023

Tracklist:

Intro - Victor Ruiz - Fangbanger

1. Anyma & Rebūke - Syren

2. Alex Stein - Resistance

3. Christian Smith - Blast Off

4. Alberto Ruiz & Joe Blake - Ride It Out

5. Victor Ruiz & Modeā - Bloom

6. Fractious - Hidden Spark

7. POoK - Close Your Eyes

8. Drunken Kong - The Line

9. Harvey McKay - The Mad Drummer

10. Bart Skills - Roll The Dice

11. Gabri Ponte & Sisko Elektrofanatik - Seven Days and One Week

12. Julian Jeweil & Popof - Dance Escape

13. Dustin Zahn - Stranger to Stability (Len Fakis Oodium Mix)



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