A techno alchemist, Luke Slater has always sought out the extreme often melding influences and styles into a furious and unique sound that has seen him acclaimed as one of the pioneers of British techno. His many and varied releases have seen him mature from an acid house inspired amateur to respected elder statesman of the global electronic empire. From launching that speculative 12″ to putting out superb Detroit flecked 12″s on Djax as Clementine to fully-fledged artist albums on Peacefrog (Planetary Assault Systems, X-Tront) and GPR (7th Plain and Morganistic), Slater’s trajectory through the early to mid nineties electronic music scene was at the very least staggeringly prolific and a lot of the time utterly majestic. From tough techno beats to beguiling symphonics, Slater’s palette has grown ever broader and his musical skill has refined and evolved over time.
Hey, How are you? What are you up to today?
I’m just heading into London to go to a show. I had some time with my baby daughter before that and before that I was in the studio writing.
What are the 5 albums & artists that have inspired you the most?
Those questions I’ve always feared, because it’s like searching the BBC archives. But here’s a few specials:
Cocteau Twins – blue bell knoll
Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel
Hip hop electro vol 1 to 5
Fingers Inc – Another side
Grandmaster Flash – wheels of steel
Derrick May – Is what it is
Jeff mills – the final cut
Shut Up And Dance
Early Genesis Mike Banks Passages
Krause Shultze – Time Wind
The Art Of Noise
Throbbing Gristle In General. Particularly Fond Of Discipline.
Coil – The Art of Naples
Lee Scatch Perry & The UpSetters
African Scream Contest – Raw, psychedelic Afro sounds from Benin and Togo 70’s
What other artists do you like at the moment and why?
Marcel Dettmann and Fengler, Lucy, KSP, Phase, Steve Rachmad, Psyk, Function, Plaid, Zenker Brothers, Sandrien, DVS1, Ben Klock, James Ruskin, Surgeon, Ben Sims, Chris Liebing, Dave Clarke, Juan Atkins, SLAM, Paul Woolford, Mike Parker, Shifted, Sigha, Silent Servant, Regis, Oscar Mulero, Robert Hood, Ken Ishii, Speedy J, Sven Vath, Andrew Weatherall, Shackelton, Perc, Blawan, Scuba, Boddika, Midland, Ben UFO, ROD, Tommy Four Seven, Darko, Bas Mooy, Truncate, Developer, Submerge, Cari Lekebusch, Norman Nodge, DJ Pete and of course Jeff Mills.
There’s many faces to Luke Slater. How did they come about? Was it due to a desire to evolve & experiment? Is there a favourite?
Well over the years I’ve managed to come to terms with myself more in what I represent and I have a feeling people are more welcoming of my split mind creations. A lot of my first releases were written in a bedroom in a council house, when you’re creating from Base 1 I found total escapism was the way. It’s hard to shake, I’ve always been that way inclined. Music is such an effective communicator… beats the shit out of Twitter and Facebook.
What are the main pieces of gear you use to produce your tracks?
Truly anything that I like the sound of or does the job. The more curious the better, they are means to an end. I’ve always used an analogue desk, the original desk I used for the early PAS was an Allen and Heath GS3 for example and an Atari 1040.
You collaborated with poet Benjamin Zephaniah on ‘Unknown Origin.’ That’s an interesting collaboration, what were the reasons behind this?
I’m a huge fan of Mr Zephaniah and his musings. When I came to do the L.B. Dub Album I wanted to include poetry in the album as a way of a theme to an extent, so I got in touch with him. He told me he played the final cut to his university students… I wonder what they thought, never going to university myself I can’t imagine this.
It’s been said that Berghain is very suited for Planetary Assault Systems. Why is that?
The first live show we did for Berghain was when its was called Ostgut back in 1998. And I’ve been playing there ever since. When all’s said and done it just feels like home. I’ve had some amazing times there, every gig seems like the first.
What’s the best gig you have done and why?
There really has been so many, I’ve been very spoilt. Perhaps scenery wise and crowd on top of that was Fuji rock festival. Halfway up a mountain, a very famous one at that. Pretty cool.
What’s the worst gig you have done and why?
The worst was in Tasmania, ex MP running a club with no idea of music. And I never saw a Tasmanian devil.
You’ve been involved with the Techno scene for over 20 years. How has it evolved? How does it compare now to its early days?
Techno, as in the original heart behind it is unshakable. I’ve always known that. The music, people discover it time and time again. Producers right now are looking back to the original force. The industry, established, yes but that’s natural, and there’s enough rebels to keep it right. Evolved and evolving yes, but I’m not complacent about any of it. In fact the older I’ve got the more fire I’ve got in my belly. Haha!
When you re-emerged in 2009, how did you redefine yourself to accommodate Techno’s new landscape?
In 2009 I didn’t feel the new landscape was set, so I revived planetary in a second life. A second chapter. All said.
One thing you’ve said that you miss about the 90’s was the touch of vinyl. What’s your views on modern DJ Tech? With the rise in vinyl sales could we see a resurgence of vinyl DJ’s?
I wouldn’t go back to playing vinyl. Yeah I miss it but in a way you miss something good but can never go back and shouldn’t. I’m not nostalgic, change has to happen. What I do is record vinyl in and play it digitally because I like the sound. When alls said and done I’m not doing gigs to please purists I’m doing my thing and when it’s a good gig I’m happy.
Your own label, Mote Evolver, presses vinyl. Is this down to a love of vinyl or a desire to keep things ‘Old School,’ staying in touch with one’s roots?
No it’s because people want to buy it. If they didn’t we wouldn’t press it. I do like physical real world things more and more, items are becoming more and more of a luxury, positively I think can lead back to items being more detail in design such as back in the arts and crafts era. Statements can be made through design, I think that’s interesting but when it comes to music my thoughts have always been a nice cover doesn’t make the music good. And I know which one I’d rather have myself.
You’ve described yourself as an ‘extremist.’ What do you mean by this in a musical sense?
I’m not very good at middle of the road and it’s getting worse.
Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?
PAS is around 21 next year. And the show is on the road. Coming of age. We have things in development as well. Stay tuned!
Finally, if you weren’t a musician what would you be?
I don’t honestly think there ever was much option to end up any other way.
You can catch Luke Slater (Planetary Assault Systems) perform at KOKO 27th December alongside Ellen Allien, Octave One, A Guy Called Gerald – Live, Dasha Rush ++
Written by Alex Lewis