Bad Boy Pete: Unleashing the Rebel Spirit of Techno – An Exclusive InterviewOctober 3, 2023
Interview: Peri GLOWKiD
Introduction: Bad Boy Pete. On a musical note he is a freaking mental techno soldier, an authentic DJ prince of illicit rebel spirit who rocks the stage bringing smiles and sweat to the ravers!
On a personal note he is a bosom friend and a down to Earth person. On a breezy afternoon, we sat down and had a chat in his home studio, near London – a peaceful place for a man who spends his free time broadening his horizons by reading philosophy books and always working out his mind, body, and soul. In the end, is the ‘Bad Boy” sobriquet just a nickname that comes in contrast (or maybe not?) with his integrity, or for real? Read more to find out…
GK: You have been driving along a three-decade journey into a pirate spirit. It seems that you were in the right age (teen years) to live the Second Summer of Love and the rest flowed ideally till your squat techno sets of mayhem pushed out every week to date. Kicking off with your university years and the late 80s, how did you get infected with the rave movement that was already on its starting point?
Bad Boy Pete: Hehe that’s a very “glowing” intro. To be honest, mine was rather low key. My close friend at the time lived next to my cousin’s place in Willesden and he was always in his room mixing, and I got involved. Every weekend, some of us would go to Lucky Spin Record Shop in a place called the Common Market (Chelsea, London) then Blackmarket Records, and finish off, downstairs of Mash in Oxford Street. Vinyl was £5 (we were broke) so
”we would all buy like 2 vinyl each and then take them back and rinse the f**k out of them”
Of course we would save up and go raves (Raves in Lee Valley Trading Estate; World Dance in Lydd Airport Hangar etc.). I also then got to playing Radioactive 90.6 FM in London in the mid-90s as well as some gigs in a club called Limelight in Shaftesbury Avenue, and that was an eye opener. Lots of the evening was listening to Don FM or other pirates and listening to DJ Hype and so on (we would practice the Hype & whistle scratch back then, for those who know).
GK: Word! Well, anyone can search around the network and listen to a firing ’96 set from you on London’s pirate Radioactive FM 90.6.
Bad Boy Pete: Yeah, I saw that is online in Mixcloud. Its cut short because we were broadcasting out of a “studio” in Torriano Avenue in Camden and
”there was that “knock” on the door followed by a stern voice of the Met Police and everyone legged it”
GK: Those were the days man… So, what would you say to a new raver that would like to know about a pirate day like that one, in full detail?
Bad Boy Pete: New ravers? Well, everyone thinks they are the first to discover something that no one else knows about, the first time they stumble into an illegal rave or pop some smarties or something. A lot of proper pioneers paved the way for you, and so, it will be good for new ravers to join the fray but remember to keep pushing and never ever ever ever give up the good fight.
”Nothing is guaranteed, especially in this climate of ultra-surveillance and tracking”
GK: In this context, do you see anything common between the early 90s days and nowadays when people are talking about a rave revival?
Bad Boy Pete: Hmm it’s NOTHING like then. You see, when you are young, you wanna be cool. To go to the places where your friends go, which, for us, just happened to be underground and not mainstream. None of us knew where this was all going. I remember the cool teens then, were the ones playing football and doing the “cool” stuff, while some of us stayed in and mixed and chatted and did mix tapes and experimented (cough) with all sorts of fun stuff.
The scene wasn’t as well defined and there wasn’t such a demand for DJs as it seems to be now. It was mainly the big guys and then us lot who just enjoyed the social life that came with raves, mixing vinyl, listening to pirate radio and so on. Nowadays, social media has blown everything apart. There really is no underground man.
GK: Tough to say that last quote…
Bad Boy Pete: However, our London techno scene is closely attached to the free party scene, and I still play at them. It’s a mark of respect and honour for all of us to go represent there. In those places,
”the vibe is still as it was and the people that run it respect all of what this scene is about”
(for instance, beer is still £2 for a cold can and so on),
GK: I suppose that this view comes in contrast with your Berghain experience… I know you made a tune about that ‘long queue that’s ripped off in the end’.
Bad Boy Pete:
Gosh there was me thinking that techno stood for anti-establishment thinking! Man, it made me sad about the whole spectacle”
My mate Acid Steve and I were in Berlin for a weekend, and we decided to check it out. Dear oh dear. Words fail me.
I didn’t realize all of what was going on (and I only saw the stress and agonising way people were rejected at the door). I mean we were people who had been to parties in and around Trade (Turnmills), and even Torture Gardens and so nothing new here right? Anyway, the track (available on Avin It 008, for those that are curious) says it all.
GK: So, is London the winning city from your acid techno night life so far?
Bad Boy Pete: For me, London is a confederation of smaller villages. Hackney, Tottenham and other places are nothing like others. But London is awash with money that no one actually seems to see, own, or spend. So for me, techno wise, Hackney, Tottenham, Park Royal and so on still keep the fire burning, in terms of our kind of techno, but I can’t comment on the bigger “Business Techno” experiences. Each to their own.
GK: You are also self-described as ‘The future pirate sound of London’.
Bad Boy Pete: That was a jokey description of my personal project “Champion Breaks” where I created a very specific style of music, which was for a while credited to me in Wikipedia even. Champion Breaks was a kind of synergy of the three things
”I love musically: the 303 bass sound, old skool hardcore breaks, and roots and dub reggae bass”
GK: Shall we see the Champion Breaks project again soon?
Bad Boy Pete: I just wish I was more organized, so I could produce more of it. It’s a proper work of love and I still remember feeling free and open and “boundary-less” when working on that, because there were no rules or sales or distribution or anything to worry about. Just pure experimentation.
And yes, I know we are meant to do a track together from 10yrs ago! Now my son is older (ish) and I am not as much of a single-dad as I used to be LOL.
”Maybe I can find more time to complete all the tracks that need to be finished. Then I can actually do a new mix and put it out there”
GK: Not that much time, but aside from your djing and productions, you are also a manager of your very own Getafix Records. What is the developmental milestone of your imprint?
Bad Boy Pete: Well, for Getafix Records, it HAD to happen, because I had loads of ideas and wanted to produce, but I had zero confidence in my ability to get released or even set up a vinyl label So a sincere thank you to Marina for stepping in and helping out and allowing me to put my music out there in vinyl!!!). Funnily enough, the first track we ever did in the studio in Kinetec Studios 21 years ago, was released by Jethro Thermobee on his Bang On label (thanks Jethro ☺) and then was signed by Carl Cox for one of his compilations in Frankfurt!
So Getafix was setup in 2002 and apart from having a break to bring up my son, it’s pretty much been alive, with massive thanks to Stay Up Forever for everything that they do to keep it all going. Recently, I have been signed with Flatlife Distribution in Holland and that’s absolutely superb because Flatlife actually push you to be productive and creative (Thanks Jack ☺)!
GK: Are you satisfied with the vinyl sales of Getafix so far? Will you remain on this policy of releasing on vinyl?
Bad Boy Pete: Well, look.
”I have NEVER been in music for the profit”
None of my releases have ever made a profit. It’s a very complex and quite anxiety-inducing supply chain from start to finish, especially with Brexit. You need nerves of steel. However, I am extremely lucky to get booked as a DJ to play my music. That provides income that then goes towards the next release. That is it.
”A lot of us in the London scene all grew up with vinyl as there was nothing else, and I also think that London Techno is anti-commercial, and so, vinyl is one way to make sure people buy a real “slice” of music instead of some binary digits saved to their hard drive”
Anyway, in free (squat) parties, we all make sure to play vinyl, because the people there wanna see you stand and deliver for them…and even dodgy needles, bent tone arms, shaky deck stands made from concrete bags or whatever is not an excuse LOL.
GK: I get your point man. So, in your perspective what is the dopest Techno party be like – illegal with a small crowd or legal on a big festival of no cell phones but on an old school atmosphere?
Bad Boy Pete: For me it’ll be playing at a “self-organised” (wink wink) rave in a proper warehouse with all of the world’s maddest and wisest people under one roof (I swear it still happens most weekends here) …festivals are also superb as long as they don’t get too crazy with the Robocop bouncers and police frisking everyone etc. That’s naaaasty man.
GK: Now that it’s almost three years since the pandemic – How did this era affect you? One way or another, I can see an obvious prolific rebirth to your project with loads of worldwide sets and records.
Bad Boy Pete: Well you’re right there man…I have always experienced inner sadness, anxiety and inner fragmentation. I always pushed myself to be part of the world, but never felt accepted. In fact, inside me, I always felt like I was disintegrating from all of the childhood C-PTSD and everything else. I’d come back from playing in great raves and listen to “that” track by Verve and feel lost, alone.
Anyway lockdown allowed me two options. To carry on as I was, or to really take a deep and meaningful look at who this person called “me” was and make peace with my past. I have also been lucky to have some great therapists over the past 12 years or so and that helped me through lockdown. What was nice was that
”our extended musical family (you included) all checked in on each other”
and we all made the experience mutual – something to be shared and cherished.
GK: You give me a good pass to open the chapter ‘mental health’. In 2019, Keith from The Prodigy took his own life, after suffering from mental health issues. I would like you to send your own message to anyone out there who is suffering from mental health issues.
Bad Boy Pete: Well, thanks for asking this. You know, I first heard them (i.e. The Prodigy) in a basement of a bar in ’92 or ’93 and their energy is still unsurpassed. Let’s hope his passing away made more people become aware that suffering is indeed universal and that
”we all need to be able to put words to our scary feelings to describe them, and ask for help. There is no shame in that”
You know, I used to go to raves and the press would write about hedonistic partygoers and so on. I never saw any of that in our techno scene anyway…
All I saw was that we created safe space for people to come and jointly experience what they were feeling, in an accepting environment. I am now able to have my own personal definition of it.
”Basically, there is something primordially healing when you form a group and dance to repetitive beats”
And it brings people together and soothes your soul for that time. But away from it, we can all experience deep loneliness, pain from our wounds as infants, unresolved trauma, parental rejection, death of our loved ones, and of course some deal with it more stoically and astutely than others.
A few of my friends have passed away recently, and others are struggling, but still around. Also, I have never been able to denigrate those parts of me that are deemed “uncool” or whatever, so I can’t do that with others, and I therefore can’t label people as weak or losers, but actually try to understand them. I do ask questions and I also share my experiences of recovery when asked by someone who is interested.
The older I get, the more I see that suffering is universal (as Jung said, the collective unconscious, or Buddha who talked about the human condition of perpetual suffering). But we must all do our best to help others and ourselves. Because existential despair is wounding, so we must always remind ourselves as Jean Paul Sate said, that, “Life begins on the other side of despair” and keep allowing ourselves to evolve and transform.
GK: What is your personal advice and what’s your motivation in life personally?
Bad Boy Pete: Well, don’t judge or compare yourself to others and also, be open, and create loads of inner space, so that you can receive others without stifling them or bending them to fit your own reality. But my son said it best when he was very young.
He always referred to people he liked as kind and people he was scared of as not kind. So, my motivation is to be kind. In the meantime, I am going to university for the fifth time to do a Masters in Psychotherapy and get the training and qualifications to actually help my fellow brothers and sisters as well as myself in more concrete and tangible ways too.
GK: Thanks a lot man, it was more than pleasure having this interesting chat with you!
Bad Boy Pete: Many thanks Glowkid! Efcharisto poli!
Interview: Peri GLOWKiD