If you have never heard of Gold Coast producer, Paces, it is time to get acquainted. Paces, is the solo project of Mike Perry, which really kicked off in 2014 with the release of his tracks, Julian and Can’t Touch Me, which saw him perform at the main stage of Splendour In The Grass the same year. He helped work on Tkay Maidza’s EP, which resulted in her track Switch Lanes reach the #100 spot in Triple J’s Hottest 100 for 2014. Now the hardworking producer is back with his debut album, Vacation, which is unique in itself with it being quite rare for electronic/dance artists putting out full length records. Outlet Magazine recently got the chance to talk to the Gold Coast artist about his debut album, his recent tour and working with Guy Sebastian.
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Vacation features thirteen highly versatile tracks with both national and international collaborations with vocals coming from Brazil, Baltimore, Canada and Australian artists from across the country. His signature tropical beats and wide range of diverse vocals, makes each track completely unique whilst still fitting in amongst the rest of the album. The only track that is completely instrumental is the opening track, God Mode, which sees Paces experiment with different sounds and textures. The glitzy soundscape, features audio samples of waves, dog panting and bird noises to create a real tropical, pop saturated track.
His 2015 hit single, Nothing’s Forever features on the record which gives us the gorgeous vocal offering of Perth artist, Kučka. The track opens with shimmery keys with Kučka’s super sweet vocals before a deep R&B beat enters. The track is quite a party anthem with Paces’ signature tropical synth beats and epic dance drops which really cements why this track was so big when it came out. In comparison to Kučka’s dreamy vocals, Paces teamed up with the sassy, hip-hop vocals of Jess Kent for their trop-house track 1993 (No Chill). The track was the second single off the album which sees a bit of a punchy, more reggae, Caribbean vibe. Kent’s electronic-pop vocals are a perfect mix of bubbly and sassy paired with Paces’ upbeat percussion, swirling synths and reggae hand claps. Paces also released the music video for the track which draws on inspiration of 1950s Hawaiian post cards.
Work Me Out is another track that draws on elements of hip-hop and R&B whilst still maintaining the tropical house vibe that is seen throughout the album. The spitfire, hip-hop vocals that feature on the track are courtesy of Baltimore artist, Rye Rye, which perfectly works with the tropical synths and powerful percussion and gives the track that extra intensity and punch. The brilliance of Hard For Me, really does not kick in until a minute in, with the same ingredients of Peking Duk’s epic track Take Me Down, the track sees Paces team up with an incredible vocalist, Xavier Dunn. The stand out of this track is definitely when Dunn reaching the high notes, amongst the epic production which features a static drum beat and soaring synths with the tropical house taking a step back. Another stand out track on the album is Desert, where Paces teams up with 2003 Australian Idol Winner, Guy Sebastian. The track opens with a delicate piano with Guy’s soulful vocals which have been altered to be quite deep. The atmospheric track is quite gentle, with sweet, yearning lyrics.
Vacation is filled with summer hits which really gives feel-good tropical vibes and dancefloor ready tracks. It is definitely an album that would go off at a summer festival and you will be starting to envy everyone who got the chance to go on Paces’ Ship To Shore tour last month. The album sees Paces experiment with textures, layers and vocalists to provide a thirteen track album filled with versatile tracks whilst still featuring the underlying tropical house vibes.
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Outlet: Thanks for talking to Outlet Magazine! Firstly, if you couldn’t use a genre, how would you describe your music?
Paces: I usually tell people that it’s the fun end of dance music. Or the pretty end. Whenever I tell that to an Uber driver or a stranger asking about my job they usually seem to get it. Or at least they pretend to.
O: Your debut album, Vacation, is just about to come out, how are you feeling about releasing it?
P: Super excited!! I’ve put so much work into it and so has my team, so I’m so keen for it to be released into the world.
O: Can you tell us a bit about the album and how the writing process has been?
P: The writing process was so fun. I just took six months and wrote music every day. I’d usually make a few sketches per day and then develop the ones that were worth keeping. Then once I had enough of those I started reaching out to vocalists, and then finally spent some time to finish everything off.
O: Where do you normally draw inspiration from for your tracks?
P: It can be anywhere really. I tour a lot so I always make sure to have new music to listen to on the planes. I try to listen really actively and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. I keep notes in my phone too. So next time I go to write music, I’ve got a list of ideas to get me started. Also learning things is very inspiring. I only just learned about chords and scales a couple years ago. Once I had a basic grip on that, I was super inspired to just write chords all the time. Whatever the latest thing I’ve learned is, that’s what inspires me.
O: You have nearly finished your run of ‘Ship 2 Shore’ dates to celebrate the album, how has that been so far?
P: They have been absolute madness! Just like crazy house parties but you’re stuck on a boat. It’s been so fun!
O: What made you decided to have a more unconventional venue (a boat) for the tour?
P: Since these parties are for the album, I wanted to do something different to the club shows that I normally do. It’s not often that you make an album so I wanted people to have a different experience, something they’d hopefully remember.
O: Do you consider the live show whilst recording your tracks? Are any elements changed during the live set that is different to the studio recording?
P: I never think about the live show until after each track is finished, then I figure out which elements I want to play live. I do sometimes change parts for the live shows. Sometimes I’ll add a rap accapella to a song or make an extended dancey section. I like it when you go to a show and the artist has put in a bit of effort like that. SBTRKT is the king of this.
O: You have a huge number of collaborators on Vacation, how do you normally organise or find people to work with?
P: I just write to anyone and everyone who I’m keen to work with. I don’t expect to get many replies but occasionally they write back and that’s who ends up on the album! You’ve just gotta be prepared for heaps of rejection and not take it personally. Everyone has their own agenda and timing is important too. For example if someone’s got a single about to drop, they’re not usually keen to feature on an album track.
O: I absolutely love Jess Kent and your track ‘1993 (No Chill)’, how did that track come about and the significance of the year 1993?
P: That’s the year Jess was born. I’ve grilled her about it but I can’t get much more info than that lol. It’s best not to question it and just enjoy it haha! I was a big fan of Jess’ track ‘Get Down’ and thought she’d be a great vibe for some instrumentals I’d been making which were inspired by early M.I.A. tracks.
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O: You also worked with Guy Sebastian for Desert, how did that collaboration come about?
P: That was the weirdest thing ever. He asked me to come to Sydney for a week to work on his album. He’s an absolute legend and I learned a lot while working with him. After that we just stayed in touch and I reached out to him with the track. I didn’t expect him to do it, he’s an extremely busy guy, but he was keen and he did such a great job of it.
O: I really love all the individual artwork for each track, who did all the artwork for the album?
P: The fruits were all by a French artist names Francesco Vullo, and the text is by my friend Tyler Hill from the Gold Coast.
O: Were there any tracks that did not quite make the cut for the album?
P: Yeah for sure! I’ve got a handful of tracks on a similar vibe to 1993 that never ended up with vocals on them. Maybe I’ll revisit them when it’s time to start on the next album.
O: Are there any up-and-coming artists or producers that have recently caught your fancy?
P: There are so many! I’m a huge fan of Dugong Jr, Atticus Beats, Lojack, Chiefs, man…. There’s too many to list. I can’t keep up with it all!
O: So what do you have planned for the rest of 2016?
P: Touring my ass off! After the album launches are done I’ll be touring as support for Dillon Francis, then doing a full album tour with a bigger stage show, then some regional shows. It’s going to be hectic but I’m looking forward to it all.