Back Track 01 _ Paul Mac _ Another Escape EP
The idea behind “Back Track” is to chat to a producer about one of their older releases, with the intention to document some of the gear, technique and graft that went into it.
It’s an interesting concept as there is an opportunity to compare and contrast, with the present and the past, while gaining an insight into where they were in their lives back then and more importantly; where they are now with their music.
Paul is undoubtedly a veteran of the scene, with over 140 releases under his belt. His journey may have began in Hip Hop, but the expedition has never stopped and has brought him all the way through Electro, House, Acid and Techno. He is also renowned for his work with Hardgroove Mastering and his DJ Sets, whether solo, or as part of the Essex Rascals with Ben Sims.
When I got in touch with Paul about doing this interview, I had the idea to chat about one of his records that I loved. I knew he had an album coming out and the whole thing just came together coincidentally and naturally, which is always the best. As it turned out, the record that we would be talking about featured tracks from his very first album. It was such a perfect way to introduce the next.
I’d like to thank Paul for his permission to upload the tracks from Another Escape to our You Tube account for the purposes of this feature.
So you have a new album in the pipeline – Hotel Insomnia – on EPM and it coincides nicely with us having a chat about some tracks that were released from your first album Old School Former Pupil back in 1998. This is your fifth album now, so you have a lot of musical miles under the bonnet at this stage – Ha-ha! Are you sentimental about the music you’ve made in the past?
I do come back to older stuff quite a lot. Mostly I’m listening to see how things have changed more than anything, but the Old School Former Pupil album is a favourite of mine in particular. Personally, I’ve always thought that it’s some of my best material, though maybe a little nave in the production.
I heard you say that you had started DJ’ing around 1987 and started making tracks in the early 90’s. What sort of music did you start off playing and who were early production influences? You also admitted an early obsession with “tape edits” – so were you trying to make DJ tools rather than music?
Before I even had turntables I was making tape edits via the old school pause button techniques. I can clearly remember having what amounted to pause button mix battles with mates from school which revolved around making mixes over the weekend then swapping tapes again at school on a Monday – Ha-ha!
Once I got turntables at the very beginning I was playing pretty much Hip Hop / Electro / Funk / Soul and was very much into the scratch DJ DMC battle thing but also the early House & Techno records where starting to appear at the same time and I had an almost immediate affinity for those sounds in particular the records from Detroit and heavier Acid things from Chicago.
You’d been releasing for a couple of years by the time Another Escape was released in 98 on Fragmented Records. That EP featured 3 tracks from the first album – Old School Former Pupil. So why did an album seem like the right thing to do at that point?
Old School Former Pupil came about after I did an EP for Fragmented which went down quite well. The label manager; Scott Braithwaite, was into the stuff I was making and was kind enough to suggest an album. At the time, I’d made something like 7 or 8 EP’s so thought the challenge of making a full album would be a fun one.
Sadly not much more than a week before it came out, Kickin’ the parent company of Fragmented at the time decided they weren’t going to continue with that label so on release day it more less limped out rather than being released to any kind of fanfare but the whole experience is still a positive one for me really.
Miserable.. It definitely deserved better than that. Were you making a living off music back then? I guess you had developed a good network by that stage..
I was still working full time at that point making tracks in the evening but DJ work was beginning to get in the way of work there’s only so many times you can say “can I have Monday off” before they get pissed off.
In terms of peer group a lot of my friends I’m still associated with now Ben Sims , James Ruskin and Rich Polson (RIP) , Mark Broom , Steve O’Sullivan , Josh Brent etc. Apart from Broomy and Josh who had been doing it a while already the rest of us pretty much started around the same time in retrospect it’s a pretty mad group of people to have around you right from the beginning.