Name: Nathan Popka
Location: York (Home Town) / Newcastle (University)
FB: https://www.facebook.com/p0pka
SC: https://soundcloud.com/popk4

About

The first time I encountered electronic music probably around the age of fourteen (circa 2013) when my brother gave me a CD of an artist called Daedalus and showed me a few of his live sets on YouTube where he uses his Monome alone to create a live show for his audience, which I thought was pretty interesting, as it was the first time I had seen anything like this.

My brother also gave me a small m-audio launchpad device to try on Ableton, sadly at the time I couldn’t get it to work and I couldn’t use the program at all, which was pretty frustrating for me. However it wasn’t really until I was sixteen when I really started to take more on an interest in DJing, after the first event I went to (Bassmentality) I grew a strong interest into Djing, picked up my first USB controller and got my first set at that very night about a year or two later.

Eventually leading onto me and a few mates from college creating a night (Mercury York) so we could play out more often and just generally enjoy ourselves, we went on to book acts such as Mella Dee and Dan Shake at our preferred club that is mansion underground.

All at the same time as running these events my focus for producing electronic music gained momentum due to me taking A level music tech at college and learning how to use studio equipment and production techniques, obviously the first year or so of producing music, it really is just awful, but eventually I started to pick up on things that I liked within the scene and started messing around with disco samples and other Lo-Fi elements, as I could not mix my music well at the time, the Lo-Fi sound was easy to do as a bad mix can be masked by making it ‘Lo-fi’.

Roll forward a few years to September 2017 and I had just self-released my track ‘Disco Thang’ which at the time I had no idea what this tune would do for me, from that it got me a split EP with Crowd Control on his label Happiness Therapy, being my first physical release although shortly after getting a space on Under Groove Records VA (various artist compilation), both which proudly sit on my shelf in my bedroom.

Recently I have been given the opportunity to play in Lyon twice and once in Malta (outs to the Midnite snack cru), which were altogether 3 really good and diverse experiences, alongside this I got signed up to The Building society’s agency, which was a top way to finish 2018, they’re a great bunch of people with an impressive roster of artists, I was really grateful to be asked to join on. Recently I have been helping my mate Brad with his Wire live stream, its been good to see all the local talent from Newcastle come through and play in our house.

Some artists that I really respect that have supported my tracks are Big Miz, Skream, Demuja and Patrick Topping to name a few, I never would have expected any of them to buy them, pretty grateful for it all.

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Favourite Tracks

Unreal stuff by L. Guy. Just came out!

Always a winner on a Breaks / Jungle vibe.

Bambounou heater.  He’s a really genuine bloke!

Yes

Jamie XX 4ever

top top synth work

Q&A

Best event you have ever been to and why?

Most probably Lost Village 2017, sunshine all weekend, great artists performing and the smell of duck wraps in the air, no need to say anymore.

Who would you like to go B2B with and why?

Would probably have to be someone like Pangaea after seeing him play a few weeks back, really loved his style of UK Garage, Uk funky, house, techno and the lot. Props to the man.

Who would you like to collaborate on a track with why?

Probably, Mr G. the man puts a lot of energy into everything, from his productions to his dancing on stage, a real G.

Which artists do you listen to the most for inspiration or enjoyment?

At the moment artists that inspire me are Brame and Hamo, Sully, Bambounou, Alec Flaconer, Overmono (Tessela and Truss). Currently, two-step music is what I have been producing lately and these guys kill it with breakbeats / UKS styles. Feeling like lately my productions have been inspired a lot by the two-step movement.

Why do you enjoy producing electronic music?

The way I see it is that when I’m making something, it’s something I think is missing from my library, that ticks all the boxes for what I like to play out. It’s certainly the longest hobby I’ve been into, I guess making something new and you like your self is enough to keep you going.

I always get ideas when I’m nowhere near my computer about current tracks I’m making when I’m nowhere near my computer, I’ve had revelations about tracks when I’m out and about which has completely changed them for the better. There’s something about having a completed track that just feels nice, maybe it’s the hours put in finally coming together or hearing the track go from an idea to a finished piece.

Which are your all-time favourite labels to dig tracks from?

Dr Banana is always providing heat for the garage / 2 step side of things, always plenty of VA’s coming out on there and running back for everything else, has to be at least 2 or 3 releases a week on that label, an insane amount of output. Not a label but Bandcamp is amazing for finding releases by artists or independent labels, I really like it because it gives a high percentage of the sales directly to the artist/labels. Illian tape is also great for the heavier side of things, and fairly experimental as well.  Dansu Discs, a local label to me are always putting out a range of Breaks to house to disco, can always guarantee a high level of quality from the boys. Same can be said for the Bunker NY, top label out there so much stuff to go through and so much variety too.

What is your favourite club and why?

Liquid club in Malta, proper place, even has a fish tank on the dancefloor (as well as a phat void Soundsystem) Has a really relaxed feel to the venue and it looks like a small castle from the outside. The crowd were also welcoming and gave a lot of energy to it, a really enjoyable weekend out there.

Which came first for you, producing or DJing, Do you prefer one medium more over the other?

Djing but personally, I prefer practising production over practising DJing as I feel I can really make what I want to play, no better feeling than having your finished tracks in front of you.

What is the music scene like in Newcastle at the moment?

Currently living in Newcastle and the scene is live at the moment, events every week with a variety of DJ’s playing at various different clubs, safe to say it’s the best it has ever been, spoilt for choice with events. With so much diversity at the moment as well, you can really explore any genre that you’re into and clubs like World HQ and Cobalt studios are really intimate, low cap spaces which I certainly prefer.

If you could offer one piece of advice to new DJ/Producers what would it be?

Don’t put out every bit of music you make, when I was starting out I did mainly keep most of my tracks private until a year or two in. Learn a few fundamentals, but focus on the ideas more, the mixing ect will come second, If you want your music to be played out at clubs this part is very important.

How did you learn how to produce?

Mostly through trial and error, youtube tutorials and a little bit through doing music tech at college. There’s not really a right or wrong way to do it, if it sounds good it probably is. The way I learned was just to put the hours in, true it is frustrating at first but when you start to put pieces together, comes naturally after putting time into it, some people will pick it up faster than others. There is no secret to it, put the hours in and get the rewards out.

How would you describe your production style and overall sound?

I switch between sounds a lot but these days I have been leaning more towards breakbeat/two-step stuff than the sample orientated music I used to make. I guess the whole disco thing is way too oversaturated these days and I kind of find it boring, I prefer to challenge my self with producing these days by writing my own chords and melodies and such, but I do still enjoy some disco stuff and sample-based tunes! I guess I get tired of making the same stuff over and over and I still don’t understand how people just do that, but I would like to think I have an ever-changing sound, mainly due to what I’m listening to most at the time and who is inspiring me.



Shouts to mercury, fifth ave Kru, DFI, SLF Kru, The Building society Kru, Midnite snack, Happiness therapy, Undergroove recs, digitalism, lick this, Ape X, Hyde House, the Soulseek warriors, the Prod Circle and anyone who’s supported the trax! 

Popka

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