ROSS HARPER

How are things going with you and whereabouts are you speaking to us from right now?
I’m doing great! I’m speaking to you from Brighton, England.

How was your ADE?
Ah! ADE was so cool. My first one! Can you believe it!? After producing electronic music for almost 20 years and going to parties since 1994. Some of us are slow learners, but we get there in the end.

What is a normal day like for you at the moment?
I always start my day with a time of prayer and meditation. I find this sets the right tone within me to meet the day. Then, I like to have coffee and toast for breakfast (although my nutritionist recommends against it, Ha ha!) .
I like not doing what I am told, even though I know she’s right. I also like to have a workout, either some gentle stretches, or something more rigorous, depending on my mood. I’m doing a lot of promotional work at the moment for The Dark Album, this is generally done sitting at a computer, or sometimes in person (can’t beat face to face contact). I’m also working hard on reaching out for DJ opportunities, I’m seeing some exciting growth in this area at the moment. I tend to pick my son up from school and play some video games with him. I also like to do something creative, either music or art and I try to do some level of socialising each day, seeing a friend, or talking on a video call.

We’re chatting with you ahead of the release of your forthcoming album ’The Dark Album’, interestingly released on Halloween. What made you decide to release the album on 31 October?
The album was always going to be named ‘The Dark Album’, so it felt natural to release it on Halloween, with its’ connection to the often-misunderstood occult powers and the underworld. These energies are super important and highly blessed regarding creativity, for example, many ancient cities are built on ritual sites that are connected to the underworld, it’s only modern culture that has made these concepts out to be something we should run away from. This is a result of an unhealthy polarisation that is particularly prevalent in Western culture. I will say something controversial; in my opinion, during his time on earth, Jesus Christ was an occult master, and yet the modern church makes the occult out to be something that is evil. So if I am right, what are they now saying about their own deity?

Please can you give us some insight into the themes of the album?
Well, I’m obsessed with spirituality, psychology, world religions and ancient ritual. So, all these strands echo through in the album. As long as I can remember, I’ve had the gift of insight and prophecy, which partly manifests itself in dreams and visions. So there is that aliveness here too. The artwork is by Sauriel Creative, she created the montages based on stories I have written. In terms of specifics, concepts like, introversion, the dark night of the soul, the importance of rites of passage experiences, an ancient astro-religious site called Napta Playa, the power of God, femineity in the face of destructive overly authoritative male domination (particularly in the context of religion but also in a domestic setting), the importance of compassion in all we do, power to overcome every obstacle and the perfect order of natural life are all hidden in these tracks.

Were there any key bits of equipment used in the creation process?
An iPad! I’ll explain more; In 2003, I started producing music in hardware studios, then in 2007 I moved to an “in the box” set up with a powerful PC (which I built myself). But more and more, I recognised touch screen technology was an important part of today’s culture and so I wanted to touch my music in the same way. So I increasingly looked into touch screen. The most practical solution was to move the majority of my creative process over to the iPad. After making the transition, this was an absolute joy and revelation to me. I could work on my projects virtually anywhere and work on the same projects on my phone too. I tend to do all my sound design, loop building and most of my arrangement on an iPad, I then export the stems to my small (but perfectly formed) home studio for mixing down. I love an app by KORG called Gadget, it contains numerous simple drum machines, samplers and synths, much like a classic 90s studio, but all in an iPad. If you produce electronic music and want to try something new, I encourage you to check Gadget, I guarantee it can help with your workflow at some level.

Which other producers and DJs inspire you?
Such a good question. Going right back, 60s and 70s rock bands like The Doors and Led Zeppelin played a key part in my feeling for certain distorted and psychedelic sounds. 90s bands like Nirvana and The Red Hot Chili Peppers also influenced me. Then came rave, we are talking 90s London, so Carl Cox, Laurent Garnier, Jeff Mills, Derrick May, DJ Bone, Marshall Jefferson, Richie Hawtin, Dave Clarke, A Guy Called Gerald, Luke Slater, the Liberator brothers, The Spiral Tribe, Sasha & Digweed, just about everything released on the now defunct React Records. Then later the LA techno sound of Drumcell, Truncate and Developer. In respect of DJs, from about 2000 onwards DJs became very boring to me, it was just a horrible male dominated horrible thing. I associate mainly to the creative feminine energy so I felt very excluded. It wasn’t until the rise of the female DJ that I really felt welcome again in the scene, DJs like Jennifer Cardini, Nastia, Daria Kolosova, Ann Clue, Sama’ Abdulhadi, Anetha and I’ve more recently discovered Paula Tape, basically female DJs who actually connect, feel and move energy. These DJs give me permission to dance, to shout and scream and whistle and clap, there is a special interplay that must happen between DJ and dancer, these women get it. Something very bad had happened to the scene, I recently saw a Global Gathering hoodie from 2011, every name in every arena was a man and most of them were white. It was like some over dominative narcissistic energy has got hold off the something beautiful, innocent and creative, I guess that was the height of the disaster, but thankfully it is getting better now, we are “on the up again”, and that is in my opinion partly to the credit of these women, we are now heading toward a true “rebirth of rave energy”. I am sure greater recognition of black artists will also help with this healing, initiatives like The Black Artist Database and Refuge Worldwide radio are steps in the right direction. As a underground music family, we need to consciously recognise the foundational and ongoing influence of the beautiful diversity which has given us all so much.

We saw that you recently visited Berlin and made your Sisyphos debut. How was it?
Berlin is an incredible energy. 20,000 Soviet Union Red Army soldiers and 22,000 Nazi soldiers died there in 1945. Of course, the Soviet Union overcame the Nazis and that is why the world is as it is today. I find it fascinating that despite this show of physical force, the Soviet regime was then also overthrown by people power and the Berlin Wall toppled, it is a counterintuitive power reversal, one would think the force that overcame the Nazis would be unbreakable, but instead, that authority was also overthrown. Berlin is a meeting place of East and West, and when I say East, I mean as far as India and even China, here the energy of the East clashes head on with the order of the West. So, Berlin is a place of wild, uncontrollable revolution, possibly it is even the centre of the universe. With this in mind, to be invited to play the Hammahalle at Sisyphos was a dream come true. The crowd response was phenomenal, they were screaming and shouting with me, whistling, and going wild with me, we had our hands in the air, dancers were lovingly hugging one another against the vibration of the DJ booth, it was truly wonderful and beautiful to be part of this expression. Many people approached me afterwards to congratulate me, I spent some time at the fire pit to come back to earth, and here there were some more outstanding hugging sessions!!! I am still getting the odd email and DM about it, one guy said to me he has lived in Berlin for 10 years and this was the best DJ set he has heard, so I’ll take that! Thank you Sisyphos!

Thank you for your time today Ross! To round things off, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Thank you Techno Mood for providing a forum to share my voice. Here is a thought…I believe we live in reactionary times. By which I mean, there appears to be a compulsion in our society to act and do. So, I encourage people to be the opposite, to be truly counter-cultural. Resist the urge to react. Instead of acting and doing, learn to sit with whatever is happening, sit with emotion when it is stirred within you, sit with your ambitions, sit with your desires, sit with your pain, sit with your relationships. Resist the urge to react, even if you are under the most terrible oppression. Learn to sit and let these things work themselves out through contemplation, that is true power. I came up with this saying and I think it is important for this generation, “First you must learn to sit, then you must learn to dance, and then, only then, you can become the dance”.