Q&A: Rick Bull (Deepchild)
By the mid-00’s Deepchild (Rick Bull) had built a reputation as one of Sydney’s, if not Australia’s top electronic producers. His distinctive dubbed out electronica was regularly featured in the playlists of the best radio stations, and his own radio show on 2SER with Bentley, Electroplastique, was doing extremely well, one of the stations flagship shows. Then all of a sudden, he disappeared. Did he become a hermit? A swami in deepest India? Nah, he made his way to his mecca, the mecca of Techno, Berlin. Like Darren Lockyer, he left on his own terms, on the top of his game. He’s since made a life for himself there, continuing to produce, play live and DJ, throughout Europe, building an enviable reputation for himself. We caught up with him on the way to play in Prague, as you do…
Tell us in your own words what your sound is.
The sound of no-sound. The sound of 3 hands clapping. The Kama Sutra according to Yoda. Ghosts in the machines, rumbling ghetto-tech dub-jams, redundant technology, shitty drum-machines, 126 ways to jack, my own personal Jesus, my machine for making-sense, techno but not-quite good enough. Underproduced, overcompressed. R’n’B on K, dubwise-disco, diarised confusion, elation, repetitive-beats, the Criminal-Justice Bill. Noisy, dubby, not-quite-there techno.
Who makes up your band?
Myself and my renegade band of subservient machines, a headful of (frequently insane/institutionalized) spirit-guides both alive and dead and, of course, the audience/crowd. Ain’t no band without an audience. And the machines. My High-Priest is Sun Ra. My Shaman is Fela Kuti. My Master of Ceremonies is Ikutaro Kakehashi.
What were your influences when you first started writing music? And what are your influences now?
Influences? Profound alienation, isolation, cold-war paranoia, aliens, ghosts, Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” anti-nuke propaganda, George Lucas’ Star Wars Trilogy, The Orb, Orbital, Juan Atkins, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Common, Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Rhythm and Sound, Basic Channel, Luomo, Akufen, Marvin Gaye, Steve Reich, Influx, Dr Who, King Tubby, Gulf War 1 (growing up in Saudi Arabia), D’Angelo, my Juno 106, SH-101, TR-707, TB-303, disco, rare-groove, boogie-down, Miles Davis, Prince, Wim Wenders, Hal Hartley, Buddhism, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, laughter, forgetting, friendship…
What are you working on at the moment?
A new album for Trapez, set to be released early next-year, various remixes, releases for Opossum Records, Affin, loops, sound-bytes, bits and pieces for live-sets…
Do you have a procedure for writing music?
Other than a daily-commitment to a relatively-disciplined studio-schedule, my process is fairly open-ended and yet straight-forward. Writing music for the joy of the process (ie writing for the sake of writing). I generally feel like I’m more of an ‘engineer’ than a ‘musician’. I make loops, elements, beats, motifs like pieces of a puzzle, and then attempt to fit these pieces together in a way that makes some kind of harmonic/rhythmic sense. I rarely start a whole-track from scratch. Rather, I focus most of my time on creating basic loops or fragments which I find compelling – the ‘magic’ happens when I see which of these smaller ideas fit-together and ‘speak’ with each other. At its core, I’m still compelled by simple, insistent, elegant rhythm. A good kick-drum, a nice snare-sound.
If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, Who would you collaborate with?
What do you think about Berlin’s music scene? How does it compare to Sydney?
Berlin remains a heart-land for me. Compared to Sydney, Berlin’s scene is far more musically-diverse, evolving and, perhaps ‘open-minded’ toward diversity of crowds and sounds – as a general-rule, our Berlin audiences are more interested in ‘clubbing’ as a musical/community exercise than a forum in which 20-somethings go to pick-up. Of course, this side exists too, but Berlin is a very poor-city, and electronic-music culture has been a central element in social cohesiveness, identity and catharsis, especially when things get cold. As I often say, who feels compelled to go and listen to dark brooding techno when they have a beach at their disposal? Electronic-music is very much a Berlin ‘roots’ culture, in the same way that Reggae music might be considered in Jamaica, for example. Different cultures with different needs – Sydney’s prosperity and isolation dictates the types of nights likely to garner support. Over the years I’ve seen Sydney’s appreciation for more left-field electronic sounds grow and blossom, which is excellent – though one radical difference I’ve noted in Berlin is that Berlin electronic-music culture seems to be particularly proud and supportive of it’s native-artists, where as Sydney seems to prefer to draw attention to international guests, which often means that Sydney artists can struggle a little. Sydney, and myself, owe a debt of gratitude to our fantastic local-stalwarts – to parties like Mad Racket, Loose Kaboose etc, and our brilliant Community Radio stations like 2SER and FBi radio – these MADE the scene during the late 90s and early 2000’s. Ive never seen a radio-culture as rich as the one which Sydney affords.
If you could play anywhere, where would you love to perform?
Berghain, Berlin. I’ve played there several times already, and its been my most persistently rewarding/frightening experience. Something very sacred about this space, and perhaps this will change in time. I feel blessed to have performed there (mostly live) a few times, and seen a window into a club-culture in flux. Particularly during summer, Berlin becomes a ‘club-mecca’ which attracts a great deal of international tourism. This changes the tone of the city quite radically, more so every year. Perhaps in years to come, Berlin will reach a commercial saturation-point in the same way which Ibiza has changed…in which case we’ll need to look further afield to find fresh new soil. I feel profoundly grateful to have had so much support from a warm-hearted community in the Sydney music-scene which has led me to explore so much farther abroad. There is no doubt in my mind that withouh years of generous, inspiring individuals in Sydney, I would not be where I am today.
Any interesting stories?
So many, on a daily-basis. Here’s a good start…
Where are you playing next?
I’m playing tonight, in Prague at Chateau Rouge, then again on Monday in Berlin at S036 in Kreuzberg, with more shows coming in India, Europe, and the USA.
Oh and if you’re wondering, yes he is Andy’s brother, talent clearly runs in the family!
And here’s couple more excellent recent videos from him…