It’s been three years since we last spoke with bright-eyed Danish producer Paxton Fettel. Since then, the Greta Cottage Workshop member has taken some time away from music as a career, allowing DJing and producing to become a hobby once more. But now we’re delighted to hear he’s leaping back into action, armed with tons of fresh music and a new self-titled project that he describes as a counter reaction to the plethora of serious and melancholic electronic music around at the moment.
We had a chat with him about that Greta Cottage Workshop family feel, the flourishing music scene in his home of Copenhagen and the positive impact stepping back from music has had on his life. This sits alongside a mix of 100% original unreleased and forthcoming material flaunting vibrant disco and house flavours.
Paxton Fettel plays Virgo Festival (25th-28th May).
Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?
I find it astonishingly hard, especially as I’ve gotten older, to differentiate between actual memories and events I’ve been told about in later life. It all melts together in some way. If I take a more objective look at it, chances are it was either Prince, Elvis Presley, or the Doors, taking my parents biggest preferences at the time into consideration. My dad has a love for Rock & Roll and my mother likes the funk.
Have you had any professional musical schooling? What first led you into music production?
I took drum lessons as a kid for quite a few years but never any professional musical schooling. I’m not even exactly sure what that means. I never studied music at college or the conservatory or anything like that no. I’ve been wanting to apply for an education as an audio technician for a long time, but I’ve never really actually applied, which makes me think my subconscious disagrees with that being a good idea. So for the most part of this musical endeavour I’m very much autodidact.
Can you talk us through how you might construct a track? How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?
I try to fill out the sonic spectrum in a way that feels pleasing to myself. Sometimes I start with a jam, or at least I used to and still do every now and then. Mostly now I get ideas in my head and then go to the studio to realise them as soon as I can. It’s changed a lot over the last year and a half while I have been out of the whole DJing and producing loop for a bit. I’ve spent a lot of time practicing playing the bass, drums and the piano and getting a deeper understanding of music theory. Something I wish I would have done as a kid, but I guess at the time it didn’t quite appeal to me. It felt like being in school and doing homework, which I found dreadful enough as it was.
I used to sample more than I do now. The media could be CD’s, vinyl, sample packs or my hard disc recorder. I guess all recording is sampling in it’s essence. My upcoming music is played by hand and feet with only a few vocal samples here and there. There is no plugin yet that will make me sound like Leroy Burgess or Sonya Spence. And maybe that’s for the best, I don’t have a big voice by any means. I also feel like making any contemporary vocals sound the way I really want them to, is either beyond my skills as an engineer, or maybe beyond my budget in terms of Neve recording desks and vintage Neumann microphones.
Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio? Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?
I always to go into my creative space, curious and openminded. I usually have an idea to some extent when I get in and press record. If not I just play my instruments and have some fun instead.
Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your productions?
No, all my music is channeled to me through a demigod from a different dimension. Jk. It just seems quite pointless with a six mile long list of namedropping. I don’t think it really matters that much. Maybe you can figure out what my inspirations are just from listening to my music. Music of all sorts in so many different ways has and is still inspiring me every day. People inspire me, paintings, nature, pictures of cute animals, good conversations with lovely individuals. It’s all part of life which I consider to be the ultimate inspiration. Friends, family & my fiancé are all very huge parts of who I am and what I choose to do. They shape me just as much as I shape myself.
What kind of stuff do you reach for in your DJ sets? Name three records that are firmly in your bag at the moment?
Depends so much on the gig. If disco, Dazzle – You Dazzle Me has been a mainstay for quite a while. The new Tom Ellis upcoming record on Until My Heart Stops called ‘Tradition No 3’ is such a beast. That is one that’s gonna stay in the bag for quite a while when it gets released. Also that Stacy Kidd & Peven Everett jam on Lumberjacks in Hell, Body Jerkin. It always gets me going no matter how the day has been. It’s funny with jerkin, a word with so many meanings.
It’s great to see you’ve been DJing a lot more recently because until not so long ago, you’d been absent from music for quite some time. Could you tell us a bit about what prompted that?
I had to get out of it for quite a while. After the Elastic Artist downfall I felt quite fatigued from DJing, producing and having a job at the same time. Work weeks would exceed 100 hours and it all just felt a bit too overwhelming. I decided to focus on the job that actually paid my bills and put the music in the background for some time, while sorting out some personal issues. It was actually great to have a break and some time to just play music and not necessarily DJ or produce anything. No deadlines, no flights to catch. I also listened to a lot of music again, which I almost never had time to do.
How did all of that have an impact your life?
I was at the hard crossroads of not really being able to sustain life as it was without doing some severe damage to myself, or not being able to sustain life economically just focusing on music. It definitely made life a lot better taking it easy for a good amount of time. I feel more at ease with my life and how I want things to pan out. It needs to be fun and exciting for me, otherwise I really wither under the conditions.
You’ve been closely affiliated with the Greta Cottage Workshop crew for a while now, releasing a couple of EPs and your debut album on the imprint. How has the relationship evolved over time? Got anything else coming up with them?
From not knowing each other back in 2010 when contact was first made to being in touch almost daily. We play PUBG (Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds) together on a weekly basis talking life, music and just straight up having a laugh. I guess that describes it pretty well. With Matt (Greta daddy) being in Torquay and me in Copenhagen, it makes it hard to go to the pub for a beer, so we go to PUBG to virtually shoot other people on the internet while talking bollocks. Of course we play records together and hang out as often as possible, but yeah it’s a long distance relationship and it works out quite well.
Next time we hook up is when I go there to cut two records with him and Lewis Hopkin at Stardelta Mastering. The man (Lew) has bought an old methodist church and transformed it into the most amazing mastering suite I have ever been to. Not that I have actually been to that many. But it surely is astounding. When that is all done, I will be playing at Virgo Festival alongside the rest of the Greta Cottage Workshop crew. Last time I played there was really blissful so I’m looking forward to going there again this year. This will actually be my first gig outside of Copenhagen for more than 18 months.
Release wise, we’ve heard talk of new material on the way. Could you tell us a bit about what’s coming up?
During my absence I had some quite thorough thoughts about ditching Paxton Fettel and starting a new project. However it felt like denying the past in so many ways, so I decided to keep doing that, and start a new thing on the side. So a new four-track Paxton Fettel EP on GCW is coming out this summer if all goes according to plan. I would say it’s quite signature Paxton stuff with a few new twists and turns. I always love making that kind of music. It makes me really calm and satisfied.
I will be starting a new label alongside Matt from GCW for the new project. It’s quite far from the usual Greta Cottage Material. I love working with him, it’s by all means a family affair now. The project will most likely be called Theo, since that’s what people say to get my attention. You can say it’s an important word in my immediate sector of the universe. I feel like it’s time to try and just be myself here, something new. It’s definitely more cheerful than the Paxton stuff, and some of it much faster. It’s kinda my own take on late 70’s, early 80’s funk, disco, and soul music instrumentals. The maxi single edits. Some of it with a touch of house, some of it not really. It’s always hard to explain your own music but we do like things in boxes so I’m really trying here. Makes it a bit more safe, even though I tend to find the packaging unnecessary eventually.
I feel like a lot of the contemporary electronic music these days is very serious, dark and melancholic. Even stuff I have been making over the years. So this is a counter reaction to all of that. Trying to keep balance in the universe and all that. Listen, and you will understand.
You’re based over in Copenhagen. Could you tell us a bit about the scene there? Is there anyone – parties, DJs, producers, venues – doing good things locally?
Copenhagen is absolutely amazing when it comes to the sheer amount of raw talent we have here. I wish I went out more to just give high-fives but unfortunately I just can’t do that anymore. My party time has to be carefully planned and in the right amounts.
There’s so many amazing crowds and DJ’s here at the moment. I actually think some name dropping is appropriate to be representing the people here. There are so many good people here I don’t really know where to start, but massive shouts to Ian Bang, my colleague at the music equipment shop I work in, he is one of the best and most adaptable DJ’s I’ve ever seen. Ryan Dank, my ex room mate and very close friend, is also doing some cool parties at Culture Box and the volunteer-based venue Reffen 209. A thing both Ian & toke have in common, they are of the rare breed of DJs who don’t really release music.
The C.U.P crew has been around for quite some years now and boy are they making some amazing stuff. Highlights here are my mates Daniel Savi, Dee Brown and Kasper Marott just to name a few. B From E; Frej is just absolutely tearing it apart at the moment with one amazing release after the other. Kasper Marott also runs the Twin Cities project here which super cool. Uffe & Rewolmer doing their super nice NOS CLASSICS parties at Jolene Bar which is definitely worth a visit if you ever drop by.
If you like techno the fantastic Apeiron Crew, which I guess are more widely known but deserve a shout none the less. Anastasia Kristensen and Courtesy might be the biggest ambassadors for electronic music we have. Incredibly talented and hardworking individuals who have been been doing an incredible job putting small Denmark on the world map lately. I think they’re partly responsible for the massive rise in techno popularity over here recently – they would be the A and C in the danish electronic music ABC if there was one. I imagine it’s hard work being out there doing this, so all the best of luck their way.
Canadian born Kris Percy running Sleazy Beats Recordings, as well as Make Believe Disco, has been living here for quite a few years now – an amazing guy and a really good friend. S.A.M is another example of that, an amazing DJ and a super cool producer who has really made a name for himself through hard work and a very consistent and brilliant output. Top lad as well. My mates Jesper and Johan, also known as Lord Akton and Shatterhands, are my two favourite hiphop gurus; fantastic people and producers. Then there’s J.G & 2000F running the legendary event called Fyraftensboogie which is always top quality with an amazing eclectic palette of tunes.
Sorry for the forgotten heroes out there, just shots fired from the hip here. There’s so many other cool people out there. Best advice, come to Copenhagen experience it by yourself. It’s bloody brilliant. Or if you see any of the names in your local town, just go. Lastly a massive shout out to the Culture Box & Jolene bar crews, absolutely top people making the world go round here. Percy Records is a fairly new record shop here in town. It’s good, especially if you like techno & some harder stuff, so worth checkin out if you are in town.
This mix is comprised of 100% original Paxton Fettel material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?
The entirety of this mix is either tracks from the two upcoming EP’s or stuff that just quite didn’t make the cut, but is still worth sharing for sure. It is all pretty special to me to be honest, stuff I have been working on for the last six months or so just whenever it felt natural. Thanks a lot for wanting to communicate this.
Anything else on the horizon we should know about?
The horizon is beautiful, it deserves being looked at every now and then. I think that was it.
Paxton Fettel – Magic Flight Lunchbox
Paxton Fettel – Cirrustratus
Paxton Fettel – Untitled as of yet
Paxton Fettel – Get your plan out
Paxton Fettel – Untitled demo
Paxton Fettel – Flavia’s Silver Silhouette demo
Paxton Fettel – Jus’t Can’t Fake It demo
Paxton Fettel – Sunshine Flips demo
Theo – It’s good to be (demo)
Theo – Rainbow State (demo)
Theo – Untitled (demo)
Theo – This Love (Get over it) (demo)
Sunrom – Superfly (Paxton Fettel Remix). Out on The Bricks later this year. Shout out to Anna Wall for making this happen. Yay!