Since graduating from the Red Bull Music Academy, London-based Glowing Palms has been crafting his unique blend of off-kilter, tropical-tinged, playful house and disco. His releases this year have been true to form, with his irreverent style perfectly justifying his regular appearances in the Ruf Kutz label catalogue. The slightly left-field, synth-led cuts that he’s renowned for have been moving feet across parties and festivals this summer and so, following a hallowed night in the forest at Gottwood, we caught up with GP to talk memorable sets, his time at the Red Bull Music Academy, and the stranger things that have happened to him at gigs.
First, our usual ice-breaker. What’s your first musical memory?
Ok so you’re gonna be like “yeah right it was 2 Unlimited or something” but, hand on heart, it was my Dad coming home with a tape to tape rip of Michael Jackson Bad. I listened to it over and over again and when Moonwalker came out we rented it from Blockbuster so many times we would have paid for owning it 4 times over.
Your talkbox interview with Ruf Dug on NTS in March was stellar (starts @ 01:22:45). Obviously you’ve had a fruitful few years with Ruf Kutz, how much does Ruffy shape the music you produce these days?
Basically Ruffy’s support gave me the confidence to finish tunes. In the early days I was messing about a lot with my Machinedrum but getting really bored because I couldn’t get it to sound like the music I liked. Ruffy’s got this ethos where the art is in the idea – kinda Duchamp or Graffiti style really – so it doesn’t really matter how much of a tune is a sample, the art is making making something contemporary that wasn’t there before. Nowadays I’m a bit more comfortable working within my own limitations in the studio so it’s more about him telling me how my new stuff has gone down on the dancefloor and I can work out which of the demos are the winners.
We had a great time on the Saturday night at Ruffy’s Lab at Gottwood. When you’re playing, what sort of things makes a set memorable for you in particular? Any recent ones of note? (Gottwood excluded, of course…)
I like nights where there’s a whole ethos that you can get involved with. It’s those nights where it’s less about you and how many people there are in the crowd or how packed it is and more about being part of a party. It’s those nights where it’s less about playing a “set” and more about jamming some cool tunes that people will buzz off. Stevie Wonderland is a cool one because they’ve introduced a younger uni crowd to disco so it’s hype seeing a room like that go off to some pretty obscure Italo stuff. They always stock you up with a lil Rum bar behind the decks which is a touch.
Part of what made that Gottwood set so fun, was the lack of set times and the full on collaboration between all of your. How does your DJing change when you play in such a big b2b? Are there things you’re aware of that aren’t considered when playing on your own?
There’s a competitive aspect. At Gottwood we were quite a big crew altogether so when you get your lil 10 min slots or whatever you’ve gotta make it count. I also like the fact that the tempo or the vibe can change real quick. I tend to play it a bit smooth with the tempos so I love it when someone else whacks something totally off piste in and I can pick up from there!
If you had unlimited budget to curate an all-night b2b session at a festival, which artists would you have playing?
I bet all these big name DJs are lovely people and all that but I’d honestly rather spend the day with the Ruf Kutz / Wet Play DJs / Rhythm Section famalam / Top Nice / Crucial and Fresh / TEESH crews. There you go that’ll do there’s a festival right there we can have it on my patio and we can donate the unlimited budget to the wildlife sanctuary (after expenses).
You posted a tweet after someone starting drawing you at a gig. Any other strange things that have happened to you while you’ve been trying to play records?
Haha yeah that was funny – “You mind if I draw you m8”? “yepeyp paint me like one of your French girls m8”. Me and Ruffy did this one gig in Paris which was mental. The crowd were super mischievous; they set off the fire alarm twice and they were switching the power off at the decks and stuff, taking the piss out of our dancing. All good fun. Big old conga line when the lights went on at the end.
We all know there’s a deluge of digital these days, but you’ve had numerous releases on wax, and even a foray into the cassette tape world appearing on a Ruf Tape. Are you more analogue oriented in the studio, as well? What’s your most prized piece of gear when you’re making tracks?
I’m too forgetful and disorganised to get too heavily involved in the analogue gear scene – drawing pictures of modular patches and all that baloney – so I keep it pretty simple. I have these Korg DDM drum machines that you can’t really do anything with but they sound good (well bad but 80s) and I really love my Ensoniq ESQ1 Digital wave synth. It has analogue filters which is a good thing so they tell me and there’s loads of Sysex patches you can download, which is cool.
And what about a prized record in your collection?
It’s not my most expensive record (I don’t really own a lot of holy grail type things) but I really love my copy of Crystallite – Cut by a Laser. It was made in ’86 by this guy from Chicago called Duane Thamme Jr and he’s obviously mega influenced by Italo Disco as well as the emerging house sound around him.
You were a student at the Red Bull Music Academy a few years back. How do you think that shaped you as a producer? And what do you think has been the most important thing you’ve learned since that Academy that’s impact the way you work?
The academy was pretty overwhelming to be honest. At the time I was working in a call centre and I put all my effort into the application form if anything for the chance to win a holiday to Toronto. I didn’t really know that much about the academy and when I got there I was like “shit this is so much more than I thought it was”. I considered myself more of a DJ and everyone was light years ahead in terms of musicality and production but I made some really good friends. The main thing I took from it was that that actually making tunes is just a thing you do. You don’t necessarily set out to make the next ‘Strings of Life’ or ‘Voodoo Ray’, you just have a crack at making something and what comes out comes out. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not good but you gotta make a whole bunch of stuff and then you find there are gems in there but you didn’t even realise.
Where are some of your favourite place to buy records?
Mann I wish I could real off a list of all the places I go to all the time but I’m an internet nerd so you’re more likely to find me balls deep in a library music blog or down a Belgian New Beat rabbit hole. I do like the curation at Kristina records so I pop in there every now and then. I should really check Eldica and YAM and Love Vinyl too or just tag along with Hampus Time next time he’s finding his 2nd and 3rd 50p £300 record in the charity shops of Crystal Palace.
What are some of your favourite parties to go to?
I love the Top Nice Social in Dalston as it’s a monthly night with a regular crowd so you can go on your own if you want and you know you’re gonna bump into someone and end up ruining your Sunday plans. The Reviveher warehouse parties are always really good once the crowds have thinned at 2am or so. Ruffy’s night Dancers Wanted downstairs at Soup is killer. Just anywhere where one of my mates is DJing and the sound is good and security are chill and where girls can let loose on the dancefloor without getting fucking sexually harassed all the fucking time .
What new / young talent should we be keeping an eye on at the moment?
O’Flynn is flipping magical.
So, you made the move from Manchester to London a while back. What would you say are the big differences about the cities and their respective scenes?
It might just be who I knock about with but I feel like in Manchester the weekend is king. You work your ass off all week and at the weekend that’s your time so there’s no messing about. You’re out and you’re on the dancefloor and a whole load of people you know will be out. Or sometimes everyone decides on a quiet one and that’s what you do much to the annoyance of whoever’s promoting a night that weekend. London’s pretty hard to keep up with because there’s so much going on. A lot of my friend’s weekends are like the expanded Time Out guide to London bumper edition and there’s me just sort of waking up late and waiting for Ocado to come so I can make some breakfast…sooo…that means I tend to route out the more close knit stuff that reminds me of Manchester.
Could you tell us about the mix you’ve made for us?
The mix is mostly all recent stuff I’ve come by. I was in Chicago a month or so ago so I went to a bunch of record shops and chatted to the staff . ‘Changing Times’ by Alien was one of those – an absolutely vital reissue on the Chicago label Past Due. It hypes me right up every time that one. I just got a Pionneer CD thingamibob so I can play demos which is cool. There’s a killer one from O’Flynn in there and a demo from my super talented friend Enchante too. I recorded it in my house on a flipping hot day so I enjoyed sweating my tits off and annoying my neighbors (again).
What’s coming up on the horizon we should look out for?
Ahh the usual stuff really. Just about finished a couple of tunes that are gonna come out on one of my favourite new(ish) labels which is hype cos it’ll be my first release not on Ruf Kutz. Promised a few bits to other people too that need finishing . Excited to play at FarmFest and heading back to Wales soon too. Gonna be a London Ruf Kutz label night in October hopefully so you should all book Monday off for that one.