Hollis Parker – The Last Raw Era EP (podcast + interview)

We’re feeling strongly about Hollis Parker’s latest release ‘The Last Raw Era’ on SoSure Music. The EP is filled with groovy tracks that remind us of what proper house music sounds like. Hollis put together a podcast especially for HMWL, and his love for the hip hop genre really shines through in the way he manages to add that special attitude to whatever he creates. In this interview he shares his thoughts on his biggest inspirations and music making. Enjoy!

What’s your current most important source of inspiration?
Ah man, y’all came straight in with the tough questions! That’s a good one, I’d have to say that the most important inspiration for myself right now is the decade of the 90s, and specifically the city of New York in the 90s. I look back at that time period as one of the great creative periods in recent times. Like technology was evolving rapidly but cats weren’t really letting the technology dictate their creativity like I feel is more the case now, they were making what was in their heads with what they had around. I feel like we in the future now, and the 90s were like that last time period where folks still had a “real” sense of life, like it wasn’t lived attached to a computer or mobile device. It really was the last raw era, and that’s the vibe I’m trying to bring through in my music.

Your love for the hip hop genre. Tell us about it.
Yeah man well that’s really where it all started for me, especially as far as wanting to make music. When I first saw DJ Jazzy Jeff on TV, cutting up records on the turntables, that’s what I wanted to be like, that’s what I wanted to do. And it evolved from there naturally. At the time, Hip Hop literally spoke to me. Everything was vivid, not only the lyrics but the beats as well. Like you can listen to a lot of old Hip Hop instrumentals and they tell a story too. Sometimes it’s the same one as the MCs told on the record, sometimes it’s completely different. But there was no other music at the time that really had that combination for me, something that I could relate to on that level. Unfortunately it all took a turn in the late 90s for me, when Hip Hop went from “no biting allowed” to “can you make a record that sounds like Puffy?”. But I better stop before I go off on a tangent. That original Hip Hop from the early 80s right on through to the late 90s, still my first real musical love.

How does it affect your production on the house music side of thing?

There was a quality in Hip Hop albums of the 90s that still exists in some records today, like Kendrick Lamar for example, and that’s the cinematic quality of those old albums. I try to bring that almost visual element into my House music. They say House Music is a feeling, and it is… well I’m trying to bring some visuals to that feeling too.

London or New York?
Depends on what mood I’m in. I mean New York is the foundation right there for sure, but that city’s changed so much in the past 20 years. I know London has too, but it still feels fresh to me. I make my home in London now so I’m riding with LDN, though I definitely enjoy my returns to NYC. I feel like London respects true creativity and originality more.

Three things you bring with you to a DJ gig?
My laptop, my headphones, and my swagger.

How long did the album take to record?

Well I started it around the time I made The Tunnel EP about 2 years ago, but I took a long gap in the middle to work on a few other things. I always had the whole concept for the album and what I wanted to do in my head though, so every couple months I would come back and work on it for a few weeks and then stop again. I also wanted to make sure I had exactly the right elements for everything. Like the intro for example, I had that one sitting on the MPC from pretty much the beginning, but it was one of the last songs done.

Which track are you particularly emotional about?
To be honest every single song on The Last Raw Era means something mad special to me. In fact every record I’ve ever finished does, like I never said “oh I gotta make a song like this or a song like that” to finish up these projects. But if I had to pick one I’d go with ‘823’. It reminds me very vividly of a time in my youth, it still gives me chills when I listen to it sometimes. I actually did 3 or 4 versions of it trying to get it perfect, which I rarely do.

Anything you want to share about this HMWL podcast mix?
Well I hope y’all dig it, it’s got some Hollis Parker staples in there as always blended with some contemporary jams. When I DJ, I play with Ableton using it like a kinda big sampler just chucking loops together and blending older House jams with newer ones, unless of course I’m playing a vinyl set.

Got the track list?
Not exactly, because of the way I play, but I know it’s got a few Hollis Parker jams, I know I put St Germain’s ‘Rose Rouge’ in there, I’m pretty sure I put Pepe Bradock’s ‘Deep Burnt’ in there. I put a new Josh Butler remix in there, Ashworth’s ‘Whatever Weather’, and I used ‘Crying Wolf’ by No Artificial Colours as a sick backing loop toward the end.