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Porter Brook: Teenage techno pressed on wax

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Porter Brook.

At the age of just 19, Peter Murch has his first record coming out on vinyl.

His non-de-plume is a nod to his Sheffield upbringing, with a techno-obsessed dad who turned him on to Kraftwerk and 808 State. When he was old enough to go to the pub, his discovery of the Groundwork parties at Shakespeares brought new elements to his own music making, and it's that crew who are releasing his debut EP as their first release.

We caught up with him at Groundwork 22 to find out how it all came together.

How did you get into making music?

Originally I played guitar for a very long time, probably from the age of four or five. When I was growing up in my early teens I tried getting into a few bands and writing music. It was cool, but I basically ended up discovering that I could write and arrange music on my laptop in my room, without having drummers bailing every Thursday.

Electronic music was a way of avoiding the inconvenience of a band?

Exactly. For a long time I made non-electronic music on my laptop. In terms of influences and early listening, my dad is a bit of a dance music fanatic. He's always had it going on in the house. He has the single biggest collection of Aphex Twin CDs I've ever seen in my life.

He has stuff I didn't know existed. He's an absolutely massive influence in my life. He took me to see Leftfield and Underworld long before I was of clubbing age. Stuff like that really did lay a blueprint subconsciously.

You got into electronic music from that more home listening direction.

100%. For me it was never four-to-the-floor, and I didn't go out clubbing and have my great techno epiphany. I grew up listening to a load of bleeps and really interesting electro and IDM.

Being constrained by 24 frets and 6 strings seemed less exciting to me

Warp Records are a massive, massive influence, which kinda made it all the more surreal when we got Rob Gordon of Forgemasters on-board to master the EP. Just all sorts. The techno 4/4 stuff came later for me.

You got into that through being old enough to go to clubs?

Yeah exactly. I was coming to Groundwork before I could go out to clubs. There were a lot of leftfield sounds being pushed at Groundwork - a lot of Hessle Audio-esque, triplety, interesting sounds. I think that appealed to my Warp Records mindset. I guess interspersed in all that wonky techno was a lot of 4/4 stuff.

When I started clubbing I started to really understand the appeal of four-to-the-floor techno within its proper context, which is the club.

When did you start making electronic music?

It was probably a few years ago. When I started producing the guitar stuff fell away, as I realised I could make weirder, wonkier sounds. Being constrained by 24 frets and 6 strings seemed less exciting to me.

I remember throughout school making grime beats and sending them to all the rappers in the school. I was using the software and getting to know how it works, even though I wasn't taking it seriously at all.

My next door neighbour, who was a bit of a legend, ended up giving me a very, very legal copy of Ableton. I have since bought Ableton! But £600 when you're 13 - you can't make that in your paper round.

I feel incredibly privileged to have a dad who is as into it as I am

I've toyed about with hardware. I could make really cool jams and really cool ideas, but I could never write a tune from start to finish on hardware.

For me, the process is too retrospective. If I write something on my computer, I can leave it for a week, tweak it, and it sounds tons better.

How would you describe the sound of the EP?

For a lot of the music I'd made previously I'd been suffering from imposter syndrome. "I'm going to make a Jeff Mills track," or, "I'm going to sit down with a set goal in mind and make an acid techno banger."

That was fine, but for these tunes I sat down and I didn't have any obvious inspiration in mind, or anyone I wanted to make a tune in the style of. It's been a proper cathartic experience for me to make tunes without any direct influence. Something that I can actually say has come from me.

I know [Groundwork residents] Alex and Jamie, and I think the last thing they'd want is to put out an acid techno record that would be unrepresentative of what I'm about. I think it's about something more artistically fulfilling. We've had really big names like Bruce, Roza Terenzi and Oceanic, who's resident at De School in Amsterdam, playing the record. I went out there in the autumn and looked at going, but I'm not old enough to get into De School. That the resident DJ at De School has been playing my record is literally ridiculous. It's an amazing experience I'll keep with me forever.

How does your dad feel about it?

He's always been into it. Even back in the day, he'd sit on my bed and listen to the tunes I was making at the time. He's been so supportive of the whole thing. I feel incredibly privileged to have a dad who is as into it as I am. It's a privilege to have this shared passion. He's got a bit of a reputation on the scene for being a bit of a legend, he's come down to a few shows that I've played and got everyone absolutely gassed up. He was going into Warp Records when it was on Division Street, and going to all the parties. For him, this is a bit of a mad dream come true.

Sam Gregory

GROUNDWORK 01 by Porter Brook is release on 7 September, and is available for pre-order now. The record is being launched at GROUNDWORK 23, a two night party on 5 and 6 September.

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