Hi Harri, it seemed like vou had a pretty brilliant summer, DJing at the likes of Houghton, Gottwood, Kala and Dimensions. Can vou tell us a bit about your experiences at Dimensions and Houghton especially?
Helloooo!! Yes it was such a fun summer thank you. Its so good to be back out there playing and listening. Houghton was incredible, worth the wait! The love and detail from all elements was so special.
I played 3 times and each set was so different; I opened the festival with a 3 hour build up from downtempo to heavier and more sluggish sounds. I then played a 2 hour post punk set early in the morning – that was a nice wake up! I also joined the dots between jazz artists on the cosy new Pinters stage. The new stage additions enabled a smooth flow across the site unveiling the epic art and light installations that are so pleasing to the eye and mind. After the extra long break we all had, it really was an unreal experience and hats off to all involved!
Dimensions 10th year really was the best way to finish off the summer, so many mates came out to party. Had one the best days soundtracking the beach stage with many pals playing throughout the day on the Heels and Souls takeover. Tisno is a heavenly location, so adding your favourite artists and sounds to this, is very magical, it really was a special time.
These festivals have become synonymous with discerning electronic music fans over the ears. What, in vour experience, do you think it is that makes them so great?
Well the bookers from these festivals are well-respected DJs, such as Hamish Cole at Dimensions and of course Craig Richards at Houghton. They have their ears finely tuned and know what’s good from new artists and old artists. Their attention to detail with stage and sound is from a djs perspective, making you feel at home with a solid and beautiful set up. The curation and programming is what ties everything together, for me it makes sense every time and pushes you to discover sounds and artists you would never have done before.
It’s such a warm feeling coming back and playing these festivals over the years, it feels like a family. Performing alongside returning artists, friends, staff, this all adds a loving energy to the festival feeling and creates a beautiful environment to perform in. For me, personally the more comfortable I feel the more real and present I play. I can really connect with the crowd and take us on a trip. These festivals create a loving and inspiring space between reality and dream and I’m forever grateful to be a part of this .
Let’s go back a bit now and talk about your beginnings in electronic music. What was Wales, and Pembrokeshire specifically, like as a place for a musically-obsessed teenager?
Pembrokeshire was really good fun to party! It has a healthy history of free parties. It’s a small place so like-minds would connect, before I knew it I was scrambling down cliffs and playing the two records I had to my name. I would be waiting and waiting till someone let me on, taking in the surroundings of the madness in the hills. I remember playing one party that felt like a festival, a couple barns, an outside tent, fire pits and a tree house woodland.
Heading into the main barn you had two local hero’s playing Spooks and Shaun Phillips – I headed to the smaller barn and you got Nick Tuner from Hawkwind razing it out on the sax! It wasn’t all that easy though, you really had to make it happen. Lots of wet grim parties with equipment breaking, but we still went for it! At 16 I put my first legal gig on in the pubs back room (Beats + Breaks) at The Ship, the place is a wreck now sadly. They were good fun and turned out to be the beginning of many more parties! To find music was a challenge. Only one record shop around and it had mostly rock, charity shops wore ok, not much luck there sadly. I would save up and get the train to Cardiff and hit Kellys and Catapult buying all sorts really, didn’t have any clue what I was looking for ha!
I noticed you name-checking your dad in a previous interview. Is he someone who’s been quite influential to you music-wise?
I was hooked on music from the get-go, all thanks to my family. We all grew up learning different instruments; it’s funny my mum and Dad don’t even play anything. My dad would mostly listen to classical music when I was growing up. I then one day found his records in the attic, I asked when and where this is all from?! He said they are from his college years and people use to call him the one with mad records. This opened me up to playing jazz, using his Nucleus records. My family has always supported me and are always asking what I’m playing or where, this is something I cherish more and more every day!
You’re known for your eclecticism, so can you talk us through how you source records? Do you concentrate more on old finds or new stuff? Or do you have a particular approach that you adhere to?
Yes I’m into all sorts of music, if I like it I play it! I rarely say no to a gig, this has expanded my ears and pushed me to play everything!
I source my records from some local shops here in London and I have a couple private dealers that look after me well ha! I mostly play old stuff. I guess it just seems to be that way. I’m always listening to everything but when I look at my collection it is mostly old releases. When I’m at a shop, I spend the whole day there, grabbing piles and skipping through everything! Once something catches my ear I make another pile, then another, then another, until I can afford the pile! I’m mostly a visual person, I check dates and pick up and markings, sometimes a collection comes in and you find one goodie. There was one collection in and every record was tagged with DJ GAZZ, I’m not sure who DJ GAZZ is but I brought a lot of his records!
Tell us a bit about your residency at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. How did you first become involved with these guys? What’s been the highlight to date?
I closed out the Lawn at Gottwood festival back in 2019 for the Stamp The Wax family, it was an epic one! The former booker for the Jazz Cafe heard me play and hit me up. I followed up as soon as I was back in London and played my first all night long that September. I have been playing there monthly ever since! It’s such a fun night, I get to really stretch it out, following the band that’s on before me, to then jumping across all styles and sounds moving the crowd in every direction. People get loose there and really dance! One highlight to date is someone crowd surfing off the stage whilst I was playing, I had to do a double take!
Can you talk us through the mix that you’ve recorded for us and the vibe you were going for with it?
I haven’t put a mix out for some time now, my ears have adapted as does everything. I have been searching for new and old records and play them as I like, fast or slow! This is the sound I love at the moment, I hope you’re into it also, This mix is mostly old records but a couple newish releases in there also. There’s some tracks I have been playing out this summer and for sure this is the sound I’m into right now and playing mostly! I hope you like it!
Finally, can you tell us a bit about what you’ve got coming up?
I have just started a residency at a very special space, 17 Little Portland Street. It’s one of the most unique environments I have ever played in, there is so much love and creative details put into it, it has a custom Martion sound system that reaches unimaginable frequency’s on the dance floor, it’s like a dream. I play most weeks in the tent and studio, any genre any energy, come have a wiggle and and smile!
Keep up with Harri Pepper on Instagram
Listen to Harri Pepper’s Future Stars Nightclubber mix here