You might not know who Echo Park is but 2012 will be his year. With support from some of the biggest names in the UK dance scene at the moment like Skream or Zinc. Echo Park (aka Brian Gibbs) is making some serious waves.
Subrewind has been tracking his progress during 2011 and we were delighted when we got a chance to sit down and talk to him.
Can you tell us about yourself for those who may not know Echo Park yet?
My name is Brian Gibbs aka Echo Park aka Gunjack aka Mr. Mcfly aka Les Diamond. I make strange funk influenced music and “sing” through machines on little west coast ditties.
I grew up on soul music, west coast funk, hip hop and Electronic music.
You started producing as a teenager in Los Angeles, what influenced you to make music at such a young age?
In the early 90’s I was quite infatuated with Detroit Techno and electronic soul music, so it was a natural progression to buy a little sampler or bass line/drum box and make my own things.
We get the impression you have seen a few adventures, what made you want to move to Tokyo and where did the idea come from?I assure you I don’t so much “seek” adventure and it finds me! In college my girlfriend was Japanese and when we finished she went back. I was in Asia touring in 1999 and we went on vacation to Bali, Indonesia. From there we hit Tokyo and I made friends and ended up settling there. At that time I was making quite dark and industrial music, very influenced by the surge of 4th wave producers like Tony Surgeon, Jeff Mills and Steve Bicknell etc. In Tokyo, 2001 I finally formed my first label and began releasing Gunjack material.
Your single ‘Fibre Optic Lovin’ is pretty funky, what made you decide to make this sort of track rather than the deep and emotional tracks most others make when they have had bad experiences in their life?
Well, for me anyway, when you go through hard shit in life, the LAST thing you want to do is talk about it, let alone sing about it. Fiber Optic is a song more general than that. It’s a tune about trash TV and the fake love that is sold to us through television and the rest of multi media entertainment. It’s about the way we are all guilty of a junk food diet when it comes to our eyes and ears.
Are you satisfied with the amount of publicity you got after releasing your single ‘Fibre Optic Lovin’?
Well, my life has certainly changed. The single has opened up a lot of doors for me and I am overwhelmed by the positive responses. Thank you to everyone who has bought or played the tune out! It still slays them every time I sing this tune at a show!
You’ve come a long way from Santiago to London in order to work on your new upcoming album and single. (To be released on Skream’s label – Disfigured Dubz) Can you give us some insights on the tracks you’re working on right now?
The trip to London was an amazing opportunity. Skream has gone above and beyond. Basically I got there and was able to multitrack my album and stems for the next single in a nice studio on Brick Lane.
I am told the only other people to record at this studio (besides the owner DJ Zinc) are Katy B and Wiley. Anyway it was an amazing session. William Courtice and I spent a few days going through the tunes, running them through analog gear, multitracking in Pro Tools with the engineer, restructuring and retuning voices in some cases. Will is probably one of the only other people besides myself and Skream who knows the tunes as well. To be honest it was fucking amazing. I remember a moment when mixing “Cutlass Supreme”, my eyes watered up and I thought to myself “we did it!”… There I was tearing up like a schoolgirl and in walks Chris from Metalheadz! Very surreal. I do believe folks will be surprised when they hear the next single and then the album. Bill and I cut that bitch down to only the very ESSENTIAL elements. No filler. Every tune or interlude is there because of how it works in context. Nothing is left in “just because”.
Skream is an icon in the world of dubstep but we know he’s always been a lover of funky sounds, judgling from tracks like his slick’n’sleazy remix of Chromeo. How did you get approached by Skream and how did you feel about being part of his label?
When I got out of hospital last year I made (with the help of a few mates) a cheeky disco tune called “Can’t Help It”. I put it on soundcloud and Joe Muggs from the Guardian/Mixmag/The Wire sent it to Ollie Skream who then got at me like “Do me some more tunes like that!” Skream actually paid out a nice advance and has been helping me survive out here in South America where I am currently based.
Do you feel like the contract with Disfigured Dubz had much impact on your life, has much changed every since?
Absolutely. Just the fact that there was a modest advance and a trip to London to do the tunes right made it a real pleasure to dedicate my time and concentration to this album which is now more that 14 months in the making. I feel like things are just getting started, the next single “Stop Before We Start” is out soon and then the full album comes. Hopefully by the time the album comes out, I will find a decent booking agent for Europe and the States and be able to make a bit of coin gigging and playing the tunes out! I need proper representation on the gigs side of things so if anybody is interested, get at me. Twitter.com/echoparkbeats
You’ve moved to Chile, where you found the love of your life. Whats the music scene out there like and have you managed to get any gigs?
Here in Chile I am fortunate enough to be plugged in to the small but interesting bass music scene. I play here in Santiago for folks like REWIND crew and KONGA. This month I have a gig in the port city of Valparaiso as well. Bigup to my man Diego Theego for hooking that one up. Here in Chile “Fiber Optic” has received lovely support and reactions. Proper sing along vibes at the shows!
Would you consider moving to London with your family, if the opportunity came about?
I would, but before considering that I would try and get the fam back to Los Angeles. I miss L.A. and haven’t been home in ten years!
You’ve had an undiagnosed digestive condition which caused serious damage to your organs and blood poisoning. We know you managed to recover after a month of serious treatment. How did that particular event changed the style of your music?
First of all it sucked. Big time. Anybody who knows me knows I am a crazy cunt who likes beer and steak, whiskey and fried foods. I just remember one day feeling all bloated and hungover, then my guts started hurting and I began to vomit for hours and hours with no pause. Eventually I wound up nearly dying in a scummy public hospital down here. I didn’t want visitors. I didn’t listen to music. I nearly just gave up. One day my wife called me in a panic and needed help. I snatched the I.V. tubes out and came home. I have been fighting this illness ever since. I guess what really changed was my perspective. I remember thinking “This music thing used to be fun!” I guess I just stopped giving a shit about what was expected of me, musically.
You speak rather openly about weed, judging by the previous events I’m assuming it’s your painkiller, would you say marijuana helps you create better beats?
Marijuana has always been a big part of my creative process. It does indeed help with stomach cramps and nausea, but I have used the herb since long before I was sick. It helps me concentrate and stay on task in the studio. I don’t want to give pro-pot sermons but it has definitely had a great impact on my life. It makes me more patient and perceptive to the needs of others and keeps me generally relaxed and cheerful.
Moving away from rather personal side of things, are there any big plans for Echo Park in the forthcoming months?
Absolutely, yes! There is a Ninja Tune release in the works, the next single for Disfigured and then the full length album. I hope to try to make it back to London for a few shows next season. My family and I are moving to a bigger place here in Santiago and I have several South American dates coming up. An exclusive CD release is inbound for Chilean fans and my label Ugly Boy music is expanding this year into Brazil and Japan! Check my column every month or so on http://www.satellitevoices.com/ and upcoming mix set for Kiev Bass!