Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Over a decade behind the decks and a fierce philosophy of rule-less making has placed Gary Beck atop the ranks of techno and electronica. The Glasgow native has charted a unique path in music that has seen him constantly pushing boundaries in his realm of expertise and letting his instinct guide his musical direction, leading to pickup by some of the most iconic underground imprints that include R&S, Cocoon, and beyond. Not to mention, he scored spots on both Boiler Room and BBC’s Essential Mix series not long after making his break into the scene; a feat not achieved by many in the same position.
Beck’s instinct led to the creation of his latest album, DÁL RIATA, which began as a bit of a homage to his native Scotland but soon became an almagamation of songs born out his club experiences over the years since his last LP, Bring A Friend. It shows off a new side of Beck, one that harkens back to his time learning trumpet in school and his longtime love of instrumental elements and his native culture. Yet, DÁL RIATA remains plenty futuristic in tone, with celestial melodies and off-kilter arrangements becoming an indicator of where clubland, and Beck’s head, is collectively at.
Curious about the new sound on the album, we sat Beck down to dive deep into its production and inspirations, and also picked his brains on his label, BEK Audio — which will be crossing over its milestone tenth birthday this year.
It’s been six years since your last album. How have you evolved musically since then?
Not too much actually! I still use all the same equipment in the studio however I always have new fresh ideas going on. I don’t want to stray too far away from ‘my sound’ as it works very well on the dance floor and it has an identity. It’s important not to lose that.
In that regard, we’ve noticed that DÁL RIATA seems to see you playing a lot more with orchestral elements, and more melody in general compared to Bring A Friend. Are you able to articulate your move in this direction sonically, or how your recent experiences in clubland might have influenced this direction?
I’ve always had a real love for Orchestral music since I first discovered the music of John Barry and James Horner. I also had some experience of playing trumpet in my school orchestra which I enjoyed immensely. It was quite refreshing to add elements of this into the album, as it’s something I always wanted to do. I love Celtic traditional music in general and I wanted to inject some of this into my album.
What was the decider in you amalgamating your club experiences into an album vs creating something more conceptual?
There wasn’t really a deciding moment. I did initially plan to have a Scottish feel around the album, and I think the name and artwork reflect that. I don’t think that albums should have any rules, however I wanted to showcase everything I’m feeling right now.
Is there a particular moment where you felt like it was time to release another album, and any productions you were sitting on that nudged you into a more compilation-esque direction?
At the start of the year, I moved into my new studio after 2 years of failing to find a proper space that worked for me. It was around this time that I realised all I was doing was releasing EP’s, so I decided a fresh challenge was needed. I also felt that doing an album would be a great way to break the new studio in. It gives you a real focus, and in that time, I must have written close to 60 tracks!
Can you connect certain songs to certain cities/venues that might have inspired their creation? Expand on that if so.
The title track ‘Dàl Riata’ connects me to the west coast of Scotland. I visit this area at least 4 times a year as it’s so beautiful and inspiring for me. It’s hard to describe but this track just seems to take me there. Other tracks such as ‘Mango Circus’ and ‘Macabre’ remind me of my experiences playing in amazing dark venues such as the Sub Club in Glasgow and Berghain.
You’re a seasoned veteran in this industry. What has kept you feeling refreshed and inspired throughout the years? Any routines you practice helping foster this?
It sounds crazy being called a seasoned veteran, as I genuinely still feel like I’ve just started all this! Time goes by so fast. I guess the love of it keeps me going. Nothing beats the feeling of writing a special track and unleashing it to the audiences!
What have been some of your most treasured memories in clubland over the past half-decade?
A few years ago, I decided to take my Dad to one of my gigs in Buenos Aires, as he’s a massive football fan and wanted to see Boca Juniors. Initially, he didn’t want to come to my gig, but I finally persuaded him after a few beers! Next minute, he’s backstage at Crobar watching me play to 1,500 people. This was extremely special to me as he had never seen me play and gave him a real insight into what I was doing.
Have you seen any positive changes of late that have reaffirmed your passion for the scene?
I’ll always have a real passion for it, I can’t see that ever changing. There’s a lot of great producers coming through delivering fantastic music which is always great, however I have seen more negative than positive unfortunately, and I blame this on social media.
BEK Audio is nearing its 10th birthday. Any special plans to celebrate that you’re at liberty to tell us about?
I’m planning it altogether in my head as we speak. It’s very hard to believe the label has been running for 10 years! One thing is for sure, there will be a super compilation on the way.
Is the label going to shift sonically in the way your sound has, or perhaps take on a more expansive palette? Or do you feel there was never really a set aesthetic to shift from in the first place?
I never have any rules with the label. If it’s good, then it’s good and I’ll release it. I’m going to be pushing out some more digital only releases moving forward. With vinyl, I was only managing about 3 releases a year and I really want to expand on that.
Any final words or big goings-on down the line that you’d like to tell readers?
Apart from BEK Audio reaching 10 and the album release, I think that’s all I can announce for now!
Pre-order a copy of ‘DÁL RIATA’ — out on November 20 — here
Photo credit: Gary Beck’s team