Bill Patrick is fun to eat tacos with. He’s got a handful of records he just finished rescuing from his Mom’s house in Long Island and, while I hastily lay waste to some mid-grade Mexican food, he enthusiastically goes through them, noting some favorites. It’s an eclectic collection to be sure, but all music that has earned its own place in his musical history and development as a DJ. Mr. G, Halo + Hippe, Lexicon Avenue, Richie Hawtin, Funk D’Void…Watching someone flip through rediscovered records is inherently vicarious fun. It’s a chance to relive the joy of finding something new combined with the nostalgia and ingrained memories that only a record sleeve can bring back.
It’s exactly this excitement about music that has brought Bill and I to a cramped restaurant just south of Union Square in New York about a week and a half after wrapping up WMC in Miami. As the host of Pulse Radio’s next foray into the world of quality musical programming, it’s only fitting we give you the chance to get to know him a little better.
His story is one not often heard these days, when the overwhelming majority of new artists get in front of your eyes and ears because their most recent record found favor with an influential label or DJ. Bill Patrick, who has on occasion been referred to as a “DJ’s DJ” bought a pair of Technics in 1998 and has since stayed the course of following his heart and the music from his suburban Long Island upbringing to New York City, through a few seasons in Ibiza (Lee Burridge was his roommate) and ultimately to Berlin where he currently resides. Of course there’s a lot more to the story, but he’s never had a Beatport Top 100 release, and if I could be so bold as to speak for him, he doesn’t want one either.
After migrating from punk music to the rave scene in the late 90’s Bill caught his first break when he was given a Saturday residency at legendary NYC clubbing institution Vinyl/Arc in Tribeca from ’02-’04. Given the club’s pivotal role as home to Danny Howells’ near-mythical 15 hour sets, it’s an impressive achievement for any aspiring DJ. But Bill cracks a smile as he explains that his Saturday nights were sandwiched between Danny Tenaglia’s Fridays and Body and Soul’s Sunday night events. Without his saying it, it’s clear this was the petri dish from which his true appreciation for the art of DJing was born. Beyond simply serving as an apt environment to hone his ability to take the dance floor on a musical journey, Arc also introduced him to Nick AC and Mike Bindra, two individuals who would factor heavily into the next stage of his career.
For many, including Bill, Arc’s closing in 2004 was the end of an era. The club began as Vinyl in the late ‘90’s and had ushered scores of people from up and down the eastern seaboard into the warm embrace of the underground. But its shutting was also to serve as the catalyst for the next chapter in his career’s evolution. In 2004 Robots was born. It was a New York project he embarked on with friends and fellow DJ’s Dennis Rodgers and Nick AC and one that Bill admits to initially being somewhat hesitant about. Robots began by bringing monthly, techno-influenced, parties to the inauspicious confines of a 100 capacity mini-club tucked beneath a French restaurant in the East Village. After a couple years worth of good parties and word of mouth, they outgrew Café Deville and successfully moved the soiree to Cielo where they ultimately ended things somewhat abruptly in fall of 2007 when Nick had to move to London to attend to some familial obligations.
“I really enjoyed the idea of going out on top. A lot of promoters and parties…”
“Run them into the ground?” I finished. “Yeah, I feel like we ended it at the right time.”
As a DJ, Radio Host and current A & R for Guy Gerber’s Supplement Facts label, Bill is not often without a few irons in the fire. Such was the case when Robots came to an end in 2007. He’d been spending the summer seasons in Ibiza living with Lee Burridge and meeting more people in the scene than he’d ever imagined. “There’s only so much you can do in America” he says (as I wonder to myself if he’s still correct today or just back then.)
It was 2003 when he first played the terrace of a no-frills club out by the airport called DC 10. His manager at the time was Mike Bindra (Made Events, Electric Zoo Festival) whom he’d met during his Arc tenure, and Mike, as any manager and future festival organizer should, thought Bill and DC 10’s owner Andrea Pelino should meet. “He didn’t know who I was, so he gave me an hour and a half slot on a Wednesday. 30 minutes in, he came over and invited me to play next Monday at 4. Back in those days the terrace was only open until 6 so it was a pretty big deal.”
With this kind of a foundation laid back in 2003, along with an undying affinity for all things house and techno, it’s not hard not to credit this experience and his seasons living on the white isle as the inception point for his ultimate move to Berlin “5 minutes away from Ryan, Shaun and Seth” But it was actually a surprise visit from Sven Vath one night while playing Underground in Ibiza that seemed to resonate most clearly with him. “You belong in Europe” he said. “You’ve made your mark in NY. You need to take it to the next step.” Bill continues, “part of it was work driven, but part of it was life driven.” His friends were getting married, having kids, and generally receding from the scene that was his life and source of income. “I felt I still had a lot to offer as a DJ.”
Living in berlin is a life choice that essentially puts your money where your mouth is when it comes to electronic music. It’s vibrant and progressive but it’s a choice you remember you’ve made every day (or night) you wake up. The distance from home is probably equal parts blessing and curse for electronic artists working there, but it has a strong bonding influence on those who’ve chosen to make their homes there and pursue their dreams. Amongst a sea of other industry relationships of great importance, Bill clearly credits it as the birthplace of his relationship with the Visionquest boys whom he refers to as a family. He spends most days off the road with Ryan and Shaun at record stores or at their apartment. The three of them going through new music on their laptops and playing it for one another.
With the narrative of his career through to present day established, I begin asking him about what he’s got in store for listeners when Private Stock debuts on Thursday, May 31th. “We come from a generation when everything was on the radio, and now, with the Internet people can just listen to only what they select…People need to expand.” He goes on “ Some people who listen to me or Seth may have never heard a Neil Young Record.” He goes on to list artists from a large range of musical eras and genres including Grace Jones, Grizzly Bear, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie Smalls, Nirvana and Quicksand as influential to his current sound and worthy of showcasing. “I like a lot of indie and down-tempo and of course will be featuring a bunch of house and techno as well. This is something that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found it important to listen to and introduce a bunch of different types of music. For producers especially, I think digesting a wide range of music is a critical process involved in making innovative and consistently refreshing dance records.”
As you can hear from the show that’s linked to at the top of this page, Bill’s slightly mischievous format is to get a few of his fellow artist friends into the studio, have a cocktail or seven, play music from everyone involved, and basically select not oft showcased gems and pieces of music that may have been overlooked, forgotten or just simply need to be heard again. In a sea of self serving radio shows and podcasts relentlessly driven to shove the newest music down our throats-regardless of its quality or relevance-it’s a slightly off-center offering we’re happy to add to our diligently curated selection of podcasts and exclusive mixes from today’s top artists and influential DJs.
The fact that A-list artists are happy to sit down with Mr. Patrick to help him showcase the less championed side of music that’s either peripherally or directly contributed to the current landscape of house and techno music is a testament to the ethos Bill rather effortlessly eschews. “ Be cool. Be fun to be around. Tell some fucking cool stories. Hang out after your gig and go to after parties but handle your shit. Don’t be the guy drooling in the corner. Don’t be stuck up and don’t be a dick.” I agree on all counts.
Later that night, as I stand behind Bill and Guy Gerber playing music to a see of Verboten attendees while Greg Paulus effortless integrates live trumpet into an impromptu performance, I can’t help but smile. This fun, humble guy from Long Island stands firmly between one of the industry’s clear leading men, and one of it’s fastest rising stars occupying and owning his own and hard won distinction as a true selector. A selector’s selector, if you will.
Bill plays Mulletover at Sankeys Ibiza, along with Geddes, Sebo K, Thugfucker Cerca Trova, Daniel, Rossko and Ivan Kutz for more info head here
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