Interview: From the Depths with All Trades, Prieste5s & Abu Qadim Haqq

Our very own host, DJ and producer All Trades has been paired with and electronic musician, visual artist and New York native Prieste5s for transatlantic project ‘From The Depths’. Together, they’ve been commissioned by Brighter Sound to produce new music reflecting on the legacy of Detroit electro-techno 90’s duo, Drexciya.

Since the project began back in June, All Trades and Prieste5s have been working closely with iconic visual artist AbuQadim and KERRIE (Dark Machine Funk/Eastern Bloc Records). They’ve been on hand for creative stimulus and guidance as the new tunes are created. The two artists will be performing the work they’ve created live on Drexciya Day (3rd September) at Manchester’s Eastern Bloc Records, alongside a handful of other talented acts. Before that though, All Trades is joined by Preiste5s and Abu for today’s Altered Voltage show – tune in for a guest mix from Prieste5s and contributions from Abu, who’s also made artwork specifically for the From The Depths special! We find out more below…

Abu Qadim Haqq

Hey All Trades and Prieste5s – a huge congrats on From The Depths! How does it feel to be the two artists chosen to produce new music reflecting the legacy of Drexciya?

All Trades: Hey, thanks! Absolutely buzzing to have been chosenfor the project, Drexciya and techno/electro music in general have been a vast part of my musical taste (and USB) since I realised what electronic music actually was. I read a book through lockdown called Techno Rebels – which charts the history of how this exchange first started, at the birth of techno, so to be a part of writing the next chapter of this transatlantic exchange is such an exciting yet surreal experience.

Prieste5s: Thank you, I’m absolutely honoured to have been chosen to be a part of this project! Drexciya was one of my original inspirations when I first started discovering electronic music, and they have also had an undeniable influence on my own sound as I began producing. Over the course of the last few months, it has been amazing chatting and sharing our ideas with Abu, as he is someone who was truly a part of this whole scene in its conception. 

What are you both most excited about?

Prieste5s: I’m really looking forward to the upcoming studio time with Jack in Manchester. I’m excited about meeting in person and finally putting together the ideas we’ve come up with over the last few months.

All Trades: Yeah I think the studio time and final performance are definitely the most exciting thing for me as well. Over the past week the ideas for the live set have really taken shape so I can’t wait to physically bring it to life.

What’s it been like working so closely with each other? How do you usually approach collaborative work?

Prieste5s: The collaborative process so far has been a lot of fun, as well as a great learning experience! Having been a fully in-the-box producer up until recently, working with Jack has really opened my eyes up to a whole new world and encouraged me to get more into hardware-based production. We’ve been bouncing loads of ideas back and forth, sending each other bits of sound design that we have each done individually, and trying to create tracks out of each other’s sounds. This has been super interesting as Jack and I have pretty different styles from each other, so working with each other’s sounds has been an amazing creative exercise and provided us with lots of new inspiration. 

All Trades: Personally I haven’t collaborated with other people that much, I’ve made a track or 2 with friends, but nothing as involved as this. Before the project I had sort of settled into my production methods, but this collaboration process has really given me a fresh take on how other people approach the sound design and production process. I think this type of collaboration is a wicked way to learn new techniques, as opposed to watching YouTube tutorials for example. It’s much more engaging and you interact with palettes of sound that you might not have any other way.

What’s your take on the current techno music landscape in comparison to the origins of Detroit electro-techno in the 90s?

All Trades: I think over the past few years techno got harder and faster just for the sake of being the hardest and fastest techno around. Don’t get me wrong I love a good banger (as listeners of the Altered Voltage show will know all too well), but there’s only so hard and fast you can go right? All the focus was on pace, and distortion. I think in reaction to this I’ve seen a shift more towards hyper-real sounding electro & techno, experimentation with beat patterns and sound design (see Metrist or Wordcolour), this is something I have been focussing on with my productions. The producers experimenting at the birth of techno were all bound by the same set of rules as we are now; physics, in terms of sound waves, and a certain set of audible frequencies. It’s down to us to determine how we play within the rules to transmit our message. So although the tools we use now are leaps and bounds ahead of what was capable back then, we can still draw parallels between the 90s and the present.

Prieste5s: I really wish I could travel back in time to have the firsthand experience of what techno was like in the 90s, during its earliest days! I can only speak to what I know. For me, techno has always symbolized a yearning for exploration, a nod toward the future, especially in regards to all the technological possibilities it carries – not just in terms of the technology used to create the music, but also in the futuristic qualities of the sounds themselves. It has always been about thinking outside of the box, exploring unconventional or experimental methods to generate sound, adapting or repurposing existing technology to create something new (such as in the case of the 303). I myself have recently become fascinated by the possibilities of live-coding to create music, and I started out with a program called Tidal Cycles which was originally created (thanks to Alex McLean) to analyze rhythmic structures in poetry but has now been repurposed by musicians as a musical performance / improvisational tool. In a sense, this has also come back full circle as there is a resurgence nowadays in interest for old technology (e.g. tape machines, DAWless setups, retro synths) as well as retro sound aesthetics from the early days of this music.

What can we expect from the ‘Altered Voltage: From The Depths Special’ ‘radio show this Thursday? 

All Trades: Plenty of good stuff in this month’s show, you might even get a sneak preview of some of the material we have made so far – a perfect primer for the culmination of the project at Eastern Bloc on Drexciya Day, 3rd September.

Prieste5s: I’ve created a 1 hour mix of some of my most recent music digs and tracks that I’ve had on repeat. It’s a pretty diverse mix of music from different genres – electro, techno, IDM, breaks, and loads of other stuff. I hope you enjoy it! 

Abu Qadim, what have you enjoyed the most about mentoring the programme so far? 

I enjoy getting to hear the inspiration Drexciya has on young musicians and the sounds that they produce from it. It has been a pleasure working with these young musicians. I also have enjoyed talking about Drexciyan ideas and concepts.

We absolutely love the artwork you’ve created for the Altered Voltage radio show. What are the ideas behind it?

It represents a future Drexciyan world where there are floating cities on the ocean, high technology, an aqua wormhole opening up and the bubble metropolis at the bottom of the ocean. Also, many people will be able to put their own meanings and symbolism from this image.

What was the last record/tune you each bought?

All Trades: I’m actually digging for the show right now! In the basket is Pessimist’s new single for AD93 and Ophidian – Headless.

Prieste5s: Surrounder – Mata Disk. 

What else do you have planned for 2022?

Prieste5s: I have quite a few unreleased tracks that I’ve finished recently, which I am planning to release after I find some labels that are suitable for them. It’s a bit of a challenge because genre-wise, they are all over the place. Later this year on the Underground Institute Picks radio show, I also have an episode I curated of music from different live-coders around the world. 

All Trades: I’ve got a busy few weeks coming up. 28th August I’m playing at Future Yard, the week after we have our live set at Eastern Bloc, the week after that I continue my residency for PLUSH with my first ever solo live set. After that I think I might sleep haha. The rest of the year is open for bookings so if you want the From The Depths live set in your city get in touch! 

Join All Trades, Prieste5s and AbuQadim Haqq for ‘Altered Voltage: From The Depths’ later today, 20:00 – 22:00. Be sure to catch their live performance at Eastern Bloc on Saturday 3rd September. In the meantime, check out All Trades’ last edition of ‘Altered Voltage’ below!