Pat Lok Releases Full Length on Kitsune

Pat Lok is the only Canadian artist signed to Kitsuné Records, part of the Kitsuné Maison brand. They have an incredible reputation amongst both casual fans and DJs. Any time over the past decade they have come out with a new comp, every DJ in town has rushed to buy the record store out. Pat is also the newest signing to Pete Tong’s new publishing company, PTSongs. He has decided to forgo continuing making hit singles in favour of a full length, titled Hold On Let Go. 

It's interesting that this album isn't just a compilation of all the singles (and from years ago. It's always club hits from like four years ago on this type of full length that labels shoehorn artists like Pat into.) Labels have a bad habit of signing this type of producer to full album deals because they don't understand that these guys live in a singles culture. Kitsuné doesn't do that, but Pat wanted to do one. There's lots of Canadian collabs on album like Claire Mortifee, Claire Ridgely, Dirty Radio, etc. and his last three singles have been featured in Spotify's New Music Friday. Plus, his collaboration with CBC Searchlight winner Desiree Dawson got more than a few spot plays on BBC R1. We asked Pat about how he tackled making an LP with such aplomb in a world where those are often daunting.

Why make a full length? Most producers in your position release singles and keep the public eye on them constantly. 

Just to cut through the bullshit here - I never figured I would write an album. Kitsune approached me about it after "My Own Throne" and I thought it would be a challenge, creatively and musically. Also I couldn't pass up the opportunity to write some music outside of the single format... the whole process has been very enlightening.

Enlightening or challenging or both? Climbing that mountain of thirteen songs must be hard to do when you're someone like yourself who has respect for you audience and won't waste people's time with filler. 

It was really difficult. I didn't actually think it was going to happen. But with every song I finished the more it seemed possible, and anyway if I was going fail why not go down in flames... I'm not too concerned about if people think there's filler or not, the record is more of a snapshot of where I've been musically over the last little bit. That's one of the meanings of the title.

What are the struggles and advantages to being a Canadian artist, especially considering you are the only Canadian on Kitsune?

Being the only Canadian signed to Kitsune is a huge honor (ed note: he spelled "honour" without a "u"!), look at all the legendary artists they've released in the past. That said, being Canadian in the music industry is like being left-handed or having a mildly interesting birthmark, maybe some people think it's cute. Up until very recently my music had been received much better outside of Canada, but whether that's because of or in spite of where I'm from, who knows. 

To your last point: DJing is new enough of a profession that it's not actually that impossible to think of you as a senior citizen playing a set. In fact, once DJs get to a certain age they manage to do this incredible thing where they play mostly music the crowd has never heard of, and still nobody leaves the dance floor. Do you find this to be the case with yourself, and do you find the oft-found nervousness of being a veteran DJ; worrying about being the oldest person in the club?

Wow! That's a lot of words you wrote just to call me an old man. I guess I do get tired a lot more easily now. Maybe that's because I'm always waking up 5 or 6am, show or not. It's like the rule of inertia but in inverse. I usually deal with it by mixing into the next song faster and faster, which seems to work until I run out of time.

You're a prolific instrumentalist which many DJ/producers are not. Do you have plans to perform these songs live, or are you content playing them out as a DJ?

I actually did my first liveset a year ago, which is one of the things I'm most proud of. It takes a lot of soul-searching to deconstruct your own music, then learn to play it live and figure out how to translate it from the DJ world. Since then, I've played live at a few festivals including in New York, Vancouver and LA, and toured with HONNE, which was unforgettable... I'm excited for WayHome in July which will be my first liveset post-album. I will always love DJing but livesets are a different beast, before I play I'm always on the verge of having a stroke. Whereas I'll probably be able to drop a fire 3hr DJ set when I'm 94 years old drooling on my deathbed.

Artists in your position are often required to tour more than the average ones. How do you deal with that schedule and maintain your sanity? Some DJs stay sober, while others find hobbies on the road. What's your traditions? 

On the road I am a total tourist. I love to eat, drink, see what the locals are into. Even if I'm super sleep deprived, arriving in a different place gives me a jolt of adrenaline... I need to go walk around even for minute, even if that isn't always safe. I try get that done early and then chill out a little bit before my set,.

You approach producing and performing a little differently than your contemporaries. Do you find the world you work in isolating at all or embracing?

One of my favorite things in the world is collaborating with other artists or songwriters - just vibing out in the room. The rest of the time I'm on my own which can definitely be isolating. Not just in a physical sense, but also in that I don't feel super connected to any single space in dance music (EDM?) right now even though there's some incredible stuff being made. Electronic music is very pop and micro trendy now but I never know what's cool since I spend my time listening to old records, obscure stuff. I'm looking to hire an intern who can put me up on the latest futureswing and 155bpm Kiwi techno.

Old records as in old dance music, or do you love a good Chuck Willis or Les Baxer album when you're listening just for yourself?

I love diving down the YouTube rabbit hole through catalogues of classic acts like Anita Baker, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Leon Ware (RIP) if not more obscure stuff like experimental Japanese soundscapes or Buddhist jazz. I have these gaping holes in my musical knowledge, that as a DJ and a producer and a human make me feel inadequate. Like why can't I just download everything into my brain like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. Also I'm 90 per cent sure that wins most dated reference of 2017?

How do you fit into your home city's scene? Vancouver is very much on a cultural tip with not a lot of influence from cities around her, based on her geography. Do you connect more with those outside your own vicinity? 

Vancouver is a city where it's easy to be inspired, a lot of great artists are emerging every year. The promoters put on great shows and bring international talent, but the way music is made and distributed now online... it doesn't even matter anymore where you're from if you're dope. For me, I'm always trying to write with talented people, so that's just a numbers game and the upside of travelling to other places.

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