Rising to prominence through the queer scene in Tel Aviv, Roi Perez had found a nurturing environment to establish a career as a prodigious talent. A precocious youth that had found an early skill in the booth Roi Perez would cement his career when moved to Berlin. Catching the ear of Berghain / Panorama Bar in 2013 he was soon inducted into Berlin club as a resident where he would light up dance floors in Berghain’s notorious queer basement Lab.Oratory and Panorama Bar.
With sets that can cover a wide range of style and genres, Roi Perez is a noted selector that has travelled the world to play for all manner of audiences. He is also the official Berlin selector for London’s Phonica records, sending rare and obscure finds to the UK capital from the German capital while bolstering his own collection. With sets that range from these obscure finds to the accessible, Roi Perez is able to entertain and enlighten at the same time. An established talent today, he is one of Berlin’s most exciting exports at the moment, focussing all his attention on the job of being a DJ at hand… for now.
A rare entity, who feigns the ubiquitous DJ/Producer amalgam, Roi Perez’ focus is squarely trained on the dance floor. He joins the rest of Ostgut Ton for the upcoming Ostgut Ton Nacht takeover at Jæger and before we get the DJ in our booth, we wanted to ask him more about the Tel Aviv queer scene, moving to Berlin and just how his set might unfold in our basement.
You started out in the the queer scene of Tel Aviv as a DJ. Can you give us a little insight into the scene there and what it entailed when you were coming through?
The queer scene in Tel Aviv is definitely out there, I think the gay parties are still some of the best in the city. When it comes to Tel Aviv it’s a lot about the midweek scene, where you can just enjoy a casual drink at a small bar or club and get to talk to people. Things usually turn into a party later in the early morning hours and the surprise effect is what makes it all more fun.
My personal experiences with queer events are that they are quite politically charged (in subtext at least). What was the queer underground scene in Tel Aviv’s response to the political situation in Israel?
Even though I don’t live there anymore, I’m still aware of everything that’s going on politically through social media and my activists friends. And yes, I agree that queer events are naturally politically charged. But in my own experience back when I was there the connection was very much in the subtext, and you would not see a direct link to the general political situation in Israel, if that’s what you mean. Everything was super diverse, maybe some people would think that’s political in and of itself. I can only say that in times of political tension and anxiety, people are more eager to go out and dance. Music provides a way out of the daily political and social binaries. I think mentally it was never easy to live in Israel, especially for certain minorities and groups. People need this relief that you can get through a night out. People also want to be together and the club scene provides a platform for that.
Moving from Tel Aviv to Berlin, what changed in terms of the clubbing and club music for you and how do you think it affected you as a DJ?
I think the nightlife and the whole club experience in Berlin is much more intense than in Tel Aviv. As a DJ in Berlin, I get to practice and experiment more through playing more. Generally speaking, Berlin has an extreme level of diversity, the variety of different scenes, cliques, people. I’m not sure if I can pin down how exactly that affected me as a DJ, but it certainly taught me a lot and I’m grateful for the environment I live in today.
It’s clear from other Interviews and your sets that you have a natural talent for DJing. What do you believe cultivated the talent?
I don’t really know what natural talent is, I’ve been practicing DJing a lot and I put a lot of emphasis on the creative process behind it. It’s important for me to be in this state of mind of developing and I’m still learning a lot as I go.
Listening to your sets, there’s an eclecticism to them that moves quickly between styles and genres, but what do you look for in music that defines you as a DJ today between these diverse corners of the dance floor?
I believe there’s no real definition. I guess I mainly look for the energy of a tune and the atmosphere it creates or can create in my imagination. It can be musically diverse, I mean the tracks can come from different musical landscapes, but the music will still have a certain similar groove.
I believe you’re also a Berlin selector for Phonica (recordstore). Coming into contact with so many records on a daily basis must be incredibly exciting and also very challenging. How do you decide what goes to the store and what goes into your collection?
Thing is, even though I’m working at a record store, I’m not buying a lot of recently released records. My current focus is on discovering older stuff / other genres that aren’t house which I find in second hand shops or online, mainly on Discogs, that can fit into my sets. When I choose music for the store I have different factors in mind and it will also be aligned with its general concept. Everything that is purely good music, or has good soul, will also find its way to the shelves.
You prefer the vinyl format as a DJ, and I saw in an interview with That Special Record, your collection is quite diverse and not all particularly focused on DJing. What does it take for a record to make it into your bag?
I have quite a few records that I didn’t buy thinking I would play them on the dance floor, if that’s what you mean. But even those sometimes find their way into my bag, so frankly there’s no particular order here.
Today, you’ve stayed mainly away from the studio. Why is that and might it call to you in the future?
I’m not producing my own music. I actually never did, but this world is open for me.
We’re looking forward to having you come to Jæger. We had such a magical time when the Ostgut Ton came through two years back. What does playing under the Ostgut Ton banner change in how you might approach a set?
I’m also really looking forward to it. I’ve been to Oslo as part of a trip through Scandinavia back in 2013, and I’m glad to be back in the city, together with the Ostgut guys. The banner doesn’t change my approach towards a set. It’s always appreciated and good to be able to talk with the well-experienced folks that are behind Ostgut and I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be part of it.
I’ve been listening to your crack magazine mix while typing out these questions. It’s so dynamic and there are so many moods, It feels like it would suit any context. How much does the context influence your set and is it ever something you can prepare for?
Context is very important and influential. The context can be a factor of people’s energy, space and more. Sometimes you can imagine how things would be like, and then it’s possible to play with this idea, but sometimes not at all. I’ve never managed to predict it really well, there are so many nuances that I’m sensitive to, and for me it’s a lot about the actual moment and the balance between external things and my own energy. That’s basically the context.
And if you could make a prediction of how your set might unfold in Oslo, what would it be?
Lastly, can you play us out with a track.
Yes! It’s a remix I really like that Avalon Emerson made for Octo Octa on Honey Sound System. It’s a powerful 118 bpm atmospheric and brakey tune.