Petrichor chats Rain, Soma, Synths, Subculture and Sofa Dancing

Simon Stokes aka Petrichor pitches in and up this Saturday at Subculture with his unique live set which has cemented his position as a true hardware and live performance pro and helped seal the release of his debut album Mangata on Soma. Ahead of his debut we chatted about Glasgow rain, Soma, synths and sofa dancing…

Where does the name Petrichor come from, and how does it suit you as a producer/artist? 

It comes from something so familiar to us in Scotland: rain. The word describes the smell that is emitted from soil when it rains after a dry spell, and when I heard it it immediately reminded me of being a kid in Scotland, getting soaked while out on our bikes building jumps in the woods. A lot of my tracks are built around field recordings of rain and other ambient textures so it suits really well.


You’ve been DJ’n and a part of the local club circuit for many years. Musically who are your influences from the early days? 

I moved through to Glasgow when 14 years ago to study audio engineering and was already deeply in love with house and techno at the time. But I’ve always maintained that I learned about the history and started looking backwards to older music after hitting the dancefloor of Subculture and becoming a weekly addict for many years. I was definitely educated by Harri & Domenic, no doubt.

2015 was a busy year for you with touring, releasing EPs and your debut album. Was this time a turning point in your career?

I couldn’t have asked for more from 2015 – I got to work on so many interesting projects with different people, but the highlight was being able to pull together my first full-lengther. I’m pretty slow when it comes to making music so I’d always assumed that an album would take a lifetime, but on Soma’s insistence I locked myself underground in the bunker and worked on it solidly for months on end until it was done. Very proud of that one, so yeah I guess that is a turning point for me. Feeling fired up for 2016 now…

What did it mean to you when local luminaries at Soma signed your first track?

I always held Soma Records as my goal when I was younger – I loved the label and I pounded Slam’s night Pressure at The Arches every month in the same way that I got my weekly Subculture fix. One of my good pals, Mr Copy, signed to Soma when we were really young and that definitely made me think it’d be possible one day. Signing the first EP was crazy, after dealing with small time labels for years actually heading into the office for a meeting was a buzz. So much good has come off it – I never thought I would end up working with Slam in the studio on an album or releasing my own.

We imagine your successful debut album Mångata was a long time in the making.  Was there a massive catalogue of tunes on your studio hard drive – How difficult was the selection and elimination process here?

Mångata took ages. Months of being locked in the studio constantly, forcing myself to work on it. I knew that I wanted it to be continuously mixed, and to include a couple of reworks from older tracks but I pretty much started with a blank slate and a concept to utilise sequences found in nature in the music, and then crafted each track piece by piece to make the whole thing fit together and flow nicely. I’ve never had the luxury of a studio computer full of unfinished tracks, if I like something I just finish it and get it out there normally, but that can take a long time…

Can you talk us through your live set up and your favourite pieces of kit?

My live setup is a mix of hardware and software really – I like the flexibility that a mix of the two provides. Ableton Live is at the centre with Push 2 as a controller for it – this lets me jam in drums, play melodies and record loops really easily. Then I have a Roland TR-8 for adding in 707, 808 and 909 drums – this takes care of a fair bit of the percussion. I swap between what synths I use – sometimes an Elektron Analog 4, sometimes a TB3 – just depends how much space I’ve got. I sometimes use an old 4-track tape recorder for a jam half way through the set as well. I like to change it up, keeps me on my toes!

Ableton Push TR8

Technics are back with a brand new turntable – the SL-1200GAE! It’s got a redesigned motor – but is it right to mess with a classic? What’s you thoughts on the recent hype around this subject?

Haha this has been causing a bit of a debate amongst the Soma Skool students who are on the music production courses I run. I’m all for messing with a classic if it improves it (as long as I’ve got a set of MK2s I don’t give a fuck), but I’m against ridiculous price tags and these are looking like they’ll come in at £5k a pair. Eh….naw. Still want to try them though! ;)

Your Shoogle Studios specialises in electronic music production tuition and is the only dedicated electronic music studio in Scotland. How did you end up involved and what do you enjoy most about this aspect of your working life? 

I initially started teaching people about music production to help pay my way through college, and built up a wee business just teaching from my bedroom. Then an opportunity came along to get a studio with my good pal Conor Dalton (Glowcast Mastering) and moved in there to keep building it up. After I signed with Soma in 2013 I spoke to them about running Soma Skool classes, and now Shoogle Studios is a music school where we have a range of courses for beginners through to experts, as well as online courses. My passion is teaching people about music production, I just love sharing the knowledge and loads of my past students have now gone on to get signed and start their careers in the music industry. Definitely very proud of being able to help people to achieve their goals like that!

We are always interested to hear what other music artists are listening to at the moment. Any tracks or producers that stand out for you recently? 

I’ve been enjoying a range of things at the moment, new and old. Really digging Welsh artist Leif, his Dinas Oleu album was amazing and his new one is class too. I’ve been really exploring the back catalog of mysterious Glasgow producer Pub, he’s got some amazing tracks that I could listen to for hours and so many albums. Would love to meet that guy. Aside from the electronic stuff, I’m listening to a lot of piano music from the likes of Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnaulds and others. Can’t get enough of that. 

In the future would you be up for collaborating with other musicians and producers etc? If so, hypothetically speaking – please name 5 people (dead or alive) who would be on your collaboration wish list?

I’d love to be good at collaborating with others – it definitely takes a special chemistry for me though. As I mentioned above, I’d love to collaborate with Pub. He’s a reclusive Glasgow guy and I can’t find out much about him – would love to see how he works.

I reckon I’d have a really good jam with KiNK given the chance, we both share a passion for hardware and live performance, and music just seems to flow from him. That’d be a good sesh.

I’d love a modular jam with Luke Abbott, he’s got some great tracks. I guess I love choosing people who like to just jam as that’s how I come up with a lot of my music..

I’d love to get a chat and a session with Donato Dozzy – his productions always inspire and move me.

Aphex Twin – nuff said…

As a local mover and shaker what does Harri & Domenic’s Subculture mean to you, and what can we expect from your inauguration on Saturday?

Subculture is the pinnacle for me – I learned so much from my years on the dancefloor and I really want to give it my all now I’m on the other side of the booth. I’m reworking sections of my live set this week every spare second I get so hopefully I’ll have something special by the time Saturday night rolls around.

As you know the Subbie faithful tend to enjoy going up the road for an after party post club, I am sure you’ve been to a few also ;) – Can you please list me 5 after party / house party picks. These don’t have to be house & techno or even dancey, just something you would put on a playlist for an after // flat party vibe?

That’s the best thing about the shitty licensing laws in Scotland – with clubs only open from 11pm – 3am there’s an amazing afterparty scene and I’ve definitely partaken in a good few of those! Normally for me the music starts off as a continuation of the club night before mellowing out and then when things get crazy the stupid tracks comes out. After leaving the club people might still be going strong so something like KiNK – Existenz is always a belter:

Maybe we’ll start to mellow out a bit, something like Danilo Vigorito – Dubbing Angels is always nice:

This Luke Abbott track, Brazil, gets played at every afterparty I attend. Danced on sofas many a time to this.

Late Nite Tuff Guy always gets a good response – this was played at my wedding recently and it went off.

A bit of Heliosphan is good for the end of the night.

This Saturday’s Subculture is £5 before 12. Door open at 11pm.

14:57 • 13 Jan 16