How do you make a statement without saying anything? Scratches hiss pop clicks the improvisation of the flicking of switches of looping and sampling and echoing of cold landscapes. Technology as a tool as an instrument as a sound. Sounds as a voice as a theme as an idea. Symposium of the present and the future lapsing and sliding into itself.
Toronto’s Cheldon Paterson bka SlowPitch—an experimental turntablist whose claustrophobic soundscapes are actualized spaces. Entering inside is walking through countless doors that fall into pits of other doors—no escape. Walking through the barren streets as loose leaflets wrap around your legs garbage strewn into the sky skyscrapers cleave through the clouds. Journeys in mood, leading to aches in the stomach—political and emotional, there is provocation.
It is science fiction it is reality.
I’d like to talk a bit about your musical upbringing. Did your family have a record player growing up? Do you have any memories associated with getting into music (in terms of your father, mother showing you records, etc.) and can you tell me about the moment you knew you’d like to pursue it?
My family did have a record player and I have memories of frantically trying to fix it after the drive belt had fallen off before they got home. I use to mess around scratching some of my mom’s Calypso records after seeing DJs do it on Rap City back when I was 13. It was discovering shows like that and the Power Move on Ckln 88.1fm that launched me into the world of music. Hip Hop music was my entry point.
Where are you from and how has this (if at all) been indicative of the music you play? When did you start treating the turntable as an instrument rather than just a means of playing records?
I’m originally from Grenada but grew up in Toronto. I definitely think that my current location has influenced my sound hands down. It’s the huge mix of cultures and my willingness to explore them that has encouraged me to think outside the box. The transformation from turntable to instrument was a long one. My progression like most was scratching records for countless hours in a bedroom, learning to mix, DJing followed by making music. In early 2000 after discovering artists like Dj Krush, Kid Koala, Bjork and my involvement with experimental turntable band iNSiDEaMiND, I was inspired and driven to use the turntable differently, collaborating with other musicians and taking the art to venues outside of the traditional club setting. My sound to me is not only derived from my surroundings but also a relationship with my tools of choice. After years of practice my sound has transformed organically and there’s much more to come.
Your new EP sounds like the soundtrack to a science fiction film, while also being grounded in the rather dystopic feeling of the present. Are there associations with the current cultural climate? Were there specific science-fiction soundtracks or films that inspired you? What was the mindset that you went in with for this record?
I would absolutely love to hear my music in a cinema with a major sci-fi film—that would be awesome! Like science fiction movies which tend to carry a message of things to come and in a lot of cases have come true, my music also carries a message of social awareness… at least that’s my vision with titles such as “Nature Mode” and “Another Other Space” for example. Themes running through my head a lot are the environment, gadget addictions, reliance on technology, memory loss, robotics, human interaction and more. There really wasn’t a scifi soundtrack that inspired me, I’m just really into the genre and by coincidence the textures and ghostly forever moving sounds in my music happen to conjure up outer space type visions. It’s the best happy accident ever!
You speak a lot on explorations of sound. What does “taking someone on a journey” mean to you? What does the discursive and sprawling form of your music do for you that traditional pop cannot?
Well it’s a lot more than just the music for me. It’s sharing energy and giving my audience an experience like no other in a live setting that does it for me. I’m sure we can agree that there is an unbelievable amount of music being made right now because today’s technology speeds up the learning curve somewhat. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but it does make it tougher as a profession. Having an intimate relationship with my electronic instruments for a number of years has allowed me to dig deeper into their and my core, discovering new sounds on my own and giving me plenty of time to translate my music into a live setting. Still a work in progress but extremely important in separating the stage and it’s magic from a bedroom/studio in my opinion. As far as traditional pop or current popular genres go to be quite honest I haven’t been paying much attention. I think it’s safe to say that it’s helped my style of music by not being so connected or driven by trends. Most of my time is spent being open to sound as a whole and striving towards my own greatness.
Although you have touched on this briefly, what are your goals as an artist? How do you continue to push yourself musically?
My ultimate goal is to inspire youth, especially youth of color to think beyond borders. By taking an art form traditionally associated with urban/hip hop culture and integrating it with imaginative techniques I’m hoping to encourage them to look outside the stereotypical images presented by mainstream media and imagine something that is there own, bigger and global in scope. As far as pushing myself, because my music is highly improvised it keeps me on my toes I work hard at preparing myself to handle unexpected moments, which is a challenge to do with electronics. Every time I step to my gear it feels like a fresh experience. I have fun with what I do and I’m very passionate about sharing the experience with others.