Italian DJ SLOK considers himself more a great pasta chef than an underground contemporary electronic music artist, despite the fact that he had big influence on the Italian Breakbeat, Drum’n’Bass and Jungle scene with his two debut albums They Call It Jungle and Freak 2000 (Irma Records). SLOK’s discography also includes releases and remixes on high profile record labels like Get Physical Music, Circle Music, ONE Records, and Futic Tokyo and, after intense studio work and sounds research, he’s embarking on new collaborations including the release of a new artist album and a live set .

Hg2 caught up with the Paris-based DJ for a few words about music and life in France.

How did you get started DJing?

When I was really young, I mean a kid, I was always seduced by my brother’s vintage hi-fi stereo sound system, and my favorite game was to play and move the “stereo balance” control and so separate the brass sections from the all the other instruments by listening to some jazz or Beatles records, or playing with the equalizer, cutting basses and hi-frequencies. But the most exciting experience I had in my life was when a DJ friend of mine – a guy who lived in the same flat – put his stereophonic headphones on my head…it was like a sensorial experience, like an orgasm!

So after that, day after day playing with my family’s vinyl discography, playing drum, electronic bass, guitar on a band, I started to record my first original “funky” tracks with a drum machine, a multi track tape recorder, an analog delay and any instruments I had at home –  instruments from people who were often around my parents home, like local musicians, jazz uncles, or simply music lovers.

I don’t know when exactly I started DJing because I’m a musician – my first instrument was the drums! I’ve never studied music but I have always played various instruments and nobody forced me to do it! Please do not force children to study music, ever!

The first time I played in a club and got paid was around 1993, and if I remember, my set sounded like Dub, Reggae, Jungle, Funky and Hip Hop Jazz, not house music yet!

You’ve started your own imprint, Electronic Petz. What led you to form this label and what does it do?

I’ve run Electronic Petz since 2006 and basically it’s a 360 degree’s Electronic Music Label created only to give myself and other unknown artists the possibility to release music digitally worldwide. The philosophy of the label hasn’t evolved yet, and labels always receive great feedback from the DJ world, even if the market is really down today due to illegal file sharing. I’m actually working to collect unsigned tracks for a new V.A. compilation “Electronic Petz Vol.5″ and celebrate the number 71’s catalogue release! This should be available in November 2012!

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How do you think growing up in Italy has informed and affected the music you make?

As I said before, I had the chance to grow up with musicians, to play as a musician and to hear different styles of music. But if we are talking about House Music, I can say that luckily I grew up near Riccione, which was for years the main melting pot for Afro, Funk, Disco, Cosmic Sound, House and Techno in Italy. You can imagine how many times I drove there from my town, Ancona, to hear music in clubs and see how DJs worked! I spent lots of hours watching big DJs like Tony Humphries, Dave Piccioni, Satoshi Tomiie, Hector Romero, Frankie Knuckles, and also the Italian residents Flavio Vecchi, Ricky Montanari, Ralf, Wayne Brown and many others. So that had a huge influence on me.

You’re based in Paris now. What are the best places to party in Paris? Do you have any favourite venues to play there?

Paris has one one great club with a great sound system and usually a decent artist schedule – the Rex Club. There are lots of other places like stylish bars and discos, but because of neighbours and sound ordinances, it’s unlikely the sound is good enough for electronic music. But there are lots of parties organised by independent young events agencies or festivals, and this happens in different places like warehouses, villas, parks, boats or wherever there is the opportunity to play the music loudly with excellent sound quality and a great lineup. So right now, that’s the trend – to  find an unusual place and set up a great party!

What are some of your favourite cities you’ve played or travelled in?

This is one of the best parts of this job. I love travel and I travelled a lot thanks to music! I love deeply Barcelona. I love the vibe this city have, but mainly I love the SONAR Festival, Spanish food and the climate! I love Toronto for the electronic music scene, which is actually massive! I been to and love Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Africa, Madeira (Portugal), La Reunion, Miami is lots of fun! I love Berlin, Ibiza, Milan, Rome, Palermo, Napoli, Sofia, Budapest, all the Croatian islands, Ljubljana. I love Sao Paulo, Kiev, Odessa. Vienna is also great and clean and there is a nice festival in March/April. Israel and Tel Aviv for the strong electronic music scene, for the tasty food, the warm people and greatest club, The Cat & The Dog, where I had the chance to play recently. And for sure, I love Paris.

You call yourself ‘more a great pasta chef than an underground contemporary electronic music artist’. As a lover and creator of food, where are your favorite places to eat?

Haha, yes I consider myself like this because I really love to cook special simple things (Italian or Mediterranean style) and I love to share and enjoy moments with my friends and my family. And cooking is close to producing music, even if we cannot eat music! Well, if you want to eat in Paris there are lots of options. I love Asian food here and I always suggest visiting the 13eme, which is the Parisian “Asian Zone” where there are lots of little and approachable places to get Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese food. There’s also the Asian supermarket Tang Frerés, where I buy stuff and then cook at home. The same for Japanese culture – not far from Opera, there is the Japanese zone – Rue Saint-Anne – where I used to go. I love French wines and French food, but I normally go to a butcher’s shop, a fish market or a proper supermarket, choose what I love and then cook at home. I also love to discover new places recommended by blogs like Chroniques du Plaisir.

What’s on the horizon for DJ SLOK and Electronic Petz in the coming months?

This year is started well, and I have already released a couple of tunes included on the “Roots Ep” and a single track “Runaway” on Adam Shelton and Subb-An UK’s / Berliner imprint One Records. In July, Circle Music Germany released a new single “Feel Alive” featuring a collaboration with the Canadians kings My Favorite Robot (Jared Simms, James Teej and Voytek Korab). I was at SONAR this year and I had a couple of gigs with both label’s showcases, One Records and My Favorite Robot!

This month, I will have have a split single release of my track “Lonely Child” together with Djuma Soundsystem and his “All Gonna Come Together” on My Favorite Robot Records. I’ve also got some another single release on One Records, as I said before Electronic Petz Vol.5, and then The Fat Pasta Grooves Vol.2 on a great label – I wouldn’t announce the name yet. As well, a few remixes and tracks for Circle Music, on the Alex Arnout imprint Dogmatik Records, and other many projects including my live set are coming out. And I’ve planned some DJ gigs, including a little Japanese tour in September.