After slaying it as a six-time DJ Battle Champion at 16 and emerging first-runner up during the Singapore DMC DJ Championships in 2010, Perk Pietrek (pronounced pie-trek) is ready to expand his horizons. In this interview, the prodigious DJ from Singapore shares the excitement of releasing his brand new track “Busy Gyal” through Far East Movement’s record label with Arman Shah.
What inspired the name Perk Pietrek as your stage moniker?
It’s a simple idea, really. My real name is Pietrek, so I removed the alternate letters to get Perk. Perk actually used to be my old moniker during my DJ battling days when I was about 15 and 16. I combined both Perk and Pietrek together ever since I decided to establish myself as an artiste instead of just a DJ.
It’s funny because the name confuses people sometimes. Some think that Perk Pietrek consists of two people, and some just have trouble pronouncing it. I love it though! As long it gets people thinking, I think that’s awesome.
How did you get your start in music? What motivated you to become a DJ?
Like most people, I grew up listening to music. I used to be in the school band and played the trumpet as a kid. I even went to get my own saxophone, which I still have at home to this very day. I guess being constantly involved with music at a young age allowed me to use it as a shelter from many things in my life.
I was 13 when I came across the DJ world, and I went into music production at 16 because that felt like the natural progression. Through music, I wanted to be able to influence people in a positive way, inspire like-minded people and, of course, convey my energy and express myself, so it made sense to become a DJ.
You’ve made a commendable mark beyond Singapore with your brand of tropical bass. How has this signature sound of yours evolved over the years?
Thank you! Genuinely speaking, my sound is ever-changing, especially right now. I get inspired by so many different kinds of music, so I love it when I have full creative freedom to experiment with different sounds, get weird and express myself.
With that said, I do pay a lot of attention to drums. Interesting rhythms really get me going, so my sound usually revolves around getting that crisp, African-inspired percussion line. I’m a huge fan of drum corps as well. It gives me a feeling that I can’t describe, so I always try to convey that energy into my records or any of the shows that I’m playing.
What’s your approach to creating a song or record?
I’ve developed this habit of building ideas in my head whenever I’m travelling. It’s not just ideas for a particular song; I also enjoy visualising the artwork and having a story that carries the message behind a song that I’m going to create. It’s like expanding one song into a full package that portrays who I am as an artiste, and that definitely helps when I’m in the studio.
Did you face any challenges while producing your new track, “Busy Gyal”?
I was actually struggling with a creative block, and I went through this phase of just writing songs over and over again until I managed to break through my own barrier. I probably went through twenty different versions before I finally got Busy Gyal, so that was pretty intense.
Once I got the idea in my head, putting the song together happened freakishly quick. That’s just how it goes; some records happen instantaneously, while some might take a while. It really depends on the flow of things and how I’m feeling in the moment.
How did the collaboration with rapper Rocky Rivera on “Busy Gyal” come about, and what was it like working with her?
The first few drafts of the track actually featured tribal vocal samples because I was going for a very unique take on it. I was working on it constantly, but it just didn’t sound good to my ears; I wasn’t 100% satisfied. It felt like there was something lacking to give it an edge.
That was when I hit Rocky Rivera up via email and got her into the picture. I’m actually in awe of her. She’s an accomplished writer with Rolling Stones and a talented hip-hop artist. She’s based in the States, so we had to do everything over the Internet, from sharing ideas to sending snippets to one another. Her lyrics talk about her being unbothered by the way people judge her work ethics, so that really echoed my values as an artist too.
You’ll be releasing “Busy Gyal” via Far East Movement’s record label. How did this arrangement come about?
It all kicked off when Far East Movement hit me up to do a VIP remix of my track “Sleep is Over”. I’ve been sending them all of my new music for them to listen to since then. When I sent “Busy Gyal” over, they made a really quick decision to sign it immediately.
It’s still a little crazy for me to process that my name is now associated with artistes the likes of Far East Movement. This is a major opportunity for me to reach out to a wider audience with the push from their label. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do as an artist – share my work with as many people as possible and hopefully impact them in a positive manner.
What are your plans for the near future? Any gigs lined up?
We’re planning some big production shows locally and internationally, but we’re all still in the midst of discussions. Shows abroad might happen sooner than you’d think, so keep a lookout for the announcement on my social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. We’re probably going to get some merchandise done for the upcoming shows too, so it’s all good.
Any words of advice for those who aspire to be a DJ like you?
We always get caught up in so many things – both positive and negative – but I feel that it’s all about how you adapt to the situation and keep striving to improve yourself. We’re always wishing to be like someone else, but it’s also important to find out who you are and be yourself too. It’s easier said than done, but to be able to do your own thing and have fun is already a blessing, so just embrace the journey and be positive about it.
Listen to and download Perk Pietrek’s new song “Mirage” here.