Hailing from Perth in Western Australia, Greg Packer has been involved in music since 1982 when he first began collecting vinyl ranging from Hip Hop and Electro to Soul and Jazz Funk. In 1989 he began DJing and won the Western Australia Mixing Championships in 1991 – 1992, and was the first DJ in Western Australia to play Drum & Bass / Jungle. In 1994, Greg toured the UK with DJ’s such as Carl Cox, Ellis Dee, Slipmatt, Seduction & Sy, and in the following year he won the ‘Most Popular Rave DJ’ at the Perth Dance Awards. Many more accolades have followed including the ‘Best Mixing DJ’ in 1996 and the ‘Best Drum & Bass DJ’ in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, all at the Perth Dance Awards, proving Greg Packer’s DJing talent.
Greg regularly tours the East coast of Australia at places such as Adelaide and Melbourne, and currently supports most visiting international DJ’s including John B, LTJ Bukem, Zinc, Pascal, Randall, Storm, Grooverider, Bad Company, Ed Rush & Optical and Total Science.
In 1998 he started his own record label called ‘Interphase Records’ in 2000, with its first release entitled ‘Moments’ / ‘Crossroads’. A year later saw his debut international release on Hardleaders with ‘We Hear Drumz’. Since then Greg has been extremely busy and has many forthcoming releases on labels including John B’s Tangent and Chihuahua records, Good Looking, Phuturo, Hardleaders and Wide Open Music.
We caught up with Greg aka Dr Packer ahead of his headline show at Sydney’s Rotary Disco
Hi Greg, thank you for speaking with us today. Let’s get straight into it. Your first set was in 1990 in your hometown of Perth, the scene, music and business of music has drastically changed since then, what would be the most interesting changes you have witnessed throughout the years?
Well it almost feels like I’ve done a full circle really, in 1990 the tunes I played in my first club set was stuff like ‘Hear The Drummer Get Wicked’ by Chad Jackson which I think is around 117bpm and quite funky, so from then I witnessed the tempo increase up to as much as 175bpm (drum & bass) and obviously dancing styles changed, but now I am even playing edits of some of the tracks I started out with and back to playing around that same tempo again so it definitely feels like the beginning again but with a more modern production
You are noted for being one of the first DJs in Perth to play D&B, in its infancy so many years back, did you have to fight for legitimacy for the style or was it embraced by the community?
No not at all , I had returned from my first official UK tour in 1994 and was playing this jungle stuff that no one in Perth had heard before, so thankfully the people that know still remember that I was the first DJ to bring that sound to Perth, it kind of stuck I guess and even the newer generations soon got school’d about the history and who was the first DJs etc
Despite creating a household name as Greg Packer, you have an alias, Dr Packer which dives into the blissful world of soul, disco, funk and reggae. How did this all come about?
I had a bad year in 2013, some personal family stuff going on and lack of ‘Drum & Bass’ bookings made me consider retirement, in fact I pretty much did for a few months at least, I had a little side gig (which I still do) playing my old soul funk & disco vinyl 5 mins from my house at a beach bar, one of the other DJs was playing lots of edits and suggested I visit ‘Juno Download’ I started discovering new artists in the re-edit scene such as (Fingerman & 80’s child & Late Nite Tuff Guy) once I’d seen that this whole ‘Re-edit / Nu Disco’ music was actually a genre and certain artists were making a career out of it and touring the globe, it instantly clicked into place for me that I had to give this a shot and maybe there is life in the old dog yet haha !!!! Best decision I ever made in my entire music career.
Your last release, Archives Volume 3 is a big hit in the office, is there any particular approach you take when remixing, or is it simply a case immersing yourself into the classics and see what happens?
I tend to go for stuff that I think needs to be ‘beefed up’ so essentially good tunes back in the days but lack that punch that most dance music gives you these days, I find it challenging to get it sounding like modern dance music but keeping the old school vibe rolling behind it, I need to hear if I can replay the chords and basslines as some stuff is too complex and would be a nightmare to re create. I wont just re-edit something I need to find out musically what they did and then start adding my layers, layering is what gives it the balls it needs to stand up in today’s market in my opinion so I usually get a good idea if it will work or not by hearing the original version.
We noticed you are an avid user of Bandcamp, with so many artists and labels looking to diversify with distributors, how has your experience been so far, have you noticed any downsides using a smaller platform?
Bandcamp and the ‘Archives’ series for me is an outlet for me to release tunes that the labels usually knock back, not necessarily because they are bad but maybe too popular or has been done too many times etc…. I also tend to revisit tracks and maybe do dub or VIP versions for my sets, then once I get bored of them I’ll put them on Bandcamp. I have had no problems or bad experiences with the site, I find it handy that there is a way I can put stuff like that out rather than let it sit on my hard drives, I figure they are maybe useful to other DJs even though I’ve stopped playing them.
As a regular on the Australian tour circuit, you must be more aware than most the impact of lock out laws have had across the states, do you think it is something we have to learn to live with or do you see things changing?
Well hopefully it changes yes, but I think for now it looks like it is something we have to get used to.
You are playing Rotary Disco in Sydney on the 14th of January, what can the crowd expect, any cheeky cuts you can share with us?
I’m looking forward to testing a lot of my latest tracks on the night, it’s also good timing as on New Years Day, I did a gig with ‘Joey Negro’ and ‘Late Nite Tuff Guy’ and they have both loaded me up with there forthcoming tunes and I can tell you there are some big things in there that I cant wait to drop.
What would be your top 5 summer jams that you cannot leave the house without?
David Joseph – Can’t Hide Your Love
Thelma Houston – You Used To Hold Me So Tight
Keni Burke – Keep Rising To The Top
Skyy – Here’s To You
Gwen McRae – Keep The Fire Burning
Thanks for speaking to us Greg, it has been a pleasure, lastly is any news you can share with us for 2017?
Just to keep an eye out for the releases they certainly wont be slowing down in 2017. I am still currently in talks regarding the debut ‘Dr Packer’ label which hopefully gets off the ground this year and hopefully I’ll see you in your town this year on a dance floor.
Catch Dr Packer with Ron Basejam, Saturday January 14th at Sydney’s newest venue, The Port at Darling Harbour with Rotary Disco. For more information and tickets, head here