Techno artist David Porter (Kapoor) took time out of his busy schedule – and the wet Belfast weather – to speak to Decoded Magazine over a cup of fine Ecuadorian coffee. David has been DJing and producing for 8 years, has worked with DSNT Records in his native Belfast, and has established his own label, ‘Four Sides’. He has released two EPs on his label -The Veil of Thoughts and Persistence of Vision – that have been well received on the techno circuit.
Ahead of Kapoor’s performance at Tresor this month, Belfast-based Techno aficionado Mark Casey wanted to find out more…
Thanks for dropping by, David. You’ve just settled back in Belfast after living in Berlin for almost a year, and with techno being such an important part of your life, it must’ve been natural for you to sample life there. How did you find things over there, and do you have any designs on returning?
Living in Berlin was something that I always wanted to do, and with the techno side of things, there is that draw. But it was always a personal journey that I wanted to take and experience. I happened to know people who knew people over there and was invited out for a beer and soon had a circle of friends from Belfast and other nationalities. The scene is on a different level over there; there are very few restrictions, certainly a lot less than here. There’s stuff going on every night; scenes within scenes. Being able to go to experience Berghain was a highlight of living there. It is infamous nowadays but I was lucky to take away some amazing experiences from that club. I saw a few of my own personal heroes, James Ruskin, DVS1 and Function, and got to witness the new talent of Kobosil and SHDW, in the perfect environment. And in fact SHDW played one of my tracks at Berghain when I was there … what a moment!
As it happens, you managed to have some copies of your 2nd EP, Persistence of Vision distributed in record stores there. How did you pull that off?
I just went around record shops and handed them in personally, which was probably the most intimidating thing of all. The culture is different in terms of approaching people. Obviously, in Ireland, people are regarded as friendlier, whereas out there it takes a little bit longer to get to know people. But in Spacehall, Hard Wax and Oye I went in, spoke to the staff and dropped copies of the EP. I went back over the next few days and they liked my work so they agreed to take a few. I sold them cash up front. I had to get money for food!! And also to make money I worked as a barber and a dishwasher. Anything to keep the dream alive!!
Where did the name ‘Kapoor’ come from?
I borrowed it from the artist Anish Kapoor. At the time I thought his work was quite different and stood out from the rest so I kind of took that concept and applied it to my alias, and that’s where Kapoor comes from.
Tell us about the turning point in your life; the inspiration. Where you decided that techno, and indeed electronic music in general, was the path you wanted to take?
It was the first time I walked into Shine. I didn’t say to myself that it was what I wanted to do but I remember thinking, ‘this is me’. It can be hard explaining to people why techno means so much to me; after all, it’s basically repetitive drum loops – my granddad described it as jungle music!! Someone once argued the point that there was no passion or love in the music and I advised them to go and sit with a producer, or simply someone who loves it, for an hour and listen to them talk about it, and then you’ll see what it means. Or even go stand in a room full of people like in Berghain or Shine to whom it means everything, where you can have a ‘moment’ and really feel it. A good techno track will mean as much to me as a Beatles classic to a Beatles fan. But it was when I was 23, and I decided that I was going to quit my job and study Music Technology at college, that was the real turning point.
The dance scene in Belfast is growing from strength to strength. How quickly have you noticed things change and what venues and personalities would you consider to be crucial to this evolution?
It is difficult in terms of techno, as it seems that bigger events have taken over, like AVA Festival. There isn’t a main club anymore like Shine and Stiff Kitten. Aether & Echo have successful nights with Jordan and Timmy Stewart, but they’re very house-oriented, with house being much more popular than techno. That means that bars want to get as many people in, so they’ll play the most popular music. House is off the scale in Belfast, with Twitch’s legendary nights in Queen’s Student’s Union, and obviously, Bicep are huge. There’s nothing happening on a week in, week out basis for techno, but then big events like AVA come along and explode.
Shine obviously was massive, especially with Phil Kieran, and what he’s done for Belfast. And watching him getting carried around by the crowd during his Boiler Room set at this year’s AVA was one of the best things I’ve seen in a while. And that was a reflection of the unbelievable passion for music that exists in Belfast. But there is immense passion and talent in the city and there needs to be a venue to cater for this week in, week out. The licensing laws here are obviously very restrictive too, and that doesn’t help things at all. But the talent is huge here, and the internet is helping to uncover this.
Talk us through your studio. We understand you have a Korg MS20 synth and a Doepfer MAQ 16/3 sequencer. Is analogue your go-to medium for production or do you dabble with digital?
I use mostly digital – specifically Ableton Live – and use drum sample packs. I’m comfortable with digital as I know my way around DAWs. I would love to own a Roland TR-909, mind you!! Though analogue synths are on a different level. I also own a Moog Little Phatty. After college, I wanted to start buying synths, so I got the Moog, the Korg and, after watching a video where Silent Servant recommended the Doepfer and being aware of Regis and Function using it, I had to get one. I would like to go analogue and do live performances, so I want to have enough equipment to be able to do that and I’m moving down that line.
You appear to invest a lot of yourself in your music in terms of emotion, self -discovery and contemplation on life. Do you find that you get inspired more when you do look inward, or is it more of a case of certain pieces reflecting a particular episode in your journey?
I have this inner urge to be creative, and if I don’t get creative, it affects me. In fact, it affects me more than going to my day job, and it’s not even a case of wanting to make music in order to get somewhere with my life; I simply enjoy the process of making music. But it can be personal. One of my tracks, “Last Breath”, is about my granddad passing away. I realised that someday I’ll be the one taking that last breath and I’d like to look back and be content with the life I’ve lived. My track names do reflect times when people have helped me or inspired me. Around the time of my first EP, I had been listening to a lot of (British philosopher) Alan Watts, and I derived the title, The Veil of Thoughts, from the name of one of his lectures.
Do you have to make a lot of sacrifices for your music?
My music is my life. I don’t look upon it as a hobby, it really is who I am. If someone had have approached me when I was 23 and explained what it would take to release my first record I’d have been shocked, but you just carry on doing it. Having seen things from the other side, I admire anyone who is doing it, as I can look at the dedication required. It’s all about patience and self-belief. There comes a point when “society” steps in and tells you to grow up, chill out and stop making music every night, go to the movies and have a drink with your mates. But I just kept grinding it out. I went down the harder, more awkward path where I had to make sacrifices and let a lot of people down. Luckily I have a girlfriend who is very understanding but at the same time, it can make things difficult as most of the decisions I make are based around my music!!
Tell us about your label, ‘Four Sides’. It’s vinyl only we heard. Is this a conscious or subconscious way of encouraging DJs to return to more organic methods of performing?
It’s just another personal thing, really. Just like all aspects of my music. I love buying vinyl and I mostly use vinyl when I’m DJing, so it was natural to go that way with Four Sides. It also reflects that there has been a lot more effort put into getting material released on vinyl. It’s kind of easy to release something digitally – sometimes a bit too easy. It costs time, effort and money to release anything on vinyl. It’s a reflection on me, my upbringing, my family, my city, my scene, my music. Hard graft is looked upon as an admirable thing here, and Belfast people try to help others to help themselves and this is very prevalent on the dance scene.
What should we expect from yourself and Four Sides in the future?
I’m actually currently working on my next release, another 4-track EP, under the working title Face Your Fears that is hopefully going to be out around Christmas/New Years. It can take a while to process at the plant as vinyl sales are huge just now. But with the label, I am looking to take on artists but it’s all about finding the right artists. With the label being such a personal thing for me I’d prefer to take someone on who is passionate and wishes to develop their own sound and help them grow though I’m still developing the label and my own sound. Even though it’s very techno oriented now, it doesn’t even have to sound a certain way, but I do want to keep the pure, electronic, underground essence. It’s still early days, but I’m learning a lot and I would take a lot of inspiration from labels like Blueprint.
Thanks again for coming along and doing the interview, and hopefully we’ll be hearing much more from you and your label in the future.
No worries at all! Cheers for having me!!