[INTERVIEW] Pat Lok Breaks Down His Infectious Tracks, Recent Performances, & Upcoming Set at RETROSPEKT
Truly a needle in a haystack when it comes to his signature sound, artist Pat Lok has become a globally recognized figurehead of the house and disco scene. Pat seamlessly fuses elements of these two genres with elements of R&B and future funk, opening new doors in across the spectrum of music. His unique production style has garnered tens of millions of streams on Spotify alone, via groovy releases like "So Fine", "Might Be On Fire", and his newest hit single, "Bucket Hat". Currently residing in LA, Pat has also expanded his influence in dance music through his high-level DJing abilities. He has electrified crowds at some of the hottest venues in the world, such as Hangout Fest, Electric Forest, Electric Zoo, Splash House, and more. Additionally, he has toured with the top-tier performers of Disclosure, Galantis, Purple Disco Machine, and other industry-leading members. With a thrilling headlining performance coming up at Downtown LA's RETROSPEKT, Pat is just getting started in 2023.
Check out iEDM's exclusive interview with Pat Lok below.
iEDM: How did growing up in Vancouver, Canada, affect your taste in music? What people in your life or influential artists have had a significant impact on your journey as an artist and production style?
Pat Lok: So I started hanging out in record stores when I was 17 or 18 and djing in local bars and clubs shortly after. I was obsessed with Pete Tong’s BBC Radio1 Essential Mix every Saturday where he had all these amazing international DJs playing house, trance, hip-hop, drum & bass, or whatever for two hours. That was pretty much my dance music ABCs so it was a bit serendipitous he became my publisher years later.
iEDM: In what ways do your beliefs align with the vision of RETROSPEKT? What role do you think their mission has in regards to the future of the music and entertainment industry?
What similarities do you see between the RETROSPEKT brand and your brand as an artist?
Pat Lok: Events like RETROSPEKT are super important right now, curating and cultivating a dynamic community where you might not know who or what you’re going to see, just something dope you’ll end up telling people about. That mirrors my own approach to my music and shows.
iEDM: When first breaking out onto the scene, you were named co-winner of The Rapture’s “How Deep Is Your Love” remix competition in 2012. What was your reaction to winning the contest? Looking back, what about this remix are you most proud of and why?
Pat Lok: Wow, that's going in the time machine. It was a huge moment at that point because I had no idea what I was doing (mostly making trash bootlegs), so to have a legendary band like The Rapture find some sort of magic in the remix we did was kind of a turning point, like for the first time I thought maybe I could do this legit.
iEDM: How has your signature sound and artistic vision grown since this milestone in your career? How has your outlook on the entire music industry changed?
Pat Lok: Well I’ve released a fair amount of music across different genres, not just disco/house but hip hop, k-pop, and 80s R&B, so I suppose my sound evolves each time out. My debut album on Kitsune in 2017 was my first ‘statement’ with each subsequent EP adding a new chapter, plus accompanying visual elements which I spent a lot of time thinking about. Industry wise I have been lucky enough to be invited to work with a few idols which is always pretty cool. My outlook is that other people will always want ‘hits’ but you have to make what you love and trust in your vision.
iEDM: Your 2022 four-track EP, Jolie, is filled with a variety of infectious vocals. What stands out for you in a vocal sample that makes it feel like a solid addition to a track or even something that you can center an instrumental around? How do you discover new samples to use in songs?
Pat Lok: So I’ll sample anything. Literally anything, like a random TikTok or an iPhone alert or a garbage truck driving by. In “The Judgement”, I had an idea to sample this crazy preacher on YouTube who claimed he could cure COVID. Jolie was more straightforward - Unidisc is a classic label with a catalog full of luminaries, so it’s not like I had to re-chop melodies since France Joli is an incredible artist and songwriter. In that scenario it can be fun to look at the less obvious lines within a song to form a new hook, rather than just looping the chorus over a beat.
iEDM: In Jolie, how does each track embrace the overall vibe of the EP? What is the story behind the order of the songs?
Pat Lok: The EP in my mind has a little bit of each side of disco, from early in the night to peak-time to afterparty. The order it ended up in seemed to make the most sense.
iEDM: Which track in Jolie pushed you the most out of your comfort zone as a producer and how were you able to work through any challenges while creating it?
Pat Lok: Probably “Hypnotic” was the toughest one, because with all these different sections it wasn’t fitting together at first. Eventually, I decided to stretch the arrangement out, take inspiration from the old Paradise Garage days, and just let the whole thing simmer. So it was hugely validating that the Blessed Madonna got what it was about when she dropped it.
iEDM: Stemming from your hit song, “Over U”, new captivating designs and items were added to your merch collection toward the end of 2022. What inspired the idea surrounding each of the graphics, such as the dunking image and one-eyed cyclops?
Pat Lok: The music was all done and one of the visual artists I was talking to asked if I had a treatment for the video, and I already had like 3 cups of coffee and spat out the script in one email. We didn’t even end up going with that person. Rob Davies was always my first choice and it was kind of a miracle he was available - the cyclops was his idea. I love collaborating with visual artists who get the vision plus bring their own flavor - the storyboard had me cracking up for months before the final video was done.
iEDM: You recently opened for Purple Disco Machine in Boston on New Year's Eve and played a three-hour set in Cabo on New Year's Day. What were some highlights from these performances? How do your opening sets typically differ from your extended sets in terms of your mixing techniques and keeping the crowd engaged?
Pat Lok: Both were memorable. In Boston, a drunk person pulled the fire alarm midway into my set, so everyone had to leave the building for 30 minutes, then I picked up and basically reset the room for the last 30. The venue was super apologetic but that’s just how it goes sometimes, anyway the crowd was super pumped to be back the second time around the break almost made it like a live PA. Cabos was interesting since I actually played two 90 minute sets, back to back on different rooftop stages. So in part two I hit the ground running as people were in party mode. Opening sets are usually fairly short so you have to get straight to the point, but I do love the 2-3 hour sets (or more) because you can build up a rapport with the dancefloor and explore different moods.
iEDM: What is your top social media channel to communicate and interact with your followers? How does it allow you to showcase your identity as an artist and personality?
Pat Lok: It’s all just tools. IG is cooked but of course we all have to use it. TikTok is a shade more interesting but no one wants to see self promo on there so I just use it to mess around. And Twitter is mostly for trolling and silly DJ beefs.
iEDM: What was the process behind making the bassline in your single “Bucket Hat” with Fabich? What effects and sound elements do you think really help give off the song’s groovy disco vibe? What were your favorite moments from collaborating with Fabich? How do your unique styles complement each other in “Bucket Hat”?
Pat Lok: We were roommates in Lisbon together during summer ‘22 and one day he was showing me all these samples he liked. When we found that one, I hammered out the bassline there on the couch and that was most of it. We both work quickly when inspired and have complementary skill sets so that one was easy, we were literally just in our living room the whole time.
iEDM: Are there any surprises that you can hint at for your upcoming headlining set at RETROSPEKT for its attendees to look forward to?
Pat Lok: Wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, you’ll have to come and see for yourself! :)
Check out RETROSPEKT's upcoming lineup for its Downtown LA show below.
Photos courtesy of Pat Lok & RETROSPEKT
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