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Photek on remixing Bob Marley and scoring ‘How to Get Away With Murder’

LA-based British music producer Rupert Parkes (aka Photek).
LA-based British music producer Rupert Parkes (aka Photek).
Faria Raji

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Artists have always borrowed from each other to create new works. The remixed songs of Rupert Parkes, or Photek as he’s known, are no different. Photek’s remix of Moby’s “Lie Down in Darkness” was even nominated for a Grammy in 2013.

The Los Angeles-based British producer remixed Bob Marley’s “One Love,” which was also nominated for a Grammy, as well as Daft Punk.

But he doesn’t just do remixes. He’s also the composer for ABC’s series “How to Get Away With Murder.”

Parkes recently came into the Frame’s studios to talk with host John Horn about the art of the remix and why venturing into TV was an easy choice to make.

Interview Highlights

You started out in drum and bass. Did you ever think that kind of music would lead to film and TV as a career option?

“I did think it would eventually, because I got a lot of my inspiration from film scores. I made sort of film score dance music, I guess... I’d watch movies and get an idea for a track and then go and record something, rather than hear another artist in a club, for example, and go home and write some music.”

What role do you see your music playing within “How to Get Away With Murder,” and how would you categorize it in a genre, musically?

“I think what Pete and I end up doing — Pete Nowalk, the showrunner and creator of ‘How to Get Away’ — we often talk in terms of an underlying theme that occurs during the show, and sometimes that can juxtapose what you’re actually seeing a lot of the time. So we talk in terms of a genre within the score as being ‘Oh, this is gonna be a people-are-all-terrible-type cue.' And loosely I know what he means instrumentally by that, and certainly the undertone of the cue.”

On his Grammy-nominated remix of Bob Marley’s “One Love”:

“I want to honor Bob Marley and not make a fool of myself. That was my first objective. This was a pretty quick turnaround on this mix too, so it was probably one of the most intimidating projects that I’ve done. The most amazing thing actually about doing this mix was having the multi-tracks of Bob Marley singing a cappella... The interesting was that there was several takes of the song. And knowing the song so well, you suddenly think, ‘Wow, that’s an extra breath that he put in there or he sung that slightly differently to the version that I know.’ And during making this song I would actually just play the a cappella through a delay and a reverb and just listen to his voice.”

How often does it happen that you remix something from a band and the band itself ends up adapting that remix into their repertoire?

“It happened with me, where I did a remix for a new band called Linche... They didn’t have, really, a way forward with their song and I ended up adapting it.

"We all loved it and decided to put it on my record. That’s a song called ‘Sleepwalking,’ which is one of the favorite things I’ve done in the last few years.”

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