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T-Rek - 21st Century Man

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Friday, 19 October 2007
Tarek Smallman, aka T-Rek, has a talent for sending club booking agents into stuttering rages, as 3D’s Carlisle Rogers discovered.

“What do you mean he doesn’t play a genre-” they scream incredulously into the phone. “No, trust me – the kids love him.”

And they do. His Freakshow Disco label is also probably the best way to describe him, which brings us to his new release, Freakshow Disco Volume 2 & 3. 

Like Volume One, Smallman says it is essentially a DJ mix-CD, the difference being he’s produced every track.

“It’s not like I sit down and write an album,” he says. “The thing that I’ve noticed on some of the more recent remixes I’ve done, like the Acid Jacks or the Snoop Dogg one, is that I’ve been keeping the music sounding very club friendly but with an extra element of musicality in there. So that if the music is being listened to outside of a club there is more going on in the music.”

This album is also a great window into what T-Rek is doing in the clubs these days as a DJ, which is handy if you want to figure out whether or not to come down to his latest tour to promote the album around Australia.

“I usually try to set my own agenda,” he says. “First and foremost, if I’m DJing to a crowd I’m always trying to entertain them. I try to do that in a creative and interesting way – to keep it fresh and different. I think it is really easy to play a lot of popular crap and keep everyone happy, and I think it is easy to crawl up your own ass and play a lot of music that you think is great – the whole ‘if you don’t understand it you can fuck off’ kind of thing.

“I think if you can bridge the two of those things and be as strange and weird and different as possible, but try to get the response of somebody who was maybe just playing anthems, then I think you’re really achieving something.

“So this disc is similar to the stuff I’ll be playing in the DJ set in as much as it’s a lot of different sounds coming from a lot of different places. Hopefully it is not too jagged – I’m not trying to be jarring when I change from one sound to another. Hopefully you don’t really notice it has happened until it’s happened. Then you’re like, ‘How the fuck did we get from here to there-’”

For a few dates on this tour T-Rek will be performing his live show, which involves a lot of chair-hopping.

“This time what I’m doing is running all of my computer toys and that sort of stuff,” he says. “On one side of me I have a dude alternating between bass guitar, keyboard and vocals. At times I’ll join him and play various instruments. On my other side I have a guy with a percussion setup and a drum kit. I’ll also be stepping over to his side of the stage at times and belting the drum kit and playing percussion. It’s a different sound from what this new album is. I’m still trying to make music that’s danceable, but I’m trying to make it dirtier, grungy and bluesy…more swamp. Like ZZ Top on acid trying to do cosmic disco.”

WHO: T-Rek
WHAT: Stereosonic at Royal Melbourne Showgrounds / Freakshow Disco Volume 2 & 3 through Rubber/EMI
WHEN: Saturday 1 December / Out now