West Australian based DJ/producer Greg Packer is considered to be one of the pioneers of dance music in Australia.
As a DJ from the early ’90s, he was there during the emergence of drum and bass on the rave circuit while as a producer he gained international recognition, releasing d’n’b tracks on a range of labels including LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking Records.
But it’s his recent incarnation as disco producer Dr. Packer that has seen him become one of the biggest names to drop in disco right now. With his edits constantly in the charts of download sites across the web, there seems to be no stopping this man.
Cream makes an appointment with the good doctor to discuss his journey.
You used to make drum and bass as Greg Packer, and I’m fairly sure I’ve seen you play at some dodgy warehouses.
Ha ha ha!
It’s a pretty different scene. Why did you make the change?
To be honest, I think it was more a kind of age thing. I’m mid-40s now. I’ve been doing drum and bass pretty much since it existed, which was probably since ’92 onwards, so I was kinda there from the birth of it. I think I did my last d’n’b gig around 2013, about 3 years ago. It felt weird. I just felt like the old guy in the room. You know what I mean, right? My kind of drum and bass was the more ‘liquid’ sound anyway, and I preferred the deeper soulful stuff anyway.
What else contributed to your change in genre direction?
I received an email from one of the big festival companies; I don’t think it was Future Music, but it was something along those lines, one of those big ones. Anyway, they said they were looking for ‘fresh DJ talent’ and they actually listed an age bracket which was 18 to 30. I felt, like, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been around forever, and you actually started drum and bass in this town, but because you’re over the age of 30 you’re not going to get a look-in.
Still, you’re producing and DJ-ing a lot now. Are you doing anything else on the side?
I’ve started doing some mastering for a couple of labels who have approached me and it’s kind of steam-rolled from there. I find that not having a normal 9-to-5 job [gives] me a little more time in the studio to start doing more editing and the Dr Packer stuff. Everything’s kind of stabilised, if not grown to the point that I’m constantly keeping busy and getting paid for it. And I’ve always thought I’d love to do music full-time, whether it’s just DJ-ing or being in the studio, so being around music and doing that for a living has been great. There’s no sign of me thinking ‘oh shit, I’m going to have to get a day job now’.
Talking about your day job, what did you used to do?
I had a number of different jobs. My brother is an electrician so I was helping him. Prior to that I was just doing labouring work on building sites, which is horrible, really. Hard work and minimum wage; it was a terrible job but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do I suppose.
You used to produce a lot of drum and bass from scratch, but now you’re doing more edits. Would you ever consider making original disco?
Well, I’ve actually got one that I’m working on at the moment. Also this year I remixed a track that Bootsy Collins was involved in, and that came out on vinyl. So I’m starting to get more original material sent to me to provide a ‘Dr Packer’ remix rather than an edit. I think that’ll be the next thing for me: to really break into the whole remix thing rather than the re-edit. It would be really hard to make an original disco tune from scratch. You could try and recreate it on a synth, but it wouldn’t quite be the same. Maybe working with samples would be a better option, because then you could grab a bass loop that’s been played by a bass player, and build from that, so you could get a bit of a live feel.
So you know some live instrumentalists?
Believe it or not, I don’t know any musicians, really, other than maybe one or two vocalists. I can’t pick the phone up and say, ‘Hey, come into the studio and record me some riffs to work with’. I don’t have that on hand, to call someone in to work with, but it is something I would love to do at some point.
To tune into a recent Dr. Packer rework, click on the Soundcloud link top of story.