Catching up with REES

Rhys Fairhurst


Process Operator by day, international Italo Disco extraordinaire by night.

I met the Paradiso Records frontman a few years ago when he was playing a set for Boiler Room over in Bangor, North Wales, and he has continuously proven himself as one of the UK’s most notable rising stars in the electronic music scene, performing at shows all over the globe as well as releasing top class music on some of his favourite labels.

March 2022 saw the release of his eagerly anticipated record “Three Eyes” on Amsterdam based label Bordello A Parigi which received early support from the likes of Jennifer Cardini, DC Salas and Dar Disku. The track perfectly captures the synth-heavy, 80s inspired sound that Rees is renowned for and with an exceptional remix from TJade to accompany it. It’s the perfect first track on wax for the Middlesbrough man.

Here’s what we spoke about when I sat down for a catch up with Rees just before the release of his latest record.

What was your main inspiration behind this record?

“This record was heavily inspired by Middle Eastern sounds, I listen to a lot of Arabic Disco and some DJs I like such as Dar Disku and Palms Trax both play it in their sets which proper resonates with me so I just went sample hunting one day with loads of Folk music and Arabic music and that’s where I got it from.

I really wanted to put something out that showed that I really like that side of music which is where this record came from, although I finished it like three years ago.”

How did things happen with Bordello A Parigi?

“I was talking to Otto (the guy who runs it) long before sending any music over, as I was in talks with him about doing a mix for Bordello Radio and we just got chatting from there. When I made this record, I sent it to a couple of other places and it was originally meant to come out on another label but they decided to pull out as it was when the pandemic first began, so everyone was kind of taking a pause. So when we came out of all that, I just thought it’d be perfect for Bordello, and as I had a relationship there it was just a really nice fit for it.”

How did the TJade remix come about?

“Yeah so he had a similar release on Bordello which blew up; it was one of his biggest tracks and was played by Palms Trax at Dekmantel. So I sent him the song as a promo and as soon as he heard it he was like desperate to remix it, so we put that together and were brainstorming ideas, again back to what we said earlier about finding a label, and we both agreed that Bordello would definitely be a good fit.”

Do you feel that you’ve found your sound with this latest release?

“Yeah I definitely feel like I’ve finally cracked like a method of incorporating all the styles that I like into one sound. I’m still trying to grow in other areas of music that I like such as Afro, I’m trying to incorporate that a bit more into my music so hopefully in the future you’ll be able to hear that in more of my music whilst still keeping to the Italo/Disco/World sound. It’s similar to when I DJ, I like to play multi-genre sets so I’d like to incorporate that into my productions, still keeping quite a narrow sound but also including other influences that I like.”

Prior to this release, you contributed a track to the second edition of “Make Italo Great Again” on Hong Kong based label Fauve Records, how did that come about?

“Romain FX dm’d me on Instagram asking to be put on the Paradiso promo list because he really liked the label, and he actually put me on the promo list for Fauve at the same time before mentioning that he was putting together another compilation and that he’d love to have some of my music on so I sent him a track that was sitting on my hard drive and he said it was perfect.”

With your EPs and releases going forward, are you going to channel all that through Paradiso, or are you going to try and mainly release music on external labels?

“Probably more on external labels, signing onto these labels that I love and I’ve listened to for years is more of a personal thing for me, so it’s amazing to finally get the chance to put out music on them. I’d much rather make a personal achievement that might only reach a hundred people than just release on any big label that approaches me.”

What would be your dream label to release on?

“I think Running Back, Dekmantel or Rush Hour. I think Rush Hour would be very, very amazing.”

You’ve got another release coming out soon on Ombra International, could you tell me a bit about that compilation?

“It’s ran by Curses so it’s a lot of darker music on Ombra, it’s a compilation label and they choose four or five artists for each release, all from a different country which is quite a cool concept. They put out a lot of post-punk and EBM type stuff. I guess mine is like Gothic, Horror Disco, it’s quite a Halloweeny tune.”

So, let’s talk gigs!

You played at Lakota in Bristol recently, how was that?

“So it was my first time playing there, but I have been there once before, during that weird stage semi-lockdown thing where we all had to sit down and weren’t allowed to dance. It was really good, yeah! I played back-to-back with Remi Wanless but I was a bit sceptical at first as the room was empty when I turned up to play but within ten minutes it filled up so it all worked out well in the end.”

Talking of b2b’s, you’re doing a big one this summer at Westival, aren’t you?

“Yeah with Ned (Tech Support), I’ve played on the same lineup as him once before but never b2b but I’ve been playing his stuff for years, he’s so so good. He’s probably one of the best producers I know and he’s a wizard at DJing as well. I think it’s a really good fit for us two though, our collections are both very diverse.”

Have you got any other gigs coming up?

“I’m playing at a festival in the Netherlands this year which I’m really excited about because it has my heart with music, all of my favourite artists and labels are from there. It’s like the Italo equivalent of Berlin.”