Rupert Parkes (born 1972), known as Photek, a Los Angeles-based British record producer, film & TV composer, and electronic music DJ.
Photek is currently the composer on the hit show How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) starring Viola Davis, which premiered as the top-rated broadcast drama of the Fall among adults 18-49. How to Get Away with Murder is created and executive-produced by Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Bill D'Elia also serve as executive producers.
Photek has contributed music to a long list of film, TV and video game productions as far back as Blade in 1998. He also scored Fox Television's Gang Related (Imagine Entertainment) with director Allen Hughes, making 2014 one of his most prolific years yet.
A game-changer in the UK dance music explosion of the 90's, and after three consecutive Grammy Award nominations, his music has earned universal respect and acclaim. His Grammy nominations in the category of Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical were for Daft Punk "End of Line" from the Tron: Legacy movie soundtrack in 2012, Moby "Lie Down In Darkness" in 2013 and Bob Marley "One Love/People Get Ready" in 2014.
As a composer, Photek has fused his London underground pedigree with a new wave of film and TV music that elevates picture and electrifies audiences today in 2015.
At home, Parkes' parents would play a diverse range of music from Spanish classical guitar to Fleetwood Mac to Gustav Holst.
It was Hip Hop that began his own musical obsession and it started with the purchase of his first 7" single: "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5. As this genre grew through the 80's, it laid the foundation in his mind for the music he would create a decade later.
Parkes' love of Hip Hop led him to another discovery in the form of Soul and Jazz. Artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Roy Ayers not only affected the way he listened to music at the time, but would shape the sound of Photek years later.
Tenor saxophone was the first instrument Parkes learned, but when a piano arrived in the family home his focus shifted to composition as opposed to performance. Film & Television scores had a huge impact on his music long before the first Photek record was released. Movies like Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry, Ran, and Lawrence Of Arabia were a major influence on his sonic palette. The scores from Blade Runner and Miami Vice leaving an even more obvious mark on his musical DNA.
Perhaps the biggest shift came when he discovered a whole new landscape of new music through pirate radio and mix tapes. Parkes had his first experience of a warehouse party (Telepathy, London) in 1988, which changed his relationship with music permanently.
By 1992 he had traded the saxophone for a sequencer and within the next year the name Photek was born.
1993-1995: Early aliases:
Parkes began his first forays into releasing music in 1993 under a plethora of different names. Notably 'Jump' under the name Studio Pressure on Certificate 18, 'Dolphin Tune' under the name Aquarius on LTJ Bukem's Good Looking Records and 'Pulse Of Life' under the name The Sentinel on Basement Records. The first release under the Photek production name came in 1994 with Touching Down...Planet Photek, released on his own Photek label.
1994: Natural Born Killa:
Photek's breakthrough release in 1995 was the Natural Born Killa EP for Goldie's Metalheadz. His deeper and more intricate take on drum'n'bass went on to form a whole new subgenre in the scene.
1997: Modus Operandi:
The debut Photek album came in the form of the now timeless Modus Operandi in 1997, through Virgin Records. The album is a demonstration of perhaps the most accomplished drum programming of all time and was truly groundbreaking in the electronic music scene. Layered with shimmering emotive atmospherics, the album bridged the gap between the street and the art sections of broadsheet newspapers.
1997: Ni Ten Ichi Ryu:
Virgin Records released one of Photek's most well-known and most-loved tracks in 1997 with Ni Ten Ichi Ryu. A sophisticated and cutting edge track that set him apart as a highly unique producer.
The official video for Ni Ten Ichi Ryu seemed more like a Kurosawa movie than the average dance music video. Shot in a Ninja village in the mountains of Japan, it showed just how far Photek would go for perfection.
1998: Form & Function:
A year after Ni Ten Ichi Ryu, Photek released his second album Form & Function. The album comprised four tracks that had previously only been available on limited release vinyl in the early 1990's, plus six remixes and versions by Photek himself as well as other notable contemporaries Digital, Pershay & Decoder, Doc Scott, and J Malik. Having these early tracks collected together on Form & Function introduced Photek's leftfield production approach to a whole new generation of D&B listeners.
Never one to sit on his laurels, Photek surprised the music industry with his Solaris album, turning his attention from Drum & Bass to a new sound which embraced Chicago House and Minimal Techno. On the now classic single Mine to Give, he teamed up with the ultimate vocalist of the genre, Robert Owens, to create a No. 1 Billboard single.
2007: Form & Function Vol. 2:
'One Nation' - the prized dubplate that had been floating around as a white label for over a decade, finally saw an official release on Form & Function Vol. 2. The newer productions on the album showed Photek using a broader sound palette, taking influence from his composition and soundtrack work by including orchestrated passages. There are even references to a more rock and industrial sound - something inspired perhaps by his work in 2005 with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.
Fast-forward to 2011 and Photek's just as well known for his ambient works, cinematic scores and open-minded approach to sound as he is for being an underground dance music pioneer. After a four year hiatus from releasing music under the Photek moniker, Parkes was back with a series of EPs which immediately lit up BBC Radio One with support across the board from electronic, to urban and into the daytime pop shows, including Rob Da Bank, Benji B, Zane Lowe, Nick Grimshaw, and Pete Tong. Photek's broad range of styles was shown when he was invited to contribute to BBC Radio 1's 'Essential Mix' series in October 2012.
In 2012 Parkes also released the album KU:PALM and he explains the production process here: "This album had to be the right listening experience for the headphone listeners as much as on a club soundsystem. That was a new experience for me because we had to make judgement calls to take that into account during the mix. Some stereo elements that sound amazing on headphones simply vanish on a mono soundsystem but I feel we got the right balance in the end....As it did start to take shape it felt like it was sitting halfway between Modus Operandi and Solaris--which I felt was a good place to be."
Photek's remix of Daft Punk's "End of the Line" for the Disney movie Tron: Legacy earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Remix in 2012 - a high caliber category loaded with Deadmau5, Skrillex and Afrojack. He received Grammy nominations in the same category for the following 2 years, with remixes for Moby and Bob Marley.
Now based in Los Angeles, Rupert Parkes embraces the new era of technology. Over the past 20 years he has been on a sonic journey that has seen him explore all corners of electronic and muiti-media music. The fall of 2015 will see Photek score the second season of ABC's How to Get Away with Murder, continue recording the follow up to KU:PALM and various movie and computer game scoring projects.
Photek has remixed many legendary artists in his career such as David Bowie, Björk and Goldie. Additional production work on the seminal Nine Inch Nails album 'With Teeth' led to his remix of their track 'The Hand That Feeds' which got him KROQ daytime rotation. The 'Ruff Mix' version is one of Photek's personal favorites; in his words "Probably one of the best tracks I've ever made."
Film and TV music composer:
Film Music Composer to Dreamland and Invincible, Photek also scored the music for the films Blade, The Animatrix and Stealth.
Later scoring the music of FOX tv show, Gang Related which debuted in the May 2014 stars Ramon Rodriguez, Cliff Curtis, Terry O'Quinn, Emilio Rivera and RZA. Created by Chris Morgan (Fast Five, Wanted) the series follows an Elite Gang Task Force as they take on Los Angeles' most dangerous gangs. Photek scored all episodes of the show, as well as the Main & End Title Theme Song for FOXs Gang Related. In 2014 he began composing for ABC's How to Get Away with Murder starring Viola Davis, created and executive-produced by Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Bill D'Elia. How to Get Away with Murder will be returning for a second season on ABC in the Fall 2015.Make Photek Playlist