Truancy Volume 93: Palms Trax

Our 93rd Truancy Volume is delivered by Berlin expat Jay Donaldson. Having previously produced music under a variety of monikers, 2013 marked the release of the first Palms Trax EP on new London-based label Lobster Theremin. Equation nodded to both Chicago and Detroit in equal measure with three floor ready house jams that have never failed to get us grooving. With the end result coming in as one of our favourite debut EPs of last year, it made perfect sense to get in contact with the man himself and have him deliver us a mix. We also found time to sit down and have a chat; discussing his earliest musical experiences, his live performances and the merits of German Haribo.

Stream: Palms Trax – Late Jam (Lobster Theremin)

You’ve mentioned in the past that you came to electronic music somewhat late. What were your formative musical experiences? You played piano from what I’ve read? “Yeah I played piano, think it took me about 12 years to pass my Grade 1 but after that I wasn’t so bad. Apart from that it was just bass guitar and Black Sabbath until I moved to London. Actually I did listen to Metronomy and wear skinny jeans once which was apparently pretty hip, but the latter was owing to a washing accident more than anything else. There was the odd Aphex Twin album and J Dilla track in there but I wasn’t really aware of anything else existing beyond what was spoon fed to me by whatever magazine my local Sainsbury’s was stocking. I could just about load up Minesweeper on the PC but downloading any zip file would have been a stretch, we can’t all be listening to Philus records and a genre with wave attached to it from birth.”

As someone who has lived in both cities, what would you say the key differences between London and Berlin are? How has living in these places influenced your music? “Well I can only really speak from personal experience – and I know some people have an amazing time in London – but it wasn’t really for me. In hindsight it felt like going out was a pretty alienating experience, heavily regulated with everyone keeping themselves to themselves. Having said that Principles and Rhythm Section were both really fun just before I left and I love Phonica, Kristinas etc. The pace is just different over here and I like that there’s everything a city has to offer within a smaller, quieter space. Plus there’s a good community of people all looking out for each other. I don’t know, I’m not sure anyone wants to hear about Berlin anymore. I guess the main difference would be the admirable creativity that someone possesses at Haribo’s German headquarters.”

Can you tell us a bit about your live show? “It actually only came about because these guys in Holland asked me to do it at the beginning of the year, so I treated it sort of like a commission. I’ve since done two shows in London and Berlin as well, but it’s something I’m only looking to do once in a while really. I think on the whole I much prefer seeing DJ’s. They’re the people I look up to and, although it was a lot of fun, I enjoy buying records too much to let that side of it go. The process was pretty intense too,  I just spent ages making a tonne of different loops, then had the MFB 522 running the drums, Juno 60 up there for some melodies, MPD as a controller etc. It took about two months overall to sort out but to be honest it’s something that could go on forever.”

Before launching Lobster Theremin you and Jimmy Asquith were involved in the Streets of Beige parties together. Do you have any personal highlights from these events? Did launching the label seem like a natural progression? “Well to be honest all credit has to go to Jimmy for these. I was just a resident and then came on board to release on the label but he set both of them up and has put an insane amount of time into both of them. I guess the label was a natural progression because he’d wanted to do it for a while. With the parties it had got to a point where there wasn’t anything left to explore I think, but they’re very much separate entities. I still look back to this night I played with Fred P fondly. His set really made an impression on me even if the total attendance didn’t stretch past double figures, it was drizzling and I had no bus fare home.”

You work A&R for Lobster Theremin, what’s in the pipeline for the label? “Well I don’t do so much. I stumbled across Snow Bone on SoundCloud and give a few opinions here and there but there’s so much planned now that I’m almost a spectator which I think is nice. There’s over ten releases coming this year and I’m excited to see how it goes. It’s still so surreal that the whole thing has got going and that people are into it in all honesty.”

Willie Burns was on remix duties for your first release, is there anyone you’d love to remix your music in the future? “Well I’ve been pretty lucky to have Galcher Lustwerk and Tin Man on the next ones but yeah, I think Big Strick or one of the Mood Hut guys would be cool. Heiroglyphic Being also, Silent Servant, Stingray, XDB, Legowelt in Catnip mode with Luke Eargoggle… There’s so many. Steve Bicknell or a Gherkin Jerks mix would be a bit of a dream. The list is endless.”

What can we expect from you over the coming months? “I’ve just started a monthly show on Berlin Community Radio which is cool, then I’ve got a white label out on Lobster Theremin in the next couple of weeks as well. I’ve also pretty much finished these two tunes I’ve been doing with Innershades. As well as that I’ve almost finished the next proper EP too but I’m not sure when that will be out. Then there’s one more thing, but again, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with that. Then there’s the Tin Man remix and repress real soon.”

What approach did you take for this mix? “I played in Austria just before recording it and was pretty pleased with how it went over there, even if I am still in shock with how heavily I perspired throughout, but yeah just followed that structure of starting out pretty hazily, then some housier bits, short commercial break then techno to finish.”

Aside from music what are your other interests? How do you like to relax? “Most recently I’ve been enjoying having an almond magnum in the bath, as well as reading about this barnacle called a rhizocephala. Cooking has been a thing of late too I still managed to eat a whole box of nougat bites over the weekend so maybe I’m not quite the friturier I aspire to be. I’m mostly a bag of nerves on the whole.”

Truancy Volume 93: Palms Trax by TRUANTS


Medico Doktor Vibes – Kalimba Tunen
STL – Loon Side Drift
Madteo & Sensational – Freak Inspector (Hieroglyphic Being Rework)
Dreesvn – Untitled (Remixed by Rasselbande Housemæn)
Gherkin Jerks – Red Planet
By The Pound – Gotta Get Down
Jovonn – Back 2 Tha House
Roger-S – Body Heat (Nu-Solution Mix)
Robin Breaks – Get Dubbed
Traumprinz – Big Baby Jesus
Rhythm & Sound – Jah Rule (w/ Paul St. Hilaire)
DJ Qu – Prayer
Emmanuel – Okla
Voices From The Lake – 531 kHz
Lee Gamble – Tvash Kwawar
Drew Gragg – Metroplex Theme

Matt Gibney