An Interview With Rising UK House Duo Prok & Fitch

Prok & Fitch Vessel 1.22.15
Ben Prok & James Fitch throwing down all kinds of feel good House music at Vessel San Francisco 1.22.15

A week after I posted Prok & Fitch‘s first release of 2015, the Raw Cut EP, I had the pleasure of finally seeing them spin a set full of high-energy House, Tech-House, and Techno tracks at San Francisco’s Vessel Nightclub. Before the boys took to the decks Ben Prok and James Fitch were kind enough to chat with me, giving MMIBTY’s readers some insight into who these rising House stars are, how they got to where they are today, and what we can expect from them in 2015. If you’re at all into true House music with Disco and/or Techno influences, Prok & Fitch are an act you need to pay close attention to, especially with their recent management deal to join Mark Knight’s thriving Toolroom Records label.

Without further adieu… (MMIBTY): It’s good to meet you and welcome back to San Francisco. Where were you guys before this?
Prok & Fitch: (P&F): We came from LA, we were there for Monday Social and then we hit the studio there as well.

MMIBTY: And you were at BPM Festival before that.
P&F: Yeah we were there Thursday then London, Ontario Friday, Montreal Saturday, and down to LA on Sunday.

MMIBTY: Wow, all over the place. Now how was BPM? I was on Holy Ship and it always conflicts with BPM but I’ve always wanted to go. How was your experience playing on the Toolroom Knights stage? Would you say for House junkies you have to attend BPM, that’s something you have to experience?
P&F: It was our first time playing it, we’ve been wanting to go but we wanted to wait until we were going to play it. The parties and the DJs there are definitely more geared around our music. It’s slightly more underground and people who go seem to be a lot more educated as far as the music goes. We were expecting it to be wicked and it blew all expectations out the window, it was amazing.

MMIBTY: So talk about your relationship with Toolroom and Mark Knight and how that came to be.
P&F: Ah yes, we’ve been working with him for about five years. Originally we signed an EP to them [Toolroom Records] and then ever since then we’ve been releasing music every year a couple tracks at least, remixes, we get on really well with the guys at the offices – they have a massive office, there’s about 20 people there now. We’ve been playing with Mark for a long time now, we booked him for our club night five or six years ago. And then we’ve been playing everywhere from India to the United States to across the world with Toolroom and it’s been wicked.

MMIBTY: It seems like you guys have a friendly relationship with Mark Knight, like you’re buddies. How did you gain his ear? He’s a pretty big tastemaker…
P&F: Originally Roger Sanchez picked us up so we’ve been doing stuff with Stealth since day one (Roger’s record label). So I think he was into our music from then and I think we met him randomly somewhere. And we became mates with him and worked with him ever since.

MMIBTY: For our readers who don’t know, give us the quick story behind how Ben and James formed the duo Prok & Fitch eight years ago and decided you wanted to tour the world and show everyone your music.
P&F: So we both DJed individually, James in Spain and me [Ben] in Brighton and Ibiza. We met in a record store in 2007 –

MMIBTY: Just hangin’ out in a record store?
P&F: Yeah, I [Ben] was working and James was already making music and had an idea for a track and that’s it. First track Roger picked up and we kind of went from there really.

MMIBTY: So every track you guys put out is it 100% collaboration? Do you work on tracks individually and combine them at the end or how does the whole creative process work for you?
P&F: Yeah we’re always together in the studio, it’s a 10-minute walk from our house so it’s perfect. We’re in there a good four or five days a week so we spend a lot of time in there.

MMIBTY: Are there any times when you guys have a disagreement with a track or when you’re on the decks trying to figure out what song to play?
P&F: I wouldn’t say disagreement is the right word. Because whatever compromise we come up with is always the reason we make what we make and play what we play. We bounce really well off each other. We both like slightly different styles of music but we like the same stuff, you know? So I think that compromise is what gives us our sound in the studio as well. So whenever there is that sort of conflict the result at the end of it is always for the best.

MMIBTY: So it’s a little bit of James, a little bit of Ben all mixed into one.
P&F: Yeah and it’s good. We both have different preferences on music so if it was exactly the same it might be a little bit boring.

MMIBTY: Okay so talk to me a little bit about that then, who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Ben: I’m a massive Carl Cox fan. I was catching him in 1996-1997 when I started going clubbing and he’s been a massive influence ever since.
James: The guy who taught me how to produce years ago was an old disco producer. He used to make all the old type of disco music and was really well known back in the day, at Studio 54 and all that. So I was really influenced by samples and the beat side of all the disco stuff – the early beginnings of what dance music was. So that’s why I think the beats are always quite funky because it’s all about having that swing and the groove.

MMIBTY: Who was that producer?
James: His name is David Phillips, he was responsible for the early disco stuff. Not really commercial, his stuff was more club music. He was a really talented producer, a lot older than me and he was living in Spain. We hooked up one day and he wanted to keep making dance music so we headed into the studio.

MMIBTY: That’s great, everyone has a mentor right? So we talk about this sort of dynamic – the Techno side of things and the Disco/Funk side of things. I noticed that with your new Raw Cut EP [LISTEN HERE] – the A-side seemed to be funkier and the B-side seemed to have more Techno influences. Was the EP more like one song from James and one song from Ben or was it back to that 50/50 split you collaborate on?
P&F: I think that’s the spectrum of what we like from a funky point of view and from a Techno point of view. That’s really expressing ourselves as artists which we haven’t had the chance to do for a long time. We had been getting steered with what type of music to make and we made a decision at the end of last year to make what we want to make as opposed to what we were being advised to make. And the Raw Cut EP is the result.

MMIBTY: Well that’s great I really enjoyed the EP and I’m guessing there’s a lot more of that to come in 2015.
P&F: Yeah, shitloads. Shitloads.

MMIBTY: What are your biggest goals for 2015?
P&F: Carry on working with this sound, developing the music we’re really into. Not compromising anymore. Finally finishing this track we’ve been working on with Mark Knight, we’ve been working on it for a couple years now – it would be good to get something out. And yeah just have fun and travel the world.

MMIBTY: What was the wildest city or club or festival you’ve played at?
P&F: Groove Cruise! Two years ago, it was fucking mental. Same kind of thing as Holy Ship – four days, pretty intense being with the same people partying isn’t it?

MMIBTY: Floorplay is your record label. From the label who would you say are some of the rising stars that we should keep our ears open for?
P&F: We’ve sort of parked the label for the time being. We’re just concentrating on our careers and working with Toolroom, as we’ve just signed a management deal with them. So at the moment everything’s geared towards that. Unfortunately we’re not really pushing any young guys at the moment.

MMIBTY: Okay cool, but were there any you were working with previously that you’d like to call our attention to?
P&K: Yeah this guy Simon Doty, he’s really talented. He’s from Calgary and he’s moved to London and has a few releases out on Toolroom. He’s a really talented guy and we were releasing a lot of his music on Floorplay, definitely someone to watch.

MMIBTY: What is your favorite track that you guys have produced ever – remix, original, etc?
P&F: Fuckin hell that’s a tough one. In the last few years it’s probably our remix of Kraak & Smaak’s “The Future Is Yours”. And an earlier remix we did of Cevin Fisher’s “You Got Me Burning Up” too. We did that six years ago and that’s one that was mutually one of our favorite records. I think the remix we did on that was one of our finest pieces of work.

MMIBTY: And what’s one of your favorite tracks right now that you didn’t produce but is working really well for you in the clubs? Or perhaps over the past year back in 2014?
P&F: Putting us on the spot there, that’s a tough one! From the past year a track by Coyu called “Yeah”. We’re both big fans of Suara and that’s the label we predominantly play in our sets. So Ramiro Lopez we both think is wicked. Also a song called “Where’s My Head at” is probably one of our biggest records of the moment.

MMIBTY: You guys aren’t new to San Francisco right?
P&F: No we actually played here [Vessel Nightclub] four years ago and then we played over in Oakland for Sensation back in 2013.

MMIBTY: Guys thank you so much for your time and we’re looking forward to rockin’ out on the dance floor!
P&F: Thank You!