In our latest “Talking __ With…” installment we catch up with Amsterdam resident and DJ Peter Lee, better known as Masta Lee. Though his day job at Patta/Precinct 5 involves much of the fashion we cover here at Highsnobiety, this chat is all about the music. DJ Masta Lee is one of the best.
Many people refer to music as their first love. Was it yours as well?
Most definitely. One of my earliest baby memories was twiddling with the silver knobs on the radio/record player-console and watching the platter spin, trying to understand where those wonderful sounds and singing voices came from.
Read our full conversation and see more images of Masta Lee after the click.
Music can make all the difference, always, when did it ever make it the difference for you?
To me it makes a difference every day. I wake up to music, have something on play when I am working, commuting or traveling, and go to sleep with music playing. It is the fuel and soundtrack of everyday life.
When you are a DJ you have to be open to all kinds of music, which is the one that you cannot stand at all?
I always try to be open to all kinds of music and sounds. Some stuff I might not find suitable for play, but could sprout ideas for music production or maybe have nice parts to sample. Different ears for different music.
How many requests do you get at a normal gig and what was the most crazy thing somebody requested?
Luckily not too many, I tend to be too busy with the records and equipment. One time there was this guy who brought a Boyz II Men record to the club and requested me to play it so he could propose to his girlfriend. I played him Lenny Williams instead and she said yes. He gifted me a bottle of Moët & Chandon later.
What are the ingredients for the party that make the DJ smile?
Seeing the joy and excitement from the people you took along on an uncompromising musical ride is a very satisfactory feeling.
When you go hunt for vinyl do you keep your cool when you find a gem in a store for a euro or two, or do you go nuts before you even pay?
I am not really an emotionally expressive person, so I would keep a pokerface but feel ecstatic inside.
Did an ex-girl of yours ever ruin or threaten to ruin your vinyl collection?
Never. Her life would most likely turn into a psychological thriller, nobody wants that.
Music seems to have lost its soul. There are only marketable faces with no voices dressed in designer wear from hell, in music videos from Mars. Where is the good stuff?
It is still out there. The gift and the curse of Internets existence is that it is getting harder to filter out the good stuff amidst so much bullshit, but at the same time it is also a great tool to discover new music and obtain hard to find records. Same goes for fashion. Having said that, I still prefer going to a physical store instead of clicking on a button.
Even skate videos and BMX videos, and the more credible advertisements, all go back to classic soul and handmade music of sorts, do you have a reason for that?
I think it’s a sense of nostalgia, a yearning for the past, combined with the new, which works very well. People like some form of familiarity.
As you are running a store as well, Precinct 5, how important is it to you what music is playing in the store in the opening hours?
I am always at the office, so I have my own stuff playing, but I think it is definitely important to have handpicked music playing in the retail space. It is an extension of the store’s atmosphere and in a way, represents what we stand for. I had shopping experiences where I left within seconds because of the music.
Can music make a better person?
I would love to say yes, but no, I do not think so.
And the last one can music actually save your life?
Maybe a little.
Interview by Henrik Kuerschner.