How music took Cakeboy from a small English town to international stages

It’s easy to see why so many people are hooked on Paul Croler’s (AKA Cakeboy’s) tasty breakbeats.

He earned his well-deserved reputation as a determined all-live act in the clubs of Brighton during the late ‘90s. “It was challenging in the early days - if you wanted to play live, you had to lug all the hardware on stage,” he says. “I had samplers and effects units and keyboards – I mean, there’s a hell of a lot that can go wrong.
“I was single-minded about being different and being a completely live act. In Brighton, when I started doing my Cakeboy thing, there were a lot of DJs there. Believe me, it was quite a saturated time then, but even more so now. I was writing my own stuff and I wanted to perform it live rather play other people’s music.”
Cakeboy’s love of music has taken him around the world and back again. “I grew up in a small town in the north of England called Derbyshire. There wasn’t much to do there so I started playing the drums at quite an early age,” he says. “I was in a metal band and we toured around a bit, but I think we just kind of missed the boat really, in regards to getting a deal and going on. Don’t get me wrong, we were really good – we were like Metallica-style and we were tight – but there were a lot of other bands out there doing the same thing.”
To his surprise, a sea change rekindled his interest in playing live – only now he stood behind decks, rather than sitting behind a drum kit. “My passion turned to electronic music, when I started working for a recording studio in Brighton. England has always been a real melting pot and in the early ‘90s there was an explosion of new kinds of music here. There was a lot of the DIY-ethos and the traveller movement, and metal, electronic and rap music started to emerge. I started to do what I wanted – really just experimenting – and I’ve been nutty for it ever since.
“Of course, nowadays I do a bit of both my own material and DJ-ing, but I see myself as being a live act first and foremost. The DJ-thing has only come about fairly recently, because I wanted to merge my music with other people’s.”
Cakeboy’s laid-back, yet no-holds-barred attitude make him a prefect addition to the lineup for this year’s Come Together Music and Arts Festival. “I’ve prepared my set, but there’s always a chance that I may stray off the path,” he says.
“I’ve planned an hour and a half of what I feel to be the real fun side of breakbeat. I haven’t gone too dark or gnarly because it’s a family event as well. I love playing the funky side of breakbeats, but there are lots of little surprises, like samples and that kinda thing thrown in. I still like to be a bit cheeky and do things that’ll suddenly put a smile on the faces of the people in the crowd.”
As a favourite of the Come Together crew, after his performance at the inaugural event in 2015, Cakeboy can even be credited for locking in the headline act, DJ Phil Hartnoll of Orbital, in his only Australia appearance of 2017. “When they asked me to come this year they said they were looking for a headliner that would get people super excited, and I happen to know Phil from our days in Brighton. I asked him if he would be interested in doing it and he got on-board. The rest is history.”
By Natalie Rogers

Cakeboy will play at Come Together Music and Arts Festival on Saturday March 25 at Edendale Farm, Eltham.