There’s always that sense of hesitant laziness when asking someone what sort of music they’re into, only to have them reply with the slightly frustrating old “you know, a bit of everything.” However with Julian Raymond Smith, otherwise known as Bristol based producer October, a bit of everything seems like quite a fitting phrase to describe his vast background of eclectic tastes and musical genres. Having founded his own label Caravans back in 2007, October has been the mind behind debut LP releases from the likes of Emptyset, as well pushing out singles from Jilt Van Moorst, TG, Antoni Maiovvi and of course himself. His own productions see him combine elements of house and techno, with a truly raw yet emotional finish. Moreover, his love for analogue and hardware is as genuine as you can possibly get. After gracing a number of labels over the years, he’s recently gone about setting up his own new label Tanstaafl Records with fellow producer John Osborn, which put out its third release last month in the form of a collaboration between both producers. Ahead of his appearance at Fabric London on the 23rd February for the AUS Music takeover in Room 2, we caught up with Julian for a lengthy chat and discussed such things as the Ganja Kru, gabba, growing up in Holland, a new sub label, the news of a forthcoming album on Skudge and much more. He also kindly delivered our 65th Truancy Volume which he’s described as featuring a bunch of records “of what I can do in a club, but also what I like to listen to as well.” At an hour and a half in length you can expect to hear a collection of cuts from the likes of Terrence Dixon, Levon Vincent and Mix Mup all mixed wonderfully by someone with years of DJing expertise under their belt.
Stream: October – Push (Skudge Records)
Can you start by telling us what you’ve been up to lately? What have you been busy with lately? “I’ve mainly been trying to find inspiration to actually just make music. I’ve not really made anything on my own for a while, but I recently came back from a couple of gigs in Tel Aviv which were really inspiring. So since then, I’ve been in the studio making lots of music but all I’ve really done is ready Tanstaafl 03 (October & John Osborn – “Trance Sending Biology” EP) which is out and sold out now. I’ve also got my second EP for Skudge together and I’m sort of just trying to find a new music direction I guess. I’m just back in the studio for now.”
I wanted to start by talking about your cousins and Cosmos Government, as I understand they were some of the earliest guys who might have set you on your path. “Yeah, it’s a bit interesting actually because I was really young when they were doing all the parties and I had no idea about you know the scene or anything, really. Both my cousins, two brothers, put on these huge raves all over the country, mainly in the Amsterdam area and the south of the country. One of the artists who we’ve got on Tanstaafl, Jilt Van Moorst, used to be a resident at those parties.I met him at my cousin’s funeral and yeah, signed him to Caravans a long time ago. It was weird though, because back then I didn’t really listen to the music and go “Wow, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard.” I just really liked it, especially all the hip house stuff because they had vocals on it and shit. There was this mad compilation I had that had Mike Dunn, Tyree Cooper, Fast Eddie, Jack to The Sound Of The Underground and stuff that I really liked. I was too young to really go to any of the events but I just remember being given a few cassettes, records and t-shirts but I didn’t really fully understand it until I moved out of Holland and into the UK, where I properly got into electronic music. It was here that I kind of understood what it was all about instead of it just being some fun tunes to jump around to. It might sound a bit dodgy but I kind held all those tracks in the same regard as 2-Unlimited, you know, who were really big in Holland at the time and being ten years old I could not help but like them, haha.”
Wasn’t it when you moved to the UK that you got introduced to jungle? Could you tell us a bit about that? “Yeah, I moved here in 1996 and the thing that got me into jungle was the Ganja Kru. A friend of mine had a tape of theirs and I can’t remember exactly what it was called but it had the EP before “Fuck The Millenium” EP on it and I had no idea what this music was. When I heard it, I thought it sounded like “Jungle Is Massive” by General Levy so me and a friend, who I think was called Jordan Armstrong, used to just get really stoned and just sit back in maths class and talk about hip-hop and whatnot, and he gave me this tape and it just changed my life. Then we managed to go and see them when they were playing in a club in town called Power House which has now closed down, I think it may have even been knocked down to the ground. That was ‘96, I definitely remember it being the summer of ‘96 because that was my first summer holiday in the UK and my first summer experience with all my new friends since moving to the UK, and it was just really good.”
As well as the electronic side of things, you’ve also grown up quite heavily listening to bands. We’re quite keen to know how and when that interested started, could you expand on that? “Well, it’s because of my parents’ upbringing. My dad worked for the UN so we had to move around alot in my youth and I never really got to stay in one place long enough to really get to grips with any scenes or music, so when I was younger I was obsessed with Queen and soundtracks. I was really into Queen, the Robocop soundtrack and the Escape From New York soundtrack. I had them all on cassettes. The first eight years of my life were pretty much The Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson and Prince, but it never really went any deeper than that. It wasn’t until I moved to Holland where I was able to actually go to record stores because living in Asia there’s not really any record stores, and instead it’s just loads of cassette stores. It’s a bit weird. My dad would actually go to the cassette stores and buy all the cassettes that had skulls on them because he knew I liked them so I then got onto “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns ‘N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe’s’ “Doctor Feel Good”. Then Nirvana happened and I heard that and I was just kinda like “Fuck, so this is what music can be like!” It was so aggressive and at first I was just totally scared of it, and through that I got into Sonic Youth, The Melvins, The Butthole Surfers, Jesus Lizard. Honestly, I never liked Pearl Jam. I liked Soundgarden but I never got to grips with stuff like Pearl Jam and all that. It was more the noisier end of the spectrum that I was really into.
Nirvana were a big deal in my life, along with Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth actually scared me quite a lot in my youth. When I was like ten years old and first going from Nirvana to Sonic Youth, I thought they were breaking violins or something. I was just thinking about how intense it was so I stayed away from it, but then got back into it when I was a bit older and that changed a lot for me musically. Sonic Youth have never really had any formal music training and it’s all very raw; it all came from just passion so I really identified with that aspect of music writing. It wasn’t really the sounds, it was more like this new wave, post-punk kind of way of making music. I never had any guitar lessons so I just had to teach myself everything and I never really had friends that were into what I was into. A lot of my Dutch friends got hard into their gabber techno. I liked a little bit of the Rotterdam Terror Core stuff and the Thunderdome series, but it was kind of a bit mental and too much for me. I just prefered the more house and techno stuff, like early Laurent Garnier but then when I moved to the UK it changed everything, haha.”
Do you still listen to this sort of music now? If so, what are some records you still listen to regularly from then? “Definitely. I’m currently going through a massive Siouxsie And The Banshees phase. I’ve always liked them, but they were a band where you’d ask me what song of theirs I liked and I couldn’t reply, so I decided to start listening to them again and it’s just really blowing my mind. Same goes for some Blondie stuff, and I still listen to Sonic Youth quite religiously. I actually just listen to lots of music such as jazz, dub, lots of crap rock and electro. I’m really into weird EBM and things like that, but I mainly just listen to new wave and post-punk, haha. It’s probably the most consistent form of music that I’ve listened to throughout my life.”
I was relistening to the very first Emptyset album the other day that you put out on your previous label Caravans back in 2009 and it just put into perspective how much music you must listen to. “Yeah man, I’m obsessed. There’s this famous quote by Louis Armstrong where he says “There is only good music and bad music.” That’s still a bit subjective, really, because one man’s shit is another man’s gold. It’s all relative but I think throughout my musical upbringing my dad was really into high-fi, so he would have a room devoted to speakers and amplifiers and whatnot and there would be vinyl everywhere. After dinner he would drink his alcohol and smoke his cigars and listen to anything from Level 42 to Blondie and Lionel Richie. He was really into Miles Davis and really freaky jazz shit, a lot of disco and I just used to sit here and listen to all this stuff and watch him clicking all these amplifiers so yeah, I think from a young age I was already tuning my ears. I just like all sorts of music and that’s one of the reason why I called the first label Caravans; it’s a mobile home and you can go from one place to another and you know, snowy environments or some desert.”
We had a listen to your band “First And Last Men” over at your Bandcamp. Can you tell us a little bit about that and the background behind it? “Oh man, we all really hate that stuff at the moment, haha. Like, we’re in a totally new musical space and we’re looking to record our new stuff sometime soon but those were just the songs we had for ages. Our old bassist left the band because he had really bad RSI and couldn’t play heavy anymore, so the band wasn’t around for like a year and we were just going to call it quits until we met this new bass player who was a fan of our stuff. He knew our songs, so we invited him to come jam with us and he was basically amazing and we all got excited. We decided to record some new songs really quickly, so we went into my mate’s studio with not really any ideas. We sort of made some noise and it came out like that. We’re not really in that space at the moment, that was our noisier phase whereas we’re a lot more poppy now but not in a cheesy way and more down the Siouxsie and Banshees path and inspired by Blondie. It’s kind of combining new wave and sludge.”
Do you feel having such a considerable background in being in a band has influenced your love for hardware and analogue equipment when making house and techno, possibly that hands on approach? “Hmm, I don’t know. I think when I started making music all there was was hardware, when I was like this is what I want to do with my life. This is around 1996 or 1997 and there was this guy who was in sixth whilst I was doing my GCSEs, his name was Matt Baker and he was this really amazing guy. He was making jungle and drum & bass with a guy he knew from Bristol, so I just asked him what I needed. In those days he said you need a sampler, a mixing desk, maybe a synthesizer, so that’s what I got into. I was like, I need a sampler. What is the best sampler around? At the time it was the EMU E6000/400 Ultra and I couldn’t afford that at all, but a guy in my class had a little Boss SP 202 and I basically stole that and never gave it back. So that was my main tool along with a tapemachine which was Tascam 4 track tape machine with, a razorblade and some sellotape. That’s how I started making music. And then I got the latest MMT-8 sequencer, and I didn’t really know how to use it but it enabled me to layer tracks off the sampler, record them onto my four track and it was basically really fucked up, weird jungle and trip-hop stuff and whatever. Then I got really into that aspect of it but I couldn’t afford any equipment. I was still young and living with my parents, who then bought a computer. My friend got this bit of software that he got for free and it was called Rave eJay. It was software where you could kind sample stuff, and you had a little step sequencer which would pitch things as well. It was actually really fucking amazing at the time, and that step sequencer – I still miss that. I still think that if I had a digital version of that, that’d be dope. But yeah, you could only write music at a 180 BPM. The tempo was fixed, it’s just fucking mental and fast. So I made really weird trip-hoppy/hip-hoppy stuff at about 90 BPM, and then I made house at 3/4 triplet timing at a 135 BPM, it had to be 3/4 or else it wouldn’t work. It was really, really weird.
Stream: October – Planet Of Minds (Tanstaafl Records)
For years I used that, and it was the best thing because I just had my sampler and I could sample anything and just throw it on a computer and move around these blocks. I actually sort of related it to playing Lego in my youth because you have all these little blocks and have to put them together, but it was all on the screen. That was, for me, why it was hardware based first and foremost. Then I got into the computer, a little E-mu ESI sampler and a Zoom multi-unit effects processor. I used all of that. I would make my sounds first outside of the computer and then put them into this program. Then I went to university to just learn a little bit more, really. That’s when I started to learn Logic. But hardware has always been a major thing because it never was about computers. I remember when the dubstep thing happened, it was all about making it on Fruityloops. There’s a lot of focus on that kind of software. That’s cool, but I was already not really involved with computers at the time. That thing took off. I’m still actually using a PC with Windows 98 on it that was given to me. I’ve never ever spent money on a computer: I never bought a computer in my life.”
Do you think there’s some limitations to using an old Windows computer? “For me it is limitless. I can use track automation so for me that’s amazing. I don’t know, I still haven’t used any modern bits of software so, to me, I’m still living in the future. Yeah, I don’t know. If I could afford and spend a lot of money on a computer I would. Sometimes when you got money in your hands, like – here’s a grand, I could buy an Apple or I could buy some synthesizers.” Yeah, I’d go for the synthesizers as well. “It’s a no-brainer. I’d go for the hardware really, haha.”
You mentioned you studied Creative Music Technology at University but dropped out in the second year. It’s all down to the individual person but do you have any advice for someone who might be wanting to study in a similar field? “It was all really difficult for me, as I was really focused to get to where I’m at now. I wanted to run a label, I wanted to make music, I wanted to release records, I wanted to know how to use the equipment, I wasn’t surrounded by people who were fully into music. I was always on my own, all my school mates and everyone, they’d like to party and whatever but nobody actually made music and so I had never anyone to bounce off. I did the university course mainly out of pressure from my parents. They were always really supportive of my music but I was young at the time – I wasn’t an amazing guitarist, I wasn’t really amazing at anything. My parents wanted me to have something to fall back on to, they were really keen for me to go to university. If there’s any course I was going to do, it was going to be a music orientated course. There was this Creative Music Technology course that I started to find out about. One of my junglist friends, he was involved with these Drum & Bass guys and they were lecturers, that’s how I found out about this course. You needed to have music, maths and physics as A-levels, and I completely failed all my A-levels. I just didn’t care, really. I did art so I was really into minimalism. East Cline, Donald Jodge. The art college was always about writing like ten thousand works essays on art and I was like fuck that, I just want to make art. So I didn’t really do well in school, and had to send off my music to the head of the course. I sent him a little CD with all my 180BPM jungle tracks. They gave me an unconditional offer, I’d got a phonecall and they’d offer me a position on the course. I think they thought they knew what I was doing. When I started the course I was about seventeen, maybe eighteen – all the other students were about twenty-five, thirty, fourty years old or maybe older. One of the guys from the course was in the band called Unforeseen – I was a huge fan of this band, and I was actually in the band at some point. I played the synths and triggered samples, but so I was like “Oh my God, I’m on a course with one of my heroes! That’s amazing.” He was in his thirties at the time.
I have a lot of knowledge of different types of music but I had no idea what I was doing at the time. Everyone there knew what they were doing and knew how to use Logic, so I basically lied and cheated my way through the first year. I asked my classmates how to do stuff in Logic. The first day we had to go and make a beat in Logic, we had an emu proteus 2000 and you could really only use it with Logic and I never had even used an Apple before. I remember trying to switch on the computer and I didn’t know how to do it. I couldn’t eject the CD, I was panicking. Haha, so that didn’t really work well. I did really well in my first year because of my amazing cheating, but I still wasn’t really fully focused on my actual course. I was more interested in learning about equipment. And then in my second year it became all about – we spent a lot of time talking about M-LAN, which at the time was going to replace MIDI cables. There was this new technology which was going to eradicate any cable – so we spent like six months studying this annoying technology, which eventually didn’t happen. Bullshit, haha! Then I also sat to learn about the internet and how to build websites, and I couldn’t be bothered. I was like, fuck it, I want to focus on my career. At that time I started putting out records and DJ-ing a lot. I didn’t have time to sit on the bus for an hour, then walk up a hill to be distracted by lots of girls belly dancing in the class next to me. So I saved my parents the money and focused on my career. That was actually advice from my tutor. He didn’t think this course was for me and that I should focus on my music career. So it’s difficult, if you want to be where I’m at and maybe the course isn’t the best thing for you, but Appleblim and Arkist did the same course and they all passed and did really well, so maybe you shouldn’t listen to me about university and education because I’m a bit of a rebel. I hate being told what to do. It’s all relative, I guess, because for me it didn’t really work out but all I can say is going to school is really good and everyone should do it, haha.”
How much time do you spend listening to new things compared to the time spent listening to things that you already know you like? “I’m always on the search for new stuff all the time but it’s kind of difficult now because I feel sometimes that I’ve heard it all even if it’s just some modern drone music because it’s hard to like distinguish that stuff from like Philip Glass or something you know. Apart from like music that I know or that artists that I love, I find it just pretty difficult finding new music but when I do find it, it is just amazing. I tend to feel that there’s so much new music out there that people don’t know that deserves to be discovered and shown to the rest of the world. My friend Steevio who is the organiser for Freerotation is a good friend of mine and came to visit this weekend. We both have the exact same taste in music so we were just talking about bands that he was involved with or was part of in the 80s. He was in a band called Treatment Room and they were really really good. We’re talking flanged guitar, flanged bass, really gothic and not many people not know of this stuff. I listened to that and thought, “Fuck, this was made before I was born or when I was one year old!”, so I kind of feel like there’s so much music out there and lots of second hand record stores to check out. But yeah, I’m on a constant search for new music, be it made now or hundred years ago, it just has to be new to me. I do find it difficult listening to modern music though, just because there’s so much of it and I find myself getting lost listen to music or my ears get tired quite quickly especially when you have to listen to lots of music online. There’s definitely a lot of over-saturation at the moment.”
Would you say your sets are a mixture of this older and newer music? “I play a lot of new stuff in my DJ sets actually, but I find a lot of stuff that I play is just music made by my peers. I play a lot DJ Qu and Levon Vincent as well as Fred P and Joey Anderson and all that stuff. These guys are all my friends and we all play each others records, so there’s a real sense of wanting to play your colleagues music to people. But also, their music is just unbelievably genius and I love it. I really love where they come from with their musical angles and I really appreciate the direction they’re going in. But there’s also something to be said about those old 80s Detroit, New York and Chicago records and the same with the early 90s stuff. It’s amazing when you find an amazing gem and playing it to people. Like I’m playing this track by Larry Heard, it’s called “The Incident”, it’s the first track on my RA podcast. I think it’s one of the tunes that never leaves my bag, I play it in every set and I love it. I think this tune came out in ‘94? It’s just amazing, but you could play that next to a DJ Qu track and they’d just blend perfectly. You can’t go wrong because it’s timeless music. I think that’s the connection, I try to find records that don’t stick out to any sort of time period, if that makes sense. It’s just timeless music, so you can just put on this Levon Vincent record and it could’ve been made 20 years ago or it could’ve been made now, and I think that’s the key. I don’t like music that’s very gimmicky. I think. I’m not sure, I’m still trying to figure it out. I think being into music, you’re always going to be a student of music. Once you find new things, that can shape you in new directions.”
Are these all sort of factors that define a good DJ set for you? What other stuff might define a good dj set? “I think a lot of people assume that a DJ set I’d like would have to be played off of vinyl and all of that but that’s bullshit. One of the best DJ sets I’ve heard would’ve been Maurice Fulton turning up with his little bag with two USB sticks and in-ear headphones and he was blowing my mind. So I don’t know what it is about a DJ that I – it’s difficult, it really is. It’s all about the tunes, basically. I don’t give a fuck if you can mix them, or if you don’t want to mix them and if you just want to play one tune after another that’s fine, if you want to clang a mix then as long as the music’s good I don’t give a fuck. However you want to play – you use Traktor, you use a laptop, use USB sticks or CDs, vinyl, use tape I don’t care, as long as it’s good.”
I wish more people had that outlook, you get so many arguments over the whole digital and vinyl debate. “From my experience it’s always come from the digital aspect, like digital guys are going “Hey, why you still fucking around with vinyl, man?” I was supposed to play at Eastern Electrics on New Year’s Eve and it didn’t happen because the turntables weren’t set up. And a few jokes were made, by me, about like “Oh, I should just give up and use USB sticks and CDs!” you know, but for me it’s become like a principle, like I’ve been buying records since before I was a DJ. I used to go to the record shop and buy vinyl. I have a house full of records, my living room’s got too many records in it and my studio’s got records everywhere, and it’s my medium. Most music I own is on vinyl and pressed on to vinyl so when I’m DJing, why would I want to switch to digital? I get sent a lot of promos, but it’s something about a digital file that holds no value to me, because it’s not there and I don’t use CDs. I don’t have CDJs at home, I don’t really know how to use a CDJ. I don’t really want to waste my time learning how to use a new medium when more than 20 years of my life have been devoted to collecting vinyl. But I don’t have a problem with someone else using CDs, I really don’t have a problem with it. I’d like to just make that clear, I think a lot of people think I use hardware or I use vinyl and it has to be like that. But it doesn’t, cause some of my favourite music’s made on a laptop. Surgeon’s one of my favourite DJs and he DJs with a laptop. Appleblim is one of my favourite DJs and he plays with CDs as well as vinyls, it doesn’t matter as long as what comes out of the speakers and whatever’s between your head – that’s the most important part.”
Moving on to your label Tanstaafl, I understand you’re in the process of setting up a sublabel called Tanstaafl Planets. Can you tell us a little about that? “It became evident that we wanted to have a strong aesthetic for the label. Other people’s music didn’t really fit the aesthetic that came out of my studio, unless we could get Levon Vincent or Carl Craig. So we decided, let’s just keep Tanstaafl just for us, as a label where we can just release music that reflects our surroundings: mine being Bristol and his being Berlin, and he frequents Bristol a lot and I frequent Berlin a lot. It’s sort of like having them mashed together and they come out in this way, so that’s why we started the sublabel, because we’ve both got quite eclectic tastes between him and me. The output on there won’t just be dancefloor or won’t just be jackin, it can be experimental as well. Starting Tanstaafl Planets was enabling us to have freedom within the label, I think it’s very strong to have a stylistic aesthetic to your sound, and I just basically ripped the idea off Skudge. They do Skudge Presents, and I didn’t want to do Tanstaafl Presents so it became Tanstaafl Planets because it’s all about space. We got the name from a science fiction book. Elias Lamberg, one half of Skudge, he’s been making amazing music under a KEL name. There’s loads of records coming out with him, and we’ve got something coming out with Jilt Van Moorst who was a resident at the Cosmos government parties. And then also some stuff by a Canadian guy called Taz, he’s sent some pretty wonky electronic stuff to us.”
I know you’re only three releases in with Tanstaafl, but do you feel like you’ve achieved what you set out to do since starting the label? “Yeah more than I could ever have hoped for!” Especially with the nights at Tresor? “Yeah, Tresor came to us and that was a bit insane, really. I was totally taken aback. The whole Tresor thing is mainly John’s area. I kind of do the label, do all the A&Ring, put it together and get all the manufacturing and mastering done because I’ve had years of experience within vinyl manufacturing. We haven’t really spoken about it but I guess that’s my role within the label, and he is very much always putting parties on in Berlin and that’s his strength. But he’s also a graphic designer, so he came up with the look and imagery. It works really well even though we’re not in the same city, I’ve never had such an easy working relationship with someone. With Caravans, there were a few compromises that had to be made because other people were involved, whereas this, there’s no compromises. It’s so easy because we have exactly the same tastes in music and the same views on how to release music. It just works because he’s a good guy.”
I read in a past interview that you weren’t too fond of collaborations yet you’ve been doing quite a few recently, with Borai and Appleblim or Will Saul. What’s your stance on them in general at the moment? “I feel like I’ve done a few too many collaborations, and it’s affected my own personal work. Until I came back from Tel Aviv like I said earlier, I hadn’t written an original piece of music on my own in probably over a year. I’d done a lot of band stuff and a lot of new-wave stuff on my own in the study, but I haven’t done any house or techno or anything on my own that I’ve been really proud of. I had a really good period for like a year where I just made like so much music and all that stuff is basically what’s coming out and still coming out, but it’s really only recently that I’ve had the inspiration to make music on my own again. I never really liked doing collaborations in the past, that was mainly down to my ability in the studio. I would feel like I’d have to solve a problem on my own and I’d need to have silence and my own time to deal with it to get the results I wanted, because I didn’t really know what I was doing. So doing a collaboration that way could be quite frustrating when there’s someone else in the room and you don’t know what you’re doing. I found it difficult. It wasn’t until I started to get confidence in the studio that I agreed to work with some people.
Borai, he’s an old friend and I’ve always worked with him and it’s always been easy to work with him. A collaboration used to be like “Watch me make a tune”, and I didn’t like that. But now it’s more like I need someone to bounce off, and I enjoy that. Over time I’ve become quite overly critical about every sound. Sometimes you can make a drum beat and sit there and listen to it for hours and not know if it’s good or bad. So it’s nice to have someone there to bounce off of in such scenarios. So I do really enjoy collaborating massively, but it can be really difficult sometimes because doing a collaboration is like “Right, we’re getting together on this day and we’re going to work on a track in this period of time.” But I can’t just suddenly wake up and go “Right, I’m going to make some music now, I have to have an idea, I have to have some inspiration.” So I find myself making plans and appointments with other artists to make music and they come round and I’m not feeling musical at all, yet I have to force myself into that. That’s been really good because it’s made me more professional, and I’ve been able to just like, go in the studio and just kind of do something. I really feel it’s important to have a good connection with who you’re making music with and it’s really important feel what you’re doing. If I’m not feeling I just feel like I’m being a fraud. That’s the problem I have sometimes when doing collaborations, but at the same time I really enjoy them.
I’m working with Will Saul on his Close project, which is so much fun because my name wasn’t really attached to it, so a lot of the time I had complete creative freedom. We’re really close friends and we’d just have a laugh and mess around. I’ve had to do a few remixes together with him for K7, bands like When Saints Go Machine and Little Dragon and that was really good fun to do because I basically turned all these songs from poppy songs into goth songs. That was really fun, but it was because I wasn’t in techno mode or something. I think it’s mainly when you’re in techno mode it can be quite difficult making music because techno is so minimal, reduced, and everything has to be kind of perfect whereas with other music it can be like anything goes. Techno is so streamlined and you have to have a vision for it. I’m at the stage right now where I feel like I have to make more music on my own as much as I love collaborating.”
You were talking about how you need that inspiration to make tunes, we were wondering what sort of things inspire you be it in music or outside? “It can be anything like being in Tel Aviv. Being there for four days was inspiring enough because there’s a lot of turmoil in that part of the world, but at the same time Tel Aviv is like the one place in the Middle East where you can be gay and it’s legal. There are people of all religions and sexualities hanging out, having a good time, and trying to live their lives in peace. It’s the same as if you’re American and your government does something fucked up, it doesn’t mean you’re a part of it. I think the people in Tel Aviv are really beautiful and passionate; I really buzzed off that because before Tel Aviv I was feeling a little bit down about the job and I had a few gigs that didn’t go as well as they could’ve gone. I just needed a kick start and that place completely inspired me and I came back really inspired. I went and made a couple of pieces of music that I’m really happy about. So general life inspires me. I could be watching an old movie and there could be an amazing sound in it and that will inspire me. I’m really into old Japanese samurai movies, particularly the late ’70s and early ’80s when Japanese cinema was suffering because of television. All of these samurai movies were made more intense, gorier, it was just a bit more pulpy, and not as serious. It wasn’t like Seven Samurai, but more like heads being chopped off and blood gushing. They were accompanied by amazing synthy soundtracks so I’ve got loads of those things. I can hear an amazing sound and then try to recreate it on the synth. Buying records can be inspiring as well. I’ll just go into a record shop and go through records. I can be inspired by the compression of a kick drum and I’ll need to go and make a piece of music. I don’t really wake up and go into the studio. I never do that – I have a massive fear of failure in the studio. I can feel inspired, but if I don’t have a clear vision of what I’m going to do I feel like I’ll go down there, fuck around, be unhappy with the results, take it far too personally, switch everything off, and not go back down there for a few days or weeks. It’s very difficult.”
Can you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done and how you put it together? “Basically, my decks are fucked. On one of my turntables the phono cable doesn’t work and on the other one the pitching is gone, so they’re being modified. I thought, “I have to do this mix, but I have no turntables” so I rang Borai, went to his freezing cold flat and packed a bag of records that I’m really into at the moment. I put a lot of thought into the first tracks (about 40-minutes), [aside from that] I didn’t put much thought into it. Once that was done I recorded it in one take. I wanted it to be a bit of what I can do in a club, but also what I like to listen to as well. It was really difficult to mix there because he has neighbours, the tweeters wasn’t working, and the bass kept farting, so I was doing really quiet mixing trying to make sure everything was perfect. It worked pretty well and I had fun.”
What else can we expect from you this year? “My second EP on Skudge, which I’m really excited about. I’ve got the A-side on dubplate and every time I play it people go crazy, so I’m looking forward to that coming out. I’ve got some big things happening, but I’m not allowed to talk about them. Basically, one of my heroes loves what I’m doing and he’s putting out music. I also have an EP coming out on a Brooklyn label called Voodoo Down and it’s the third release and they’ve had Anton Zap and STL. It’s got an incredible Joey Anderson remix and the other track has a remix by the guys who run the label. That’s coming out in the next few months and I’m working on an album for Skudge. I’m up for the challenge. I’m still a bit funny about techno albums. There are few I like – Legowelt’s “The Teac Life” and DJ Qu’s “Gymnastics”. If I’m gonna do an album I wouldn’t want to write any other music in that period of time apart from what’s going to go on the album so it would feel like a real album instead of a collection of songs. But it’s difficult because dance music is [based around] singles – you put a lot of effort into an eight-minute piece and sometimes that piece can have enough ideas for one album or can just be a kick drum.”
Last question, where was the best lunch you’ve had recently and where can we get it? “Since the start of the label the amount of free lunches I’ve had is unbelievable. I think the best lunch I’ve had has got to be in Tel Aviv. I don’t know where I ate, there were a couple of places. The first night one of the promoters who brought me out there works in a mission style restaurant and I had veal brain, raw veal, and other things; it was amazing. All the food there was amazing. I had seven or eight amazing lunches. Best McDonalds as well.”
Truancy Volume 65: October
Ruf Dug – Spirit Dub
Kassem Mosse & XDB – Omrish
Trus’me – Shakea Body (Terrence Dixon Remix)
Innerspace Halflife – Crown Vic
Levon Vincent – ???
Ike Release – Ode to my own
DJ Qu – Be who you want (Hardknock Shaker’s Dub)
Ike Yard – Loss (Regis Version)
Jeroen Search & Marcus Suckut – JSMS 4.3
Conforce – 24 (Gesloten Cirkel Remix)
Mix Mup – Before
Unknown – Unknown
Shock – Dream Games
Terrence Dixon – Horizon
Maurizio – Domina (C. Craig’s Mind Mix)
Baris K – 200
Catch October playing Fabric London Room 2 on the 23rd February as part of the AUS Music takeover, alongside Will Saul and the debut of his Close live audio/visual show and Fred P. More info & tickets from www.fabriclondon.com.