Truancy Volume 106: Huntleys + Palmers

Celebrating its seventh birthday this December, Huntleys + Palmers is a record label and club series that never strays far from the Truants radar. Moving between Glasgow and London, and headed up by Andrew Thomson, it has slowly become a cult institution, bringing the most interesting strains of electronic music to the fore. Their afro-futurist Highlife parties, set-up with regular H&P affiliate Auntie Flo, have been described by Auntie Flo himself as a challenge to ‘the Western-centric perspective on electronic music’. Huntleys + Palmers excel in the changing the focus across their main club series as well with a booking policy that’s both refreshingly challenging and diverse, whether they’re hosting Thursday-night proceedings at Shoreditch’s Plastic People or venturing further afield to other venues and cities. The fact that they discovered SOPHIE (whether you’re a fan or not) speaks to how daring Huntleys + Palmers are, never afraid to put their money where the emerging talent is. This strong sense of identity has earned them the respect of other labels and some of the most widely respected selectors: Kompakt cite how essential Huntleys + Palmers is for such a young label, Jackmaster claimed that they’re his current favourite, and both Jackmaster and Joy O featured forthcoming H+P material in their recent Beats In Space mixes. The label also recently announced a new monthly show on Rinse. With all that said, we’re delighted that label head Andrew Thomson has provided the 106th Truancy Volume. Listen to the mix while you check out our quick interview with him below, and if you’re lucky enough to be either London or Glasgow based, head out to help them blow out the candles…

Hey Andrew, thanks for sending through this mix – it’s lovely to be helping you celebrate your seventh birthday. What’s been the most exciting moment for the Huntleys + Palmers, in the journey so far? “Thanks! I don’t think there’s any specific moment which is exciting as all of it is really – meeting inspiring individuals, travelling and most of all, sharing musical discoveries. I’ve always been sharing music, from way back in school, recording tracks off the radio and playing them to classmates, to making minidiscs and mix CDs for friends. I see everything I’m doing now as just a extension of that same desire to share music with others and with more encounters, there’s more music to discover.”

As a platform for club events as well as recorded music, you’ve championed some diverse acts, and have a keen ear for emerging artists. Can you tell us a bit more about recent signee Wrong Steps? How did you find him? “I met the guy behind the Wrong Steps through Brian (Auntie Flo) as they both played a festival in Portugal (under another project name). A squad of us ended up going to Berlin for Brian’s Panorama Bar debut and we hung out with him and struck up a friendship then. He sent the Wrong Steps demos at a point when I already had a backlog of releases to get out, so I shamefully never checked them at the time. A few months later, he asked for feedback, which was a bit embarrassing. I went home and checked them out and signed a few right away. There’s now a bunch of material we’ll release throughout next year too.”

Are you getting inundated with demos yet, or still digging for gold? “There hasn’t been a sharp rise in demos, but I would say that the quality has increased now. There’s a bunch of stuff I get sent on a weekly basis which clearly would not work on the label and I don’t think the artist themselves even know much about the label’s output. They’re just shopping around their tracks to any email address they can get a hold of, so I typically don’t bother checking them out unless someone has went to the effort of mentioning why they think the music would fit on the label. From these artists, there are more and more tracks which are well produced, but just not really interesting enough.”

“The release schedule is pretty full for next year on both H+P and Highlife anyway, so I’m not really looking for anything new. I’d like to develop most of the artists who released this year and build on their promising debuts, so that takes up space in the schedule and is more interesting to me than just signing the latest banger from an online random.”

You discovered SOPHIE, and I can’t resist asking: what’s your take on the polarised response to the sound SOPHIE and his cohorts produce, both in music journalism and on the dancefloor?  “I love it! In part because it’s exhilarating to watch his monumental rise in popularity, with that will also provoke negative criticism. All that suggests he’s doing something right, which is also exciting. Ever since I discovered him, he had very strong ideas of what he wants to achieve and whilst I never had doubt, it’s impressive to watch his career heading in the direction that he set out to accomplish. He’s got an exciting future ahead for sure.”

As a Swiss-born Turk based in Berlin whose music reflects that globetrotting identity, Mehmet Aslan’s Mechanical Turk release seemed like a great fit for H+P’s international approach. The two of you recently played in Istanbul together, right? How was your experience of the music scene out there? “Istanbul was an immense experience, I wasn’t prepared for how big it is. With a population of 16m (nearly double the size of London), it was impossible to see enough of the city in a short weekend. I wouldn’t be qualified to speak about its music scene, short of the amazing Baris K. The party itself was pretty perfect though with an open and responsive audience, who probably found it a bit strange having a pasty Glaswegian playing some Middle Eastern and Turkish stuff. It was interesting to see how Mehmet would be received, but they seemed to be lapping it up and there was a bunch of folk down the front waiting for him to play his Mechanical Turk rework, which got a great reaction.”

Staying with your own international experience, you’ve now moved back to Glasgow from Berlin and will be taking over as the programmer of Nice N Sleazy. As someone so heavily invested in different aspects the contemporary music scene, did you have any criticisms of Berlin’s current musical landscape? “It’s hard to be negative about Berlin as it’s just so different. There’s nowhere else like it, so I’m not really sure there’s any point in outsiders trying to project their own expectations on to how the city should be. There are criticisms about the music not being varied enough, too 4/4, but that’s functional and keeps people going in clubs until the next afternoon! I did find that there’s a smaller, maybe more music-led scene, revolving around the Berlin Community Radio and its affiliated artists and shows, so it’s not all house and techno.”

I expect that your work with the night and label might feed into the new Nice N Sleazy vibe somewhat? “Yeah, that’s the plan. The Sleazy’s job has fallen into place at the right time. I’d only moved back to Glasgow a few weeks before it came up and had been having discussions about starting a regular party there prior to hearing about the job so I’m very pleased about how things have turned out to say the least. I also start just as the weekly Thursdays at Plastic People parties I’ve been curating draws to a close at the end of the year, so I expect to pick things up from where that curation left off really.”

Releasing a fairly diverse range of sounds, how hard (or easy) has it been to establish yourselves within the current musical landscape, amongst an ever-increasing amount of small young labels? “It’s difficult to compare to others. I guess in certain respects there was a fairly solid foundation to build on after doing parties for so long – which helped with all the required contacts and it was maybe easier to get records to the right DJs, etc. I haven’t paid much heed to ‘the competition’ though, similarly to promoting, there will always be people doing good and interesting things and people going down maybe more of an obvious route. With the increased output on the label this year, I think more people are starting to get a sense of what H+P represents musically and hopefully this increased interest will continue.”

Of 2014’s music releases, which do you wish you’d nabbed for Huntleys + Palmers? “Good question! It’s probably an easier one to answer than which is my favourite H+P release, so I’m glad I don’t have to attempt that. I would probably say Caribou‘s ‘Mars‘ or ‘Wu Du Wu’ by Monetzumas Rache.

Finally, please tell us a little bit about the mix, and perhaps you could give us a sneak preview of what you guys have in store for us in 2015 – the second edition of your Chapter compilation series, and what else? “The mix is on the accessible end of the weird spectrum. It features a bunch of things I’ve been playing in warm-up sets over the past year; with a few label exclusives, some favourite tracks from the past year, alongside a couple of H+P classics. Around the first few parties back in 2007, I put together some compilation CDs which I wrapped up in coloured newspaper and secreted around Glasgow. Every so often folk still mention how they found one of them again recently and had it on. I’ve always wanted to do another one since, but never really had the time, so this is probably what I’d feature if I made one this week. Which is quite appropriate as the seventh birthday party is fast approaching.

“There’s plenty happening next year, mainly building on this years focus on the label and developing the artists who’ve contributed before now, with follow up releases from the likes of DrumTalk, Carisma, Wrong Steps, etc. We’ll also release a Highlife compilation in May which will see all the previous releases in a digital format for the first time and then there’s the Auntie Flo album, which is definitely something to get excited about.”

Tracklist:

1. Sand – Vulture I
2. Petwo Evans – July 5
3. Golden Teacher – What Time Is It (Forthcoming H+P)
4. African Weapons – All The Bones Came From Africa (Forthcoming Highlife)
5. Øyvind Morken – Dr Zoidberg (Full Pupp)
6. Benedikt Frey – Hypnotize
7. Bufiman – Kalvier (Versatile)
8. Spacelex – In The Disko (Mond Musik)
9. Dave Ball – In Strict Tempo
10. Ruth – Roman Photo
11. Horus – Dust Enforcer (Forthcoming Highlife)
12. Lena Willikens – Asphalt Kobold (Cómeme)
13. Raudive – African Wig (Macro)
14. Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons –  Lovers’ Eyes – (Mehmet Aslan Remix)
15. Jackie House – Edit Service 47 (I’m A Cliche)
16. Silver Apples – Water
17. Andreas Gehm – Cologne Dayz (Solar One)
18. Psychic TV – New Sexuality

Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura
Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura

Camberwell based ricecake enthusiast. twitter

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