Truancy Volume 113: Where To Now?

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We’ve been fans of Brighton’s Where To Now? for some time, writing some effusive praise for Morkebla’s Nowhere, OK last year. Since then they’ve put out stellar releases from Roger Tellier-Craig, Nadia Khan, Tom James Scott and Beatrice Dillon to name but a few, and they’re soon to release their first full-length LP from Eugene Ward. We asked the guys behind the label to put together a mix that was true to their eclectic yet singular vision, and they didn’t disappoint. Sparklingly diverse, it’s hard to put words on it. So we’ll let the boys do that instead.

It felt appropriate to approach this mix with the view to showcase a strain of works that influence and inform our label releases and identity, to provide a little history and context. ‘Strain’ however is the key word here – our tastes have mutated over the years – we thought about producing a completely dance-floor-focused mix but frankly neither of us can mix at all, despite being casual DJs for years, so I guess this is the easy option.

Where To Now? took its first baby steps into the world via Brighton hang bar ‘The Penthouse’ many moons ago. We’d have a nice little sit down and nerd out over obscure Post-Punk, Minimal Wave, No-Wave, early On-U kind of stuff – sometimes people would dance, the vibe was always nice, popularity grew and people were into it. We produced and packaged homemade CDRs to give out on the night, and eventually Where To Now? grew into a radio show, and then a record label.

Perhaps in a way this mix harkens back to those early days, an excuse for us to both dive in to our record collections and dig out some tasty obscurities that really shouldn’t be obscure. A chance to revisit some of records that started this whole thing, and a chance to include some more modern cuts that hint towards where we are now, and where we might be going. Sink in.

– Where To Now?

Tracklist:
Clive Oxford – Fading Star
Cabaret Voltaire – Jazz The Glass
Social Climbers – Palm Springs
Martin Rev – Parade
Eyeless In Gaza – Falling Leaf / Fading Flower; Goodbye To Summer
Anschluss – Age Of Crowds
Steven Brown – Zoo Story OST
Kevin Harrison – Chase The Dragon
Bill Laswell – Hindsight
Black Dice – Kokomo
Gravats – Îlot (Claves)
U – Let The Sun Shine In
Cru Servers – Tryll Reggoh
Lutto Lento – Sirena
Morgan Buckley – Weather Report
Hieroglyphic Being – The Electronic Belt
Boonlorm – Carpet people
Steve Reich – Drumming Part III

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 17 March 2015. Leave a comment

Sunday’s Best Pt. XXXII

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If Truly Blessed was a departure from the excellent Life Of A Savage 3, SD’s latest mixtape sees him continue evading confinement to any particular style. Young Chop drinches the record here and there with splashes of intricate organ melodies, while “Amnesia”, produced by Zaytoven & Will A Fool, makes for a more unusual track than you’d expect from this combination of artists. Both producers opt to not use their eagerly anticipated signature key work, though this familiar sound is still showcased by Will A Fool on “Rotation”. Metro Boomin completes the trifecta of standout heavy-hitters on an LP with very little features, but as with previous releases, suffers even less as a result. On the opposite shore, Dee Money samples “Dilemma” with therapeutic Lil-Mo era chimes running throughout; ‘Light up / Light Up / Light Up Your Smile’ fits perfectly with the elevating synth before a guitar takes over, appealing in a unique way to Jam City enthusiasts in 2015. This “Heartache Avenue” diversion of style gives him freedom which he evidently thrives in. Yet, it manages to stay within pre-rendered boundaries and therefore manages to not conflict with other more colossal songs on the tape.

The Midnight Episode is a duo based in Sweden (and possibly also Manchester) comprised of Nicola Cunningham & Karl Skagius. So far, they remain rather anonymous with a short bio and three mixes remaining to be all that’s out there to be found about them. It is through Kassem Mosse (a kindred spirit musically with Cunningham & Skagius in many ways, as one discovers listening to their broadcasts) that we discovered the latest of their mixes. A guest spot on the Future Music FM show with Austin Cassell, Midnight Episode put together a selection of spooky synth tracks, moody house (including an untitled track from Mosse, whose Ominira label is releasing an album by the pair sometime next year) spoken word recordings, techno, icy synth-pop and all manners of other fun, idiosyncratic music.

A typically unhinged trip through hell from Janus’ Lotic, recorded at last year’s Unsound Festival in Poland. Just about every rave music of the digital world can be found inside, deterritorialised by explosive mixing and relentless cultural clashes. As hardstyle is taught to speak with kuduro, there’s a distinct sense of dislocation and disorientation. These effects are fully explored in his terrifying and magical new EP for Tri Angle, “Heterocetera”, which came out earlier this month. Like the squealing alien fetus in Eraserhead that’s somehow kinda cute, Lotic’s dark intensity continues to enthrall us.

SXYLK and FXWRK (two constanant-loving makers unknown for the most part) sound like they produced their respective cuts for #IMF—Cakes Da Killa’s first stamp on 2015—while drunk on some type of dissociative elixir. While these abyssal, entrancing beats are what made the early moments of the EP feel so refreshing amongst a feed full of the usual, it’s the Brooklyn rapper who comes through jabber-mouthed with cogent recounts of racy intimacies that make it even more alluring. The title track is primed for a flip from MikeQ—it’s really a HA crash away from being one, and that prospect alone should indicate how well these songs probably work in a club environment even if it’s easy to imagine the rapper gasping for air midway through a set. As an electric, urban-underground outlet, Mishka’s record label is again the proper outlet for a Cakes Da Killa bundle.

Heavee has been making a big name for himself these past couple years as a strong newcomer from the Teklife crew.  While he’s always had a strong foundation in footwork drum rhythms, it’s his synth work in particular that really set his sound apart. Where his previous single “Get Me Started” managed to intertwine footwork and jungle on a break net dance floor filler, on the new Drop Off EP, his usual signature rhythms are pushed to new areas.  Heavee’s slight of hand moves effortlessly through the dense first track  “Out There”, with bopping drums and a noodling bass line through out and “Impulse” merges proper acid and juke elements to become the EP’s standout track. Truancy Tip: buying the album off his Bandcamp will give you a bonus free four track EP, so get it while it’s hot!

Previous editions of Sunday’s Best can be found here.

Words by Akash Chohan, Eradj Yakubov, Tobias Shine, Michael Scala and Joe Linden, 15 March 2015. Tags: | Leave a comment

Premiere: Samrai & Platt – Bad Riddim

Press Platt & Samrai

Manchester’s Swing Ting crew are big favourites of ours at the Truants mansion. The crew of Samrai, Platt, MC Fox, Joey B and Murlo have steadily been building up a reputation for putting on one of the city’s most essential regular club nights. They also expanded into releasing music and following on from their label’s debut release from crew member Brackles last year, they’ve decided once again to keep it in the family with Samrai and Platt taking the helm. What comes of this is SWINGTING002, two tracks of some of the finest party-ready grime flavoured music you’ll hear this year. The massive “One Step”, featuring London dancehall vocalist Trigganom is a perfect example of Swing Ting’s desire to bring together a variety of dancefloor sounds to the fore. “One Step” comes alongside “Bad Riddim“, which we’re premiering below, a huge instrumental track which shows off the influence of soundsystem culture of the duo. We were interested to know more about what brought about SWINGTING002, and Samrai and Platt were kind enough to answer a few questions about their music, the label, and how the night shapes it.

So tell us about how SwingTing002 came about. Do you make your tracks with playing them out at Swing Ting in mind particularly? Platt: “One Step was a track that we’d made with a view to eventually have someone vocal. It existed in various forms, but once we’d heard Trigganom kill it on Eno’s remix of Skank, we knew he’d suit it perfectly. Really, I think we just wanted to make a super stripped back soundsystem tune. Bad Riddim’s something that’s been floating around for a while – Spooky’s been playing it for ages, but I think we realised that now’s the time to get it out there.

I don’t think we’d make anything that we couldn’t play at Swing Ting and that’s obviously the space we’re most familiar with, club-wise. If you look at the music we’ve put out as artists and as a label, I feel like sometimes it might look a little bit incoherent – it’s only when you come down to the night and hear what we play that I think all the dots are joined.”

Samrai: “Both were tracks we’d had in various guises for sometime but felt complete and ready for release now. The liberty of having your own imprint is that you’re free to make the choice of your own accord. The tunes we write have an ear on the Swing Ting dancefloor but may also be what we were feeling at that particular time. Also, we had a lot of extended family encouraging us to get these riddims out there so shout out to those guys!”

What are the tracks that are setting off your Swing Ting parties at the moment? “There are certain tunes that get reintroduced into the fold or classic standards that will always set it off but these are a selection of some fresh sounds that have been finding favour on the floor the last few months:

Murlo & Deadboy – Lovegiver
Lots of new Madd Again (Zed Bias, Trigga, Specialist Moss & Killa Benz) material
Famous Eno – Jaws & various Eno edits (Beezledub / Little Man / Gotta Man)
Kan Kan Riddim
Brackles – Vulnerable (Tinashe Bootleg)
Goon Club Allstars – Buzz Riddim Refix
Cute Bubble Riddim
Wizkid – In My Bed / Show You The Money”

We’ve seen you speak highly of Soup Kitchen as a venue for the night, what makes Soup Kitchen and Swing Ting such a good fit? Platt: “I think we’re now one of the longest running nights at Soup and we’ve always had a good relationship in terms of moulding the club to suit our needs. They’re very much on board with our bare bones aesthetic on the
night and realise that sound quality is key. They’ve spent a lot of time on, and are constantly improving the soundsystem and I think you’d struggle to find a better system in that kind of space anywhere in the country right now.”

Samrai: “They’ve never questioned what we’ve tried to champion musically and have supported us along the way.
Managers, bar staff, security have always been cool with us over the years making us feel welcome, finding a venue where you feel at home and appreciated feels pretty sacred right now.”

How do you feel things are in Manchester right now in terms of parties and general vibe? Platt: “There’s a lot of great music coming out of Manchester at the moment, but it’s important to stay grounded and not get too carried away. There’s so much history with music in Manchester, and people often want to find the next ‘movement’, it can get a bit grating hearing people force Manchester down your throat sometimes. Because of this, I don’t think people spend as much time building things organically – we’re really proud to be operating in Manchester, and will always rep it, we’re surrounded by extremely talented people and there are always new pockets of people popping up and doing interesting things. I guess really we just want to get our heads down and not get too involved in the hype game so much.”

Samrai: “Manchester’s currently amazing for parties. Guests we book to play often marvel at the energy, attitude and unpretentious nature of the crowd; Mancs and adopted Mancs love to rave hard with abandon!
There are a lot of promoters booking and pushing music that they care about and there’s a strong sense of community. Also, it’s a smaller city than London with less people to attend events so dances aren’t necessarily tailored to one sound or scene either, a party will often be a melting pot of styles which I personally prefer as you get to experience different worlds coming together both in sound and attendees. It’s also great to see a crop of labels developing too with their own aesthetic and vision in mind.”

This is your first release on the Swing Ting label where the residents are the focus, is this something we can expect more of? Platt: “There’ll definitely be more releases from us, from Fox and Murlo, and Joey B if he ever wants to get involved in the production side of things. But there’s also loads of great music we want to put out by people we’ve put on in the past, and will put on in the future. I think we always want to keep a connection with the clubnight where possible, but there are also people further afield who we’re looking to work with, and I don’t think we want to limit ourselves.”

Samrai: “We don’t want the label to be something that’s exclusive to residents only, I feel it’s important to keep an open mind, but there will be some material dropping from the main crew later this year and beyond. When a home-cooked release feels right for the imprint we’ll put it out ourselves but we also want to maintain working on separate projects and in conjunction with other labels too.”

What’s next for Swing Ting, label and party? Platt: “More of the same, really. We’re taking Swing Ting on the road a little during summer, a few takeovers, a few guest spots here and there, but we’ve got lots of exciting guests booked for Soup Kitchen in the coming months too. Label-wise, there’s a lot of music we’re aiming to get out before the end of the year and it’s all incredible. One project in particular is massive. We’ve just moved into a new studio, so I’m expecting the production output to increase a bit too.”

Samrai: “More music, more parties, more vibes, more risks and decisions but we wouldn’t want it any other way! There are some exciting spring, summer and autumn movements planned. Watch out for a pack of club recordings dropping later this year too in addition to all the releases.”

SWINGTING002 is out on Monday 16th March. You can pick it up here.

Words by Antoin Lindsay, 13 March 2015. Leave a comment

Interview: Billy Nasty

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With the Bloc festivities and travel plans officially on their way, we’re excited to interview a DJ and producer who has been a resident at every Bloc Festival since its inception in 2006. To put it simply, Billy Nasty has a lot of experience, whether it’s running labels, record shops and booking agencies or putting on long lasting nights at clubs like the now closed down The End. Billy’s twenty plus years on the DJ circuit have made him a true talent behind the decks and Bloc have been on to this fact for a while. Hosting the Electrix showcase on the Jak stage this year on the Friday, Billy Nasty is bringing a wealth of talent and long time friends which include The Advent, Radioactive Man, Dynarec, Pip Williams, Silicon Scally and Sync 24, promising mainly live performances and modern, cutting edge electro.

Hey Billy! To start off, we wanted to go way back. Could you tell us a bit about the Love 4 Life parties and your personal experience from them, seeing as you played quite a few of them around the early/mid nineties? “I think you’re referring to the early 90’s gigs in Exeter, Bath and Longleat like Love 4 Life & Club UFO? It’s a very long time ago, but I used to play around that area a lot and I remember it as being a fun time and meeting lots of like minded people. I think a lovely guy called Spencer used to run the sound systems at all the venues. He had one of the first 360 surround sound amps that he used to run the decks through if my memory serves me well.”

I’ve not had the pleasure of listening to it myself, but in terms of those Love Of Life cassettes I think you did your first one in ’93, right? Were these just handed out or purchased at next events, how did it work? “Most of the cassettes were just recordings of the sets I played at the clubs and mostly recorded without my knowledge. I never saw any money from their sales but they played a really big part in people finding out who I was and how I sounded so I didn’t mind at all at the time.”

Am I right in thinking a lot of your early London residencies were at a similar time to this? From what I’ve read, venues like the Brain Club and Club UK were pretty seminal to London’s house and techno scene at the time which you seem to have played a fairly big role in. “Yes, my first residency was at The Brain around 1990 with Steve Bicknell (Lost). Not long after that I started playing regularly at clubs like Final Frontier at Club UK, The Drum Club, Strutt and Best of British which would then go on to become Open All hours at The Ministry of Sound. It was the early days of London’s techno scene so it was a very exciting time to be involved with.”

Are there any standout memories you cherish from attending these nights? “I’ll never forget the first time I heard Jeff mills and Hardfloor play live at Club UK. I also remember hearing Derrick May, The Prodigy and Aphex Twin all play at the Ministry on a Wednesday night which I’m pretty sure was the launch for Robert Rodriguez’s ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ movie.”

Could you tell us a bit about Zoom Records? (For people who may not know, Zoom was a record store located in Camden that also doubled up as a label.) “I loved working at Zoom. I was there from around 89 to 95 and I saw it grow from a tiny shop near Camden Lock to this huge basement that we took over from where Soul2Soul originally was. Looking back, I think the mix cassettes and working at Zoom were the main springboards for launching my career.”

You were working with David Wesson under the alias Shi-Take as well during this time right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but would I be right in thinking your first foray into production was around your early years at Zoom?  “Yes you’re correct, the Shi-Take productions and remixes with Dave were my first trips into the studio. Not long after that we started working with Steve Dubb who was my partner at Vinyl Blair and who was a super clever guy. I learnt a hell of a lot through working with Dubby. We released a few EPs on Hard Hands (Leftfield’s label) as well as doing remixes for The Aloof, Leftfield, Full Moon Scientists, Howie B and the rap act Gravediggaz.”

What sort of other experience did you gain whilst working here? Would you say it helped lay a foundation for when you started Tortured which slightly overlaps with the last record put out on Zoom? “Yes I think there was the Zoom/Hard Hands phase from around ’90 to ’95 and after that I started Tortured Records and the Theremin booking agency around ’96. We were the first agency to represent artists such as Adam Beyer, Cari Lekebusch, Thomas Krome, Joel Mull, Marco Carola, Gaetek, Uroš Umek and Valentino Kanzyani. The two companies worked hand in hand with each other and everything just exploded. It was not long after this that we started the Open Tortured nights at The End which ran for just short of 5 years. Great times and great nights indeed!”

Moving a bit forward in time, your collaborations with Radioactive Man as RadioNasty have all been really great. What is it about this collaboration that you find works so well? “I’ve always been a huge fan of Keith’s productions and electro and we’ve always had such a laugh with each other and got on well. So when Keith suggested we should work together I jumped at the chance. He’s easy to work with and one of the most talented guys I’ve worked on music with; he writes things quite effortlessly. I’m really glad you’re liking our work, we’ve had such a great response to our tracks and podcasts.”

Outside of the techno and electro spectrum was also interesting to see your involvement in the Dead Sexy parties and hosting the likes of Jerry Dammer and Oxman back in 2013. I’m keen to know how these parties came about, as well as your history with Ska in general and these artist themselves. “During my teenage years growing up in South London I would often hear ska and reggae but I really only started to collect the records until I was working at BM Soho a couple of years back. They share the space with Dub Vendor so Don Papa Face and Eddie (The Oxman) reintroduced me to the timeless brilliance of Ska, Rock Steady & Reggae. Jerry Dammers used to pop into BM and he’s so approachable for such a legend. I started chatting to him and he and Ox agreed to play with us and things just went from there. I’ve also been doing a few ska and reggae all dayers at the Monty in Brighton that have gone down well. I’m really looking forward to playing at Bloc with Jerry and giving everyone a taste of my alter ego JahNasty!”

Can you tell us about the space in Brighton you’ve recently been doing up into a record store called ‘The Vinyl Curtain’? “The shop has been up and running for over a year now.  I like to think of it as a boutique record shop for the discerning. It’s really linked to my love of being around vinyl, plus I’ve got 15,000+ records in my collection and I realised I’ve got multiple copies of some classic records and of course the new tracks on my Tortured and Electrix labels so I wanted a way to get those records to a new audience. When I moved back to Brighton last year I thought I’d take the opportunity to actually go through all my collection and that coincided with a friend having a basement space available, and so The Vinyl Curtain was born. It’s the best of the classics plus plenty of good new stuff.”

What else can we expect from you in the coming year? “I’m getting busy in the studio with my RadioNasty mate Keith but I’m also working on another collaboration. More to be revealed soon! The two labels are looking busy this year with exciting new releases in the pipeline from Paul Mac, Ritzi Lee on Tortured and Fleck ESC, The Advent and Pip Williams on Electrix. And of course as always, busy on the DJ front, my natural habitat!”

Lastly, you’ve been on the lineup for every Bloc party thus far. Any personal favourite memories? “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Bloc Festivals. As well as playing some of my most memorable sets I’ve also had many great nights seeing artists I admire for the first time; people like Flying Lotus, Rhythm and Sound, Aux 88, Aphex Twin and many more. Sometimes though it’s the unexpected late night meetings that makes Bloc so special. There was the time we had the great Juan Atkins partying in our chalet. All my friends were completely star struck. I’m delighted to see the Bloc boys back doing what they do best and I’m sure this one will be just as memorable and with many more to come!”

Words by Riccardo Villella, 12 March 2015. Leave a comment

Recommended: Rights – The Meaning EP

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For what seems like forever, there’s been that vague notion of “future” promulgated around and applied to modify existing forms like garage and house, or used in tandem with the all-encompassing bass. Instead of denoting characteristics that are cutting-edge, its implication—of vocal sampling conventions or texture parameters—has turned redundant, disparaging for some. Brooklyn producer Seafloor (Mathew Young previously of the Body Language outfit), with his neat and clean sense of production, seems to have had at least one foot planted in this realm unabashedly, releasing on Hyperboloid, Astro Nautico, and Infinite Machine. He’s returned for a third time on the latter as somewhat of a staple, but now under the guise of Rights alongside Braille to inaugurate both this new project and Montreal label Infinite Machine’s new year.

Braille is the alias of Praveen Sharma, also out of New York, and what’s to be said of his early production under that name, as well as his part in Sepalcure alongside Travis Stewart, should sound similar to that of his new cohort’s—his 2011 drops on Rush Hour, Direct Current and Hotflush are slightly rougher around the edges but similarly form around house and garage. It’s Sharma’s current proclivity towards putting a brake on tempo and a taste for R&B-inflecting songwriting—evidenced through a new EP and forthcoming LP on FoF—that seeps through The Meaning at parts. Icy vocal depersonalization is placed atop cracking percussion on opener “Cold In The B”. “Heartbeat” is a glimmer of color and kinetics on an EP (which very loosely fits the criteria playing over 35 minutes) that stays relatively reticent and languid. The effortless joint between “Can’t Forget” and “Understand The Meaning”, two parts to one song, is the most impressive part of The Meaning. When the ethereal synths of the former ooze into the latter and the rhythm shifts to a rocking half-time, it’s as if the drear of project has exhausted itself. To boot is a “Can’t Forget” remix from Photay, who concludes the EP as an all-Brooklyn affair and reminds us of his inventively wacky album.

The Meaning EP is out now via Infinite Machine. 

Words by Michael Scala, 11 March 2015. Leave a comment

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