One On One: Trackmasta Lou – Today Is A Good Day (John Heckle Re-Animation)

John Heckle Truants

Grown out of a monthly basement party thrown in Glasgow around 2008 and initially guided into fruition with the helpful advice from Arne Weinberg after his move to the city, Tabernacle Records has become somewhat of a record collector’s delight since its debut release in 2010. Headed up by Joel Shaw and Andrew Ingram, they’ve firmly established that they’re capable of smoothly migrating from successful club night into fully fledged label. Whilst the road from club night to label has been a heavily recurring one in recent times, the combination of old-fashioned A&R and a strong sense of development in the relationship with their artists has meant that quality has remained at at a familiar high throughout their 31-record deep discography. While quite a number of their early releases were gained from focusing on artists who played at their early parties such as The Third Man, John Heckle, and Mark Du Mosch, their roster has since expanded into hosting regular material from Fancy & Spook, Jeremiah R and the enigmatic Lost Trax. We also can’t help but have a special place in our hearts for Tabernacle seeing as they’ve also quietly been flying the flag still for online music blogs in the form of Slabs Of The Tabernacle, sporadically posting links to a series of brilliant mixes from affiliates and fellow inspirations of the label and party.

The track in particular we want to talk about today from the Tabernacle fold has made its way around over the years; popping up every now and then in sets to floor-filling reactions, but it’s been a small while since we’ve heard it out and we’re firm believers that if you’re a house or techno DJ then this record should never leave your bag. The original from Trackmasta Lou — a close affiliate to Underground Resistance and primary member of Detroit collective Scan 7 — uses a repeated string sample for a slow uplifting house cut that’s perfect for those warm-up slots, but full marks go to John Heckle who smashed it out the park with his ‘re-animaion’ of the track. Stripping away the uplifting bassline and essence of the original, Heckle keeps in the string sample but reworks it with the most jacking influenced percussion. The 707 claps sound truly gorgeous and the whole track is an addictive bomb for its six-minute duration. Discogs user ‘MrElReplicante’ says it’s a track that will stay with him forever and despite not being the biggest of secrets, we wholeheartedly agree.

Words by Riccardo Villella, 09 June 2015. Leave a comment

Truancy Volume 118: Nightwave

Nightwave Truancy Volume

It’s early May when we approach Maya Medvesek about a possible Truancy Volume. She’s about to set off for her tour of America and barely gets a minute to think but guess what, a mix and quick interview catch up is absolutely no problem for Nightwave. Aside from being wonderfully organised and true to her word she’s also really made some waves since we last spoke to her back in 2011. Having graduated from the prestigious RBMA session in Madrid, Maya has remained an active alumni, soundtracking the RBMA catwalk as well as recording and lecturing at the sessions. In 2013, she became creator and label boss of Glasgow based Heka Trax, releasing her debut EP Luxor and most recently the Nightlife EP, where she continues to collaborate with artists such as Big Dope P, Blastto, Lee Carvallo and more.

We’ve watched Nightwave become a force to be reckoned with over the last four years and it is an absolute pleasure to have her feature on our Truancy Volume mix series. We caught up with Maya briefly whilst on tour to hear all about Heka Trax, her club night Nightrave, and her mix for us. Expect unreleased treats and screw-faces.

How do you feel about the reception to your latest EP ‘Nightlife’ back in December? What were your inspirations for it and how did you come about working with Ashnikko and TT the Artist? “I was very happy with the reception, the press and people have been very nice about it! My inspiration or goal is always the same, make fun music that people can dance to. I don’t particularly care about the genre of the whole package – it may be a bit mismatched for some people’s liking but that doesn’t bother me at all. The collabs were pretty straight forward as well. I’ve remixed TT before and we decided to have a go on a track together, she’s awesome. I found Ashnikko on soundcloud and took her to Red Bull Studios in London to record.”

We at Truants have big love for Heka Trax and recently spoke to Big Dope P about his ‘Hit Da Blokk’ EP and how you met. Can you give us your perspective on how this came to fruition? “Thank you! Can’t really remember actually, I’ve been a fan of his tunes for a while and then we met at Social Club in Paris a couple of years ago I think. He came to play Nightrave a few times and of course he did that incredible remix of Luxor for me which was a great way to kick off Heka Trax. We’ve been working together ever since and when I got the chance to release Hit Da Blokk EP I jumped on it like a kangaroo on acid.”

I read in an interview with Dummy Mag that the right promo is very important to you, how do you help set Heka Trax apart from others in such a saturated market? “The main focus of course is the music but every release needs a decent campaign and a proper push. It’s definitely not easy, especially ‘competing’ with labels with massive PR and radio pluggers budget. The goal is to get the people to feel the love, work and the little details we put in each release. It’s all about the love.”

What is your long term goal for the label? Can you drop any hints about anything else you’re working on or who you would love to work with in the future? “We’ve got the deluxe white vinyl Hit Da Blokk edition coming out end of June with a bunch of really amazing extras! Also got EPs lined up by Blastto and Glacci and probably a few of my own tracks by the end of the summer. I much prefer putting out other people’s music though as I’m not that good at pimping myself! The long term goal is to keep pushing good party music without any of the bullshit. I want to sign good music and I couldn’t care less whether the artist has 10 or 10k followers.”

Glasgow is the home of Heka Trax but also Nightrave, your club night. Can you tell us a bit about the ethos behind the night? “Nightrave is coming back to La Cheetah in late Summer. I’ve had to take a break as I just wasn’t able to handle all this stuff at once sadly. The night is basically about ravey music in a dark club, no nonsense or whishy-washy house, we play anything from ghettotech to grime! I’ll also be doing Heka Trax label nights in the future, first one is on June 26th at The Art School!”

How do you feel about the music scene there at the moment? It must be hard seeing amazing venues like The Arches lose it’s license, do you think we are entering a difficult time for club music or are you more optimistic? “The Arches situation is very worrying, a perfect demonstration of the freedom infringing agenda of the establishment. If ‘protecting the people’ was genuinely their priority they would base the legislation on evidence based research and education, so the kids don’t end up buying god knows what on the streets. I think it’s important we take a stand up to this nonsense or we may be at risk of losing more and more culturally important places like night clubs. Aside from that I think this is an exciting time for club music. The shitstorm of boring vanilla hi-hat music seems to be slowly dying down, finally!”

There is a lot of focus at the moment on females in club environments, be that on the floor or behind the decks; for example the lack of women on club line ups or the harassment females (and sometimes men!) get on the dancefloor. As a successful woman in the industry what are your thoughts on this and have you got any advice for those hoping to make a change? “I really hate to talk about this stuff but I’ll keep on talking about it until things change. The situation is perhaps a little bit better but the visibility of women in music is still shocking. All one has to do is look at various club and festival line-ups and agency and management rosters. And then look at the vast pool of women artists on something like Female Pressure before coming back with the old ‘But there aren’t enough female…’ excuse. Yes, we need to encourage more girls and women to get into making music but we should start by giving a chance and a platform to those who already do. The middle class straight white male music industry paradigm needs to go and with enough noise-making it will start to shift.”

It seems to me that your own mixes are, in the purest form, a collection of tunes that are fun to play and dance to (I still rinse a mix you did for Noisey a while back with tonnes of Twista!). Is this something that is important to you and what goes through your mind when go to record a mix? With that in mind, what can Truants expect from your Truancy Volume? “Exactly, I usually try and make something for people to stick on at a house party or on their way to a club. Same goes for the Truant mix, I put quite a few new tracks from my friends in there, a couple of upcoming Heka releases and some of my new stuff and remixes.”

Finally, you have a busy few months ahead with your tour! What are you most looking forward to and what is next for Nightwave? “I’m working on getting the next few Heka releases out and trying to finish some tunes on the road for my next release. I’ve also got a mic with me to record some vocals when I get a chance and I’m finishing off a couple of remixes. I definitely need more hours in the day!”

Tracklist:

Dreams – Esoteric
Djedjotronic – Stables
?? – Not Tryin’

Nightwave – Aero
Nobel – My Reaction (Nightwave Remix)
Swick – Salah’s Groove
Paul Johnson – Let me se you butterfly
Galtier – Cove (Sequence)
Bleaker – Hype (Funk)
Nina Las Vegas & Swick – Cool Sports
DJ Deeon – Let Me Bang (Pyramid Juke edit)
Blastto – Pandemonium
Glacci – Gold Claw ft Hasta
JME – Test Me
Inkke – Hit Me
Noaipre – Tropical Freeze WIP
DJ Deeon – House-o-matic
Lady Leshurr – Lego
Basement Jaxx – Unicorn (Big Dope P & TT the Artist Vocal Remix)
Taso Teklife x Ed – Acid
Big Dope P – Ibogance
Nightwave – Ritual
Kaanerbay – Run
Dream Continuum – Give A Lil Luv
Fei Fei – Little White Lies (Nightwave Remix)

Photo Credit: Matthew A. Williams

Words by Jess Melia, 03 June 2015. Leave a comment

Recommended: Throwing Shade – Fate Xclusive EP

throwing shade truants

The first thing that springs to mind at the thought of Throwing Shade’s NTS shows is an overwhelming sense of discovery and wonder. She reaches far and wide for her selections, deftly shining lights on places often unexplored by many music lovers. Ventures such as her Muslim jazz showcases are hugely appreciated in a society that only seems to mention Islam when they can pair it with negativity, a world that filters cultures and histories through a white lens before we can interact with them. The way Throwing Shade presents these musics is on a very real and unassuming level; here are some things different folk have created, here’s some information, here’s some context – let’s not exoticise anything for not being Western and contemporary.

Throwing Shade is Nadihah Iqbal – producer, DJ, ethnomusicologist and recent entrant in our Truancy Volumes mix series. Her track “Chancer” appeared in Deadboy’s mix for us, released in the wake of her 19 Jewels EP for No Pain In Pop. 19 Jewels saw Iqbal dabble in different styles, always led by glacial synths. There’s the eerie grime-leaning “Once”, followed by the fluid pitch-shifting slow burn of “Real Bad”. The first track serves as a light-hearted daydream collaboration with Emily Bee, who also appears on Iqbal’s new EP for the same label, Fate Xclusive.

Fate Xclusive is Throwing Shade’s music after dark, whereas 19 Jewels was illuminated by the light of day. All four tracks (and their respective moods) are best served evening onwards. “Honeytrap” is unabashedly seductive, airy chimes and vocals imbuing it with a sort of breathlessness, and between Emily Bee’s alluring rhymes and the unshakable refrain of, “Honey, honey, drip drip drip,” it’s very easy to be comfortably caught in the web. Drawing to a close with emphasised whispers in French, ending with, “l’espionnage d’amour,” it wilfully embraces the typical hallmarks of Western romance without a hint of irony. Which is cool, because even the most extreme levels of saccharine are all good when you’re totally smitten with someone.

“4eva Fate” is the most straightforward club track on the record, really hitting home for the emotional and dramatic dancefloor crew. Whilst not particularly minimalistic, it does see Iqbal operate a more stripped back approach with only a couple of layers of haze enshrouding a driving house beat that’s stylistically derivative of that recent New York sound. As the claps, cascading strings, rising and falling synth melodies and crystalline pulses coalesce, you’re caught in a pocket of calm amidst a storm – watching rain shower down from indoors. “Mirror” and “4Drake” tone things down, the former a lament featuring some amazing vocal samples whilst the latter does all its talking through morose wanderings up and down the keyboard. However you’re feeling – and however the weather’s feeling – Throwing Shade has something prepared to match or really bring out your mood on Fate Xclusive.

Throwing Shade’s Fate Xclusive EP is out now on No Pain In Pop, available on vinyl or digital here.

Words by Tayyab Amin, 02 June 2015. Leave a comment

Review: Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside LP

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Who is the real Earl Sweatshirt? The question is more pertinent than ever as he strikes out alone on I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album By Earl Sweatshirt. Produced almost entirely by himself under the alias randomblackdude, with a Left Brain beat and guest verse from the group’s quasi-member Vince Staples (the only Odd Future contributions), IDLS is the record Earl wants us to see as his manifesto proper. It’s the first album he puts out as a man after two often slapdash, occasionally brilliant solo outings with the boys.

This is a strange angle for Earl to come at us with, because IDLS presents us with someone struggling to reconcile the person he is, the person people thought he was, and the person he might become. Having always been the OFWGKTA member of the greatest lyrical promise, the weight of expectation that was exacerbated by the ‘Free Earl’ campaign, which drew Sweatshirt as a caricature of the already cartoonish, loquacious brat of his first self-titled mixtape. Whereas Doris often found itself caught between the poles of pandering to that perception and demonstrating growth, IDLS has Earl retreating (as the title might suggest) from a world that doesn’t get him. The trouble is that this sees him also toying with turning his back on the listener, himself and his craft.

The sound palette of IDLS is generally hostile, even alienating. Many of the beats simultaneously appear sparse and yet in danger of swamping themselves, with mucky ambiences skulking behind percussive sounds that could have been made by banging driftwood on an oil barrel. Drum patterns lurch drunkenly, with tracks like “AM // Radio” barely interested in holding a rhythm together at all. Occasionally a more sprightly production like “Huey” slips through, but these are brief excursions that seem designed more to laugh grimly at the idea that, while there was once a possibility of a lighter and more nimble record than IDLS (see the almost-banger “Mantra”), Earl’s intent on dragging the project down into the murkier corners of his psyche.

While Earl has obviously always found joy in the possibilities of language, much of IDLS sees him playing these purer joys off against the trauma of growing up in public and not living up to expectation, both other people’s and his own high standards. When he sulkily snarls ‘I don’t act hard, I’m a hard act to follow’ on “Grief”, the phrase comes off less as typical hip-hop braggadocio and more a man alienated by his own intelligence from the things and people he loves. This anger turned inward soon manifests in self-destruction, as Earl talks addiction and self-hatred, desperate to keep ‘my time and my mind intact’ but possibly not able to summon the energy for the fight. Ratking’s Wiki treads a similar line on AM // Radio, marrying literal abjection (‘spit out my food, hiccup and piss/urine burning, I can smell the liquor in this’) with acknowledgement of rap as a place of cathartic self-manifestation; ‘when I rap I blast off … keep my head screwed on and abuse these mics’.

However, Earl here needs someone else to do the work for him on this front. When he steps in later in the track, Earl is as couched as at any other point on the album, hitting blunts to stop himself from ‘yakking’ with his ‘mind in the trash next to where my fucking passion went’. While Earl’s troubles obviously run deep, the listlessness that pervades IDLS means that the whole thing feels rather formless. With the exception of the impressive “DNA”, his rapping throughout is languid, and while most of the time his lyrical deftness is enough to maintain interest the lack of hooks or drive mean that the album both feels longer than it is and yet ends abruptly a few seconds shy of the half- hour. Though this is fitting for a conflicted album from a conflicted man, one wonders if Earl might be confusing expression with venting, and if he has wilfully done away with a more nuanced offering in favour of this doomy, Doom-y piece. No doubt there is a great LP inside this man, but it might take a little while yet for him and us to find out who that man is. Free Earl.

Words by: Fred Mikardo-Greaves

Words by Truants, 22 May 2015. Tags: | 2 comments

Interview: Tom Demac

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Tom Demac is a name familiar to most by now. Originally hailing from North Wales, Tom’s interest in music was sparked by attending free parties in his teens. He’s moved around since then: first to Manchester, but has now settled himself in London. Having first released music via his own Electronique Audio imprint in 2004, Tom’s brand of taut, tough techno gained wider recognition towards the back end of the 2000s. Since then, a steady flow of releases have seen him work with a string of big hitters including Aus, Drumcode and Hypercolour. As his increasingly hectic touring schedule will tell you, it’s certainly an approach which has served him well. However, never being one to stand still, Tom has recently shifted his focus away from his barnstorming live shows towards the decks once more, while work on his long-discussed debut album also appears to be taking shape of late. Given these recent developments, it seemed like a better time than ever to catch up with the Welshman ahead of his appearance at this year’s Gottwood Festival.

Hi Tom, thanks for agreeing to the interview. How’s 2015 been for you so far? Have there been any highlights? “2015 has been great up to now. I’d say the highlight of the year for me so far has been an ‘Arnie All Nighter’ at a cinema in London. Back-to-back classic Arnie films with mates, along with a packed cinema shouting Arnie quotes and cheering his every move – it doesn’t get any better than that does it?” I don’t think it does! So what have you got in the pipeline for the rest of the year? “There’s an E.P. coming out on Hypercolour at some point over the summer, some cool remixes about to surface and a feature on a Cocoon compilation. No doubt, there’ll be another E.P. in the autumn too. All that alongside touring, and I’ve finally broken the back of this album I’ve been talking about for eons – that should be finished over the next few months. The album writing is definitely taking up most of my time at the moment.”

This album is something you’ve been talking about for a while. What can you tell us about it? “I’m definitely in deep album writing mode right now. It’s been a long and drawn out affair for me. Each year I’ve been attempting it and never quite getting it finished. It’s almost become a noose around my neck so to speak – I’ve constantly been pressurising myself into trying to make something ground breaking which isn’t really a particularly healthy mindset. So, this year I’ve had a good rethink and have tried to shelve all that pressure and all the inhibitions I’ve had. I’ve found the last few months have definitely been more of a natural writing process as a result. It should be completed very soon!”

Your love for hardware gear is well known and I assume they’re being used for the album. Can you talk us through your current set-up? Is there anything you’re itching to get your hands on? I have a pretty unhealthy addiction to buying equipment, yes! (laughs) In my studio there’s a collection of old analogue keyboards and drum machines alongside newer bits like the Elektron Analogue Four and DSI Tempest. I swear by boutique guitar pedals too. Practically all my synths will end up getting run through a chain of about fifteen pedals – from delays, reverbs, pitch effects, distortion etc. sometimes ending up on 1/4” tape before being edited in Ableton.

Stuff I’m itching to get my hands on? I’ll stick to the cliché – a modular. I’ve had my shopping list ready for a couple of years, but I think it’s that worry of taking the plunge and disappearing down the wormhole of geek that’s holding me back a little bit. I already spend a worrying amount of time looking at people badly noodling on synths on YouTube as it is. If I added all the module demos to my playlists too, I doubt whether I’d actually ever end up getting any music finished.”

Looking at your touring schedule it’s clear that you take a wide range of gigs, whether DJing or playing live. How does your approach differ when playing out in different contexts? “Well, I try to stick to my guns in most contexts really. I rarely play warm up sets which is a bit of a shame as I really enjoy playing slower and chugging some music out at 116bpm. A couple of months back I played all night long at XOYO for Skream’s residency there. That was an opportunity to go really deep however the guy playing the first hour before me scuppered those plans somewhat. With regards to the bigger rooms, I’ll stick to my style. I find the theory of only playing ‘big room techno’ in a ‘big room’ complete bollocks really! So as they say, you’re telling me that because there are more people in this room the less likely they are going to be to respond to something with just the faintest of melodies or something vaguely interesting? Anyway, that argument is aimed at someone else and best saved for another day.

I think I’m performing live at Gottwood, which is something I’ve been consciously doing a lot less in 2015. The last few years I’ve been playing live at near enough every show and sometimes it just doesn’t quite translate. Not only that but I find that DJing more regularly keeps you more in touch and more inspired. When you’re touring as a live act it can all get a little insular, everything’s about you, the performance and preparation – the music is yours, this is you and there’s nothing else in between. I’m not sure that makes sense? Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that I’m selecting certain shows to perform live at, Gottwood being one of those shows.”

With you now making a conscious effort to DJ more, what music have you been feeling of late? “Mia Dora’s Un.sub on Optimo Trax stands out. I also finally managed to get my hands on a repress of Traumprinz’s Paradise With A Lobotomy. To be honest, it’s pretty safe to say anything by Traumprinz/DJ Metatron hasn’t been leaving my bag of late.”

What have been your favourite festival experiences down the years? “I’m lucky enough to be part of Freerotation Festival. It has been and always will be the highlight for me of each year. It’s just such an amazing small and low key festival experience that really is unlike anything else out there.”

Finally, what’s going to be your go-to drink this summer? “I’m going to shun the latest trends of Whiskey Sours and all that by sticking to the cheese with a Piña Colada. Yes, I know it’s a really shit choice, but this is a drink which is tried and tested, especially after being up all night. I will only drink it if it’s served in a pineapple though.”

Tom Demac will be performing at this year’s Gottwood Festival, which takes place in Anglesey, Wales, between the 11th and 14th June.

Words by Matt Gibney, 21 May 2015. Leave a comment

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