Interview: Update with P. MORRIS

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Two years ago we interviewed P. MORRIS as he was popping up on the scene with his own Goombawave sound and the Bear Club Music Group. Since then he has relocated from his home state of Kansas to sunny Los Angeles, changed his name and has been tuning up his sound and production whilst working with all sorts of different artists.  In the past year he provided the effortlessly laid-back vibe to Kelela’s excellent single “Go All Night,” which was featured on Solange’s ‘Saint Heron’ compilation and most recently put out a beautiful new tape titled “Debut”, complete with an immersive website experience. We caught up with him on the evening of his birthday, deep in the cut at SRB’s in Brooklyn just before his show with Sinjin Hawke.

Stream: P. Morris – Turtle Lounge (Bear Club Music Group)

Now that you live in LA, how do you think this affects you? Being in a more music-centric city with so much going on, do you ever feel the need to distance yourself? “I like how much music is floating around in LA. Just being here I’ve gotten exposed to a lot of different shit that I wouldn’t have been plugged into when I was in Kansas in particular. It might not be necessarily my number one influence but I’ve obviously been hearing more beat music, more kind of Low End Theory stuff. Admittedly, I wasn’t up on that sound because it wasn’t the local culture that I was surrounded by; that whole ethic of sample-based 4-on-4 type sound. It’s not my new shit or anything but something I acquired an awareness of when I moved out to LA. In addition to that, being there has me being more open to other kind of styles. There is a huge contingency of people who are really pushing techno in LA now, and that’s also something that I wasn’t super plugged into when I was living in Kansas. So it has given me the chance to kind of dig in more in these little pockets of electronic culture that I just wasn’t plugged into, you know?” Like FTM, Body High, LA Resource? “Yeah I see those dudes all the time, and I was up on that and the Club Resource stuff, but there were little things floating around on the West coast that I just wasn’t up on in Kansas. But all those other cliques are tight!”

How has working with vocalists changed your workflow, rather than working with sampled vocals? Can you talk about the Kelela experience? Is there anything in the future? “Working with vocalists, it takes less work in terms of the production because a lot of the sequencing and the rhythmic or melodic elements end up getting carried by the vocals in a way, and now my job is suddenly making space for vocals to be able to exist. So while it might be easier on the technical end, it’s much harder on the conceptual end of things because it’s like “This beat is hitting, but is there room for the vocalist here?”. In terms of working with Kelela, she is an incredible artist and an incredible professional. Moreover, she’s really good at pushing me to the limit, pushing me into territories that I wouldn’t normally go to. But it exists inside of me, and she is good at getting that out of me.  Together we’ve been exploring that, and I’d like to think I’m doing the same for her, but at this point she is definitely teasing a lot of sides of me out. There will be a lot more vocal collaborations, I’m working on a couple right now that are all really good but I don’t know if I’m at liberty to say quite yet [laughs]. But it has definitely changed my process, for damn sure.”

Stream: Kelela – Go All Night (Saint Records)

In what ways have you been honing your sound and production chops? “Man, just being in LA. My roommates are involved in music so I’m overhearing a lot of technical talk. In addition to being brought into contact with music that I wouldn’t ordinarily touch upon in itself has pushed my production level to another, new echelon just because a whole world of possibilities has opened up when I met these dudes. But that said, it’s not like I have been sitting on my hands over the last year, I’ve definitely been practicing, playing piano more, working more on my drums and all that kind of stuff. Just tightening my game up all around, so inadvertently there is going to be progress, but the California move kind of accelerated that.”

Can you talk about the imagery in your new website with OKFocus and how it relates to the music? Ryder Ripps, the guy who made it, we put our heads together and tried to figure out a way that we can kind of like have some sort of interactive experience that could accompany the music. For me on my end, I feel like there’s a lot of musicians and artists that are really trying to make music that exists in a club space, which is fucking awesome, I love club music and previously I’ve been really attached to it. But this music is much more suited to the in-between moments. It’s a great companion to driving around, going to go get groceries, just headphone space or weather your smoking by the fire reading a book type shit. So that’s what the visual accompaniment ended up hammering home. It’s a bunch of environment spaces conceivably, that my music can be a companion to; a walk in the woods, the backseat of a luxury vehicle, a crazy fucking Burj Khalifa lookin’ space in India! I just really want it to show that the world of P. Morris is much wider than the club confines.”

You mentioned Shibuya-Kei in your first interview, and my first post was on Towa Tei. I’m a big fan of shibuya-kei myself and I see a lot of similarities in your music, especially your new mix (tracks like Turtle Lounge, Hold Tight). It alludes to the idea of taking sounds from the past in a very hiphop or MPC sampler fashion to create a future-leaning sound, which can also come off as cinematic. You have studied film, do you think you have developed or strengthened a more ‘visual’ sense to creating your music? “Before I was making music I worked primarily as a visual artist, so I’m always thinking about things in those terms. I’m not one of those Pharrell or Kanye type of people who are going to tell you they see sound or whatever; it’s not like that. But as I’ve started to massage the song and the melodies, it becomes a little bit more clear what the direction is and sometimes that can have more cinematic qualities. Something that is apparent in all of those songs on the mixtape is that they are all a little world in of themselves. They are cohesive as a piece together but I think that each one exists on its own and that is something that comes from that visual space too. There is a great deal of diversity in terms of the sonic architecture, but at the same time its built all in the same era, by the same hands, but not all the exact same experience.”Have you ever thought about scoring? Yeah, it’s something I would love to do but it is something I don’t really want to cut corners on. It’s all about having the proper resources. Obviously the right place to record it, the right orchestra, so it would take a lot of money to be able to do that kind of stuff.  With the right project, I think I could wrap my head around it but it’s not anything I would dive into because I feel like I couldn’t do it justice.

Stream: P. Morris – Maison Purple (Bear Club Music Group)

Listening to your new mix as a whole I get a very strong sense that there is a story going throughout the whole new tape.  Can you touch on this? “I think the story in itself is nostalgia. That’s a vague notion, I don’t want to place to many connotations over it and color the listeners experience of it, but for me the crutch that it leans on is nostalgia. I use Burt Bacharach era horn sections that come in and out, I use nostalgic sounding string sections that come in and out, I use some more, almost musique-concrète interludes that are using sounds of cicadas and moving water and stuff like that. Those are all things that are immediately nostalgic for a lot of people. It’s a common ground that we all understand about the emotion being wrapped up in nature and temporality in that way. If anything that’s probably the clearest story there, and on a song-by-song basis there is a bit more of a narrative there. But like I said, I don’t really want to color people’s perception of it too much.”

Can you talk about your name change? “It was just time. I just really wanted to grow into something more mature, its nothing more than that. I mean it symbolises me taking myself more seriously just in terms of my career, types of songs that I’m writing, and the ways that I’m going to be positioning myself into the future.”

Is Goombawave a thing for you and your friends or are do you want other producers to catch on to it and help evolve the sound? “That’s a good question. When you release art, or anything out into the world, people are going to be influenced by it and suddenly you don’t own it anymore.  I don’t want to prohibit anyone from trying to create the Goombawave. At the same time I might be a little bit bent out of shape if there was a situation where we sort of lost the breadcrumbs as we’ve walked through the forest. We don’t have any idea where we came from, where the notion of Goombawave came from, so suddenly it might be this thing like Dubstep. People who like Dubstep now are just like Skrillex, excision, Datsik, all these EDM names but they don’t remember Skream, Joker, Slimzee, or grime or any of the things that came right before it, so I kind of worry about that with Goombawave if it ever got to a point where it was completely out of my control. But it’s something I can’t worry about, and ultimately it would be a sign of a form of success that goes beyond money. It’s suddenly about cultural influence and stuff so we can’t be mad at it.” 

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What do you see for the future of Bear Club Music Group, your own productions and your work on Night Slugs and Fade To Mind? “I’ll answer the second part first.  The FTM and Night Slugs dudes, those guys are first and foremost a family and second a record label or collective. Without being too bold, I definitely would assert that I am part of that family tree. Now does it necessarily fit within my immediate goals to be trying to deliver a bunch of material to both those guys? That’s hard to say at this point. I’ve just been focusing a lot of my energy on building my own platform at this point. So I don’t want to immediately discard the idea of some recordings that are going to trickle out with them, because there’s been a lot of stuff that’s been in the works for a long time. I can’t always speak for what’s going on in their side, but I can speak for what’s going on with Bear Club Music Group. BCMG is positioning itself to not only be able to define our own space but also bring that space into three dimensions for people. We have obviously existed as a music group in some peoples minds, like something you can stream on SoundCloud, but over this next year I want to make our whole world something that people can dive into more, whether that’s through merchandise, through immersive media pieces like we did with OkFocus.  I just want to give people more entry points to kind of manipulate and interact with what we are doing. I want it to go beyond a music video or an interview or whatever.” That’s sort of like Kingdom how he put out work before starting FTM. “Yeah, the story is there I don’t want to draw the parallels too strongly but that is in general how it works is that this sort of tangent. It was really important for me from the get go that the family tree that a lot of my work springs from was proper, and there were a lot of different channels that I could have gone through. But I was really gung-ho about working with Nightslugs and FTM and I’m very appreciative of them allowing me to grow like a little flower on their little branch, but now its time to grow my own, you know?”

Anything else you would like to say about the future? “I’m looking forward this year to going out of the country. It’s finally something that has come to fruition thanks to a number of different things that have aligned on the back end. So this year I think people can look forward to seeing my face a little bit more after having either hiding behind being in Kansas or hidden behind being in the United States, suddenly I think the world is going to be a lot more open myself and my fans.”

Follow P. Morris on Twitter. Listen to him on SoundCloud. Check out his new tape “Debut

Words by Joe Linden, 18 March 2014. Leave a comment

Review: Achterbahn D’Amour – Odd Movements LP

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It’s been 30 years since Roland stopped manufacturing the 303 and well over 20 years since the acid sound it brought to both mainstream pop and underground dance music in the 90s has had any significant presence in either. Fact is, nothing ever really dies in dance music, and this applies particularly to acid and the 303. There will always be pockets of labels and artists keeping a sound or style alive. Acid Test, as the name would imply, is a label that aims to do exactly that for acid, an output of modern day twists on the most distinctive squelch in music. After releasing a trio of singles on the label alongside the likes of Donato Dozzy, Pépé Bradock and head Tin Man, Achterbahn D’Amour, known on their own as Iron Curtis and Edit Piafra, release the third LP on the label with Odd Movements. They have a tough act to follow. Recondite‘s On Acid and Tin Man’s Neo Neo Acid are two of the finest examples of how make an enjoyable dance album, a notoriously difficult task. Despite all three of their singles, in particular third release Acid Test 06, being very strong releases, this is not always indicative of an artist who can translate their work into the album format. Thankfully Achterbahn D’Amour handle the task admirably and provide an engaging and, perhaps most notably, consistent dance album.

Stream: Achterbahn D’Amour – Holy Romance Empire Clip (Absurd)

As album titles go, they’re rarely more appropriate than Odd Movements. The album is constantly twisting and manages to showcase how effective the 303 can be in creating certain atmospheres. The album opener “Holy Romance Empire” offers a warped acid synth line over a fuzzy driving house beat, creating an club track you can imagine immersing yourself in just as the night is really starting to get into its stride. We are then worked into “Passagen”, a haunting, mechanical techno and “Jaws of J.O.Y.” which ventures into a deeper acidic sound. Similarities to mid-to-late-90s acid techno can be found, though you won’t find anything as hyperactive as you would on Smitten and Zoom Records, the focus on creating visceral acid lines is still obviously something which Achterbahn D’Amour are keen on. For club tracks they are still remarkably unostentatious however, which gives it the ability to also make it an enthralling home listen without the threat of overpowering. The duo ease it out a bit a more for the next two tracks “Ladbroke Culture” and the title track. Here is where the Tin Man association becomes most evident with both tracks taking a more laidback approach akin to Neo Neo Acid. This not only helps demonstrate their versatility but it also prevents the album becoming stagnant, which is vitally important on a record that is so heavily focussed on one instrument.

Stream: Achterbahn D’Amour – Ladbroke Culture Clip (Absurd)

The second half of the album is where the album really comes into its own. “Teen Sleep”s metallic backdrop offsets its ephemeral but intense 303 line and it burrows into the conscious to the extent that it feels a lot longer than the 5 minutes it falls just short of. A Throbbing Gristle sample kicks us into the album highlight “My Demands” which continues with the unassuming clubby acid lines but in a remarkably twisted manner. An unsettling vocal sample (we tried our best to source it, to no avail) which threatens to “detonate the whole fucking lot” combined with the restrained-yet-warped squelches creates a delight in its callous atmosphere reminiscent of a good serial killer movie. “Konigstr” doesn’t depart significantly from the blueprint set out earlier in the album but is a more straight-up techno affair which suitably gives you a final workout before ” Cream & Treacle (I&M)” acts as the soaring warm down complete with indiscriminate 303 notes, a reminder of the one thing that permeates the record.

Stream: Achterbahn D’Amour –  My Demands Clip (Absurd)

Odd Movements will likely have some detractors, those who dismiss acid revivalism as lazy and unnecessary in 2014. Revivalism in dance music can, at its worst, seem like a misunderstood pastiche. Achterbahn D’Amour however have successfully managed create not only interesting acid revivalism record, but done so in the album format. Whilst the previous album efforts on Acid Test’s strength lay in their ability to recontextualise acid into a more home-listening friendly sphere, Odd Movements will undoubtedly wrangle itself into club sets. Experimentation with the 303 isn’t a new thing, with musicians as diverse as Daniel Avery, Boddika and Ceephax Acid Crew giving their own interpretations of acid meaning it won’t disappear any time soon. Achterbahn D’Amour and Acid Test don’t set out to create or expect to cause any kind of upheaval in which acid once again becomes the most dominant sound in dance music, but provides a tasteful modern homage to the little grey box of wires that has brought masses to their feet. Ultimately however, Odd Movements thrives where other dance albums often fail by creating an incredibly well executed introverted techno record which is just as easy to get absorbed in at home as it would be in a darkened room at 4am.

Words by Antoin Lindsay

Words by Truants, 18 March 2014. Leave a comment

Interview: 6th Borough Project

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Three years ago 6th Borough Project, the Scottish duo comprised of Craig Smith and The Revenge, brought us their debut album One Night In The Borough. This followed a few years of releases and remixes across different labels. A relatively quiet period followed, as each pursued his own ends. Back on Delusions of Grandeur in 2014, they’ve dropped their second full-length, Borough 2 Borough. It’s a far-reaching affair, covering slow, emotive house and faster, moodier numbers brimming with funk. We got a chance to catch up with the guys and discuss the pain of disco, the lo-fi sound and Scottish independence.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How are you guys doing?
Graeme: “All good. We just kicked off the album tour at the weekend in Paris and Berlin and both shows were quite honestly killer.”

Craig: “Yeah it was a great start to the tour. The longer sets are much more enjoyable as we get the set the pace and explore different musical avenues.”

What have you been up to lately?
Graeme: “We’ve both been active on our own labels and projects after finishing the 6th BP album. I’ve been working on some solo stuff for my Roar Groove label and a few other collaborative projects due for release throughout this year.”

Craig: “Finishing the 6th Borough Project [album] and setting up my new label Fifty Fathoms Deep. Likewise I’ve been working on some solo projects which will be out during the year.”

Let me congratulate you on the album, it’s a really great piece of work. You’ve both been very busy over the last few years, what was it like getting back and working together again?
Graeme: “We took a short break after the last album and then went back to our regular routine, which is usually once every couple of weeks spending a day in the studio listening to music, shooting the breeze and making some tracks. Working together is pretty effortless, so it doesn’t take much convincing to get us back in the studio.”

6th Borough ProjectBorough 2 Borough (Preview) (Delusions of Grandeur)

You’ve both set up labels, yet you returned to Delusions of Grandeur for this project. Was that a case of neutral ground, sticking with a winning formula, or something else?
Graeme: “We have a great relationship with the guys at the label and the way they do things. It’s very important for us to trust whoever we are working with since we are both very passionate about the creation, manufacture and delivery of the music. We had the debut release on Delusions and we’ve been happy to continue working with them ever since. They are great guys and the debut LP was such an pleasant experience that I had no qualms about doing the follow up with them. They gave us freedom, that’s all we ask.”

I was listening to the B2B mix on Graeme’s Soundcloud, and in it I noticed a track with a vocal where a guy talks about how love is misery. That put me in mind of an interview with The Black Madonna, where she said the following: “I’ve always believed that the best music, even dance music which is so joyful, is often a reaction to difficulty. Disco and house are so often written off as this fluffy stuff, but some of those songs are unbelievably heavy.” She said that: “This mix is about how hard it is to care about people and how important it is to just do it anyway and dance through the parts of life that make you want to curl up in a ball.” Some of the tracks on the album, like ‘Our Love’, ‘Think It Over’, ‘Through The Night’ are quite emotive, what sort of reaction are you hoping for with those?
Graeme: “Music has certainly helped us both through hard times over the years. It has always been a cathartic force in my life, through good times and bad. It is very important for me to put a piece of me into everything I produce, otherwise it becomes like just another desk job.”

Craig: “It’s a cliché but music definitely saved me on a number of occasions. As Graeme says it’s there for the good times and the bad, always there for you. It’s amazing how music can reach out and touch you, how a lyric can be so relative to you emotional situation.”

Stream/download: 6th Borough Project – B2B Mix

How do you feel about The Black Madonna’s take on disco music?
Graeme: “Disco certainly appeared out of the hardship of those times, as a release for those that had deeper struggles in the real world. People could escape into the fantasy of those lush strings and uplifting songs. I’m no expert on disco, but the story of dance music going back to our ancestors was always one linked to escapism, celebration and ritual and that continues to this day and beyond as it’s part of who we are, regardless of genre. That’s why I don’t really give a shit about tags … disco, techno, house, whatever … too many people get caught up over-thinking the soundtrack in a club instead of just feeling it. Feel it or beat it.”

On another tip, tracks like ‘The Vibes’ and ‘Read My Mind’ are deep groovers. Is it ever a challenge trying to go in directions like that but not lose focus?
Graeme: “Nah … we really just let the track lead the way. If it ends up like some stripped-down 125bpm dub then that’s cool. But if it’s some 96bpm bedroom waltz then that’s cool too.”

Craig: “Too many people get caught up trying to be smart. Just find the groove and get on with it.”

6th Borough ProjectRead My Mind (Delusions Of Grandeur)

You’ve said before that One Night In The Borough was a collection of ideas from a decade’s worth of work, were you more focused on making this an “album” as opposed to a collection?
Graeme: “We certainly started with that intention. But we had a lot to choose from … maybe 30 tracks or so that we whittled down to the final selection. I think it stands up from start to finish.”

Craig: “It was a different process but I still think it’s a cohesive listen.”

The album’s artwork is pretty abstract – can you tell us what it means to you?
Graeme: “We actually left the artwork up to the label for our albums. I always design my own stuff for my own label, but I felt it was better that Delusions had their take on our music from their side. They have a cool identity as a label and we trust them with our stuff so I think it is a good balance.”

As vinyl collectors, I imagine the sleeve is pretty important to you guys – how did you go about choosing the design?
Graeme: “I’m not a big vinyl collector. I have a small collection of records and I still buy some stuff if I can’t get it digitally. But I’m not a format purist by any means. I still manufacture cassettes, CDs, vinyl for my Roar Groove label. If there is demand for a format and I can afford to manufacture it, then I will. The most important thing is that the quality is high throughout.”

Craig: “I’ve been an avid vinyl collector for 30+ years with over 16,000 records so design is important to me as part of the whole appeal, but if the music in the sleeve is whack then the covers irrelevant.”

The lo-fi sound is pretty prevalent right now – but your music, while inspired by crackly old vinyl, retains your impeccable production. What do you make of the in-vogue sound of now?
Graeme: “I read all the music press over a coffee in the morning and keep abreast of what’s going on, but my main objective when making a track is that it’s honest. That I believe in it and want to play it out. I’m actually quite a nostalgic person, but I don’t want to make a copy of what went before. And the way I do that is to put a piece of me into the music. That makes it unique – good or bad, it’s still something I did for me.”

What are your thoughts on the upcoming independence referendum?
Graeme: “If Alex Salmond hadn’t had all those meetings with Donald Trump, I’d be a lot more convinced of independence. But who the fuck invites Donald Chump over for dinner? A man who can’t even choose a decent hair piece.”

Craig: “Alex Salmond is a numpty but for me this isn’t a short-term popularity contest, it’s got much wider repercussions. This needs long-term thinking, not shortbread emotion. We have the chance to have a more progressive-thinking society, which is what I think the Scottish people want. The current system of Westminster control is not working and hasn’t been for a long time. The Tories have never cared what’s happening in Scotland and ever since the Labour Party became “Labour lite” there has been no counterpoint in the political system in the UK so for me that’s why [we] need change. I don’t have all the answers and who knows if it will work but Scotland has been getting a raw deal for a very long time and it’s time for an alternative we need change and now it’s the time to grab it.”

When was the last time you danced?

Graeme: “Saturday at Panorama Bar after our set. And probably during our set.”

Craig: “I have been know to shake a leg…..”

6th Borough Project – Borough to Borough is out now on Delusions of Grandeur. Buy here. The album is launched in fabric on April 5.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 12 March 2014. Leave a comment

Recommended: Spike – Orange Cloud Nine

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Reissues, and the dawning age of the Internet have made it slightly less challenging for our generation to find lost classics and hidden gems. Record labels and blogs have made it easy, yet exciting for record buyers and fans to purchase them, many of which, would have virtually gone unnoticed 20 years ago. Labels such as Light In The Attic, Numero Group, Now and Again and a slew of others are dropping essential records from shut-ins and forgotten or fallen artists. Golf Channel recently took time away from their onslaught of electronic releases to put out an incredible LP worth of music from a Dutch recluse known as Spike, aka Spike Wolters. The label, run by Phil South who worked with Redlight Records boss Agel Nagenast on the release, delivered a incredible compilation. The reissue, Orange Cloud Nine, was predated with two 12″s, New Germany and Magic Table, both featuring a remix from DJ Nature and Thomas Bullock.

Spike Wolters and his story as a political rule-breaker, and admitted stoner (admitting to using a healthy dose of hash and weed, almost every day of his life), is intriguing and as off-kilter as you would expect. Wolters seemingly wrote several albums (four to be exact), tucked away from the world using an array of machines, guitars, and other sounds. The compilation, Orange Cloud Nine, compiles some of his best material which were originally released in the 80’s on his own label, Spike Records. Spike and his hazy, cosmic approach crosses the line between alternative folk and a poppy, softer, Syd Barret era Pink Floyd. The albums were written in the early 80’s but now sound seemingly like something we can hear from hipster freak kids trying to channel Dylan from their bedroom. Songs like “Goodnight”, “Your Time Has Come” and “Kanti Dundum” sound like perfect radio hits from the late 70’s while other tracks lean towards the more experimental and offbeat. The song that resonates most with us has to be, “Your Time Has Come”, which is passionate and amazing on its own; a standout track for us. Records like Orange Cloud Nine are rare, and while lately our musical tastes are more in line with a Young Thug mixtape, the ease and magical sounds of this record are not to be missed.

Stream: Spike- Orange Cloud Nine (Golf Channel)

Orange Cloud Nine, is out now and be on the lookout for a entire remix album coming sooner rather then later.

Words by Matt Lutz, 12 March 2014. Leave a comment

Functions Of The Now VI: Gage

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For our next edition of Functions Of The Now, we travel from Berlin to Bristol, a city with an enviable history of dark ‘n’ deadly soundsystem music. The last decade saw Bristol rise to prominence as a second centre for eyes-down dubstep and sub-bass driven mutations only for the overground explosion of more straightforward instantiations of that sound to scatter the scene. Contrary to the tortured epitaphs you’ll find in the YouTube comments under Mala tracks, it’s something Bristol has come out of much stronger for with impressive pockets of creativity moving things forward in a variety of distinct ways: Livity Sound, Young Echo and the many labels operating around Idle Hands to name just a few.

While there were always grime-minded producers in the city, in recent years a number of excellent grime-indebted beat-makers appear to have sprung up simultaneously and remarkably fully-formed. Kahn and Neek are essentially household names in the scene now, and one can point to artists like Hi5Ghost and Boofy arriving in their wake, but the guy we’re most excited about is Gage. Last year during Jammer’s much hyped producer war, an at that point unknown Gage sliced through all the deadweight with his blistering send for Neana, giving a tantalising glimpse at the levels that had been brewing behind closed doors. What really got people talking though was “Telo,” a track you’ll be intimately familiar with if you’ve been paying attention to DJs like Slackk, Logos and Murlo. Of course, if you’ve been following FOTN, we’re sure you have.

Stream: Gage – Telo (Crazylegs)

This week finally sees its release on Gage’s debut 12″ for Crazylegs, a crew who entered our hearts by virtue of their fwd thinking eponymous clubnights and look to be applying the same philosophy to their label: always innovative but with feet firmly on the dancefloor. “Telo” rides roughshod with gnarled pulses not entirely unlike Untold’s classic “Anaconda,” though paradoxically Gage pulls the grime influences even further to the fore while dropping tempo to a 2014-friendly 128bpm. Its wrong-footing lurch is instantly recognisable, doing for pulses what Objekt did for wobble on “Cactus.” More potent still is the flip “Shiftin,” a spring-loaded, percussive powerhouse that marries the rowdiness of vintage 8-bar to a template more commonly associated with Hessle Audio and A Made Up Sound. They’re tracks that hark back to that beautiful transitionary period after dubstep’s fall from grace where sets would be punctuated by stop-what-you’re-doing curveballs, audaciously challenging you to find new ways to dance. Our hunger for these kind of club moments is one reason we’re so excited by the movements we’ve been covering in this series.

With that said, now would be a good time to do our usual round up of recommendations, and there have been a wealth of releases since our last edition. Checking in first with some Functions Of The Now alumni we have two firecrackers from Strict Face on two equally excellent free compilations; one from London bar-setters Boxed and the other via Scottish clubnight Bake Haus. We particularly recommend Prince Lazio and Local Action up-and-comer Finn‘s contributions, both coming correct with RnB earworms that touch the heady heights of classic Ironsoul instrumentals. The eagle-eyed amongst you will also spy two more FOTN mixers amongst the Boxed lot, and as if that wasn’t enough Inkke has also recently released his dirty south indebted beat tape Faded With The Kittens which can be streamed in full over at Thump. Returning to Local Action for a second, our buddy Tom Lea uploaded an excellent mix of the label’s forthcoming material last month with plenty of grime indebted fire to whet your appetite. For the time being you can sate that hunger with an excellent DJ Q remix 12″, pre-empting his debut album for the label. Back on a FOTN flex the Her Records gang follow up Miss Modular’s Reflector Pack with more devilish 8-bar mutations on Sudanim’s equally impressive The Link. And of course no round up would be complete without the long awaited release of Slew Dem veteran JT The Goon‘s impeccable Twin Warriors EP on scene mainstay Oil Gang. The title track’s flip of Jammer’s “Chinaman” is already a certified anthem, but for us it’s the impossibly lush Grime Light that really does the business.

We managed to pin down Gage to chat Bristol, Channel U and how he feels to have crafted what one deep house loving soundcloud dweller poetically decried as the “worst thing [they] have ever heard stop making music your shit.” In true enigmatic fashion this edition’s mix comes with no tracklist, but look out for some special Gage edits & VIPs, dancefloor-destroying pulses and a very Bristolian remix of a Drexciyan classic.

So not much is known about you at the moment, pretty much just that you’re in Bristol but you weren’t from there originally. What brought on your move over there and how did you end up hooking up with the Crazylegs crew? “I came over here in 2010 to study and decided to stay rather than go back to London. I went to a Crazylegs party in 2011 which was mad so I just kept going. Then [Crazylegs boss] Shandy clocked on to a Missy Elliot bootleg I did in 2012 and I’ve just been showing him stuff since. It’s been pretty organic.”

Production wise, what’s the story so far? I’ve gotta say it sounds pretty well realised for a debut release, how long have you been making tracks and was it always grime related? “I’ve been making tracks for like 4 years now and from about 2 years to like 7/8 months ago I really started concentrating on sound palettes. When the sound was strong enough I started to strip my stuff right back, then Telo and Shiftin happened in the same week. It wasn’t always grime related but I’ve always been fucking with the sound, just behind closed doors.”

Stream: Gage – Shiftin (Crazylegs)

Obviously there’s some great things happening in lots of different styles in Bristol right now: lots has already been said about the Livity Sound guys and Young Echo and there seems to be a real sense of community there with Idle Hands and all their related labels/friends/family. Beyond Crazylegs do you think there’s a chunk of the scene that you and your music fits into there? “I dunno man, it’s the place where I’ve matured as a producer and a listener so I feel very attached to the scene here but I’m by no means a figure of authority when it comes to the music coming out of the city.. I reckon because of the concentration of producers and musicians people are on their toes rather than letting everything stagnate so things are real healthy.”

I think a lot of people first came aware of you via your war dub sending for Neana, was he a random target or do you guys go back a bit? The stuff he’s coming out with compliments yours pretty well. “Haha, I wouldn’t say we go way back but we’re cool with each other. He spilt some tea on my floor when he came to play Crazylegs last summer so as soon as the wardubs started the crosshair was locked. But yeah, out to Neana. His tracks bang and he tends to use quite a harsh array of sounds so it all made sense.”

Are these new directions being reflected in Bristol night life at the moment? Talking to friends from there it seems like house has taken over in a big way which is a pretty big leap from when I lived there a few years back. “Yeah, the house ones are definitely pulling in the biggest crowds. That whole side of things is something that I feel a bit disconnected from now, but hats off to them because they’re doing their thing. The rise in interest towards the sounds that me and peers are making at the moment is the reason it’s now being reflected in night life, but that’s by no means Bristol-inclusive. There are other nights here like 4Seasons and Authentiq, who are doing cool things and bringing in some sick artists.”

This might be a good time to mention some of the reactions to your premiere on Mixmag haha. There were some ‘deep house’ stans lurking in the soundcloud comments who were pretty bewildered, which you and Shandy seemed to relish. I know other producers like Visionist have been pretty explicit in saying that making this rowdier stuff is a reaction to the tamer, house-ier direction a lot of UK music has gone in recently, what are your thoughts on that? “Haha yeah, that was too much. The track had been online for a few minutes when I checked it and the one thing on it was ‘worst thing i have ever heard stop making music your shit’. Telo’s not exactly a track to cook to. The answer in my head really relates back to the Bristol question asked earlier. Things just aren’t geographical now, not when it comes to the guy sitting in his bedroom tweaking parameters all evening. That kinda glossy house went mad exponential over the last year or so, leaving a lot of people in the shadows exploring the spaces in between genres and that’s exciting. At the moment I’m getting a lot of new stuff in and becoming aware of new producers each week that aren’t making music inside a box that was created for them. In turn that’s probably encouraging others to scrap the “rules” and just do their thing. For me, I just got really bored of hearing the same chords and sounds again and again so for the CL release dropped melody.”

What do you see as the context for your music? It seems much more immediately dance floor ready than, say, the Boxed’s crew’s stuff. “Yeah it’s intended for the club, always has been.”

Let’s talk a little bit about your relationship with grime. Some guys like Slackk and Logos came through the original wave as it happened, but it’s been interesting talking to other people in the FOTN series like Strict Face and the Her Records camp who are much younger and cite labels like Night Slugs and Hyperdub as major influences. What was your route into this world? “My secondary school playground, Channel U & Limewire (which seemed to have every DJ Ironik track made on it). I’d say 2005, 2006 and 2007 I listened to nothing but grime, I was obsessed. There’s a lot of other stuff through the next 6 years but over the last couple I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people like Helix and Kowton using elements from grime without being limited by what’s supposed to make a ‘grime’ track. More recently I cottoned on to everyone making music with a similar ethos. I don’t consider my stuff grime if I’m honest, I’m just meandering in a void between it and a couple of other things.”

What can you tell us about the mix? I know you made some special edits for it. “It’s a load of tracks I’m feeling from guys that are making cool stuff. There’s a few unheard ones of mine in there, as well as those edits. I never really was in to editing before, kind of felt that it was like pissing on another dogs tree.. I don’t know what changed recently but I’ve been making loads.”

What’s on the horizon? For yourself and for Crazylegs now you’re part of the team? “For me, I’m just working on new material towards something a bit longer down the line, got a remix that I’m finishing up at the moment as well. As far as Crazylegs is concerned, I’m not sure how much I can say without Shandy going chinese government on me, but there’s a lot of exciting things, both as a label and as a night, planned for this year. Stuff that makes me lose my shit.”

Before we end any shout outs or people we absolutely should know about? “There’s too many names on the up that are exploring and carving something of their own for themselves right now but Timbah‘s been pushing boundaries for a while and every time I get something from him I can bank on it being sick. Had the pleasure of sitting in on a Bloom session when he was in Bristol couple months back and what came out of that still leaves me speechless. And GUNDAM sent me through some stuff recently that fuckin’ bangs. Need to stop myself now, because I could go on for ages.”

Functions Of The Now VI: Gage by TRUANTS

Artwork: Joe Jackson

Words by Simon Docherty, 11 March 2014. Tags: | Leave a comment

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