Truancy Volume 111: Slimzee

Slimzee Truancy Volume 111

A founding father of Rinse FM, recipient of an ASBO involving a ban from all rooftops and the man behind the decks at some of the scenes most electric moments; the name Slimzee is synonymous with grime. Whilst all of this is common knowledge, what you may not know is that in the early nineties he went by the name DJ Slimfast and predominantly mixed jungle and hardcore. For many of the grime scene’s originators, with some of whom he went on to form the seminal Pay As U Go Cartel, jungle is the foundation. Wiley, Riko & Maxwell D all “emerged out of jungle fever” and the same goes for D Double E and Dizzee Rascal who started off mixing jungle in their bedrooms as youngsters before picking up the mic. From its humble beginnings in London’s tower blocks and basements to NYFW and art galleries on the Queen’s doorstep, everybody wants a piece of grime. For our 111th Truancy Volume, we have the man who has been there from the start in the mix to take us back to his roots. Sixty minutes of Kool cuts, tape pack classics and B-side rollers. No MCs, no rewinds.

With jungle/hardcore being your first love, could you tell us a little about your own musical history with the genre and how you first got into it? I assume Kool FM and DJ Brockie make up a major part? “Yeah, Kool FM, Brockie, Weekend Rush, Red Ant and Brain Killers. I was about thirteen years old at secondary school and a few of the people in school were introduced me to some new stuff so I bought some records. I went on this station called Fusion FM which existed before Pressure. They weren’t even transmitting down the road, they didn’t have a clue what they were doing. My first proper pirate show was Pressure FM 100.4 which was Jamie B’s station. The geezer came round my house and said “Let me see you mix,” so I done a mix and he said I was on the station. I was shitting myself, I can remember it now!”

You were in your early teens at this point but were there any seminal raves/parties that you can remember being put on at the time you and your friends may have gone to or dreamt about being old enough to get in? “I didn’t play at them but I remember Telepathy, Desire, Labyrinth. I was a bit too young to go at the beginning as my dad was a bit funny about it. When I was getting into the music he thought I was taking drugs and that. I think the first one I went to was Labyrinth on Dalston Lane. A club called Four Aces.”

Telepathy is where people like DJ SS got their big break. Could you tell us a little bit about it? “SS, yeah. It was raw in there. It was like an Eskimo Dance, if you know what I mean. The darker side of a rave. Andy C used to play there along with Brockie, MC Det and Red Ant, he was a big DJ.”

Were there any particular MCs at this point that you’d have wanted on a set with you? “Yeah, I liked someone called Rhyme Time who was on Kool FM at the time. I liked MC Det as well and Skibadee, who else? Remedy and Fearless were good. Fearless was on Weekend Rush with Brain Killers. I used to like loads of people.”

Around ’96-97, jungle started to transition into drum and bass. This was also around time you started to play garage. Do the two have something in common or was it something else you felt about jungle that made you switch? “Well, I wanted to get more bookings but I couldn’t get a break, really. I switched a few times then played garage for a bit then I went back to drum and bass. Then I started playing jungle at 33RPM and making it into grimey garage, like the ’98 sort of stuff. I made my own type of garage, ha! After that, people started making garage tunes that were meant to sound like that. I still liked drum and bass but it got a bit technical, if you know what I mean? Jungle was better.”

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us? We’ve noticed a lot of tracks are from around ’94-95. Would you say this was your favourite period in jungle? “Yeah, that was the best bit. I got rid of a load of my garage records but I kept all my jungle. I’ve got a massive cupboard full of it. I didn’t go through everything but I picked out some Ray Keith, some Joker Recordings, MA2, SS. Didn’t plan it, just filled up a bag and went down the Rinse prerecord room and did it. Freestyle like I would on radio back in the day.”

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Words by Koyejo Oloko, 25 February 2015. 3 comments

Recommended: C Plus Plus – Cearà

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As observers of American label cum curatorial servicer Apothecary Compositions, it’s not at all surprising how we once again are presented with work from a producer who inhabits a junction of disparate modes. While being a “jack of all trades” may or may not be a promising qualification for some artists in this day, and Cearà could have been equally at home on other labels (Hyperboloid and Mixpak come to mind), the quality of C Plus Plus’s debut should be recognized in as many locales as there are regional influences found in it, and the album is a proper way to kick off another year of variable Compositions. Apparently, the real-named Dylan Howe has retired the a i r s p o r t s moniker—with which he used to present experiments in lo-fi, internet-wave miscellany up until early last year—and now justifies an apparent interest in grime, Baltimore club, and dembow rhythms with the conviction of a cagey veteran.

A facet of C Plus Plus’s production, on this album at least, that might seem at odds with a presumingly tropical vibe—the photograph featured on the cover is assumedly of a piece of coastline of the Brazilian state after which the project’s named—is the working-in of field recordings and off-kilter sounds. Check out the natural, nocturnal underlay on the grimey opener, which isn’t especially conflicting in case; the titular instances of brashness on “Shatter”. What ultimately comes to make the album remarkable and cohesive as a whole despite an array of palettes and rhythms between each track is the Portlandian’s way of casting a less-than-hedonistic shadow on what is more often than not a sonic emulation of the tropical vis-à-vis exuberance and native patois fetishism. Inventiveness is abound. “Swimsuit Clique” and “Gunshot Riddim” both drive, the former on a lighter vibe with B-more-esque WHAT interjections (there are HEYs on “No Lights”), the latter weightier. More straight-away than the rest, “Karaiba” is something we’d hear from the 1080p catalogue, with its daydream tones and layers of tangible abrasion. Ironically then, but certainly not out of the ordinary as a frequent collaborator, Karmelloz (Source Localization) assists on the deranged and seesawing “Cnidaria” and the following “Mystère Riddim”.


Cearà is out now on cassette via Apothecary Compositions.

Cearà by C Plus Plus

Words by Michael Scala, 24 February 2015. Leave a comment

Interview: Scott Fraser

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With this years much anticipated Bloc less than a month a way we’ll be posting a series of interviews of artists playing at Butlins in Minehead this year in the run up to the festival. First up is Scott Fraser, a DJ and producer currently based in London who alongside Timothy J Fairplay make up the brains behind record label and party Crimes Of The Future. We caught up with Scott to discuss his current residencies in Glasgow, his early collaborative projects in the 90s, the process behind putting out some of 2014’s Crimes Of The Future releases and how he’ll be bringing Bodyhammer to the Friday night at Bloc.

Just want to start with asking about the Crime Of The Future residency at the Berkeley Suite in Glasgow. Despite you and Timothy both living in London now it seems like the nights have been a continuous success. Wondering if you could tell us about how the residency in Glasgow formed and what you think has contributed to it still going strong now. “It started in Glasgow as a result of a friend of mine who was promoting ALFOS with Andrew and Sean, asking me if he thought myself and Tim would be up for doing a regular night in Glasgow. Originally it started on a Thursday, moved on to a Friday and now found it’s final home on a Saturday night. I have also known Fergus who is the venue owner for a very long time and they took on the promotion in house a year ago. The Berkeley Suite is a lovely venue and Fergus and his staff have been very supportive of what we have been trying to create in terms of the crowd, music and overall vibe. I guess this is always important in all the best residencies. Because myself and Tim work together so closely at the studio it’s been pretty easy to plan it and work with them up there or anywhere we have toured it throughout the year. We only play one record each now which makes for a very interesting and dynamic night all in all. I guess that’s why it’s worked so well when we have taken it out on the road. We never plan it so it’s all the better for that too. The night has grown stronger every time we have done it and musically it has formed really well along the way, so I think a combination of friendship, hard work and persistence with the music has carried us through.”

Jackmaster recently did an RA Origins video where he extensively talked on how much Glasgow influenced him musically and all the parties he attended whilst growing up. Being a little older than Jack I wanted to ask if you could tell us a bit about your own musical relationship with the city considering you got to party at the Sub Club possibly around the time it opened? Were there any people influencing you on a local level? “Ha! Yeah I saw that, it was a very honest video. I know Jack and I can identify with lots of what he was saying there particularly in relation to the guys at Rub A Dub and the Sub Club. I was brought up in East Kilbride just outside Glasgow. It was one of the “New Towns” as they called them and had a windswept town centre bereft of decent music establishments (a few tried and failed to crack this nut over the years) so when I started going into Glasgow it was hugely important for me. I guess I first went out to clubs there in the mid 80s, really just before house started to take hold. You would hear a lot of 80s funk and soul mixed up with the clash and early New York music and stuff like that.

“Places like the Warehouse, Fury Murry’s and Tin Pan Alley is where I stumbled across Slam for the first time. Tin Pan Alley was a three floor place and Stuart and Orde had this little room there which was full of weird projectors. I guess this must have been around 88 as acid house was just coming through. I had been to the Sub Club once before with a guy who I used to work with who lived on the south side of Glasgow. We started going there again to Joy which was on Friday night and then Atlantis on a Saturday which Harri was then doing along with them. It really was a special period then, particularly in the early 90s. It kind of felt a little like a secret society I guess, it was the same people there every week and with the music and the vibe it was a great place to hang about.

“I had been into rock music in my early teens and use to go to Glasgow to buy records and go to concerts and had been going to the 23rd Precinct on Bath Street for years which use to mainly stock rock records (I think the guy who started it was an ex US copper). Around 84 I had started going out a bit in Glasgow to clubs where ladies attended rather than that of blokes in leather jackets. This was around the time that they were starting to listen to more 80s funk, hip hop and electro sort music. They stocked all this in the 23rd Precinct in a smaller way so I started buying this and the rock stuff was consigned to history. They got a few house records in and I started buying it all up. It was early DJ International, Traxx and some New York stuff like early Tommy Musto and Frankie Bones material. That was it from then, I was hooked. Obviously when I went to Tin Pan and the Sub Club and heard these records getting played through a club system rather than at home that sealed it for me from then on. The other big turning point was in the mid 90s when I was to introduced to Rub A Dub records and club 69 in Paisley. It was really special for me to then go on and do a monthly Friday at the Sub Club in the mid 90s.”

Would I also be right in saying a lot of your early connections were made from going to clubs in Glasgow? Weatherall and Peter Walker are people who spring to mind. “Absolutely. I first heard and met Andrew at the Sub Club when Stuart and Orde put him on there. Peter used to go to the Sub too and he also came from EK like me. The Sub is definitely hugely important in terms of my connections and friendships and still is today with Harri and Domenic still together there on a Saturday night and Mike Grieve being one of the directors.”

As someone who’s only discovered your 90s work as Bios with Alan Baxter and Peter Walker in the last year due to a track called ‘Basic Black’ (which I reckon would slay a dance floor if dropped now) I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your time as Bios and possibly the music that influenced you guys to set it up in the first place. “Ah thanks! A blast from the past that one. I think it’s 140 BPM too! Did I really used to make records that fast? I met Peter through an old school friend Alistair at an Orb gig at the Barrowlands if my rusty memory serves me right. Alan was a mate of Peter’s and me and Peter started hanging about as we were both into the same kind of music but from different places. He wad gotten into it via the Belgian stuff and I had came in via the early Chicago stuff and really we met in the middle on the early Detroit records from Juan Atkins, Derrick May and co. Alan would agree he was not into dance music at that point at all really. Both him and Peter were big Depeche Mode fans. I recon thats how they hooked up but I might be wrong. Anyway, once we all got together and started mucking about with the keyboards and drum machines Alan started to get exposed to techno and absolutely loved it. Both myself and Peter were mad into DJAX records and I think that informed all our early experiments and ultimately influenced and shaped our sound as an outfit along with the rougher Chicago stuff that was out there.

“We tried going into a recording studio in East Kilbride that the arts council had set up but it was doomed as the engineer was into bands and seemed to want to use the flashy new EMU sampler he had to put barking whales over the top of the tunes we were writing so we kicked that into touch and worked out of Peters spare room from then on. Here I basically taught myself around the shoddy desk, effects and DAT we had and learned how to mix and record the primitive clanging we were pissing his neighbours off with till the early hours. After that we moved it to Alan’s for a bit and then when Alan stopped working with us we eventually got a small studio space round the corner from Rub A Dub on Dixon Street which sadly got broken into by some local wrong un’s and we lost most of the gear and six months of music from the computer they nicked.

“I also want to mention Marty McKay at Rub A Dub here as he was really pivotal for me in terms of my record buying and this heavily influenced our musical direction too. At this point me and Peter had been going to club 69 in Paisley a lot and this had really introduced us to UR, Basic Channel and a lot of the more left field stuff coming out of the UK and Europe. The early records came out on Andrew Weatherall’s label due to a chance meeting in Rub A Dub during the day and then bumping into Andrew in the evening at a night that Martin and Wilba had Andrew playing at. He came up and said he had heard some of what we had been playing and asked would we be up for putting something out and it went from there. When we went down to London, we met Alex, Lee and the guys in Fat Cat and they introduced us to the Black Nation stuff which is how we hooked up with Jay Denham and doing the EP which Basic Black appears on. We ran a monthly Friday at the Sub Club called Lo-Fi and we booked Jay to do the opening night. He came and stayed with me at my house and we just all got on great.”

What was it you felt you wanted to do different musically that Bios eventually came to a natural conclusion? “Combination of things really. We had lost everything in the studio and had to start again from scratch and moved all the stuff back into my house again. We had less and less time due to me and Peters personal commitments and I guess I hit that point in music where I got a bit jaded and gave it up for a while. As I had the studio in the house I was still pottering around a little at home and did a bit of solo material which I still have and then I moved down to London permanently. The usual musical tale of musicians, bands and woe I suspect.”

Despite this would you say some of your newer records such as ‘White Of The Eye’ might have drawn some small influences from this era? “Absolutely, I have always liked that sound that got me into electronic music and clubs in the first place and this very much influences me to this day. At the studio I am still using a lot of the same machines and keyboards that I used on those early records and despite the doubting Thomas’s out there I still find that gear sounds fresh and relevant now. You can mix, arrange and effect something in so many ways. Despite the core sounds being constant you can make a 707 sound like something emitting sounds from another planet if you push it hard enough. Gear is just so damn hands on and tactile. With ‘White Of The Eye it started out like I usually do; drums and percussion first and then move along from there. I wasn’t intentionally thinking ‘I want to do something like that from then’. I hooked in Claire Elise for the vocal as I had done a remix for her previous outfit Featureless Ghost last year and was into what they were about. Juan was a natural choice on the remix as he had offered to do a split with me at some point and this record felt just right. Me and Tim still play a lot of the early Chicago stuff at the club so that probably had a bearing on me there too.”

Is this also indicative of the type of gigs you now play and what you enjoy DJing or would you still throw some of the 90s stuff into your sets? “I have played in lots of different clubs all over the world over the last year and the one thing I would say is that every single time I have played, all of the older stuff still goes off and is absolutely as relevant now as it was then. I play on balance mostly new stuff but maybe about 1/3 of it comes from the back catalogue. I’m telling myself you’ve got to always remember that when you have been buying dance music in some form since the 1980s most people in the club you are in now have never heard these records and its absolutely right you take them out and play them now. I don’t really pre plan sets, maybe the first couple and then I go on from there. So I will spend some time in the week, listen to records and then make a bag. A lot of the time you are pulling old 12’s out and that makes you think of another and so it goes. Never mind the 90s I’m still playing 80s stuff ha! I was playing at Animals Dancing in Melbourne on New Years Day this year which was fantastic. I played that League Unlimited Orchestra version of Seconds and this young guy runs behind the DJ box and he is going what the hell is this it’s amazing. So I tell him it’s the Human League and he is amazed. That sums up why older tunes are still relevant.”

Speaking of your Animals Dancing gig in Australia were there any particular highlights to the OZ tour and how did you find your music translated to an Australian crowd? “To be honest, they were all great in different ways. There is a great scene in Australia. There’s those young guys in Melbourne Sleep D with their Butter Sessions Label, Dro Carey/ Tuff Sherm, Animals Dancing, Tornado Wallace, Pelvis and Noise In My Head. I also met the Haha industries guys in Sydney who have been doing it a long time. I could go on. Kevin at Stable music and the Picnic guys had UR live at the venue I played on NYE in November. The thing that really struck me was how much they were into it and really open on the music front. I literally could play whatever I wanted. There are some fantastic 2nd hand record shops in Sydney and Melbourne too. I met some really lovely people over there so will definitely be heading back for round two this year I hope. Then there is the food and the weather! It was my wedding anniversary on the 27th December. We spent it on the beach this year, what’s not to like.”

Going back to Crimes In The Future, the record label itself put out six great records in 2014 including one of my favourites by Antoni Maiovvi. Along with Elizabeth Merrick-Jefferson, these are both artists based overseas so was keen to ask how those two records formed precisely and if you might have an A&R process to records you might release. Also can we expect a similar release output for 2015. “Thanks, we think so too! Antoni Maiovvi is originally from the UK but has a very exotic name (I’m sure he knows how exotic it is) Elizabeth-Merrick-Jefferson is a well known Detroiter under a different name and as I was a huge fan of their other stuff thats how that one came about. We’ll leave people to ponder who. With Antoni it’s a bit of a story but basically ‘Love Magnetic’ was due on another label but they changed their mind so we said we would put it out on Crimes instead. He then sent us ‘Black Jesus’ and ‘Spunnowt’, which are such strong tracks and backed with Tim’s remix, hey presto. Lucky us eh! Black Jesus is probably one of the biggest dancefloor slayers we have put out. In terms of the A&R, it has been lots of different things but mainly we have been approached by people who we both like (be them friends or otherwise) with really strong music that both me and Tim felt fitted with what we were trying to do. Basically records we would play at the club be it at the start/ middle or end of the night. This year we both feel we have a fantastic schedule lined up already and its only January. We have an amazing EP from Perseus Trax who both myself and Tim are big fans of. After that it’s “The Haunted Doorbell” which is Tim and our friend Matilda Tristram. This one is a proper old school jacker with twist. Then we have “Bulb” which is a bit of a special one because it’s a collaboration between me, Tim and Willie Burns that we recorded live together in Willie’s studio in New York when we played there last year over a few days. After that I’m keeping tight lipped but we have another three fantastic records lined up with a couple of ridiculous remixes on there. The plan is to put out a few more than last year also, with another couple of special one offs in between like the coloured vinyl we did for Sugar Puss. Gig wise, we got lots of requests to play together at label nights in clubs around Europe and beyond last year so we’ll hopefully be doing lots more of them too.”

You tend to work with a lot of other producers for different endeavours be it with Andy Blake, Robi Headman, Jonny Burnip, Timothy, Sean Johnston. Have you locked down a process where it’s comfortable to work with other producers or this just down from years of knowing each other. Can you tell me individually what you like about working with these mentioned producers. “I think you naturally gravitate towards people you like in any walk of life, and in this sense it’s generally fairly easy. Most are good friends or have become more so through working together and to be really honest it was all pretty smooth. What I have found is that because I tend to work in a live sense in terms of the writing and recording process that kind of works with whoever you are working with. Tim and Andy work pretty much the same way as me and with Jonny he really enjoyed the whole way we did that Virgo 4 remix as it actually ended up more as a cover than a remix in the end. We really completely destroyed the original because Merwin and Eric did not have any parts of the original track. With Robi, we worked on it separately at first with me finishing the music in London and then him recording Douglas’s vocal in Berlin and sending me that to edit onto the music. We then did a bit of work in his studio in Berlin over a weekend.

“Of course, with Tim and me having our studios in Andrews’s place it’s really easy for us to work together and again, we both work in a very similar way. Tim has quite often played some guitar on some of my music and so on. Because we are working together down there every day doing a remix together for Black Merlin was really easy, it just flowed along. Tim is a bit younger than me (ha) but we both come from a similar place musically, with that love of the Chicago stuff, the Bunker stuff from Holland and so on.”

Can you tell us a little bit about the Fini Tribe mixes record you got coming out with Timothy on Record Store Day. One Little Indian is a great name to be associated with. “Davie from Fini Tribe contacted us and asked us if we both wanted to remix 101 which is a great thing to be involved in as it’s one of those seminal records that was pretty much slept on at the time south of the border. Andrew remixed it back then and some would say it’s one of those so called “Balearic Classics” now I believe. They were a band that were up there with the best of that first wave of UK electronic outfits and it’s great to see them back again (despite the fact that they are from Edinburgh) There was always a great connection between Glasgow and Edinburgh, particularly through Pure and Keith and we went over there a good few times to the venue for a knees up. Obviously it was never as good as the Club 69 though ha It’s a special orange Vinyl release on One Little Indian for record store day with myself and Tim’s remixes on it which is such a great thing to be a part of based on the history of that label.”

Having been making music since the 90s what are some of the key things you’ve taken away from what you do? “I can’t work from home. Surround yourself with the right people. My never ending interest in weird noises.”

Aside from all this, what else can we expect from Scott Fraser over the coming year? “A busy year shaping up gig wise already. In March I’m obviously playing at Bloc which I am massively looking forward to. We are doing Bodyhammer there on the Friday night. It’s just great to see it back and the lineup over the weekend speaks for itself. We are heading to Manchester to do our first Crimes of the Future there in February, then back to Glasgow for our first one of the year there. In London I’ll be continuing at my Bodyhammer residency with Joe Hart and Charlie Bennet which is a regular monthly party. We’ve got one of those at the end of February. On the road, myself and Tim have a couple of exciting tours brewing abroad this year already for Crimes which we will announce when it’s all nailed down. Looks also like we have finally found a venue in London where we can do smaller Crimes Of The Future parties although we are also looking at doing a couple of bigger ones in bigger venues later in the year. There have been a couple of interesting booking enquiries that will hopefully come off too, and you might well be seeing and hearing something fairly special in Carcassonne again this year.

“Music wise, full steam ahead at the bunker. I’ve got two EP’s that I am working on for two labels that I absolutely love so I am pretty excited about that. I’ve got a couple of interesting remixes to do for the spring and then I’ll probably get back into the process of recording something longer, maybe a double pack 12” or something like that for Crimes. I’m also going to be re-issuing some of that stuff I talked about previously and also a couple of house tracks under the Freeman alias. There is also some thoughts for some more experimental harder edged stuff I have and what I might do with that in terms of releasing it. Collab wise myself and Richard Sen are going to have something come out again together this year I suspect, but this will be material we have done together at my studio rather than the remix package like last time. Myself and Tim have an interesting remix together for an Australian outfit from Melbourne also. Lastly I’m working on some original music with Pete Astor who is formerly of the Weather Prophets and David Shephard who now work together as Ellis Island Sound, which is quite different to what I’m normally producing. That’s enough to be getting on with I think, although there are a few more bits I’m keeping for myself for now.”

Words by Riccardo Villella, 20 February 2015. Leave a comment

Recommended: Fold – Mr W00D

Fold Truants

Rob Glassett first came to our attention as one half of Homepark. Alongside production partner Sam Fussell, the duo’s music has led to releases on labels such as bliq and Chez Damier’s Courtesy of Balance Recordings. Away from Homepark, Glassett also makes music and plays records solo under his Fold moniker. As Fold, he delivered our 49th Truancy Volume while his monthly NTS radio show continues to provide a platform for a truly skilled selector to crate-dig to his heart’s content. Fold’s radio slot can encompass anything from ambient electronica through to old UK garage records; all paired with a healthy dose of heady house and techno cuts old and new. With such diverse taste, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Fold’s production output follows suit and avoids being pigeon-holed to any one style. In Glassett’s own words, “I think with my Fold output, there’s less boundaries really… my Fold stuff is more spontaneous. It might be driven by an epiphany on the night bus or maybe an experience on a dance floor.” With that noted, Fold’s return to George Fitzgerald’s ManMakeMusic label sees each of the EP’s three tracks vary considerably in style.

Title track “Mr W00D” is an energetic dose of disco-flavoured house. Sampling Alicia Myers’ 1981 classic “I Want To Thank You”, the vocals are continually teased in and out before storming to the fore in a soaringly euphoric finale. Fold’s aptitude for sampling is evident here but the drums add real power to proceedings, a recurrent theme in the EP. Glassett’s love for garage, jungle and other UK dance music is well known and is something he’s discussed before. In the humorously titled “Keif Chugwin”, his choice of vocal sample puts these influences on clear display. You might not necessarily associate soundbwoy vocal cuts with dub techno synth work but here Fold melds the two together with ease, delivering the EP’s standout track in doing so. Having heard it out, this is definitely one for the floor with both the synth stabs and the powerful kicks packing plenty of punch on a system. The finale of “No Foolin’” doesn’t quite live up to the two preceding tracks, a piece of filtered house with a vocal sample which – surprisingly given what has come before – fails to really add anything. That’s not to take away from a very solid EP however and it’s great to see Glassett continuing to channel his different influences so well.

Words by Matt Gibney, 19 February 2015. 1 comment

Truancy Volume 110: Braiden

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A lot has changed since we last spoke to Steve Braiden a little more than three years ago. Conversations about the intersections of dubstep and techno are now moot, for one thing. More specifically, Braiden has gone through several iterations in his career, transferring his radio show from Rinse to NTS, and then, following a move to Berlin, taking a break from weekly broadcasts. Furthermore, he’s just launched a new record label, Off Out, an output for his own releases as well as those about which he truly feels passionate. Its first release, Braiden’s own Apex Of The Sun’s Way/Solar Poise, came out last month, with the latter track featuring prominently in our latest Truancy Volume. We caught up with him during the recent CTM festival to discuss his work rate, the strange experience that is radio DJing and why putting a record out is anything but liberating.

You’ve got this reputation where you haven’t put out much, you’re very slow and thoughtful about things — do you think that’s going to change now that you’ve got the new label and your new release and you’ve got stated plans? Did a hectic lifestyle in London get in the way of your productivity? “Music comes out when it’s ready. It wasn’t that I was unproductive in London, I did a lot! I’ve made a lot of music over the last few years but various factors dictate whether I want the public to actually hear it. Artists should be taking time to reflect, grow and live — and with this may come irregular releases. But yeah — I feel inspired with my label and feel that I have a good momentum going on.”

One downside of moving to Berlin has been the cancellation of your NTS show. Do you miss it? “At the time I felt fine with taking a break from radio. I had been doing two-hour shows by myself for seven years, and it felt like a good time to recoup. I had a couple of months last year where I got away from club music and it was great to refresh my perspective a little. I felt when I came back to it, I was a lot more knowing of the things that I really connected with — which is why I’ve started this label. I feel more and more I’m building my own kind of vision of how I want things to be, and through that feeling I relate less with a lot of other stuff that’s going around. I feel that when you can’t relate to what’s going around you, you go one of two ways: either you drop out, or you carve your own path. I think a lot of creative movements are born out of not being able to relate to what’s already there. I was happy to have a short break from radio, but radio is great fun and really helps you grow as a DJ. I’ve just done a couple of shows on NTS and will be doing a new monthly show on Berlin Community Radio starting February 24, from 8-10pm.”

How was it being back with NTS in Berlin (alongside Casper Clark during the recent CTM festival)? “It was really fun. It was really hectic, I was in the middle of working on this photo shoot, it was like a 14-hour day, so I had to run out of the studio, come, play 30 minutes — it was a really upfront banging set, I banged it out — and then ran off. It was nice. Radio’s a bizarre experience because you have this audience, but they’re not there, so you’re just making your own energy, as opposed to a club where you’re a part of this system. It’s kind of weird to do that again, where you just play what you want. There’s no reading a crowd, you can just do it if it makes sense to you. I look forward to getting back to radio and doing more.”

You’ve got the release out — is it liberating, or is that feeling that it’s out there and you can’t control it any more? “I don’t find it liberating at all. I’m just moving on — I’m working on the second release now, I don’t really think about it. Once it’s out, the tune then takes on another stage of its life, it’s not mine any more. I’m just trying not to dwell on it. I’m trying to get the second release out in a couple of months, keep moving. I’m very proud of it, it’s really nice to have it out there, but I wouldn’t say it’s a liberating thing.”

To me they’re both very crunchy, electro/techno sounding tracks — electro in the classic sense. I know you said in the interview with Juno that the ethos of the label is that you want to be able to play out at least one of them, so can you talk about the next release? “The next release is by Slewis — a very good friend of mine, who I’ve known for about 10 years. He’s an old friend who probably knows me musically better than anyone else. We’ve grown up through similar musical phases, going to loads of similar clubs since we were 18 or so, so it’s really a pleasure to work alongside him. He’s making some great music, and it naturally fits into my vision because we’ve come from the same place. That will be his first release. This is one of the things about having a label — you start forging new relationships with people, you can give people a true platform. As a DJ you can do that to a certain extent, but when you can actually release their music then it’s a whole other, really nice thing. His tracks definitely fit into a similar sort of vision — you’ll see very soon.”

You mentioned a Sydney-based artist; can you say anything more about her? “I don’t want to say too much about it, but her other musical project is not dance music, so this is a new endeavour for her. The first track that I heard is fantastic, it’s really quirky — there’s something quite charming about it, there’s a lot of character to it. This is something I really want to emphasise with the label. I want the releases to have a lot of character to them. I want to marry the two things, the functional and the musical. I think that’s always been an aim with approach to music, with my DJ sets — I’ve wanted them to work, I think I understand about energy and how to work crowds as a DJ, but I also want to transmit some kind of character, colour, atmosphere.”

Speaking of presentation — the artwork for the release is great. Is that going to be a theme or will each release have its own bespoke look? “I think each release will have its own thing. I’m leaving this open. I really want the label to grow organically as I grow. If you look at what I’ve been as a DJ it’s always mutated, because it’s a reflection of myself. My integral self is always solid, but there are certain things around that are changing, and your artistic output should reflect that. So with the label I definitely have a certain aesthetic I’m looking for now, but I expect things to grow naturally. With the artwork, I expect that as well. I think there will probably be certain things that will be cohesive, certain ideas, especially with an emphasis on texture which is something that is really important to me, but my plan is for every release to have brand new artwork. I’m excited about it, it’s a great platform for me to create visual things.

“The artwork for the first release was made by creating prints via digital negatives and a 19th-Century photographic printing process, and then scanning those physical prints in. I like the idea of routing graphics into the real world via printing and scanning them back in digitally — it creates natural imperfections and tangible textures. I guess not unlike Emptyset’s Signal concert we saw at CTM festival now that I think about it. This idea is also evident in the visual approach to the label’s website. I have various ideas for future releases, including painting, light installations, photography and illustration. I’m also open to the idea of collaborating or commissioning visual artists in the future.

Talk us through your mix – what was your approach? “I always have quite a particular way of putting together studio mixes. I definitely want to portray some element of what it’s like to see me in a club, but usually they’re fairly eclectic — it’s something to sit down and listen to and get lost in, rather than a mix to put on in the background of a party. As a 60-minute mix, its more eclectic than I could get away with in a one-hour set in a club. There’s a lot of emphasis on strong atmospheres, and definitely a bit of club rowdiness in there, not exclusively though. Also there’s a work in progress of my own that no-one’s heard yet towards the end of the mix.”

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Words by Aidan Hanratty, 18 February 2015. Leave a comment

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