Interview: Will Saul & October

UK-based house label Aus Music are preparing their 100th release this July.  The label have released zeitgeist-defining EPs by acts like Midland, George Fitzgerald and Bicep before their names became ubiquitous with the contemporary scene. The feat is even more impressive considering it means they have roughly put out a record a month for a decade without ever sacrificing the quality of the music on offer. For the 100th release, Aus Music have prepared a 24 track compilation with the majority of the artists who have previously released on the label offering a contribution. Label boss Will Saul supplies two collaborations to the record, and we are premiering his piece with Bristolian producer October entitled “Dimension One”. The song is a piece of 1000-legions-deep house music in which strangled acid lines gasp for air over a stripped back rhythm. We briefly caught up with the two producers to discuss the release, their collaborative process and their favourite Aus releases over the years.

Hey guys, how’s it going?

Jules: “All good here, tired as always.”

Will: “Same as Jules, really! I have two young kids so I don’t remember the last time I slept for 8 hours.”

You’ve collaborated once before [releasing a track called “Light Sleeper” in 2012 on Aus Music]. That song shares similarities with this one, being quite softly spoken on the surface but with more sinister acid lines crawling underneath. Is this sound something you share a love for?

Jules: “Certainly, I love to create tension and sounds that are menacing and creepy but with some tracks it’s nice to have a bit of light cut through the darkness. That’s probably where Will comes in a lot when we work together.”

Will: “Yeah, I think Jules has a much better of grasp of the dark side than me – he’s a master of creating tension in music whereas I’m all about the release of tension with melody so together we balance each other quite well.”

Had this song been in the vaults for a while, or did you decide to team up together again especially for the Aus compilation?

Jules: This tune was from the vaults. Will rang me up and told me about the comp and about wanting to feature my track ‘Drama Queen’ on it. I later remembered this jam that we did and sent it to him which must of been written around the same time as ‘Light Sleeper’. Or maybe not, we were pretty high at the time.” 

Will: “Ha ha.. yes, we do like to smoke a little bit of weed when we work together. I had completely forgotten we’d even made this track! Its at least 2 years old.. probably more.”

Both of your discographies show that you are quite open to collaboration with other artists. Is this something you both feel you recognise in your approach to music, and if so does it make it easier for you to work with one another?

Jules: “I love Will and I love working with the guy, so it’s always fun for me to collaborate with like minded people. All my previous collaborations are always with good friends. Sometimes I need someone else’s energy to bounce off otherwise I’ll get stuck. Plus 4 arms are better than 2 in a jam. “

Will: Laurie (Appleblim) introduced us years ago and we instantly hit it off and became great friends. I rarely ever get the time to make music on my own now with as I’m doing so much other music related work (head of A&R at !K7, running and A&R’ing Aus, managing artists with !K7). Also since starting a family my studio has gradually been ‘pushed out’ of my house as we need more space for the kids! All this means that whenever I get the chance I jump in the studio with friends.”

When collaborating, do you usually do so remotely or in a studio with the other artist? Do you think there are advantages and disadvantages to these situations?

Jules: “We always work together in the same room which I feel mainly has advantages.” 

Will: “Yeah, I’ve never worked with anyone remotely to be honest. Its all about sampling, outboard kit and the keys for me (when starting a track) so being hands on is crucial and being able to jam together to create a vibe is pretty vital in a collaboration for me…”

October – your music and presence as an artist seems quite geographically tied to Bristol, whereas Will, your presence as an artist seems to be a lot less geographically bound, despite being from nearby. Are these conscious decisions?

Jules: “I couldn’t tell you – I tend to do my own thing musically and I never really thought I had the “Bristol” sound. Maybe it’s the dub thing… I look to a lot of other inspiration that comes from outside of this city but Bristol as a city itself inspires me so maybe that’s what the connection is…”

Will: “I grew up in Somerset, lived in London for 15 years from aged 18 and then moved back down to Somerset when my first son was on the way (nearly 6 years ago). I would say that my location has nothing to do with the music I make.” 

This song is being put out as part of Aus’s 100th release package. Obviously with 100 records on the label it’s almost moot to declare one ‘the best’, but do both of you have an Aus record that has been a personal favourite?

Jules: “For me it’s the Actress remix of “The Shrew That Cushioned The Blow” by Joy Orbison. Original is sick too, plus Carl Craig’s edit of Appleblim and Ramadanman (Void 23).”

Will: That would be like picking a favourite child! Every release means something to me so impossible to pick a favourite. If pushed I guess I’d have to say the first record we ever released “Scary Biscuits” by Sideshow as it started it all…”

There were four years between the two songs you have done together. Can we expect to see some more in the future?

Jules: “We were just talking about working together again and getting high again so yes.”

Will: “Yeah Jules and I will definitely make more music together – probably very soon actually!”

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?

Jules: “Keep an eye out for my new limited 10″ label just for my own productions.”

Will: Aus Music All Night Long.”

Aus Music 100 is out on July 8th and available for purchase on their Bandcamp

Interview & Words by John Hardy

John Hardy