Power Vacuum founder el hombre Bintus aka Milo Smee (Kruton, Invincible Scum, Binary Chaffinch) brings us a blistering mix of rough acid, severe dancefloor damaging cuts and arcane B-Boy jams straight from the mouth of the demiurge!
Pre-order the forthcoming Power Vacuum 12” featuring Objekt, An-i, Positive Merge and JoeFarr & J. Tijn HERE!
Lindsay Todd is quite the polymath. Well… he maybe wouldn’t describe himself as such, but it sounds interesting and arcane, so it’s staying in. There’s probably too many things that Mr Todd is involved in to give a full and typical interview-intro rundown (including career asides like appearing as a child extra in The Krankies rendition of Starman), so we’ll stick to the relevant bits: Founder of the Firecracker Recordings, Unthank and Schevchenko labels, not to mention being an overall creative powerhouse under the umbrella name of House of Traps, which covers printing, design, art, music production and DJing. We’ve always known that we would one day have a long, hard chat with Lindsay that didn’t solely consist of both of us fretting over the logistics of record manufacturing. Well, here it is. To boot, the man himself has also graced us with a two-hour long mix of wildly varying styles and diggers knowledge, which we strongly recommended you listen to.
So, the other day we chatting about being a keen birdwatcher, and also a budding field recordist. And those two can tie in quite nicely eh?
It’s my interest in birds that led me to field recording. Unlike other folks who seem to have arrived at the same juncture via industrial sounds or urban life, I grew up in the country and did all sorts of weird, rural things like fly-tying, fishing and birdwatching. Only in the last 10 years or so did I reignite all these interests and somehow make them work alongside my current practice as something whole. Not so long ago I attended a course being held by Chris Watson on ‘Advance Field Recording’ and it just blew my mind. Not only Chris as a real gent, willing to impart a shedload of useful advice, but also the possibilities in combining some of my multiple interests into a daily way of working. Since then I’ve travelled to several remote locations (including Scottish island St. Kilda) collecting all sorts of weird noises, photographs and other bits and bobs. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with it all yet but I can see several vinyl and exhibition projects on the horizon.
There seems to be more to birdwatching than simply watching birds right? It’s an age-old mystical pastime. But talking of tying all these things together, is that easy for you? A lot of folk seem to struggle with that…
The wisdom of the birds. I was lucky enough to have that stuff on my doorstep when I was a kid. I was always a bit of a loner when I was wee but that was even more the case when my folks moved into the highlands. Things took a turn for the worse in a lot of ways when I was about 8 … getting up early and just sodding off up the hill for the whole day was a total escape. My uncle would teach me the names and calls of birds when he visited and give me a quid if I could remember them. I was pretty well versed back then! I’m not sure how that translates to what’s happening today but it’s all inside my head with all the other nonsense. But yes, tying things together. That never seems to happen when you’re in a rush. If you slow down and take inspiration from what’s inside you it’s a lot easier and authentic than trying to cram all this external stimulus and influence together. I think that’s when the most original work comes out.
Indeed. It’s interesting, because your work on Firecracker and Unthank especially seem to be more influenced by the external stimulus you’re talking about, at least in terms of where you’re actually drawing inspiration from….
In the past indeed that’s been the case. The Marvel thing started me on the road. On our fifth release I really wanted to get into the print detail; the ink of the comics. That’s where I started experimenting and pulling apart the techniques used by the comic book artists in the 70s and 80s. By screen printing I could layer up the details and come up with mistakes to use in subsequent projects. Unthank was solely inspired by Alasdair Gray’s Lanark novel and that was an equally odd starting point but the catalyst was there for experimenting as well. With the last Unthank I worked for a day or two with (Jake) Denaji, cutting up kaleidoscope images and then drawing back into it. There was no external stimulus there at all, just automatic drawing and collaging. Ideally, that’s the way I’d like advance.
Speaking of Denaji, he’s the latest to grace the esteemed Unthank as you’ve just mentioned. Can you tell us a bit more about him and how you came to work together?
He’s an old friend, a really real dude. We go back a long way. We used to go to art college together in the 90s, shared a flat on more than one occasion and both have a love of weirdo kung fu movies. He’s on the same trip, been trying to make sense of it all and coming up with some fresh material in the process. What you hear on the latest Unthank is just the tip of the iceberg. He was the one to teach me the importance of working on an MPC, many moons ago. He also comes from a completely different background musically, you could say he’s Yorkshire’s Kool Keith. Or maybe a Hebden Bridge Rammellzee.
And you’ve roped Sotofett in for remix duties on this 10”. How did the two of you come in contact?
I just approached him because I was feeling his vibe and ethos in running a label(s) and remixing, keeping the field open with styles, minimum exposure, allowing himself freedom by staying in the shadows and letting the DJing and records do the speaking. But there weren’t many Sotofett remixes around then, we’re talking late 2012 we first got in contact. The whole thing took ages due to various manufacture complications. But there were a couple of kindred spirits and channels involved and we also traded a few records in the process. As it happens, Stefan turned out one of the freshest and timeless joints I’ve heard and was so happy for that to feature on the EP. Also, I’d like to give a shout to Brian Not Brian for being an important catalyst in that project.
You’ve worked a great deal with people you’ve known for quite a long time it seems. Is it easier than fresh faces, or does the “too honest” thing kick in with old friends often?
Ha, I’m not sure to be honest. The only thing I can say in my defence is that I’m still working with all of them so I can’t be too bad to work with. Who am I kidding, I’m a total nightmare! That’s why I run the label and do all the artwork. If I could press the records and sell them myself then I’d do that too. I’m a stubborn control freak!
Where would you possibly find the time to do all of that anyway? We’ve already touched upon quite a few rather time-consuming interests, but something tells me there are more pies to finger, yes?
To quote the great Alan Partridge “I evolve, but I don’t …….revolve. Or vice-versa.” Hmmm … Picasso said it better actually “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
Something that seems to loosely tie all of these interests we’ve talked about is Sacred Summits, a new label you’re involved in. There seems to be a good middle ground between things like cultural studies and field recording, and the colourful spark of Firecracker & Unthank. Care to tell us more?
That started because myself and Stuart Leath (Emotional Rescue/Response) had been talking about doing something label-wise for a while. We just realised we had a shared interest in music on the fringes such as odd jazz, ambient, field recordings, drone, ethnography, new age etc. Again, there’s no real rules or agenda with the label; there might be some re-issues alongside some new material. Just trying to keep it fresh and to enjoy the ride. I’d like to think that some of the Sacred Summit projects will influence and inspire some interesting turns in the other labels and vice versa. Watch this space, basically.
Do you have the next release lined-up already?
We’ve got a few actually. But the next one is by Colin Potter (Nurse With Wound) and is pretty out there synth/drone stuff so it’s a bit different to the Luis Perez record! Don’t want to give too much away but there’s definitely no real theme, just curveballs. Oh, and there’s an ultra nice Record Store Day release coming!
I had a sneaking suspicion they wouldn’t be too similar. That aside, I’d like to ask you about the ol’ day-to-day. You must get thrown some pretty interesting gigs, and your studio sounds interesting in itself….
The day usually starts with me getting up and trying to get as far away from the bed as possible. I then spend the remainder of the morning removing my head from my arse and by lunchtime I’m just about ready to start work.I’ll try and do all the boring stuff first like emails and label business and get down to at least 8 hours of ‘creative’ work after that. I’m quite partial to the odd all-nighter in the studio as well. Ideas tend to flow best at 3-5am. About a year ago I moved premises to a much larger space so I now have three rooms. One with all my records, books and drawing space, one for printing and another for screen preparation, drying and wash down. Looking back, I don’t know how I managed in the tiny spaces I had previously; paint all over my books and laptop and water spraying everywhere from the washout booth … total chancer!
If I remember correctly, Crowley said something about magic working best when you’ve completely panned yerself in.
Well, I’m maybe not entirely ready to go down the Crowley route just yet! There’s truth in that indeed but from experience that just burns you out. It’s more about finding a balance. ‘Panning yerself in’ might yield results but it’s often just like that massive stoner session where everything looks and sounds great at the time but in the cold realisation of the morning you’ve just wasted an evening creating self indulgent bobbins. Maybe I’m getting old but find it much better to go for a run, swim or do some meditation to get in that zone. And walking! You can’t underestimate the importance of a mega-ramble - flaneury gets you everywhere!
I think most people utterly underestimate the importance of a good walk. One thing I like to touch upon is your own music. You’re out there in the world too in that respect, but not to a massive extent… as far as I know. Do you plan to be a tad more prolific in the coming year?
I’ve just been keeping my head above water with all the artwork/label side of things with very little time to concentrate on music. But that particular fire is still burning and 2014 will indeed see a multitude of mixes, collabs and finished audio pieces. That I can promise!
Ever tempted to turn your hand at a bit of remixing yourself? Do you get many offers?
I’m a complete amateur … which I quite like the idea of. There’s actually a pending Unthank release which I’m required to do some tinkering with. Depending on the results I may (or not!) put my name to it!
Speaking of amateurs, it’s can be quite refreshing to hear someone simply admit they are one. It can be a good way to work I guess, not being bogged down by the weight of your own professionalism. I’m sure there’s a few grand amateurs and chancers that have inspired you down the line, aye?
We were talking about hobbies and interests and how it’s important to want to learn new things all the time. There’s a bit in that film ‘Adaptation’ where the character John Laroche is talking about when he was into tropical fish then one day decided ‘fuck tropical fish!’ and moved onto orchids. As you say, it’s important not to get bogged down by being too serious about it all … it’s only dance music after all … weren’t we supposed to just have fun and be creative? When you admit to being amateur it takes the pressure off, allowing you to try things out and make mistakes. That same childlike energy is what made ‘dance music’ so exciting and experimental 25 years ago. I feel like we’ve lost a lot of that through our familiarity with it and the constant need to appropriate styles and genres that have been done to death already. Speaking of chancers, here’s one: Bill Drummond. The KLF and K Foundation have been and still are a HUGE inspiration for me. He just jumped feet first into it all and is still going ‘following a wild and wounded, glum and glorious, shit but shining path’.
On the subject of fun, we were also talking about clubbing, and Pure in particular. I mean, age obviously has a tainting effect on how you look at this, but what are your views on clubbing now, and do you think it’s still changing young peoples lives to the extent it once had?
I don’t know. I thought I had a clear opinion on this a few years ago; that all clubs these days were crap, full of twats on phones and bad soundsystems. But, the more I ventured out or when I’m asked to spin these days I’m being pleasantly surprised. The young team are really taking the time to sort a night out, good sound, good vibes and all done in small venues. It’s really inspiring and makes me really optimistic about the future of it all. Pure, Sativa and Tribal Funktion in particular were my church from 92-99 and it’s easy to remember them with rose-tinted glasses but it seems to have come full circle now, folks getting really creative with flyers and dressing a club …. and that’s what a ‘club’ should be … where you go and get creative and learn from others!
The Hisham Mayet/Sublime Frequencies tour we both attended in our respective cities, seeing those rituals in Benin hit home the fact that we’ve essentially been clubbing for hundreds - nay thousands of years. Those rituals are primarily about worship and faith obviously, but I couldn’t help thinking there was the strong sense of a bloody good ‘ol knees up too, eh?
Haha yeah, seeing that Vice article ‘10 ways to make clubbing less shit in 2014’ with the tagline ‘Dancing in a dark room with strangers is too important to suck’ it struck a chord. It’s written all jokey but it’s so on the money. Religion, dancing, meditation, art … it’s all the same thing; trying to get in touch with the part of the soul we’ve lost and it all leads back to ‘ritual’. Ritual can be whatever thing you chose that’s just essentially ‘bigger than yourself’, and bigger than all the bullshit popular culture that’s hosed into our homes, faces and earholes on a daily basis.
Ok, let’s wrap this up before anyone has a spiritual awakening. This is Rubadub remember. We’re hard men with rough hands who take no quarter. Sleeping is a privilege for us, let alone recreational activities like living full and spiritually-nourished lives. What are the future plans for You, Firecracker, Unthank…. and are we seeing a return of Shevchenko anytime soon?
Ha, speak for yourself. It’s all yoga, John Lewis and wooly mittens through the East. Things seem to moving with alarming speed right now so there’s that Unthank just out, next one right behind, Panoram LP on Firecracker in production and yes, a Shevchenko re-animation in some shape or form. It’s simply slowed down because it’s like spinning plates with only me to catch them. I can release as fast as I can draw and print each record. On top of that, I’m just like everyone else, hustling other jobs to pay the rent. Some of them impact on the pace, some don’t. I’m pretty excited to be releasing this Panoram album if I’m honest. Again, something that’s been a while in the making and it’s led to a cool friendship with the artist; a really talented, humble and aspiring soul. It seems he’s on the same level, exploring ideas, experimenting and playing with genres to come up with something unique and progressive. And talking of returns, I can guarantee a pretty serious one from Linkwood in the next few months. The album is almost a reality and truly worth the wait!
Sequencias is the NYC based label set up by JM De Frias in 2011. The label’s oeuvre is far from easy to generalise, ranging from challenging and cerebral electronics to demented jakbeat workouts, but one thing is certain: Only open minds will reap the full benefit from it’s growing discography, and whether you’re hearing Aroy Dee’s blinding remix of Willie Burns’ “Another Place, Another Time” in the club, or The Healing Force Project’s “Hybrid 1” in the headphones, you can guarantee you’ll be treated to an impeccable palette of sounds thanks to the on-point curation of De Frias and the stunning talents of the artists he chooses to grace his label. He also just happens to be a seriously killer DJ with far-ranging tastes, so we thought we’d rope him into doing a mix for us, and thankfully he obliged. With Ame, Michael Boothman and Agitation Free (to name but a few) featuring, where could you possibly go wrong? Not only that, but we had the chance to catch up De Frias for a chat about Sequencias’ modus operandi, some of it’s highlights so far and hot nuggets scheduled for the future…
I guess it might be as good a place to start as any with a bit about how and why Sequencias came into being?
I started the label because I’m obsessed with music, and i have always been fascinated by collective effort towards a goal, especially in the music world. Sequencias for me is an outlet to be able to embrace this fascination. I started the label officially in 2011, and so far i have been lucky enough to work with a lot of my favourite artists.
One of the things I find appealing about the label is that, seemingly without warning, these killer records seem to just appear on the shelves, and there’s little or no info on the origins or directive. No hype, no nonsense
Well, actually the releases are made public usually a month before they come out. All of the info and art gets posted to the label Facebook page and to the Soundcloud page. By doing this the followers of the label can keep track of the work. Staying away from hype is a conscious move because hype is an illusion, it is not real. When the work is substantially enough there is no need for hype. I try to keep things as organic as possible.
Something I’ve noticed with the label is that you’ve put out a few things by prolific and known producers, but under aliases that rarely get an airing. Traxx’s ViLLan X, Jamal Moss’s Sun God etc. Even Cantu cut his name down for a Sequencias release. Is that purely down to what the artists give you, or are you seeking out something a little more marginal for Sequencias?
I’m seeking out something more marginal. It is a way to bring something fresh somehow, because these artists are releasing more material throughout the year on many different labels. There is also the fact that it is not about their household name, it’s about their music.
One of your most striking recent releases has been from Healing Force Project. Even with only two records under his belt so far, he’s came out with a pretty unique and strong sound, and challenging in the best possible way. Can you shed some light on this mysterious individual and how you came to work with him?
So one night I’m at my friends place (A. Arias), drinking and playing records to each other. At some point late night he pulls out the Healing Force Project 12” on Acido and plays it for me. At that point I had already gotten some promos from Antonio (Healing Force Project), but somehow I had overlooked the folder which obviously was full of crazy material. So basically right after that I went home that night and wrote an email to him, and the rest is history. We have another 12” planned for 2014.
The artist behind the last release, Metropolis seems to be another shady figure(s), and also one who isn’t confining themselves to any standard model of house or techno. How did your paths cross, and just out of curiosity is he/she/they the same folk responsible for Metropolis 10” that came out a few years ago?
Metropolis is one of Nick Lapien’s many projects. I’m a big fan of his first release under the Metropolis alias which came out on Other Heights in 2012. At the time there was absolutely no link to trace back to who might have produced this record. Months later Discogs finally linked it up to his name, and that led me to get in touch with him.
From what I gather you’re a pretty keen digger and all round lover of wax. Apparently a lot of folk are coming back to wax as a preferred format. Some folk never walked away from I guess, but is the so-called surge in vinyl sales something you’re witnessing first hand as the proprietor of a record label? I mean, it’s always gonna be different for small labels, but I guess there’s still a lot of dudes sitting on 300 copies of their first five releases….
As for Sequencias, we sell a standard amount based on the market. Music lovers are definitely choosing vinyl as their preferred format, which I think it has a lot to do with being in touch with the final outcome of something that you like. Owning a physical copy of something that you like, and having another file on your computer are definitely not the same thing. That’s a fact.
You seem to play out in NY fairly regularly. People are always telling me how tough a gig it is to play and put on parties in NY, for a number of reasons. What’s your take on it?
So far 90% of the parties I have played have either been a friend’s party or my own. It’s a hard place to get a decent gig. That’s the reason why a lot of people just run their own parties, and yeah it’s a lot more work, but you have the freedom to do things the way you like.
The new Sequencias record is a collab between yourself and D’Marc Cantu. How did you hook up with Cantu and what was the collaborative experience was like?
Well, I’ve been a fan of Cantu’s work since his early releases. So when I started the label I knew I had to release his music. Luckily, he is a very easy going guy, so we hit it off quickly. At some point we decided to jam just for fun so he came over to NY and we went for it.
Are there any ideas or concepts driving the record?
There was sadness in the air because that was the closing weekend of Dope Jams (the influential NY record store that recently closed their doors, but then relocated Upstate), so that influenced in the mood of the session. “The Last Light” came out as a result.
What’s the future plans for Sequencias and yourself?
For Sequencias, plenty of more music as well as some other conceptual projects that are still on the works. I shouldn’t really elaborate, because nothing has been finished yet, but I can tell you that there will be a lot of experimentation in the dance field, as well as film. But again, nothing has been done as of yet. Hopefully by the end of the year we can start making them public. As for me, I’ll keep learning new things, especially learning from my mistakes in order to keep pushing forward. I want to thank everyone who took some time to read this, and especially Rubadub for the interest.
William Burnett has been making records since 2005. Recent converts to his sound will know him best as Willie Burns, with E.Ps on L.I.E.S, Crème Organization, Sequencias and The Trilogy Tapes. Those who caught on earlier will know him for the Disco-tainted weirdness of Grackle, his work with Legowelt as Smackulator and his collaboration with Elliot Lipp, Galaxy Toobin’ Gang, not to mention teaming up with the mighty Professor Genius as PG&S. Recently he has been known under the names Daywalker and Black Deer, the latter producing a blinding E.P cut by Rush Hour that dropped last month. Whichever name Burnett adopts, one thing is certain: the results are always going to inimitable. Aside from being a prolific producer, Burnett is also a curator supreme in his role as head honcho of W.T Records, putting to wax the likes of Alex Israel, Hunee, Sir Stephen, Ex Vivian and Shawn O’Sullivan to name a few. Mark caught up with Will to ask him a few questions about his status, working at the legendary The Thing, running a label, the mighty Woz and some other highly interesting subjects. In addition he gave us a killer mix for ya’ll to tuck into, consisting of burning psych, cosmic house, recondite bleepcore and beyond, into realms that not even the most adjective-happy journalist could describe…..
Mark: So I guess most folk who are reading will be pretty aware of your credentials by now: records on L.I.E.S, Trilogy Tapes, Creme, Rush Hour, Strange Life, not to mention the label you run W.T. Taking all that into consideration, is there really anyone hotter than William Burnett right now? Do you ever feel like leaving it all behind and pursuing a hidden passion like say carpentry or paranormal investigation?
Will: Haha, you sure started it off with a belter of a question. Things do seem to be going well for William Burnett from the outside, but until I don’t have to teach swimming anymore, or slave away in that dirty record basement, it’s not good enough for me. Sure, it would be nice to do music full time, but I still gotta pay my bills, and NY ain’t cheap. I’m still a normal person working 7 days a week. I’m not sure if I have another hidden passion. Maybe make some movies or something. I would really like to run away and work on music stuff all day.
Your most recent record sees you operating under the alias of Black Deer for the Rush Hour related “No Label” offshoot. The record seems to have some sort of Native American concept or theme to it, but that’s as far as I’ve got. Could you tell us a bit more about this, if it does indeed go deeper?
Well, my great Grandma is half Chakta Indian, so maybe it’s in my DNA, but barely. I don’t know, it was just something that came out like that. It started because I noticed that Native American chants always had that boom boom boom in some variation, so I figured it might transfer over into some kind of electronic boom boom boom… and yeah… then that happened.
I heard through the grapevine that you make all the Willie Burns material on an SP-1200, right? There was a time when it was inconsequential to most people what gear was used on a record, but the issue of what people use to make record these days seems to be just that, an issue. Is this something you care about, or is it just more of a preference thing in terms of using machines you can rely on to get the results you want?
I use the Emu sp12 Turbo, and it is purely because of DJ Overdose. He saw how I worked and knew what I wanted to do, and kept suggesting this machine. Eventually I caved in and started using one. The workflow is so fast and simple, and the greatest thing about it is the limitations. You have 5 seconds of time and that’s it, so trying to make a track out of one set of samples becomes quite challenging. But also it’s an advantage, cause you aren’t spending 6 weeks making your MPC or whatever sample bank perfect… just load and play. It doesn’t matter what gear you use, but this one works for me now. I’ve lost the gear lust thing lately, and now I just want stuff I can use and that won’t break. The sp12 definitely has a sound, that early sampler grit. Not sure how it works, but something about 12 bit recording and playing back in 16 bit with 4 random bits or something. I’m probably getting it all wrong.
You work at The Thing in Brooklyn, which for the benefit our readers outside of NYC is a thrift store that has a formidable selection of secondhand records. From what I’ve read, it seems to work against the notion of being able to find the music one is looking for almost instantaneously, something we take for granted in this day and age. I’ve heard that it’s pretty chaotic, and not only that, but you guys move shit around all the time, so you’re keeping even the regulars on their toes. Is that true, and if so what’s the purpose? Are you trying to promote digging as opposed to easy access?
Ha. We aren’t trying to promote anything. I’m pretty much the only one that takes care of the records and I only work a few days a week, so that means if I am traveling, no one is cleaning up. Basically all I do when I get there is start putting records back neatly. Re-shelving them, putting them back in the crates and re-stacking everything. If we get a new shipment, which happens way too often, I try to take out as much of the garbage as I can before it gets put out for the hounds. We aren’t working against the customers. I try to keep as big of a shopping area open as possible, and keep it safe: people don’t realize when they stack stuff all stupid they are ruining the records and that they can have a crate of records fall on them or someone else. There is no plan, although I kind of have a flow going from upstairs to one side to the other in terms of newest arrivals, but that always gets screwed up. Basically there are too many records in there.
You must meet some genuine weirdos at The Thing. I can say that because until I started working in a record shop, I was one of those weirdos. Surely you have at least one good story that gives us an insight into what the hardcore record buyer’s world looks like?
Haha, I don’t even notice. It’s like the people in my world. There is the Jamaican guy that buys easy listening 45s that farts all the time, and the guy who comes in late and gets wasted on Bacardi or 40s or whatever, and smokes cigs and blasts the listening station. The weird guy from Canada that buys us 40s (I think we still have them behind the counter). Frankie Bones comes in every week, polite as can be, still diggin like a champ. Then there are the record tourists. Each one thinks they are the best digger, and they all proceed to go look in the exact same corner they think no one looks in. Hardcore record buyers are mostly losers, just like us.
What cool shit have you bought from The Thing except from records?
I get everything there. I found an APC belt the other day that had been on the rack for a few weeks. I don’t know… furniture, books, sweaters, jackets, shoes. I got a new laundry basket last week… I had been looking for one of those. And also one of those pads that goes under your carpets to keep it from slipping, and that was a score for me. Normally if I need something, I just visualize it and it turns up eventually. So the label you run, W.T was started off-the-cuff because you wanted to put out some Stinkworx stuff that wasn’t getting a released, right? I guess most labels that start that way end in tears, but W.T genuinely goes from strength to strength. Are you pretty loose in terms of how the label is run? I wouldn’t imagine you giving a frozen fuck about “gotta strike while the irons hot”, “gotta get this out at that time so it can make the biggest impact” or any of that stuff. Although I could be very much mistaken…
You are correct. I still have no clue what I am doing. But I am doing it, and that is much more than most people. However, I did realize lately that it’s all a game. You can play by the rules or you can make your own, or some combination of those. But what is important is to realize how it works on all levels. You are constantly learning, and it’s pretty fun challenge for me.
My personal favourite thus far from W.T is the Woz thing. It’s amazing in more ways than one. Could you tell us what the deal with it is, and how you came to release this colossus of a record?
Well, I found it at the thing (of course) and I was totally into it. I don’t know what year that was, probably 2006, and then I went on a tour and was at legowelt’s house, and we decided somehow to look him up on myspace and got in touch. So there were some exchanges back and forth, and I got some CDs, and that was in the Strangelife CDR days. So there was talk of that, and then nothing happened. Then somehow a few years later or then (I can’t remember), I played it for Andrew Lovefingers, and he was gonna reissue it, but then since he is all California and flakey (hahaha, hi Andrew), it never happened. We even all got together and jammed and record 2 or 3 hours of music (me, Andrew, Woz and Woz’s friend Richard who produced the album). Maybe one day I’ll edit that crap down too. But yeah, it just came down to me: I found it in the first place and I had the most contact with the dude, we did it. It’s totally cool cause Woz is my kind of dude, we just get along. Me and Shawn O’Sullivan went to his house and then drove in his Pontiac Firebird to Chapel Hill for a gig with Stinkworx. It was great. The most recent thing from W.T would be the DJ Muscle series. Considering those records were put together with DJ in mind, I was pleasantly surprised at how they work as solid and highly listenable records in their own right. I never thought I’d be buying a bunch of DJ tools before getting them of course, but I’d buy em even if I wasn’t a DJ, and that’s actually been happening here at Rubadub. Was that a conscious factor while compiling the material for the series?
I had so many tracks and demos and things laying around, but like just one track from each artist, not enough for a complete 12” by anyone. So I decided a compilation series would be a good idea, something people could put in their DJ bag and use, a little bit like Disco Nouveau from Ghostly back in 2001 or so. It just worked out. I put a lot of thought into compiling the music. It also helps that Marion Guillet did a nice job with the art, and most of all that the artists contributed great tracks. I don’t know if it’s really just for DJs, but yeah, maybe it’s a sneaky marketing ploy, or maybe it was an accident. Maybe I should make a CD of it? Do people still buy CDs?
You’ve been doing your WTBS show on Newtown Radio for how long now? I think you have a good presenting style, if it is even a style. Should Tim Sweeney (Beats In Space, WNYU) be watching his back?
Ha, yes, I even work at NYU. I could probably get a show at WNYU and run Tim into the ground. I really don’t know how long I’ve been doing it, it all blends together. I started at East Village radio in 2005 (I think), and did that for a while, and then switched to newtownradio.com somewhere before 2013, hahaha. But yeah.. I’m way better than Tim at the radio. He just plays his cards better, or differently.
What’s the plans for this year, in terms of your own material and W.T records? Are you planning on maybe doing a tour also? You should hit Glasgow, would be great to have you here. It probably wouldn’t be like Shawn O’Sullivan’s experience by the way. It might be worse come to think of it….
Yeah, I’d love to do a UK/Scando thing this summer. I’m tired of Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and France and all that boring stuff, haha. I’ve been there already. Maybe Israel, Greece and Russia too. I don’t know, but really right now I need to pay off my debt for the label. I can’t go anywhere major until I do. I got some gigs coming up in the U.S in NYC, Pittsburg, Los Angeles and Portland, so that should keep me busy for the coming months. I’ll go to Glasgow if you buy my ticket. But as for my music, I just recently moved my studio back into my apt, so I’m finally getting comfortable working at home. I did 3 remixes in the past 2 weeks. So yeah, just gonna keep pumping stuff out cause that is what I like to do. I’d much rather stay home and work on music than go to a crappy bar with crappy people and crappy music.
So to finish off, when we were talking about doing the interview, there was an idea to completely bypass all the usual music and record related stuff, and to cover a vast range of subjects including chicks, sport, food, global warming, peak oil, capitalism, global banking policies and modern feminists. Since we covered absolutely none of those things, do you have any feelings on any of them that you’d really like to make known?
Well, I have to admit I was NOT expecting this. Novation have been shifting their portfolio from synthesisers and drum machines over to controllers and audio interfaces over the last few years so, they’ve wrong-footed a lot of folk by dropping this bomb to mark their 21st anniversary (they’re even older than dear old RAD it would seem) and what a very incredible bomb it is. The original Bass Station holds a very dear place in my heart: it was the first analogue synth I ever bought and it contributed to my now unhealthy obsession with synthesis for which I am very glad. It also sounded absolutely amazing. Raspy, gnarly and practically untameable at points, it was made to tear strips out of speakers and packed a stupid amount of punch for it’s price and size. I’m sure it’s ancestor will do just the same (it is, after all, a fully analogue signal path just like the original) and I’ll be seriously tempted to get one just for old time’s sake if nothing else.
Those of you who aren’t as dewy eyed and sentimental about this particular launch as me are probably asking “what distinguishes this from the current batch of sub £500 analogue mono-synths on the market?”. Well, the Novation Bass Station II has two fully analogue oscillators both with selectable waveforms (sine/sawtooth/triangle/square with PW) and a third sub oscillator for full-on bottom-end phasing bass mentalism. It has a switchable filter, which is pretty interesting because it will allow you to select between ‘classic’ and ‘acid’; the second of which is a diode ladder filter design much like the beloved TB303 as the name would suggest. It also has an analogue effects section, which is admittedly pretty much just distortion but I still think this is going to add a useful bit of grit to the sound and I can’t wait to hear it in action. It has the usual array of LFO and envelope section and, as most of have come to expect, the addition of USB for quick storage of patches and convenient MIDI interfacing to your DAW without a secondary box. It also has an arpeggiator and SH101-style step-sequencer. Yep, this machine is under £400 and it has a step-sequencer! That is bang for your buck right there!
The 500 series format (or lunchbox) has been around for some time (to be precise: 1978 with the launch of Datatronics first 10 slot powered rack) but it’s only relatively recently come to prominence. Maybe it’s because budgets are getting tighter or maybe it’s because studios are getting smaller but the lunchbox seems to be de-rigeur in a lot of setups these days.
It’s probably because the 500 series is a modular format (and anyone who knows us knows we love modular!) meaning it’s affordable, customisable, compact and portable. What you start with is the rack, which is a powered case with audio I/O on the back. These are available in various sizes from various companies ranging from whopping 10 slot, 19” rack-mountable monsters to compact, wee ultra-portable 3 slot boxes. Once you’ve got your desired rack, then you can start having fun buying modules…
It’s good news then that there are tons of manufacturers around making interesting, high quality audio processors for you to slot into your lunchbox. These range from conventional compressors to weird and wonderful sonic manglers like the Moog analogue delay and ladder filter. Check it’s capabilities in this vid!
We’ve also been impressed by the folk at Golden Age Projects. They’re making faithful recreations of some classic bits of analogue hardware in the 500 series format including this rather impressive microphone preamplifier. Kudos to the first person who can name what it’s been modelled on…
The dons at Radial, who have been making high-end problem solvers and other audio accessories since 1991 have also been pretty instrumental in the lunchbox game and they have a collection of compatible equipment including the incredible Komit compressor.
It’s also worth checking out new kid on the block Lindell Audio who are making a stunning range of 500 series modules and racks at seriously competitive prices. Oh, and when we say they are a new kid, that’s not strictly true because the man behind Lindell Audio is one Tobias Lindell, a music producer who has been around the block and knows a thing or too about high quality audio engineering. Watch this space for some arriving at RAD…
Warm Audio are deserving of your attention too. The WA12 microphone preamplifier sounds lush and, as you would expect, errrr, warm so, it’s perfect for adding a full, rich tone to your vocal processing.
And, of course, we couldn’t talk about 500 series without a tip of the hat to the godfathers of the format: API. They were building modular consoles way back in the 1970s and they implemented the VPR alliance, which is our way of saying that these boys know their onions. Anyway, you should all be checking the API gear out. It’s the nuts.
All that and we haven’t even mentioned the plethora of DIY projects and other nerdy stuff out there for the lunchbox….
It’s been that Long I’ve forgot what number I’m at. But in that time I’ve been learning to put pictures up. It’s the full audio visual experience. Well for me anyway. I’ve been inspired to get back into the blogesphere of recent, as I’ve heard about a couple of people that have actually bought records they have read about in this here blog. Mental ! But what’s more mental is that they actually seem to have liked them.
I was going to try and get a wee MBRBE wax in about the hot current dancing anthems that are making me strip down to the under crackers, don the headphones, close my eyes and go Paisley mental, before we hit the wedding season.. of which there are few this year. I’ve got 3 in 8 days. 2 in 1 weekend, and most are requiring some tunes.. so that will be the ploughed musical furrow for a few months. Watch this space. We’ll see if your so keen to buy the tunes then eh. That will be the Back room test ! Quite looking forward to sharing some of the wedding secret weapons actually.. some of my favourite records.
Back to the task in hand. Listening to records. The wife is away on a hen doo for one of the aforementioned weddings. Fiona’s managed to wangle the girls away to Amsterdam. The guys are going to Tom’s in Loch Lomond. Well not actually in Loch Lomond, well maybe a few, but it will just be a musical lockdown. Perfect. Right looking forward to that. 2 days of good records. Apart from mine of course.
So with the wife away, I have been doing all the things I’m not allowed to do. Like working on my scooter in the hall.
She’ll never know. She doesn’t read this blog.
Oh aye records. Well I canny seem to get off the love and wedding vibe, and started to record some tunes to send over to the girls in the Dam. If you’re interested, some of them were, Gallifre and Mondee’s Don’t walk out on Love on Gherkin, Blake Baxter’s Your All I ever Wanted, Karen Young I’m Hot for You, Shalamar Right in the Pocket, a bit of Church action with Moodymann’s Ya Blessin, and Fiona’s fave Oh Romeo These Mammery’s, sorry Memories from Bobby O. I’m Blessin You’s.. except I better hurry up and get it to them. Which probably won’t happen tbh. Another one strictly for my own enjoyment no doubt.
So aye tomorrows music today. New 3 Chairs promo sounding good. Available soon in way too small quantity. New Dixon Ave Basement Jams, Marquis Hawkes. DABJ-1204. That Higher Forces is pretty killer. Been rocking my back room jams (sounds a bit dodgy) for quite a while now. The privilege’s of the white label. Now released..
Another RAD associated label, well not associated really, as it is ours, is a wee series of releases we are pressing, usual white sketch with a stamp, and by hot talent that make good records, and we want to release. How’s that for a concept for a label ! Thinking outside your box. No artwork or names. But you may get a clue in the catalogue numbers. Or just by listening to the music even. RAD-AN1 being the first. Maybe I’ll give you a bit of inside info, to say thanks for reading this far. Without giving too much away.. if you’re in a club and you think you see Justin Timberlake’s wee brother dropping some quality House jams, then it may be this man.
While we are on tip of self promotion.. not really our style, but I’m going to roll with it for now. Like buses. The other night I had a tune in my head, and was doing the preverbal nut in as knew it so well. The more I sang it to myself, the better it was getting. I knew it was a big record for us, that could have been from anytime in the 15 to 2 years. Then I got it. Turns out it was on our own Dalriada label, which is from not a kick in the arse off about 15 years ago. Stands the test of time, at least in my heid, which I suppose was the main pre requisite of the labels concepts.
It’s about time we got a bit more active on that front.
Watch this space as they say..
That’s it for the licking your own arse show for this evening. I better go and get the wife sent over yon recording for the hen party, before they come home, and I’m still standing here listening to music. Hopefully not in my Y fronts, and headphones on. I’m sure there’s an urban myth in there somewhere.
Oh before I go.. and while on a promotion tip, here’s an avenue of PR we were exploring a few years back. Didn’t catch on though.
Respect to that man. I think I took the tattoo’d promotion a bit far, when I got a flyer for a gig at 69 tattoo’d on my chest. Orland Voorn special guest, 19.11.97. Timeless I thought. Until the day after the gig. It wasny that though.. he never turned up !
We’ve been fans of Ableton since day one. It’s no exaggeration to say they totally revolutionised the way the people use computers for making music when it was launched back in 1999. It would also be fair to say we’ve been waiting a little while for this latest update and Ableton have got a lot riding on it. Expectation is pretty high and on first tests we’re pleased to report we’re pretty chuffed with it.
The browser is waaaayyy better than it was previously (with extremely slick link through to MAX/MSP), the time stretch/pitch shift is audibly improved, there are more effects and they all sound gallus, the user interface has the same streamlined, slick look we’re used to and, perhaps most importantly, the new audio to MIDI function is absolutely incredible.
Basically, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Ableton: simple, effective and incredibly usable software with absolutely unparalleled workflow. You can order your copy of Live 9 here or order you copy of Live Suite here.
Wireless technology is pretty slick and also pretty useful and Pioneer have been pretty ahead of the curve on this front: what with the release of their XDJ-Aero last year, which was quickly followed up by the announcement of similar wireless technology being used in their Nexus series of CDJs and mixers. It’s a new frontier and we’ll be exploring the territory with them down at our favourite local haunt, Max’s bar on the 13th March. There’s more information here and a direct link to sign up here.
Oh, and did we mention there will be a free pair of Pioneer HDJ-1500 headphones being given away to one lucky entrant?
For the record, it certainly wouldn’t be bombastic to say that Creme Organization is one of the most influential labels of the past 10 years. Coming straight outta The Hague and having strong links with Bunker, It’s formidable early catalogue featured the emerging talents of none other than Legowelt, Orgue Electronique, Rude 66 and Bangkok Impact to name but a few, and in more recent years the label has released cuts from John Heckle, Myrriad, J.T.C, Willie Burns, Traxx, Basic Soul Unit and D’Marc Cantu. Creme also boasts one of the most arresting visual aesthetics around, with a majority of the artwork bearing the stamp of supremely gifted draftsman Mehdi. All this makes for a meaty stew of raw and nourishing realness. Or in some cases, unrealness. Oor Merk caught up with label founder and owner TLR to talk past, present and future shit. Not only are TLR’s curatorial talents evidenced by the strong roster and release schedule of Creme, but he also happens to be a seriousely fine DJ, which many of you will be aware of. Luckily for us, he canned some of that heat. The result is a beast of a mix which can be found below, chock full of exclusives no less!
Mark: So, you’re at work? You share an office with Mr. Tavares of Bunker fame and the stupidly talented Mr. Mehdi, right?
TLR: I have an office with Mehdi.. here’s some corporate info:
Mehdi + Me = IQ82 Media = Godspill Mailorder (with one other guy working for it)
Mehdi = Godspill
Me = Global Darkness = Creme
Bunker is stuck in a basement somewhere
Ah, so Guy is still operating from dank premises somewhere in The Hague. For the young ‘uns out there, tell us what Global Darkness is…
Its the umbrella company for Creme, some internet crap etc. It’s just the thing I chose when regestering at the chamber of commerce. “Are you sure about that name sir”? “Yup.. quite.” Haha.
In terms of web presence, I dare say that Global Darkness was pretty influential though….
Yeah I guess it was. It was one of the first things out there, before discogs, wikipedia etc. that made an attempt to organise info about this thing of ours: artist bios etc. And the forum was a big thing back then. I think the only other thing that was about the same was Electro Empire and Phinnweb. Internet 1.0 was a very different place as you will remember, being over 30.
Yeah, the children don’t know how hardcore and real it all was.
Nope. And I can take you back before the internet even with letters and faxes and shit. That sounds ancient even to me now. I dunno how the hell we managed.
Tell us more ancient one!
No cellphones. Goddam gramps, you tell em. Anyway, back to the now.
Indeed. I’m guessing that beards is a mandatory look over at Creme/Godspill HQ? Like a work uniform. You have to have a shaved head and a face tattoo to work at Rubadub. Are we simply perpetuating a stereotypical view of underground techno/house blokes by looking like baldy, beardy moody cunts?
I think it might be like women in an office who sync their periods… some subconscious thing were you align to a tribe. We’re working on some gang sign too.
And Creme’s been ploughing the field of unrestrained talent for what, ten years now? At what point did you realise that their might be something in this whole releasing records thing?
Yeah, well over 10 years now. I realised there was something in this whole releasing thing straight away. It caught on very quickly for us, and I was sort of riding a high for the first few years. Then minimal came, and the crisis and web 2.0 reshuffled all the cards in the record bizz. We sort of survived that slump and now we seem to be on the right side of hip again, so that’s cool.
In regards to being on the right side of hip, why do you think that is? There’s certainly a bunch of like-minded labels flourishing at the moment too, some who may even have been inspired by Creme…
I dont know exactly, but it seems like the pendulum of taste swings back and forth, even if it’s becoming more and more diffuse these days with so many things existing simultaneously. There is obviously some Zeitgeist involved. But I like to think its also because I have dedicated myself to releasing music I like without being to conscious of what is going on around me, or what is hip or not. Somehow this personal approach is a bit more timeless than a more businesslike one. I notice a lot of people around us are there for years and years, and a lot of the likeminded labels & artists (which I feel close to) have also been around for ages, toiling in obscurity mostly. All of a sudden its cool to be an outsider or something. If they only knew what it’s really like, haha.
Of course. I guess those who are in it for the money are a bit deluded anyway, aren’t they? I mean, you might as well put all that time into studying law. Because Creme has already passed through myriad trends, are you better prepared for when the shit hits the fan?
Well, I think the cowboys days of the music bizz are over, right? The times in the 90’s when you could still shift 20,000 Unit Moebius records (like KK did) and make a quick buck are behind us, so it attracts a different kind of “entrepreneur”. As for me, I have no special preparation. Just a crazy low overhead and no way out, so its either swim or drown like a pwopah shark.
Well, without wanting to sound terribly fucking cliched, there’s more than a bit of punk in that attitude.Your love of Punk and Hardcore is pretty well documented actually. I think that ethos can be seen and heard in Creme, in it’s own special way, would you agree?
Yeah, it all boils down to DIY I guess. In my formative years I have spent way too much time listening to Crass “Big A, Little A” and reading dodgy fanzines and going to low level gigs in squats and stuff. “External control are you gonna let them get you? Do you wanna be a prisoner in the boundaries they set you?” Somehow it all seemed very natural to me, like the only way to approach anything is with a DIY attitude. All the great art is made that way, wether its by choice or out of necessity. Nothing good has ever come from the corporate world. They might incorporate something good, but usually they just end up sucking the life out of it. Which doesnt mean I am “anti system” or anything, but I do think the important stuff should be left to the individual. I will still call the cops if my bike is stolen though.
Ha! Is your dedication to said DIY approach and the running of Creme the reason why there isn’t more records with your name on them? There was Mr. Clavio with Legowelt that we know of, but maybe there’s some gems out there that we didn’t know you were responsible for?
It’s not so much a dedication, more second nature. I really don’t think about how to approach stuff. I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way. I am a dilettante. Music wise I get up to some things, but under the radar for now. I might throw some stuff in DJ sets or whatever, but I have no plans to really release anything at the moment, and I wouldn’t really wanna use Creme as a platform for some shit I made, because it’s just too easy. If I do anything I will give it to other people first to kind of legitimize it to myself, and others whose opinion I value. But as with anything I say, this may swing wildly within the next 24 hours and I might have a release out all of a sudden.
Next up in the Creme release schedule are “Commanchee’s Revenge” and Str8 Jakkin Kru, right? Two completely different, yet amazing records that may or may not come from the past. All rather clandestine. Can you shed shed some light on the origins of these records?
Lets just say “Commanchee’s Revenge” is pretty easy to find out if you know how to use google. Str8 Jakkin Kru I don’t know if we can release with all the samples and stuff, although I would like to. I have to figure out how to do that one because I think its great (and legit for once as well). I mean there’s no smoke screen around it, it’s really was done by a bunch of guys in the early 90’s that had no pull whatsoever, and were just ignored. If only they had known the DIY spirit, then discogs might have another $400 entry. Next up is Orgue Electronique’s remix of Henry Saiz’s “Our Discovery” too. Lovely tune. That and Commanchee are first up.
OK, so Comanchee’s Revenge is Legowelt? Now that I think about it, google wouldn’t even have been necessary. A closer listen might have been adequate!
Yeah, its that dude again.
Last, but most certainly not least, tell us a bit about this blinding mix you’ve graced us with. If there’s anything to tell that is….
There’s a ton of upcoming stuff in it. I get sent a lot of music (most of it garbage), but I am also tapped into some cool channels. I kinda forgot about this one because I end up doing a few a week, just so I have something to listen to in the car, but let me see.. yeah.. this one has some upcoming stuff from Awanto, Yor, Jared Wilson, Myriadd, Bleak and some things I am not sure whether they’re out or not. Also some new stuff I dig: MCDE, Theo Parrish, DJ Muscle from WT and some Neville Watson things. Thats about it I think, all thrown through a variety of appliances to make it pump like a beast in heat, cause I like a thick, crunchy, bass heavy rolling sound in the mix.