Timothy Clerkin

 

Timorthy Clerkin has an undefinable uniqueness about him that emanates in his personality and his music. With a refined palette, his sound pulls from various domains, drawing a chunk of influence from rock sub-genres, As soon as you see the moustache, you have a suspicion that he’s got some interesting stories to tell. He did not disappoint.

You recently made the move over to Amsterdam. How's the place treating you?

Yeah really well thanks, absolutely love it! Living in London for 9 years took a bit of a toll. I still love London and hope to return one day (after Bexit is cancelled) but the pace of life, the cost of living, the space, the people, the common sense and efficiency in all facets of life are a welcome break from the London grind! Cycling is a whole different ball game here too, I’ve not been shouted at by a single driver since I got here two months ago. Game changer. 

What have you already fallen in love with?

The beautiful canals and architecture are obviously great, not to mention all the amazing clubs and food spots, but my favourite thing about the Netherlands is probably the social responsibility people feel. The homeless community is tiny compared to London and the government have ensured there’s proper social care. One of the main reasons I moved out of the UK was because I didn’t want my taxes to go towards any of this horrific tory government’s policies; like stripping already marginalised or differently-abled people and of their benefits, cutting funding for vital public services, condemning more children than ever before to poverty, whilst simultaneously giving massive tax breaks to the country’s highest earners. I’d rather pay my taxes in a country that looks after it’s most vulnerable in society and has a financial ethos I broadly agree with. It’s not like I pay loads in tax or anything, just a personal choice on a moral level.

You recently released your Unborn EP on Ransom Note. Tell us how you approached this release differently to your previous EPs.

It’s the same approach as usual to be honest! They pick the best few tracks that I’ve produced recently that fit with the tone of the label. We try and get a bit variation overall, Unborn itself is a pretty full on acid-techno club track, so the other three are very much not that. The one thing we are doing differently with this release actually is releasing the four originals on one EP, then doing a remix EP later this month. We’ve got a remix of each track from the original EP an they’re all bloody amazing! 

If you were to try and pinpoint it down to a sentence or two, how would you describe your sound?

Blimey, that’s a very tough one indeed! I guess it’d go something like: Indie-disco with a heavy dose of warped-guitar shoe-gaze, meets the late 80s UK rave scene, via Detroit techno and nihilism. All underpinned by a love of vintage, ambient, woozy, out of tune synthesis, homemade & lo-fi gear, with an eye on stoner and post-rock. 

I think it would be fair to say that you aren't intimidated by trying something new. What's the process you take in trying to find a sound that is experimental and that no one has heard in the context of electronic dance music?

I think it’s pretty hard to do something that’s totally new to dance music. After 30 odd years, I reckon all the ‘fusion’ genres there could be have probably already been created! For me, exploring the limits of sound is a more interesting artistic endeavour. Though serious breakthroughs in that department only really occur when technology moves on a stage. There are some very interesting bits of kit coming out right now that are definitely furthering what we can do with sound design and creation, but also society as a whole is quite obsessed with looking backwards. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cheaper copies of vintage synths and new Star Wars films, but we do need to keep up the pace of moving forwards, in my opinion.

Are there any artists that you draw inspiration from when it comes to these experimental sounds?

Yeah plenty. Aphex Twin has always had a very ambitiously innovative approach to his music, I like how much contempt he has for rules. I try and include a bit of that sort of punk ethos, but he’s much more technically minded than I am (and more of a genius, obviously) - I’m yet to start taking my synths apart to see what else they can do! From a mixing point of view, Brain Eno has been a huge influence, that book he wrote a couple of years is a fabulous source of inspiring techniques. But really, I just tend to get inspired by sounds - sitting down with a piece of kit, whatever it may be, and just seeing what it can do is usually the most inspiring thing for me. A sound leads to a palette, which leads to an arrangement, which leads to a track. Usually… 

You flirt with a few tracks that dip below the 100BPM mark. It's surprising how well these tracks can carry the same energy as some of your other uptempo productions. What do you think a slower BPM does to a track's energy?

Yes I’m a massive fan of taking things sub-100 - not all acid and techno has to be over 120bpm. When you slow things down, it’s easier to fit more complex polyrhythms and stuff in - like maybe something you’d find in a 170bpm jungle track, can work on a track that’s 90bpm. So perhaps that’s where the energy comes from... I was a massive fan of sludge metal back in the day, so maybe I’ve kinda carried that through with me. 

Given your vast sound profile, one would assume that a lot of gear is needed to make up that. What does your studio set up look like?

Well, it got a lot smaller recently; as I moved country I decided to sell a few of the bulkier items, which of course now I regret hugely! But my go-to bits of kit right now are: Roland 303, Alpha Juno, Juno 6, TR8, JX3P, SH101 & Space Echo; Novation Super Bass Station, Korg MS-20, a few guitars and basses, my vintage organ, which I’m determined to get on some kind of 90s rave track, and then just a few outboard compressors and my Mackie desk. In terms of software, I use a lot of the Waves stuff and all their emulations of vintage things. 

How do you approach producing vocal lead tracks in comparison to purely instrumental tracks?

Well it all depends on the goal; my track Knife Edge Heart was really, at it’s core, a synth-pop song, so I kept the vocals nice & clean, and very high in the mix so they were crystal clear. I’m working on another track right now that, although it has a full vocal, is a much dirtier, distorted, wobbly synthesiser affair, so the vocals will sit much further back in the mix and be used as part of the colour of the arrangement, as opposed to the lead. 

What tips would you give aspiring artists who are trying to bring uniqueness to their productions?

Just experiment! Forget all the fucking rules you’ve learned or heard should be adhered to, they are absolute bollocks. Do what you want and don’t care what other people might think of it. Self-consciousness kills creative innovation. 

What are some artists or genres that you listen to that some of your own listeners may be surprised by?

I still listen to a fair amount of heavy metal. I recommend Yob. Doom metal and post-rock are very similar to techno in that they both rely on the the build and release of tension. Pantera are probably my favourite metal band of all time, mind you. 

Do you see yourself more as a producer or a live artist with a production skill set?

Hmm good question… I guess neither, but both? I’ve been playing live in bands and stuff since I was a teenager but I’ve spent almost the last decade producing most days, so one definitely feeds on the other and vice versa. They’re quite hard to separate in my mind now! 

Thinking globally, where is your favourite city to play, and which city have you fallen in love with that you didn't expect to?

There are so many, I love playing wherever people are willing to listen… I really don’t have a favourite! Though Jakarta was an unexpected very pleasant surprise. Big shout out to all the Dekadenz crew, what a fucking top collective they are.

What's something that you're wanting to achieve, both personally and professionally, prior to the end of the '10s?

Crikey, that only leaves me 7 months, so I ought to be realistic! Um, sorting out the wiring in the studio once and for all, and shaving off my beard, Modest aims, but achievable. 

 

Holly Lester

 

After rinsing her Boiler Room set for what seemed like months, we were stoked to hear that Holly Lester was part of our community. Lucky enough for us, she returns to AVA festival this weekend to do it all again. Her style juxtaposes dreamy soundscapes against bouncy floor-movers, mixed in such a refined manner that extends the energy of her sets without being overpowering. We’ve loved watching her progress, and had the pleasure of learning more about her journey thus far.

hollylesteredit3.jpg

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up in the Irish countryside in County Armagh and made my escape to England at age nineteen to seek civilisation and get a degree. I spent four years in lovely Liverpool before moving on to Manchester, which I just left in February. My life has now come full circle and I am back in Ireland, spending my time between the rolling hills of Armagh and Belfast city. I have been DJing for about twelve years (not counting bedroom DJing it’s something like seven years) and I run a monthly radio show on Manchester’s Limbo Radio. I’m definitely more drawn towards warm analogue sounds. My sets are a cross between straight up dancefloor jams influenced by the sounds of yesteryear and dreamy yet percussive house tracks with a splash of breakbeat, Detroit techno or trance here and there.

Who first introduced you to electronic music?

It was actually entirely my father’s fault as there were no other kids that were into electronic music where we lived. He listened to a lot of different stuff when I was growing up but I guess I really latched on to the acid house/trance/big beat/ambient sounds he played when I was about thirteen. Some of the kids in school were listening to happy hardcore, which was of course a big thing for most kids at that period, but that was about as good as it got. At the time I really didn’t like the happier side to hardcore either; I ended up being more drawn to the darker hardstyle/gabber sound a few years later which would soundtrack some of my first club experiences in the North (with a dash of tech trance).

When did you start playing out, and what was the biggest lesson you learnt in your early years of playing?

I started learning to mix on the most impractical pair of CDJs known to man when I was fourteen. When I was eighteen, I got a few gigs in rather questionable local venues before making the move to Liverpool. I guess Liverpool is where I really cut my teeth - that and good ol’ Ibiza, where I would run away to in between uni for three seasons (I’m not sure how I’m still alive after this stage in my life to be quite honest but here I am). The biggest lesson I learnt in my early years was that networking was literally everything. As a DJ that is so critical. Oh, and another lesson I learnt was that the only way you can get better is by forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. I still have to remind myself of that one, even now.

The AVA Boiler Room must have been a defining moment for you. Tell us a bit about that experience on the day.

Wow, yeah. It really was! That day is still a complete blur to me. I was completely terrified for an entire two months before the set. I don’t really remember playing to be honest, so it’s a good thing that I can watch it back. The part that does stick with me from that set was, towards the end, I kind of relaxed just a tiny bit and looked out to the crowd and seen how ecstatic they all were. It was just such an incredible feeling. The crowds at home are known for being pretty rowdy and fond of a chant, so I couldn’t have asked for a better location really.

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Was there much response to the set, and how did that lead to future opportunities?

I guess there was a pretty big response to the Boiler Room set in the weeks and months that followed. I started getting way more booking requests, in Europe and even outside Europe. It was a pretty surreal feeling to be honest. At the end of last year, I was asked to be a resident at The Warehouse Project in Manchester, which is somewhere I have been playing on and off for years. I also got to play in some amazing cities for the first time, including places like Prague, Tbilisi, Amsterdam and Berlin. In Autumn, I supported Bicep on their album tour in Printworks, which was probably the biggest venue I have played to date. So some really nice things have been happening for sure. It’s been almost a year exactly and I’m feeling very grateful for all the experiences that have come my way so far. Being able to explore new places and meet so many interesting people is an added bonus for me.

What are your favourite avenues for finding new and old music, be that online or offline?

The main way I find music is by listening to mixes, radio shows, Soundcloud suggestions and Youtube suggestions. I often just leave my phone to play through Soundcloud as I go about my day and then screenshot things to download at a later point. It’s also always good to actually get out to clubs, hear what other artists are playing and hear what actually works on the dancefloor.

What are some of your favourite organizations within the industry that challenge issues outside of music alone?

I love the ethos behind The Cause in London. It’s also an awesome little space and the lineups are always on point. I played there a few months ago with Fettburger and really liked the DIY feeling they have cultivated there. They have raised £15k in one year alone for mental health charities, which is super impressive! I’m so glad that the industry is making steps towards promoting and practising better mental health and mental health awareness.

I also really admire what the Room 4 Rebellion girls have been doing in the UK and Ireland in the past few years. The fight for abortion rights in Northern Ireland is a matter close to my heart and I really respect their efforts to highlight the ongoing issues here via the medium of club culture. We continue the fight!

Who has been your most influential role model/mentor on your path to get where you are today?

I don’t really feel like I have had a predominant role figure, career wise. My influences when I first started out are definitely not the same now, though I guess someone who I have looked up to on a general life level from the beginning is Annie Mac. Without her Radio 1 shows in the early 2000s, I definitely wouldn’t have got a taste for genres like dubstep, dnb and grime (they never really took off in Ireland). She is also an absolute powerhouse of a woman and I have great admiration for everything she has achieved and all her various projects, whilst also managing to be a mother and wife (and a fellow Irish-woman!). I guess I find it very inspiring when people from this little island find success. The Bicep lads are a prime example of this and for that reason, I feel like myself and many of my peers at home really look up to them. They are hugely supportive of homegrown talent and have given me so many great opportunities which have helped me get to where I am today. In terms of mentors, I guess I have had many people come and go in my life that may have been considered a mentor in some way. I wouldn’t say I have one right now but am more supported by a solid network of friends. Bobby Analog, Jordan and Or:la I speak to pretty much every day - they keep me sane and they are all very inspiring, hardworking individuals.

For the remainder of 2019, what are you most excited about?

I’m super excited for AVA Festival this weekend - considerably less nervous than the last time haha! Also excited to return to Berlin in July, this time to play IPSE. I have some other plans which I’m very excited for in the latter half of 2019, but gonna keep that a lil secret for the moment.

Tracklist:

1. H.O.M - Unathi (Haute Couture Euphoria Remix)

2. Jumpsource - Homeward

3. Black Dog Productions  - Flux D Mix

4. Project Pablo - Toes Unstepped

5. ANF - The Surface

6. Fallout - Altered States

7. Pancake - Don't Turn Your Back On Me

8. Laidback Luke - Such a Dreamer

9. Ravi McArthur - Another Crap Night Out in Eltham

10. Violet - Silver Lining

11. DJ Tonka - Radical Noise

12. Skee Mask - Flyby VFR

 

Dansu Discs

 

Since March of 2017, Dansu Discs have been fostering unique talent to create first class releases for house aficionados. Following their initial release from Paradiso Rhythm, they have treated listeners to a first class spread of sounds, with representation from Anthony Fade, Big Miz, LUZ1E, Subjoi and xxxy, just to name a few. Givers at heart, 100% of donations from their last release, Dance for Mental Health, will be going to The Mental Health Foundation, a cause dear to Max and Nick’s heart. We had chats with the boys to learn more about how Dansu came into existence and they see it going from here, and lucky for us, they compiled some of their favorite releases of 2018 for your listening pleasure.

dansu

Introduce yourselves.

Nick: Nick Howsley from Manchester, Currently in final year of university in Leeds.

Max: I’m Max Wyatt also from Manchester, 22 living down in London at the moment working part-time in Phonica Records.

What were you both doing prior to starting Dansu Discs?

Nick: We were both pretty much doing the same thing really and playing out for different events. Max got into the music industry a little earlier than I did, having run his own events around different northern locations.

Max: Like Nick said started running some small events with friends before Uni and then yeah I guess began producing and DJ’ing throughout our time in Leeds together.

Why did you decide to start Dansu Discs?

Nick: We get asked this one a lot! We lived together for 2 years at university and we knew we wanted to get into the music industry in something together. We looked at events and other options. I think the similar interest we had in different artists and labels kind of brought together the idea of setting up Dansu.

Max: Yeah for sure. We shared the same musical output which meant starting the label felt really natural! I guess it was also the factor of listening to so many unheard artists and growing a platform to share that music with as many people as possible. Knowing and living the struggle of an independent brand/musician for sure drives us to try and work with as many others as we possibly can.

Nick Howsley

Nick Howsley

You've swung between individual releases and multiple VA releases, each branded in a different fashion. How do you approach each release?

Nick: I’m sure Max will agree that we approach each release with a completely fresh mind set. I think with the VA’s we always look to show the music we appreciate across a broad spectrum. I personally really enjoy VA’s as it offers the freedom to have a more open mind on tracks. With vinyl releases we always have an idea of the kind of sound we want to approach but again one thing we always try to ensure is that the sound is switched up slightly just to bring a variety to the label. 

Max: Yeah exactly what nick said, we both like pretty much every genre you can imagine so by doing the VA’s is ultimately us expressing that within a release haha. The other branding aspect can also be down to the help by our designer Liv Beck. She’s my girlfriend and also a best friend to Nick so she’s helped curate the Dansu image since day 1. I guess we have a lot to thank her for!

Does the podcast series play a particular role for your label?

Nick: The Podcast has been a bit too quiet over the last 12 months or so as we have been busy with other factors within the label. We have actually just relaunched it with a great mix from k2k. We plan to continue to put out monthly mixes, so we are definitely looking forward to that!

How do you source talent?

Nick: We source tracks in different ways, some come from people we have constant contact with and some come from artists who we just want to get in touch with. We always have an idea of what we would like to do next with the label pretty early on.

Max: Yeah for sure and some of the best stuff we have signed to date has also been random demos dropping in our inbox from people we have never heard of!

Is there a particular sound that you believe defines the label?

Nick: Definitely not. We both like to ensure that we release different tracks on Dansu and that’s what we enjoy the most is being able to express our different musical preferences on the label.

Max: If we stuck to a sound I guess it would ultimately become boring for us. There’s just so much good stuff out there it’s always made sense to have a huge variety.

Max Wyatt

Max Wyatt

What advice would you give someone who's looking to start an independent label?

Nick: Enjoy it! I never thought In my first year of uni that I would have set up something like Dansu and had the opportunity to be able to work with artists we were buzzing over and sharing with each other only a couple of years ago!

Max: Yeah having fun and remembering why you’re doing it is definitely key. Some people can become fixated on just looking for the ‘big’ record and forget about why they began doing the label in the first place. Be patient, kind to absolutely everyone and overall show as much love to the others trying the same thing as yourself. Having peoples support will only push your brand further and further.

What's the most important lesson you've learnt thus far in managing the label?

Nick: I think taking the next step from digital to vinyl releases and understanding the pressing, distribution side of things and so on. But again, we enjoyed this as we saw it as a step in the right direction for Dansu. We would like to think we did alright.

Max: I’d probably say getting to understand the industry on a professional scale. It’s quite hard trying to reach a next step when you’ve had no one showing you the ropes. We struggled in the early days of setting up Dansu with a variety of things we just didn’t really know anything about. Now I’d for sure say were on the right track. Don’t think we’ll ever be able to say were ‘professional’ at what we do, but we don’t care. It’s more about just putting out good music, respecting our artists and having fun doing it!

What are you most excited about for in 2019?

Nick: Musically, just continuing to release records that we both love. Hopefully some Dansu Discs showcases and just overall continuing to enjoy what we’re doing. I have a pretty busy few months ahead with graduation in July, but I am looking forward to celebrating it at Glastonbury before I go traveling in Asia for just over 5 weeks later in July!

Max: Musically, I would say just continuing with what we’re doing and putting out some of the wicked records we have lined up. Won’t drop any names yet but be sure to keep an eye out, got some amazing material in the works. Oh and definitely spending my 23rd birthday at Love International I can’t wait for!

 

 

Cinthie

 
cinthie

My daughter really gets into YouTube channels and stars that are very famous in her class. The other day she was saying ‘Oh mum, you're so boring because you're not even on YouTube.’ I was like ‘Oh ok. Hang on a second honey!’

IOM recently met with Cinthie, Berlin based DJ and producer, head of 803 Crystal Grooves, Beste Modus, Unison Wax, Beste Freunde and we_r house, Radio Fritz host, record store owner and proud parent. Let us catch our breath for a second. Apart from diving into her entrepreneurial activities, our discussion focuses on the binary contrast between Cinthie being a single mom and her former years throwing illegal parties in Berlin.  She also touched upon her record store, Elevate, being an early adopter of Spotify, and the importance of sharing music on the internet.

How do you deal with time management while juggling all your projects?

Usually, I’m relaxing when I'm playing music on the weekend because it's the only time that I can really switch off my brain and be myself. I'm also a single mom, so it's quite tough dealing with the limited amount of time I have, but I'm a proper German, so I stay super organized with all my lists. My food list, what I'm buying, what I'm doing. It's quite fun being organized and it definitely helps.

You recently opened your record store, Elevate. What were some of your recent learning experiences with that side of the business?

We opened Elevate by mistake because there was a shop free next to my house and we were looking for a storage room for our labels.  If you open a shop and only have 10 records, you quickly learn that you should probably have more, so we decided to open a proper record store. We’re not open every day, though. We open Saturdays, and every second week on Wednesdays we have a popup event that starts at 6 and ends at 10. We're adding more records every day, but it's not like a normal record store. We support our friends and their labels first. It's great because they usually give us their records first and they pay us what we sell and we don't have to pay for the records right away. It's no risk for both of us, and we can also support our friends which is really nice. There’s a lot of things to learn, especially with the tech and inventory side of the business. You learn and upgrade every day, and we’re taking baby steps.

Was opening a record store something you had planned early on?

Elevate was just another opportunity that fell into my lap. I used to work in a record store when I was younger, about 20 years ago, and it was like going back to my roots. Sometimes I think ‘Maybe I should just close it. It's too much’, but I just have to delegate more work to the rest of the crew. That's hard for me because I like doing things myself.

Most of my very close friends I’ve met are through the internet. I get lots of messages from people internationally. Without the internet, they wouldn’t have known about me and I wouldn’t have known about them

Are you a Solo Traveler?

I travel solo because I don't have a manager. Sometimes I bring my daughter now because she's almost 10 and it's really fun to travel with her.

When you bring your daughter along does she grasp what you do?

She knows what I'm doing and she kind of understands it. The other day she had a friend over, and at 10 years old, they only can imagine what I'm doing. ‘You’re always away on the weekend, but you’re just playing music.’ At the same time, my daughter really gets into YouTube channels and stars that are very famous in her class. The other day she was saying ‘Oh mum you're so boring because you're not even on YouTube.’ I was like ‘Oh ok. Hang on a second, honey’, and I showed her my Boiler Room from 2014 where I have half a million plays, and then she was like ‘Oh my god, mum, you're on YouTube!’ Since then I’m the superstar in the class. The children are like ‘Her mum is on YouTube! She’s so famous!’ It’s so funny. I think they kind of realise what I’m doing but of course, for them, it’s very hard to understand what I’m actually doing. But they always ask whether I’m famous, and I’m like ‘well, maybe!’.  

Do you take your daughter to the studio?

I wish she wanted to come more often, but most of the time, she’s like ‘Mum, this is so boring.’ She had a Maschine lesson with Mike Huckaby though. What he’s teaching is rhythm, and it’s really interesting that he’s teaching the kids drums with their fingers. She liked it a lot, but I think she’s more into dancing.

How has the internet changed the way you buy and find music?

I love to go to the record store, but, let’s be honest, I’m quite busy. For me sometimes it's more convenient to go through an online store, or to Discogs. Back in the day, the record store had a social aspect. You could go and meet up with people who had the same taste in music and now I have the feeling that people are lonely. They sit in front of the computer, they don’t have real friends, and they are just trolling around. It’s a bit strange. But of course, if you want to find new music, especially now that Spotify is so big, it’s more convenient. What I don’t like is the way you have to present yourself. I’m doing great (I think) but I’m doing it because everyone else is. I want to show people my skills and not my face every day.

Do you feel like there’s an obligation to fans being on social media?

I love to communicate with fans. The other day I was chatting with someone who wants to start making music. They were objectively good looking, but instead of looking for a booking agency, they are currently talking with an influencer agency. I’m like ‘what the fuck? Aren’t you supposed to get skills first and then do all of that?' It’s crazy though. It’s not so much about skills anymore. It’s more about how you look, what you have, what you eat. It’s a bit strange, I would say. These days it’s more about how you can sell someone as a product, rather than letting their music speak for itself.

‘What is underground?’ I personally think I left the underground when I stopped throwing illegal parties in Berlin and started writing invoices for my gigs. 

Do you think that social media and the way that the internet is connecting people is creating opportunities that wouldn’t have previously come about for artists?

Absolutely. Most of my very close friends I’ve met are through the internet. I get lots of messages from people internationally. Without the internet, they wouldn’t have known about me and I wouldn’t have known about them.

Do you think that things like Boiler Room sets are a kicking-off point for discovery across international markets?

My breakthrough started with my 2014 Boiler Room. I think now they’re doing too many for my taste, but back then they were coming out with a new video once a week. Everyone was waiting for them to release it and it was something special. The anticipation of who was playing Boiler Room next was big. For me, it was very important to have Boiler Room as a platform.

Apart from production in 2019, are there any particular milestones you have?

My goal is to release on a few bigger labels. I also want to pump up my radio show more and share it a bit more. In general, I want to share more music in 2019.

Is there a particular goal behind your Spotify playlists?

I want to share music I love, as well as other friends’ music. I think it’s a good platform because in the ‘so called’ underground scene, not many people are using it yet.

At the end of last year, everyone was sharing their stats from Spotify. I felt like a lot of people got pissed about that because it wasn’t ‘underground’, but I’m like, ‘come on guys, what is underground?’ I personally think I left the underground when I stopped throwing illegal parties in Berlin and started writing invoices for my gigs. The music might still be underground, but it’s a business. I set up a business and I have to write invoices for my gigs. I don’t think that’s necessarily underground. I have some underground labels, and although I’m only selling a few thousand copies every time, I feel like I’m limiting myself. It’s great with Spotify that you can’t necessarily download the tracks in the way you would traditionally download songs. It’s helpful when I’m on the train because I can’t bring a record player on board, so I put together my favourite tunes and can listen to it on the go.

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We also can’t forget about other markets, like Brazil, who may not necessarily have thirty record stores nearby, like in Berlin. For them it’s really expensive to get records or buy turntables. For international markets, they have to pay a lot of tax and shipping, so why should I tell them that they’re not allowed to listen to my music? That’s why I love Spotify so much at the moment, because it’s very well set up to reach new people with my music. As a platform for the underground scene, it’s still quite new, so I’m happy that I’m an early adopter.

Sharing music is bringing people together. Some people hate sharing and want to keep their secret weapons for themselves because may have been digging for a while for their tracks, but I don’t have a problem with it. I was always sharing music when I was working in record stores. We would get new releases in and I would play them on the weekends. People would come up to me and ask me about the track names, and of course I would let them know and it would make them happy. Some DJs may be scared that if they share the track ID then someone else is going to buy the record and might play it as well! It’s not that it’s a bad thing and people are copying your whole set and pretending they are you. In short, I don’t mind and I’m happy to share the track IDs from any of my sets, because I want people to buy the record and support the artists.

Words: Stu Richards
Images: Marie Staggat

CINTHIE’S SECRET WEAPONS
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

 

Jessie Belters

 

Although many descriptors could summarize Jessie Belters in a sentence, what drew us to her is her passion and effort to sustain the local scene in Cardiff. A global traveler, nightlife advocate and community builder, she is a true proponent for the electronic music scene in the UK. Her sounds move from distinctly heavy and rambunctious beats to drifty, trance-inducing euphoria at a minutes notice. Recorded live at Concrete in Hakuba, we were able to chat with her between terrible WiFi connections across Japan.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Swansea, South Wales where I spent much of my childhood. Growing up I went from being a glow-stick waving trance head to an emo to an indie chick to a drum and bass lover. Basically I’ve always loved music in whatever form. Legendary beloved underground club “Monkey Bar” opened my eyes to the rave scene and became my regular go to. That place was wild. Three floors of sweaty, stinking chaos where dreams were made on half-split pills and one pound cans of Orangeboom. I’ll never forget bumping in to my college chemistry teacher who hated me. I was dressed as a prostitute for a pimps and hoes night and I was absolutely spangled. Luckily he never brought it up!

Then I moved to Cardiff for University. Went on to start a PhD but found it wasn’t for me but remained in the capital ever since as I’d fallen in love with the city. It’s where I found my feet musically and it has a great community of people, it really feels like home. I’ve always had aspirations to travel and see the world before I turned 30, so that’s what I’m doing now.

IOM 013 is a relatively eclectic selection. How would you describe your sound?

I play all kinds of stuff depending on the occasion and during sets I like to mix up all kinds of genres. I find it fun and challenging that way. I also love dropping the odd euphoric, nostalgia inducing obscure track. A lot of people have told me that my sets tell a story or take them on a journey. Overall, I would say my sound is underpinned with a groovy and emotional rolling undercurrent, with a darker in-your-face electro, techno and breaks influence at the front end.

Tell us about the night when you recorded this mix.



This winter I’ve been spending time finally learning to ski in a small village called Hakuba in the Japanese Alps. I soon realized that this place has a surprising amount of good parties and venues for a town population of 9000. Punters are mainly electronic music lovers from Australia, Canada, Britain and Japan. Within the first few weeks I’d already played various events as well as started my own dance classics night called “Wayback Wednesdays”. This ran weekly in a quirky jazz bar with walls stacked with vinyl and decks previously graced by Move D. Eventually, I was asked to headline for popular house/techno event “The Deep Edition” run by residents Walts and Khadu. I was super excited as their events were well known in the scene and every party I’d been to was awesome. The mix was recorded live at a super cool club called Concrete - a bunker in the middle of nowhere submerged in snow with swinging chairs and a fat sound system (see pic). Rrose, Antenes and Peter Van Hoesen are just some names that have played here recently. Definitely more my kind of “Après Ski”. It was a crazy night that ended with 100 people packing on to a 20 person shuttle bus like Tetris. My friend had the misfortune of acquiring the nickname “pooleg” thanks to a drunken guy passing out on her lap and you can guess the rest… haha!

You founded the Cardiff techno and electro night in party, Doppler. Tell us about some of the moments closest to your heart from those events.

I started Doppler with my mate Jimmy when there became a serious lack of techno nights in the city. Overall it’s been hell of a journey and it’s been really difficult to choose just a few memories but here goes…

One night I’ll never forget was when we unintentionally booked DJ Stingray the same weekend as the Champions League Final game in the Principality Stadium. This threw us a plethora of unexpected obstacles. One issue was no vehicles were allowed in to the centre of town, but we had to get the sound system out of the venue. At the end of the night, DJ Stingray stuck around for a couple of hours while we packed up, then joined us in the rain to mission the sound systems across town to an accessible area. He was such a gent and played a killer set too, obv!

Another fond memory was when we booked Bruce. That night was one of the worst for us in terms of dealing with heavy-handed security. At the end of his set a bouncer was being overly aggressive telling us to turn the music off when the crowd was singing joyously along hand in hand to Minnie Riperton “Inside my love”. The bouncers face was priceless when Bruce cheekily turned the volume back to max so everyone could carry on enjoying that special moment.  

Another funny moment was The Kelly Twins nearly getting kicked out just before their own set! Once they got let back in they played one of the best sets we’d ever seen that included many spin backs! They told us it was their favourite ever gig and the feeling was mutual. I’m so glad I managed to get a decent recording so that Crack Mag was able to pick up on it and name it Mix of the Month. Those guys are so underrated.

And finally Omar fucking S! Cardiff was super stoked. Promoters had been trying to get Omar S to Wales for nearly a decade with no luck. Finally it was happening and it was happening in a sick new venue - a derelict casino with the decks in the cashier’s booth. It was the best I’d seen him play. Thanks to the enthusiastic Cardiff crowd he played for an extra hour until licensing obligations meant we had to stop. At the end people were hammering on the Perspex glass of the DJ booth. The energy was electric. I’ll never forget one guy handing him a Tom Jones CD and Omar S looking at me confused like “Who the hell is Tom Jones?!”. Earlier that day Omar S didn’t even know Wales was a country never mind who Tom Jones was! Safe to say he left Wales a little more cultured haha!

What is special about the scene and people in Cardiff in comparison to other cities you've played?

The Cardiff scene is very welcoming, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s no “cliquiness” or exclusivity to it, and the crowd isn’t shy about showing their appreciation, letting loose and properly going for it on the dance floor. I think this is what makes it so much fun to be a part of, and why many DJs who have played in Cardiff have made a point of saying how much they’ve enjoyed playing.

As a proponent of the music and cultural scene within Cardiff, tell us about the recent changes to Cardiff’s nightlife.

The hypocrisy of Cardiff’s recent proclamation as a 'Music City' is deafening. We lost Buffalo bar, a place where Adele once sang to 60 people just one year before the release of her platinum debut album “19”. And after a long fight from the community we also lost Gwdihŵ. The Save Gwdihŵ and Guildford Crescent petition amassed 20,000+ signatures, various events hosted one-off nights, and more than 2,000 people took part in a protest march. The engagement from the community to protect what makes Cardiff special was empowering and emotionally charged and has opened up conversations with locals, students and visitors about the meaning of Gwdihŵ to them.

Any city the size of Cardiff would be in a sustained period of grief after losing a cultural institution like Gwdihŵ. It was one of Cardiff’s most iconic and best loved venues, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary only 4 months before its closure. Its contribution to the fabric of the city is immeasurable. It housed a springboard for local, national and international musicians of all genres, as well as a training ground for DJ’s, promoters, sound engineers, designers and creative individuals across the board. It was an inclusive, safe, and vibrant, not to mention very successful space. It is exactly the type of live music venue with which Cardiff Councils Music Strategy is designed to sustain and support, and yet the people of Cardiff have been left feeling betrayed.

Although the creative output has slowed, and there is a great sense of loss felt by everyone, the scene is still there, and those involved really are invested in the preservation and growth of Cardiff’s musical culture. There is a quiet confidence from those in the know that out of the ashes of Gwdihŵ will rise a phoenix.

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What did Gwdihŵ as part of Guilford Crescent mean to you and those within the tight music community in Cardiff?

Gwdihŵ was like a living room away from home where punters of all ages came to dance, listen and share life-stories within those colourful walls. It was a place where countless people had some of their first gigs, and it’s been the initiation of many people’s musical journeys.

My first time playing outside my bedroom was at Gwdihŵ. I’d warmed up for Mor Elian for longstanding house night Blue Honey and had to resort to using extra thick Hovis bread as a shock absorber for the decks! It was also the last place I held a Doppler event just before I left for my current travels. We had local legend DJ Guy on the decks so the crowd was an interesting mix of the old ravers of the 80’s/90s amongst the younger generation all dancing like nutters together. It was a great send off and little did we know it would be closed just 2 months later.

It’s not the first time Cardiff has been threatened. Clubs; Clwb Ifor Bach, The Moon, and Fuel Rock Club had been propositioned into a re-development in early 2018 which would have led to their closure. An area of vibrant city nightlife where, like Gwdihŵ, the community has become enlightened, enthralled and enthused by the wealth of music on display. Thankfully, The Womanby street campaign to stop the demolition and redevelopment was a success and showed the power of what community has but also the importance the community holds for such venues. It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Gwdihŵ and Guildford Crescent.

How, as artists and music lovers, can people support their local scenes in ways beyond ticket sales?



Starting their own nights! One of the biggest issues holding back underground dance music in the UK are strict licensing laws and premises being shut down. The latter is caused by one-sided land ownership laws in the UK which aren’t going to change any time soon, not without a fight anyway. In the short term, if the dance music scene in general could increase its visibility / exposure nationally, like it has in Germany, as an integral part of UK culture and something which should be celebrated, it would force local counselors, national government and the media to take it more seriously.

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You started up a collective called Women, Wax and Digital Tracks. Tell us a bit about the idea behind this.


The idea of Women, Wax and Digital Tracks (WWDT) came from a conversation between myself and Andy, of cultural hub Blue Honey Night Café. We realized there was a serious underrepresentation of womxn in the Cardiff music scene. Sometimes there’d be day parties with 10-15 DJ’s on the line up and not one womxn. I had already started Doppler, which had allowed me to get my name out there. Girls would approach me excitedly to say that they’d love to do what I was doing. So I knew something had to be done. WWDT provided a safe space in a casual setting for womxn to come and show off their skills, to coax the bedroom DJ’s out of the woodworks. I also started DJ workshops for womxn which gathered a lot of interest. I’m really happy with how WWDT turned out and I’ve met a lot of amazing women along the way. It’s lovely to see some of the girls that came to play for WWDT now on the line ups for other events in and around Cardiff.

What's in store for the rest of 2019?

More traveling but will be back to play Virgo Festival end of May. Hopefully getting some other gigs and festivals in the calendar too. Then off to the States to trim weed and explore in a campervan after the festival season!

 

Kristy Harper

 

Kristy Harper’s creative expression and attitude are both intoxicating and inspiring, which is why she was an obvious choice for IOM 012. With her time spent predominantly in the UK, she hosts two-hour radio slots at Operator Radio Rotterdam and Netil Radio London, as well as being a producer and overall house music maven. There’s a lot to learn about Kristy, and we are lucky to share a glimpse into her past, present and future.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in the grey area of suburban London where I grew up on my dad’s record collection and regular weekend raves in Watford and the surrounding areas. Childhood memories of Prince, Osibisa and Grace Jones on my mum and dad’s hi-fi system (my dad used to own a hi-fi shop) made me a lover of anything with groove. I currently spend my time between London and Amsterdam working on music, DJing and collecting records.

How would you describe your sound?

As a DJ, I definitely love to jump from genre to genre but tend to focus on house, Italo and acid. Production-wise, I guess I mainly make sample based house, disco edits and 80’s synth heavy stuff. I’ve become obsessed with jamming over my disco edits with the Microkorg or Juno-106. 

Who were your initial influences when getting into house music, and how has that changed over the years?

My dad had the most incredible collection of blues, world, rock ’n’ roll, soul and disco, which influenced me hugely before I started listening to house music. I remember hearing about Paradise Garage and the beginnings of house music and became really interested in sampling. After discovering Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles, I was hooked. I also used to listen to a lot of Moby, Justice and Erol Alkan and cut-and-paste hip-hop producers like RJD2.

On a more personal level, a friend of mine really helped me on my journey into DJing. When he saw how obsessed I was with his records and decks, he lent me a controller for 6 months and said ‘you have to know how to mix by the time you give it back to me’. He also gave me a huge hard drive of house and techno to practice with. He influenced me more than I ever could’ve imagined.

I think my music taste is always evolving as I discover and experience new things. Now I’m influenced by a lot by artists I play alongside or work with in the studio as I find myself mesmerised and inspired by their musical knowledge or production talent.

Late last year you released Slut. Was there a message that you wanted to convey with that track?

Slut was such an interesting process for me. I’d been having a really difficult few months with what felt like hundreds of doors being shut in my face. I was finding it hard as a woman in the music industry and thought about taking time out. I remember seeing Samirah Raheem’s interview at Slut Walk pop up on my newsfeed and it came at exactly the right time. She totally bosses it; she talks about reclaiming the word slut, being proud of who you are, owning it as a woman and basically puts Jesse Lee Peterson (the interviewer) in his place.

 
 

I went straight into the studio and made the track in a couple of hours. It was mainly a cathartic experience for me but thought if the message resonated with other people, it would be a huge bonus. It also made me rethink the word myself. There really isn’t a male equivalent and it’s always used in a derogatory way. The best part about her interview and the sample is she takes a word with negative connotations and makes it positive and liberating. We shouldn’t be slut shaming, we shouldn’t be telling women what to wear or how to act and blame them for wanting to express themselves. People should be free to express themselves how they want without being shamed or made to feel bad.

What was the response like to the release?

The response was insane. After a few days, people were sharing the video all over the place, RA picked it up and put it on their new tracks section, Midland got behind it, DJ’s were emailing me for the file to play out and women were emailing me saying how much of an empowering track it was. I mean, it could definitely have been better production wise as it was a quick job but sometimes that’s the beauty of creating, you have to do something to the best of your ability in that moment and just put it out there. It’s so easy to sit on something for months! I couldn’t have asked for a better response.

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Will we see more releases from you this year?

Yes, actually! I’m really excited as I have two EP’s set for release between now and summer. The first EP is on London’s Monologues Records. Slut will feature on the second EP and we’re working on a dance floor heavy remix. It’ll be an incredible feeling to have that track on vinyl.

What are you most excited for in 2019?

After spring, I’m curating a few charity events around the release of my second EP and Slut and I’ll also be launching a selectors listening series/podcast at Giant Steps. It’s called Lait de Coco, where DJ’s can dig deep into their record bags and play strictly Sunday listening tunes whilst drinking chocolate milk and chilling on beanbags.

At the end of the year, I’ll be heading back to India for my debut tour! I can’t wait. This time I’ll be seeing friends in Mumbai and hitting up cities I haven’t visited before so I’m really looking forward to that.

 

Liam Doc

 

Liam Doc is one of the many new talents emerging from the Glasgow scene over the last few years. In IOM 011, you can’t help but be consumed by the intensity of the pumping choices that Liam compiles, or have your interest piqued by the familiar sounds in the glimpses of the unreleased tracks. We had a brief chat with the man to learn more.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a producer, I run a record label based in central Scotland called Eyeangle Records and its sub label Roux Records (alongside le Frenchman Chris Roux) and I'm a resident at Sub Club for RARE Wednesday. 

What is this mix comprised of?

It was inspired by my own experiences being a part of the IOM group, songs I've found from threads, songs I've ID'd myself, some gems I think everyone should know, as well as a few unreleased numbers from some friends of mine. 

How long have you been producing?

About 5 years now. I've muddled my way through a variety of styles. I started off recording some bands when I was younger and then I moved on to working with some hip hop acts. Over the past three years I've gradually gravitated towards house and techno. 

You've been releasing tracks online for about a year now. When you look back on your early tracks, what are the main areas of production you think you've progressed?

I think the stuff I've been writing recently that is currently unreleased is my best work to date and miles apart from what I've done in the past. In terms of the quality, the way it was made and the the vibe, I feel like I've found "my sound". 

I think as a producer, looking back at past productions, you'll always notice things in your mix that the average Joe won't really be looking out for. Even though I've always tried to be super critical of what I put out, there's a number of things I'd change if I could go back - mainly silly shit like "that hi hat should be lower" or "I should've saturated the kick more". 

I think one of the most important things I've learned in my 5 years making music is not to make rash decisions, sometimes you need that few months of sitting on a track just to make sure its as good as it can be. 

How have your recent releases been received by the community, locally and internationally?

To be honest, I was surprised how well they were received - especially the edits I've been doing. Initially I wasn't even sure if I was going to release them and then Big Miz started playing my Voices Of East Harlem one and then through him, Denis Sulta got in touch with me and wanted to sign four of them to his new label. That still feels surreal... I remember waking up for work one morning and seeing a friend request from him and a message asking me to send over the tunes - it was such a mind blowing moment. Three of my songs have turned up in the group as a result of that and, as a producer, to see some of the biggest DJ's in the world playing your tracks to thousands of people... there's not much more you can ask for.

Who are your inspirations for both your DJing and your production?

There's so many I could name that have had a profound influence on my sound and style. 

If I had to pick one for each category, I'd say my main influence for DJing - or at least the main artist that got me interested in DJing - would be Jamie XX. All of his Boiler Room sets are unbelievable, and I still watch them regularly. I love the way he can effortlessly mix across genres, from house to grime, to ambient noise, to disco and out of nowhere pounding techno. I saw him at T in the Park a few years ago and can genuinely say it's one of the best sets I've ever seen. The emotion and the vibe he conveyed across those two hours was amazing.

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In terms of a producer that inspires me, I'm going to go with Kamus. He's one of the artists I've been working closely with on the label and has recently took over the distribution side of things with Eyeangle. The boy is a MACHINE. Every few days he'll send me over whatever he's working on and its consistently shit hot. If I'm having a bit of writers block or not really feeling like I can be bothered going to the studio and he sends me a track, it always gives me a boost. There's so many intricate parts he adds in. His method and work flow is rapid and he's a genius when it comes to sampling. I genuinely don't think I've played a gig in the past year where I've not dropped at least one of his tunes. 

Is there anything specifically unique about the sound coming out of Glasgow currently?

There must be something in the water in Glasgow because the amount of talent that's pushing through is amazing. Everyone brings their own unique style to the table and you can be quietly confident that if you're turning up to a party in Glasgow, it's going to be a good one.

There's so many producers and DJ's that are making a name for themselves on an International level and I find it so inspiring to see so many doing well. With class acts like DABJ, Sofay, Fear-E, Harri & Dom and countless others paving the way, Glasgow is well and truly Scotland's hub for great house and techno. 

What are 3 music staples that everyone has to go to if they're traveling through Glasgow?

La Cheetah, Berkley Suite and last but definitely not least... the mighty Sub Club. 

What's currently on the cards for 2019?

2019 is looking busy. As well as my Sub Club parties with RARE Wednesday's, I've been booked for a couple of festivals; Shapes at the Jail in Stirling, Electric Fields and I'll be getting my Boiler Room debut at Fly Open Air in May which I am absolutely buzzing for. It's been a dream of mine forever and I can't thank the team at Fly enough for the opportunity. 

Release wise, I've got an EP planned for my label Eyeangle Records, as well as an edits EP which will be out on Denis Sulta's new label, Silver Service. I'm also curating a VA compilation album called Choose Life alongside the Eyeangle's event series, where 100% of the profits will be donated to the Scottish Association of Mental Health. I've already got two VERY big hitters confirmed as well as a host of local talent. 

 

Raw Unkut

 

Raw. Fast. Unkut. This Ukrainian knows and owns her sound and style, and puts it on full display for the tenth edition of our mix series. Her gritty and speedy approach to her selections, amplified by her ability to move swiftly between genres and tempos, makes for something special. We got to have a mid-show chat with her to learn more about her home and her music.

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Tell us a bit about yourself.

Born and raised in Eastern Europe, I'm kinda like a professional gypsy currently playing music all over the place.

Is there anything specifically that draws you to a track?

I like it when it kicks even harder after the breakdown, but overall, if stuff makes me move or nod my head, it's a good sign.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

It's usually all in my mind that is playing tricks on me, but mostly from the people I love and respect, aesthetics I'm into, walking through different cities, field recording subway trains etc.

How does the scene in Ukraine compare with other countries?

I feel like kids are coming to dance and just sincerely have fun which isn't always the case in the West. The sound is mostly hard and rough at the raves and local parties, but of course it's possible to find something more elegant or refined if you're looking into different energy. Overall, I have an impression our dancers have a pretty good taste and high expectations from those who deliver music.

If you could recommend one place to those who haven’t been to Kiev, what would it be?

Since my favourite club (Jugendhub) got shut down last October, come chill at Closer. I've been with this place from the very first party and watching how it naturally grows into something influential and beautiful thanks to its crew makes me really happy.

Where is your favourite place to play?

You know, Mexico City is fucking sick! I've played at Yu Yu Club there, which is a small space, and these people definitely know how to party!

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Who are some Ukrainian artists that we should know about?

You should check out the Progressive Future label run by K. Lobanov and Prinx Hashime. They produce what I call a real Kiev sound. Dope AF.

What was your favourite moment of 2018?

I just enjoy my life - it's my favourite thing on a daily agenda. In terms of playing, it's Macao in Milano. In terms of hanging out it's Sustain Release festival in Upstate NYC curated by Aurora Halal and Daniel.

What are you looking forward to the most in 2019?

You know, every day is like a celebration, but I’m looking forward for playing at Ohm Berlin tonight. I’m going to Moscow and St Petersburg soon, and both clubs (Pluton and Klub) were on my list to play at for years. Then hitting NYC for a massive Groovy Groovy event in April with my favourite people, Akanbi and X-Coast, on the line-up.

Is production on the horizon for you in the near future?

I don't think it's something that is in my main focus right now, even if this question is one of the most common deejays are being asked. Production and selecting tunes have different approach and shouldn't always go hand in hand. Time will tell though, who the fuck knows…