April 2012

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Page 38 of 55

Issue 38 / APRIL 2012 DnB / DUBSTEP / BREAKS 39 BEN UFO We met up with the London based DJ to have a little chat about his expanding and record label, Hessle Audio, and the fact he doesn't yet produce any of his own music... Jenny Jahans Hessle Audio started up in Leeds when you were at uni, how long has that been running now? We started it in 2007 and we're up to the 19th release which just came out, a 12" by Objekt. We were actually only in Leeds for about a year but Leeds kind of formed our ideas for where we wanted to go with the label. There's a massive bass music scene up there so that must have really helped and had an influence? Well when we started there wasn't so much going on. There was a really strong history of roots and dub reggae, a real kind of soundsystem culture up there which informs everything that we do now. But, yeah, when we started the whole dubstep thing was just kicking off in London and all we really wanted to do was to try and bring some of that to Leeds. It was really all the old dubstep stuff that was our primary inspiration. Do you think Hessle had a big input in making that music what it is now? In terms of small scale stuff and trying to build something from the ground up, then yeah, we were probably the first to do those kind of parties up there. There were also a lot more people involved in that than just us, but yeah, we really just wanted to try and get the music some attention in a part of England where it wasn't that prevalent yet. You called it dubstep back then, would you still call it that now? Well despite it changing a lot, dubstep still ties into what we do. Back then all we were doing was playing records we loved, whereas now we have an invest- ment in pushing our own thing - we're playing a lot of music that artists on our label are making, which wasn't something we were able to do in 2006. Obvi- ously tempos have changed and styles have changed a little bit but there is a lot that connects the music that we're involved with now to what we were into five years ago or six years ago. It's all centred around the same cause the people who like what you do, they'll be wanting you to stick with that same thing. Do you have any plans to start producing your own music? Yeah it's something I'd quite like to do at some point but it's quite difficult to know how I'd go about it now. I've kind of built up a reputation of the back of doing one thing really well. To be honest I think most of the best music, especially the music I love the most, was born out of doing things without any regard for what other people might expect out of them. I think because I'm already doing something now and I'm known for doing a specif- ic thing, it would be quite hard to get the necessary detachment. People have a different way of listening to music over there, and a different approach to playing music. I think one of the most exciting things about DJing now is how open-ended it can be, so I could play on Friday in Frankfurt or Hamburg or something and it's a four-hour set where I can play loads of old house records and harder techno records and I may not get to play that much UK stuff, but then the next night I could come back to London or Bristol and be faced with playing alongside DJs like Jackmaster or some of the dubstep guys or something, where I'll get to play for an hour and a half at most and still find ways to play loads of different kinds of stuff - it's really flexible. ment on it. Being a DJ, you're obviously getting new music all the time, what are you listening to at the moment? Difficult to say really. The more I DJ, the more swept up I am in that and the more it affects the way I see different music. If anything, it affects the way hear dance- floor music. It's hard to separate my personal taste from reactions on the dancefloor. I guess the music I've been listening to at the moment like at home for pleasure doesn't tend to be new for a start, and it doesn't tend to be dancefloor either, which is maybe a little bit worrying! "Dubstep still ties into what we do. Back then all we were doing was playing records we loved, whereas now we have an investment in pushing our own thing." thing. Yeah it's all just evolved really. Because you're just a DJ and you haven't released anything that you've produced yourself, would you say that you can transcend genres more easily? I have thought that over the past few years I think I've been maybe able to adapt to changing styles and fragmented styles slightly easier than others might be able to. If you're known for producing a certain style of music then it can be harder to branch out be- Have you got any favourite places to play? Yeah definitely, it's always really good going out to the German cities, it gives me an opportunity to play different styles and I often get to play really long sets so I can stretch them out. There's quite a big techno base there. Has that got anything to do with why you like it? Yeah, it's just a different culture - there's just a really strong culture of house and techno parties that start late and finish late. You recently had a release on Rinse, their sixteenth mix which must have got your name out there quite a bit? It was the first time I'd had my name attached to something you can buy in the shops. Even though CD sales aren't really what they were, having some- thing for sale as opposed to a free mix online does still mean something. It's probably more just a way for people to say that they've got faith in what you're doing, and that they appreciate it. It definitely travelled; I've had people all over the world com- Well we trust that you like dancefloor music enough to go out and play it! I guess the thing I'm most excit- ed by at the moment in terms of dance music is the Trilogy Tapes label. The way Will (Bankhead) goes about running it kind of straddles the line between dance music and experimental music more generally. So for example last year he released an LP by this dude called Andrew Coltrane, complete take-no- prisoners harsh noise stuff, whereas the thing that's up next on the label is a seven-track release by Kassem Mosse and MixMup. That's the kind of thing that interests me at the moment, these people that are able to bridge different styles and make it coherent. Can you want to tell me a bit more about the Hessle Audio parties going on? Yeah we've been doing a lot more nights as a label recently. We did this European tour at the end of last year, and we hold a residency at Fabric taking over room one a few times a year. They're always really good 'cause we get to take control and program the full duration of the night so I get to indulge the control freak side of me! Where do you see Hessle Audio going in the future? Hopefully we can just continue doing what we're doing. We've been able to do this so far without really having to make any compromises, so hopefully that can continue. We have a really close-knit roster of artists on the label now which isn't something we went out of our way to achieve - we've never told anyone that they can't release on other labels and stuff like that, but so far everyone that we've put out has been up for continu- ing to build something with us. I guess ideally we'll be able to do some bigger projects and hope- fully continue to release material by new artists too. Keep an eye for the video version of the interview com- ing up on the website soon!

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