Thursday, 3 June 2010

INTERVIEW: Brownswood Electr*c with Alex Stevenson

If you’ve been listening to the recent Sonic Router radio shows on you’ll have noticed a bunch of tracks - work by the likes of George Fitzgerald, Hypno - credited as forthcoming on Brownswood Electr*c. Well, the goose is cooked, crackly on the outside and suitably juicy across the innards and we’re happy to be able to reveal the info... It’s a new compilation put together by Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label as somewhat of an ode to the bass led continuum you’ll find playlisted on his BBC Radio 1 show. One of the collections most charming indulgences is its breadth; refusing to stick to a template and joining the metaphorical dots between styles, languages and producers like 16Bit, Rockwell and Leathertte it’s a substantial and informative listen, collating work by some of last year’s breakout stars (Mount Kimbie and Mosca), producers on the rise (Eliphino, Rockwell, Clueless) and Sonic Router favourites (devonwho, B Bravo, Pearson Sound and Hypno).

Ahead of the compilations release on the 28th June, we grabbed five with the CD’s compiler, one third of London DJ clique Patchwork Pirates and Brownswood demigod, Alex Stevenson.

Sonic Router: So... Brownswood Electr*c yeah? Whats the deal? Obviously Gilles has embraced a lot of this newer music championing people like Mount Kimbie, JoyOrb etc of late, so what’s the inspiration behind the compilation?

Alex Stevenson: You know how it goes, all you need to make electronic music these days is a scraggedy computer, some free software and a good idea. Unfortunately 95% of the bedroom producers out there are lacking the latter component, but there’s still a very healthy movement of free-thinking artists operating just under the radar and making really great music. What’s more, the boundaries between so-called “hip-hop”, “house”, “techno”, “dubstep” and “drum & bass” have never been so blurred. There’s a lot of cross-fertilisation and hybridisation (haha – can’t believe I said hybridisation – is that a word?) But that’s the key isn’t it? It’s at these crossings, junctions and awkward intersections where the most inspiring and stirring sound clashes occur… and those are the joints that grab Gilles’ attention. As you rightly point out, Gilles supports this “sound” heavily in his radio shows and DJ sets (I think he calls it something slightly comical like “future motion beats”) and so I suggested that he do a compilation of his favourite tracks, to which he responded: “Good idea… you know more about it though, so why don’t you do it.” So I did.

And similarly, what’s the thinking behind the selection of producers...? Is it all people Gilles has supported played etc?

There’s a nice blend of established artists and hitherto undiscovered talent on the CD I think and yes, Gilles has supported practically all of the featured artists at some point in the last year. We wanted to represent the full rainbow spectrum of electronic goodness so it was important to nod to that low-slung hip hop vibe, the burgeoning “funky” sound, house/techno, dubstep in its myriad forms and, of course, drum & bass. Ramadanman aka Pearson Sound has consistently been one of Gilles’ favourite producers over the past couple of years so it made perfect sense to include ‘Wad’ – one of his finest moments to date in our opinion. We wanted to try to bring something new to the table though; I think people expect that from Gilles and Brownswood, so for many folks this will be the first time that they hear Eliphino, B.Bravo, George Fitzgerald, Clueless or KiEnRa.

Brownswood has a strong presence in the compilation sphere, with five Bubblers compilations to date. What do you think makes this one different from those that have come before?

The Brownswood Bubblers compilations are really just an indulgence for Gilles to highlight some of his favourite new, obscure or unfairly overlooked music from the Worldwide underground on a jazz/hip-hop/soul tip. Basically stuff that he’s been playing a lot on his radio shows. The latest volume features everyone from globetrotting boogie monster Dam-Funk to Tobago’s calypso queen Calypso Rose via Daru & Rena, Analog Monsta, Trilogy and fLako. With Bubblers and Brownswood Electr*c the notion of giving folks some new shit that they haven’t heard before is exactly the same, it’s just that with Electr*c we’re focusing on a particular area of dance music that we’ve been really excited about of late.

Where do you think Electr*c fits, given that it’s not 100% dubstep focused? Like do you think the fact that it isn’t, is a major strength?

Yep – I think that the fact that Brownswood Electr*c isn’t focused solely on dubstep is a distinct advantage. Like I mentioned before, it was a conscious decision to reflect the spectrum of styles and tempos represented in Gilles’ radio shows and I hope that that inclusive attitude will be embraced by the music buying public.

We just want to share our excitement for this inventive spirit and fusion with fans of electronic music in general… folks who want to scratch the surface and see what’s hiding underneath.

There are some awesome pieces of music included, (Hypno, Rockwell, Pearson Sound, George Fitzgerald stand up), yet everyone seems on the precipice level if you get me, like on the edge of bigger things. Was it a conscious thing to keep it a bit more underground?

Yep, definitely. I think folks expect that new, new shit from us and I wanted to keep things as fresh as possible. Rockwell – alongside dBridge and Instra:mental – has really re-ignited my interest in drum & bass in the past year. I nearly pooped my pants when I first heard that ‘Underpass’ track, then he dropped a great EP on Critical and did a killer remix of Jose James for us too. Hypno is one of those dudes seemingly sitting on the fringes of UK funky, dubstep and techno – he featured on Elevator Music and has an EP coming on new Ramp sub-label PTN. ‘Over The Top’ is a banger, plain and simple. George Fitzgerald is coming through quickly too, he’s got forthcoming 12”s for Doldrums and Hotflush – ‘Painted Jezebel’ is exclusive to Electr*c though. SHAZAM!

What are some of your highlights from the CD...? Are there plans to do more?

Let’s not forget the likes of Clueless (a Norwegian chap who makes 2-step reminiscent of classic El-B productions), KiEnRa (the criminally underrated Estonian beathead) and Lazer Sword’s Low Limit (bringing his techno game). Personally, Letherette’s neatly julienned ‘Blad’ is a highlight. But it’s ALL good. There’s no filler here – we gave it 110% - hahaha!

As for plans to do more – I guess if we manage to shift more than 7 copies and folks seem to be down with it, then the bosses will be up for another chapter. We’ll have to wait and see. I sincerely hope so, there was so much good shit, we could have done a double CD!

Full Tracklist:

01. B. Bravo – Computa Love
02. devonwho – Whispers
03. Eliphino – Let Me Love You Forever
04. Pearson Sound – Wad
05. Mosca – Square One
06. Shlohmo – Antigravity (Low Limit Remix)
07. Letherette – Blad
08. KiEnRa – BB Thing
09. 16bit – ADSL
10. Hypno – Over The Top
11. George Fitzgerald – Painted Jezebel
12. Clueless – Lady In Red (Club Edit)
13. Von D – Berlin Call (Alps Edit)
14. Rockwell – Underpass
15. Mount Kimbie – Serged

Brownswood Electr*c drops on 28th June on CD/download supported by a 12” featuring two cuts from B. Bravo and Eliphino.


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