In the first of our An Introduction To... series higlighting the labels, artists, kebab shops and bah mitzvahs that have been bubbling up in our world, we turn an eye on Construct; an agency, mix series, record label and occasional party thrower responsible for one of our favourite mix series of the year...
With a Richard Fearless one soon to come and their first forays as a label in the form of a release from Swayzak, alongside other bits and pieces we caught up with James to chew the fat.
For those unaware, uneducated or have been hiding under a rock describe Construct and what is its 3 point manifesto:
Construct is an agency and management company, a record label (as of next week) and an occasional party thrower based in London and run by myself, James McArdle. We also have a Mix Series dedicated to all things 'off dancefloor'. It's a very simple manifesto really of just using one of the various outputs to work with people I like. I try to keep things super tight and controlled and only work on a small, steady stream of things I really want to through Construct. I'm a bit of a control freak if I'm honest.
We've heard that you've been sneaking CDs onto bookshelves, was this aimed at a certain reader?
Haha. Yes this is something I did with the first few Mix Series. Pressed them up onto 50 limited CDs with cover art and hid them around nice record stores and design / bookshops. It was a little too costly and time consuming in the end but I hope to start doing it again soon if possible.
Besides being hidden on bookshelves, where should we be looking for new music?
The label launches next week with a new project from Swayzak & Richard Davis and some sterling remixes from The Mole and Hreno. You can grab the vinyl and digital from all the usual good stores worldwide.
The next Mix Series should go live this week from Richard Fearless (Death In Vegas) and the final one of the year just before Christmas from Robert Johnson's Oliver Hafenbauer.
If the label took on human form, how would you describe it?
As a mild mannered gentleman sat in the corner minding his own business.
Calvin Harris has threatened suing the BBC after they claimed he said it was fine for DJs to pre-record sets, what's your opinion when it comes to pre-recorded 'live' shows?
I'm not sure I could add anything else to this pot that hasn't already been exhausted, but I would say that I see them as two very different worlds. I.e we're not going to be having this discussion about a 'serious' DJ doing this are we? I mean no offence to Calvin or the Swedish House Mafia etc at all by that, not that they'd give two sh*ts what I think. To be honest, I think it's probably fine for Calvin Harris and the like to do them, I don't know. It's pop music isn't it? Some of it is great pop music too. It's not cool for Moodymann or Villalobos or someone. Their 'sell' is their DJing, they're not hit-makers. The idea of a recorded DJ set does depress me however, I'd suggest getting into a different game perhaps if you want to go down that route, or at least pre-record a Live set? Also if you plan your whole set anyway do you need to pre-record it? I guess if you can't mix maybe you do. There are loads of good DJs with sloppy mixing skills these guys shouldn't worry themselves too much. I think only once have I tried to plan a DJ set, and it didn't work, I went back to free-styling. If you research the DJ before and after you and have an idea what your first 2 records will be then things tend to work out ok I think.
What's your all-time favourite mix?
I find naming favourites / doing lists very difficult I'm afraid. But if I have to name one here I'm going to go for James Lavelle's Cream Live Two Mix. Still one of my favourite mixes. And still not many people I speak to seem to have heard it. God knows why. Maybe I'm speaking to the wrong people.
What is most likely to make you turn a mix off?
To be honest I'm terrible at listening to an entire recorded live 'club' mix these days. I prefer to get my fill DJing, or in a club. I do struggle more and more with finding a place to listen to dance music outside of the club. When I'm listening to records to DJ with or listening to potential label signings etc that's of course different. I used to keep abreast of mixes to get an idea of what certain DJs were playing, but I realised a while back that it doesn't give you any idea of what a DJ is like really, and I was writing off certain artists too quickly because of that. So I guess anything live from the club that was meant for that dancefloor at that time I usually tune out of quite quickly these days. Maybe I shouldn't be saying that I don't know. There are just so many now. I grew up on the Essential Mix being my only main source of dance music for many a year and I think one two hour mix a week was enough y'know? Not 50 a day.
Who has been the most influential musical figure in your life?
I had a babysitter who got me into Classical music at a very young age which I'm grateful for. I'm sure it helped with my appreciation of music from that point onwards. My parents were both part time musicians and them forcing me to take piano lessons helped, despite me hating them at the time (the lessons not my parents). There is a picture of me in my cot on top of a piano down the pub whilst my folks were playing a gig so I was obviously around music a lot from a young age. And drinking. Ahh it's all coming together now... Craig Richards was probably the first DJ I booked many years back and we stayed friends. He had a way of doing things that I admired a lot then (and still do now). He's a good person for honest, no-bullshit advice too. He also booked me for my first 'serious' gig at Fabric. Andrew Weatherall, Howie B, Swayzak, Paul Daley... there are quite a few that I have worked with over the years who I owe a lot to in the way I approach things.
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
Can I have all three? You have to have all three surely?!
After the news came out recently that only 1% of Edward Snowden's files were published, who would you most like to find out that the US government had been spying on and why?
Our friend Robin. We're all often intrigued as to what he does in his spare time.
Next steps for Construct...
We have the second label release almost ready, I just need to start approaching remixers and choosing the artwork. We've just taken a couple of new artists onto the agency for the first time in a while, Arnaldo and Hugo Barritt. We'll be putting on more CONSTRUCT X ... events next year, the recent one last month with Weekend Club in Berlin went really well, as did the party with Dimensions Festival this year.
I'm done with solo promoting nights for now I just don't have the time or energy to make a proper go of it again. I ran a successful night in the north (Ed. - www.dividedbydirt.com) for a few years and have never been able to quite get the vibe I'm looking for after that. I'd rather work with other people on that front now.
And finally, how shocked were you by the revelation that Tom Daley is currently dating another man? It seems to have caused a bit of a splash (pun intended) but we're unsure as to why the furore in this day and age.
A man, dating another man? No wonder it caused a 'splash' as you say. The crazy times we live in eh. I have no idea why straight men would have a problem with gay men. It just leaves more women for them to chase on a Friday night right?
Anything else we need to know about Construct but haven't asked.