Black Key Records Talk Rooftops
Black Key Records are Brighton based deep house imprint.
"We have one simple objective: to provide decent house music to people who appreciate it."
A few years back, they found a rooftop in Brighton/Hove (sssssh). The subsequent handful of parties that they held there were talked about in folklore… or something. They're back again there this weekend… and we're still not allowed to know where it is. We can't even get in as it sold out in record time.
Instead we chatted to Rich from Black Key and he's also very kindly gifted us a free chamboche download. What a gent!
Where are you from and where are you now?
I'm originally from a small town called Horsham, which is in West Sussex. I'm now living in Brighton (Hove, actually) – I've been here for 7 years now.
To those of us living in a ‘big smoke’ bubble/under an ignorant rock, please introduce Black Key Records
Black Key Records is a house music imprint, which I launched in 2011. The focus is on the deeper end of house, but each release has definitely had its own unique sound – I don't think the label can be accused of having one "sound" which we champion. The aim is to put out great music which suits vinyl and appeals to people who buy and collect it.
Pressing wax is always the number one priority for Black Key, not because its a money spinner, (which it definitely isn't!) but because this is the foundation on which we've built the label. Plus I only play vinyl myself, so it would just be wrong for me to run a label which didn't have a strong vinyl presence.
We've put out 11 vinyl releases so far, all of which I'm immensely proud of. We're lucky enough to be working with some exceptionally talented artists – long may it continue!
Brighton has had an up and down relationship with house music and the 4/4 but seems to have finally rekindled its love affair over the past few years. Tell us about the beating heart of Brighton and Hove and what makes the it tick.
This is a tricky question really – I think so much of it is down to personal taste. However, you're absolutely right that the house "scene" in Brighton has been up and down over the years. I'm not entirely convinced that there is a rekindling as such, but clubs such as Audio have definitely made good inroads by booking some very respectable underground DJs to play at their weekly Saturday night – Warehouse.
The trouble is, I always feel so old when I walk into Brighton clubs these day – I'm only 31, but most of the crowds are at least 10 years by junior. Depressing!
To be honest, there are very few parties in Brighton that hold any real appeal to me now, which is a shame, but the odd thing does pop up from time to time, including Matt Pond's Deepsystems parties which are always excellent musically, and attract an older, dare I say more educated crowd.
You’ve released such luminaries as Ethyl & Flori, BLM and Chamboche. Associates of yours?
You could say that they are associates now, but my relationship with most of the artists were founded through the label. I'm a massive fan of Tim and Jamie's (Ethyl & Flori) music, so it's great to have had them both involved, and Ben (BLM) is consistently on point with everything he does. Sam (Chamboche) is a seriously talented producer who is massively underrated in my opinion – I hope soon he'll be given some more of the recognition he deserves.
How do you go about sourcing music to release.
By talking to artists who are making music which I dig, and who I believe fit into the Black Key ethos, as it were. It's a pretty simple process to be honest.
You run some rather legendary Brighton rooftop parties – this weekend’s one has already sold out – tell us about them and how they came about.
Ha, I'm not sure that legendary is the word I'd use, but thanks Wil :). Having said that, we have been lucky enough to have some pretty spectacular parties over the last few years.
I've been running parties in Brighton with a good friend of mine, Paul Budd, since 2007. Paul now runs the Unity Agency and his own Disco Deviant parties, with notable success on both.
We'd got to a stage in 2010 where we needed to do something different, just to keep things fresh really. Randomly, I was having lunch at a cafe one day and discovered that they had the most amazing roof terrace which was pretty well hidden from general knowledge, and had certainly never been used for a rave before. So I sweet talked the owner and we got it on – the rest is history, as they say.
The ethos is very much a party for our friends and their friends, which has kept the crowd spot on – no egos or aggression, just like minded people up for a party. I think this is whats made them so successful.
Paul and I went our separate ways musically at the end of 2012, and there were no roof top parties last year, so when I announced this one I think people were really revved up for it – tickets sold out in record time, which is always a good sign!
Can you see the sea from the rooftop?
Sadly not, but it's only a 5 minute walk from the sea if you fancy a skinny dip.
Describe the label in 5 words:
Proper house music, that's it.
And the parties:
Roof vibes with nice folk
You’ve gifted us a download from the label. What is said download and why have you been so kind?
The track is called "Mello", by Chamboche. It's one of my personal favourites from the label and I want to share that passion with others. Massive respect to Sam for making this one – it really is top drawer.
We’ve discussed this already but what is the record shop scene like in Brighton, we’d love to get an insight into its health… or maybe you’ve disappeared into an online bubble like the rest of the record buying world?! 🙂
Like most places, sadly the record shopping scene here isn't in a great place. Most of the main electronic shops, such as Covert (where I used to buy all my music), closed down 4/5 years ago, and there hasn't been any sort of notable comeback. I'm gutted about this, but it is what it is.
Having said this, there are a couple of places where those in the know can get their vinyl fix. I buy a fair bit of wax from Ed's Vinyl, run by the lovely Liz Edwards who also runs the legendary Kerfuffle parties in Brixton. She doesn't have a shop in the traditional sense, but its a great space to pop into, listen to some good records and have a cup of tea. I strongly urge any vinyl heads in Brighton to track Liz down.
Everyone always asks, where’s the new East London… so where’s the new Brighton?!
As far as our parties are concerned, the new Brighton is Hove 😉
First and last record bought?
First vinyl record bought was Tom Craft – "Loneliness". Last was Jesus Gonsev "Love Stimulation EP" [Music With Content]
What’s your favourite place on earth?
10 tracks to dance on a rooftop to….
Anything else you wanted to discuss but we haven’t asked?
I think you've covered it nicely, thanks mate 🙂
Black Key Records secret roof party happens in Brighton this weekend… but you won't get into it for love nor money. There's an August edition though for which you can get tickets here for.