label Lowdown #1: PPU’s Andrew Morgan Talks
In the first of a new series of conversations with the top dogs of our favourite record labels, we caught up with Andrew Morgan of PPU to talk about old tapes, the legacy of boogie and the secrets of the ‘Private Press’. Andrew is the man behind the fantastic Peoples Potential Unlimited, a record label based out of Washington DC, specializing in archiving and releasing rare and obscure dance music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s as well as releasing some of the finest new machine music in the world….
Hi Andrew. I think its fair to say that PPU has made a lot more people aware of the legacy of Boogie – its still a niche sound but seems to be a lot more known (and played) than maybe 5 years ago. Are you noticing (and benefiting from), in terms of coverage and sales, a resurgence in the sound?
Yeah it’s all over the place. Midnight Express “Danger Zone” has been our biggest record to date, next to Uku Kuut’s “Vision of Estonia”, and Moon B’s debut LP . All of which are not really the same genre. Danger Zone is possibly the best unknown slice of 80s funk, lots of people got behind that one including Dam, and Tom Noble. It continues to sell strong to this day. It fits well in most any DJ set, the perfect party music. Vision of Estonia and the Moon B on the other hand, seem to be appealing to a casual listener, bringing you the best of home listening HOUSE and 80s funk. PPU!
Do you receive a lot of demos these days, or is most of your output sourced proactively?
Yep, but still most of the music is within the PPU extended family of friends. We are still out there looking for people, I’ve actually got a list right here. A lot of people are contacting me with records they found and giving me the artists info, and helping connect us. That is helpful.
With the Moon B release, it felt as though there was a bit of a shift towards the raw machine music thats gathering a following at the moment, with the likes of Huerco S, Inkswel, Kyle Hall, Funkineven etc. Will there be more of this kind of stuff on PPU in the future?
You know it. Moon B has several releases coming up, including a cassette titled Off. Also, some very heavy russian funk from bravuda, who is also a&r Europe for us.
Is there much of a scene of boogie-influenced stuff going on in Washington? I thought maybe with the legacy of Go-Go it might be a bit of a hotbed?
I wouldn’t say there is a scene, go-go is still active and there are plenty of shows to go to, you just have to be able keep up with it. It’s a scene all by itself. But all the original bands, EU, BYB, JYB, REDDS,TF are still active, and if you’re ever in DC be sure to check Let It Flow, or VYBE all around good vibes there.
Have all of the records on PPU that were originally recorded in the 80s been mastered off vinyl, or have you sometimes had access to the old tape masters to work from?
We have had some luck lately with tapes, and a lot of the latest projects like Dwight Sykes, Robbie M, Tri-Fire, Uku Kuut – these are all tracks that never really had an actual vinyl release. Most of them were mastered direct from cassettes. Most of the early PPU 7″s like TMS, Checker Kabb, Cardell Funk Machine, Crunch, Initials, they’re all from vinyl, some very rare stuff there.
How do you source the re-releases (or unreleased archive stuff) you put out? Im thinking of something like Shot Out by Pinch, did you have the original release on vinyl or come across them some other way? How does it work?!
Ah Pinch.. that was a tough one, one of the artists on that his name was Pincholm. I actually found the main guy behind the music on cdbaby as a fluke whilst I was looking for something else. I also have a couple friends who source stuff for me.
What exactly is a Private Press? I hear it mentioned by people in the states, but we dont tend to use the term in the UK...
Back in High School I put out a of record of some 4 track beats I made, it was funded by money I got from the insurance company after someone stole my motorcycle. It had always been a dream of mine to put out a record and start my own record company. I even did the pencil drawing on the cover. – That’s “Private Press!”
I remember the NTS radio crew going out to the states and hearing you on the radio. Do you, yourself DJ much?
Yes, there is an annual party in NYC hosted by Aurora Halal called Mutual Dreaming. Luke Wyatt creator of the PPU VIDEO PARTY is present, and last year Moon B, Terekke and Tom Noble played!
Youve put out a few tapes, and there seems to be a bit of a vogue developing for doing so. Do you think the format is making a realistic return, or do you see it more as a passing thing, due in part to the lo-fi machine music sound that currently abounds?
Well tape production is on the rise, the place that makes ours is now jammed, so that is proof enough! Keep it up tape producers. They are easier and cheaper to make, cheaper to ship and you are forced to listen to the whole thing, no skipping around. I’m a huge fan of tape! I’m also an animator, and we still use tape there too.
Whats the plan for the rest of the year and beyond for the label?
Well, here are some of the releases that we’ve got coming up…
Dwight Sykes Songs Volume Two LP
Jahari Live Cassette
Uku Kuut Grand Hotel LP
Maryne Coote (KUUT) Maskeraad LP
Moon B Cold G 12″
Moon B Off Casette
Dohnnie 12″ feat Tom Noble and Twilite Tone
That’s all the leakage I’m giving you for now..
Finally, where does the name Peoples Potential Unlimited come from? Are you aware that PPU is also a famous ammunition brand?!
And it’s a mens underwear line. And please pick up
Keep abreast of all new releases and news over on the PPU site.