Random Facts: Perc

Working with brands, dealing with politics and making a living - our epic Perc interview is as honest as you're gonna get...

Random Facts: Perc

Working with brands, dealing with politics and making a living - our epic Perc interview is as honest as you're gonna get...

The last few years have seen Perc constantly deliver. From languid ambient menace to cranium-splintering techno, he's been treading a path through electronica that's both familiar and alien. He's also not shy of offering an opinion or two, so we decided it was time to sit down and have a full scale state of the nation chat. From British politics, to the ways music is consumed, to running his labels, to the advantages and pitfalls of working with brands, this is as candid an interview as you're going to get. It's also immense, so we'll get right down to it;

Wil: I was going to start with this ridiculous quote I had from someone, what they were actually saying was absolutely absurd.

Perc: It’s true of anyone that’s outspoken or political, or even slightly militant, there’s a very fine line between making sense and becoming a parody of yourself. There are these statements from Underground Resistance that make sense, and their heart is in the right place, but sometimes it just comes out as a paranoid conspiracy theory.

They came up with ‘music for non-resting cultures are based on harmony and rhythm, not melody. We’re not trying to get into the future, we’re trying to get back to where we were before, before the Western civilisation fucked it all up.’

I quite like that. But then they go on to say ‘We keep everything illegal because it’s only outside the law. Last time we had a party it went on for 14 days. It’s a myth that you need to sleep. Stay awake and you discover the real edges of reality and all the false reality that was hammered into you from birth.’

Again, I kind of like it but it’s a bit absurd…

I like a party but 14 days is stretching it somewhat.

I guess it’s kind of bled into anger… You don’t really strike me as that kind of person at all, but your music is really quite angry, as is your artwork. There seems to be a lack of political dissent in the wider dance scene though, do you think you’re part of an apathetic generation?

Well, in the age of social media you are able to reach your audience as an artist or whatever, easier than ever before. But I think a lot of people still shy away from it as they don’t want to make comments that will put someone’s nose out as they want to make bookings in certain countries… If you’re gigging every weekend but you’re only making it to Russia once or twice a year you can say what you want about Putin. If you feel that strongly about them though, don’t go play over there! I made a little jab at Putin on the Furfriend release a little while ago and I never worried about it because it never blew up to a sizeable effect, especially not over in Russia. Things like that just make it a little bit more fun and sometimes the label makes a stronger political statement than that anyway by also having a cheeky little dig.

So there are other ways of getting a political message across.

Yeah. Not completely covertly but in track titles, artwork, even scratching messages into the run-out grooves. I’ve always liked that, whether it’s political or makes no sense at all – apart from to the person that wrote it.

Sometimes it’s hard not to think that we live in a time where 30,000 will sign a petition but only 300 will turn up to a protest and get out there and shout on the streets.

Yeah, the British people seem to be a bit apathetic. Compared with other countries, I mean I obviously don’t fully understand the other cultures but you get the impression that when something happens in France, everyone is on the streets in 10 minutes.  I think the problem here is that unless it affects your direct income or your family or your home then you don’t really do anything about it. It’s just never enough to make you jump out of your seat and do something.  

London is being completely gentrified, and the whole licensing thing is fucked. It feels like the whole thing is being pulled apart. It either seems to be a case of ignoring it and letting it happen, or using the channels that you have available to you to incite some anger and try to do something about it.

There is always going to be a balance, but I really hate the way that the mainstream media portrays anyone that tries to make a stand outside of the mainstream. They just make them out to be crazy or insane and all that. I’m not saying that some of these people aren’t, as they may be, but a majority of them are not and have a cohesive argument to hold. Obviously the media is controlled by larger parties, so the way that they portray these people is just terrible.

Yeah, I think you’re right. There needs to be more anger. I don’t feel that anger is necessarily negative.

Yeah, it can definitely be a positive force and anger can be an energy, but it has to be channelled. It can’t just be random or in the anarchy or destruction kind of way. If you’ve got passion and energy it has to be channelled sensibly, not at someone that doesn’t really deserve it.

I don’t feel that anger is used as a structured force often enough. As long is it’s not used to smash stuff up then it can only be good. You can definitely use anger and humour together to get an interesting message across.

Yeah. If you look at someone like Mark Thomas, I think he’s a perfect example.

Have you seen his manifesto on his website? It’s really good. 

He’s really interesting. He’s been in the paper because he’s doing a new tour and people are actually starting to take notice of him now.

I really like the sort of subversive element to it. I Googled ‘Anger and Politics’ today and got this very American homogenised feed. When you look up something like revolution, it just comes up with really bland stuff, so you actually have to start digging a bit deeper.

That’s quite an interesting point that you’ve brought up there though. When you go on Google in search of music, for example, you have to dig a bit deeper to get to the interesting stuff. People just accept the generic mainstream stuff too easily now and will only click on say the first three results.

So before all this, you used to work at some labels didn’t you?

Yeah, I first worked at Prime Distribution and then I worked at Media Records, which is mainly Nukleuz and their in-house brans. I label managed that for about 18 months. Then after that I went to Kickin Music which is the old Rave label and by the time I got there it was much more concerned with publishing things like Switch.

So you’ve had quite a broad schooling then?

Yeah. Since I’ve been in London, it’s got to the point where I’ve done about 7 years in the industry with day jobs and stuff. And then 7 years full time doing my music.

So it was obviously just a hobby at the start.

Yeah. I never really intended on it going anywhere to be honest with you. When I first started I was much more interested in producing than DJing. It’s really since I signed to Kompakt that things have picked up – compared with working with small West London progressive house labels. Once the Kompakt thing happened the gigs started coming in and the boss asked me if I wanted to cut down on the gigs and go part time, but I just quit.

So you make a living out of it?

Yeah, it’s fine.

Are you out every weekend?

It’s about 2 or 3 gigs a weekend. Averaging about 6 or 7 gigs a month, so yeah it’s good.

Do you think there should be a maximum wage?

A maximum wage?

Yeah.

Umm… I don’t think so. That sounds terrible, but no I don’t. If you capped wages and bonuses the talent, for want of a better word, would go elsewhere and it would weaken the city and the industries that it’s built upon. There was a letter in the paper today saying that someone felt that MP’s shouldn’t be allowed any other income apart from their wage if they were to be earning around £150,000 a year. So you get the greatest minds, but they’re representing the people, but they’re not allowed any form of income other than their wage. Maybe £150,000 is a bit too high but it’s an interesting point.

It’s a fair point.

For the Metro I thought it was fairly well informed.

The Metro?!

Yeah – the last choice of the lazy commuter.

I picked up the Metro the other day and I was amazed at how enthralling it was...

Well it’s the only free morning paper. It holds a very unique position and the readership is probably huge compared with the other tabloids I reckon. You see so many copies kicking about in the morning.

Yeah, and then you’ve got Time Out and then maybe NME talking about going free.

Yeah, I saw that.

I’m not entirely sure whether it was true or not, I read their circulation has dropped down to 16,000 now.

Yeah, it’s pretty bad.

I went into the shop the other day and it made me think back to the days of NME, Melody Maker and Sounds when they were amazing. You read them to read about things being slagged off. Now everything is just 3 out of 5 even if they’re not really that into it.

I always like to see creative takedowns. If someone knows what they’re talking about and they’re writing about an album of a genre they’re pretty well versed in, it can be quite interesting to read their genuine points.

I remember reading a piece of writing by someone from Mr Bungle about the Mark Ronson album that came out recently, and he picked out every single influence, every funk record that he’d recycled and the way that the final product was just clean enough to make daytime radio but also authentic enough to remind him of the great days of funk. It was interesting!

It’s great to read really insightful writing, whatever it is about. You don’t get that in NME anymore, but it is out there.

So the Internet has obviously had a massive impact on your label, but it’s interesting that you’ve been going for 10 years as you’ve gone through pre and post vinyl digital. 

It’s gone from where the only format you could release on would be vinyl – it wouldn’t even be a choice it’s just what you did. Now however, there’s a multitude of ways to distribute your music, sell your music, get your music ripped off. It’s interesting. Some of the companies that I worked for that closed down, they all had a very head-in-the-sand attitude towards digital.

I used to work for a promo company, and we used to have to send out ridiculous amounts of vinyl and that just wouldn’t happen anymore.

No, it’s just not going to happen. Not going to happen. I don’t think everyone realised how quickly things would evolve.

You just have to know how to have your filters now. It is difficult to filter so much music, but the chances of hearing something that you like now are greater than they used to be.

If you’re fairly on the ball with music and you go into somewhere like Phonica, a lot of the stuff there, you’ll recognize the cover from online or you know the Levon Vincent album and that’ll be racked up the front and stuff like that. But of course, a good record shop will have stuff in the racks and I do actually still miss the record shop as a social hub. They did really pull together DJ’s, producers, promoters and that kind of thing.

Kristina, Rye Wax, Love Vinyl, Phonica etc still do.

Yeah they do but before that, you could go in on Saturday morning to go and have a look and you wouldn’t even really have to arrange to meet anyone there, there would just already be DJ’s and producers there that you knew.

Does that still exist with online though?

Well in some ways yes as we’re more connected than ever before and you have Facebook Groups and things like this, and it’s all still there but I think that magic moment of listening posts and you’re looking at what everyone else has got and chatting about what you’re all listening too and passing records around, has passed. Of course you can always come up with that online equivalent but that will never bring to light that magic moment.

Do you think though that that highlights the elitism that used to be present in record shops?

Of course.

My initial reaction was that you don’t have that elitism now in the online world because you can hide behind that. Although in light of that, the fact that we were losing records shops means that it might not have been a good thing.

I think that people are actually too polite now. There’s a shop called Dope Jams in New York, and they write the occasional column. It’s interesting because in Techno there are certain artists that are open to criticism and there are artists that have been around for so long who are kind of like sacred cows that you can’t touch. The guys from Dope Jams pick up on these guys though and comment on things like remixes that they feel have just been knocked out in an hour, when normally this guy is putting out quality stuff.

I worry that everything becomes a bit vague online sometimes because people don’t want to offend anyone. You need your Tim Sheridans or your Terry Farleys or your Tonkas or whoever. Just people that have an opinion are being a confrontational in a constructive way.

Yeah. One thing that really bugs me though is artists that pay for PR to get their release sent out to journalists for reviews. Then not even a bad review comes in, just an average review, and then the artist will personally go to the media or the person and attack them. If you put your head in the jaws of the lion, occasionally it’s going to bite you. Occasionally you’ll get a journalist that has been so harassed by a PR that they say they will do a review and it ends up being something negative, then you get the artist coming along and saying ‘look mate, you know’ and the journalist just has to say, ‘well I’m not paid by anyone to write this so someone must just believe that I know something…’

Music and PR has almost become a little bit too close - there can’t be a bad review because you get cajoled into a cycle of ‘can you change this bit, and can you change that bit?’ I think that PR that pokes fun at what a brand or artist does can be more relevant than just another beige piece of regurgitated filler.

It’s hard when they’re flying journalists from London to Japan for two weeks, you can’t really just go and write something negative about them then. It’s hard because you can’t seem ungrateful, yet you also have to keep some sort of journalistic integrity. I don’t know when it was, but there was this big Red Bull piece in the Wire.

It was great. I don’t think it’s derisory, I think he pays lip service at the same time as being honest about it. The thing is, everyone has done stuff with Red Bull though. You probably have haven’t you?

Yeah, I’ve done a few gigs on the past.

Yeah, we’ve all done something with them in one form or another.

I think Red Bull have, is it Todd Burns, he has a lot of knowledge. I also think that branded content is strange.

Yeah.

Someone sent something to me the other day and 2 years ago it had 200 views on YouTube. One of the big alcohol companies, I think it might have been Jagermeister, got this indie band, who are now long gone, to jam with Frank Bruno. It was the most random combination of people. You had this indie band in their ripped skinny jeans and then Frank comes on in his sharp suit and tie. How did that combination come around?! It’s only had a few hundred views over like 2 years.

A few hundred...?

Yeah.

(we found the video - you can watch it in all it's horror here - Ed.)

I don’t know, when all this initially happened, but now PRs are being paid to push branded content.

In terms of artists or musicians, I think playing a gig that is heavily branded by Redbull is fine, but when it gets to the point where they’re paying for musical works or tracks and then exerting some kind of influence on the content itself…

But I don’t think we’re far off that. I don’t think we’re far off Redbull having a label.

They’re the biggest player and most advanced in this kind of situation at the moment. I think Redbull did the thing where they had Jessie Ware remixed by Nina Kraviz and then someone else remixed that. Or something along those lines?

I don’t think it’s a bad thing inherently because the music that they’re pushing is undeniably strong, and the guy that runs it has got his head in the right place. But I think we’re going towards the Google and Apple model of them controlling outlets and stuff like that. That’s what rings alarm bells for me.

When commercial companies start having their own portals and sites, Beatport had it for a while but it’s kind of gone now…

Right yeah. 

Yeah, I think they have a bit of news now but they don’t really present it or regurgitate press releases, they actually do creative pieces that they’ve thought of themselves.

Which is what Juno do. Juno Plus is actually really good. They say what they like.

I always had a slight issue with Redbull reviewing things.

But then you wouldn’t have a problem if they were slagging it off?

If a record shop publishes a review that’s slagging a record off that they’re trying to sell in the shop then it’s a slightly strange state of affairs. I guess the stuff that they stock they might personally not like and they might not try to sell it to you, but then they would push the stuff that they actually believe in.

If you’re doing something more tongue in cheek, you need to be very careful with the brands that you pick. But, as we said earlier, if you’re taking the piss out of something a little bit, it’s better editorial 'content' for certain brands.

Yeah. Some of the smaller house and techno sites are just like, ‘I went to a gig and it was amazing.’  It just gets tiresome when people are constantly saying that things are amazing.

I just worry that we’re in a bit of a strange period at the moment.

I feel a bit uncomfortable when I get dropped into a branded situation, I was booked to play in Moscow and there was no mention of any brands or anything. But tobacco or alcohol companies often sponsor a lot of the gigs out there. When I got to the venue, the person said that we had to do a photo-shoot straight away, and this had never been mentioned, but it turned out it was for this Winston cigarette brand. Anyway, I had to stand in front of this screen, kind of like you get post-match, and I’m not anti-smoking or anything, but I just felt really uncomfortable.

That’s really weird.

The front of the DJ booth was covered in the brand as well. It was just full on. They were obviously never going to mention it my agent though.

Interesting. So you don’t do much of that branded kind of thing then?

No. I wouldn’t get involved with something like that. It isn’t quite of a high enough level to do like a run of parties or something. I mean, I’ve done a Quietus thing in London before and a couple of things with RA that were partnered with Redbull as well but they were generally fairly minimally branded.

SO WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF YOUR GIGS WERE TO DRY UP? WOULD YOU DO SOME MORE PRODUCING?

You sound like my mum!

I think it’s an interesting question, because you’re relevant now, and it’s not just a fad.

No, I guess if you look at the life expectancy of a hyped up Indie band it’s probably about a year? One festival season.

Or like Hot Creations, that kind of thing. You have to look at longevity.

It sounds a bit clichéd but I’m always trying to stay relevant and evolve, but whilst doing my own thing. That sounds a bit boring… But the higher profile you get, the longer it’ll take you to come down again.

Always bubble under, never put your head above the surface.

I try to develop naturally and organically. I’m not going to suddenly do 180-degree change. I’m always interested in working with vocalist’s and stuff like that but it’s not going to end up being the big Pop push.

Both your last tracks had vocals on them, but they’re definitely not pop...

No! Before people had heard the actual album but found out I’d been working with a vocalist they were like, ‘Oh god here we go…’ It’s like, I love him to death but the Luke Slater Pop/Techno album that had the guy from The Aloof on it…

It was questionable…

A bit of a cul-de-sac in his long, excellent career.

And it’s taken him a while to get back from that wilderness almost.

I think the re-rise of Berghain and Ostgut Ton has given him a bit of an opportunity.

I think it was about 10 years really, because it was like, ‘The big dance album’, during the rise of the dance…

Yeah that era. It was same with the Drum and Bass scene really. Where they were bubbling away nicely in the underground scene and then suddenly they got picked up by the majors. Some of those albums do work, but then generally that’s if they stay true to what they were before. If you look at the Photek album and stuff like that, it’s amazing because he continued on being true to what he did and didn’t try to make a big pop statement.

Yeah it was wicked. Really, really good.

Yeah, and I guess that’s how it should be with the whole branded content thing. You use the opportunities and the money, and maybe their PR experience to take what you’ve already been doing to the next level of appreciation. Rather than using it to go into an amazing studio, hire amazing singers and make a nightmare.

Getting in loads of expensive cocaine and loads of over the top production kills it…I can’t ever imagine you doing anything like that?!

Nah.

You just want to, not smash it all up, but just tear it all to bits.

Yeah. On the Power and the Glory album, I did three tracks with a session drummer, who was paid for by me.

Hah!

It just didn’t work. Tiny snippets of it crept through but none of it that would even warrant crediting the performance. The idea was to have the track at about 6 minutes and then have a 6 minute drum performance all the way through it. It sounded horrible. I still have all the files… I like to try these things but they don’t always make the cut.

For your kind of stuff I imagine you need to be pretty tight as a drummer.

Yeah, that’s the thing. Even isolated on their own they sounded tight, but put in the mix it sounded a bit sloppy and messy. I think it’d have to be someone like the drummer from LCD Soundsystem. I’ve forgotten his name…

Pat Mahoney?

Yeah that’s it.

I was actually watching him on Shut Up and Play The Hits on the weekend. The drumming is just like… Fuck me. But you’ve got to have quite a bit of money for that sort of thing as well though.

Yeah, otherwise you end up artificially tightening up performances and then what’s the point in doing it in the first place? Then if you send it back to the guy and say, ‘here’s what I’ve done with your performance.’ It would just come across as a bit of a slap in the face.

Gabe is a fucking amazing drummer.  He brings them to life when they play live. Have you ever thought about having him on to drum with you live?

Not live no. I’d like to work with them again in some format, but they’re not the easiest people to communicate with. They’re just not particularly on it in terms of emails...

Anyway. Lets move on to Random Facts and recycling.

California consumes more bottled water than any other product and recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator. Not to bang on about the Greens again, but we’ve not got to that ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ yet we’ve only addressed recycle. We haven’t even begun to think about the other ones.

There are arguments on all sides about climate change and all that. I guess it is proven that recycling is a good thing and it’s worth doing but I think a lot of people use it as a middle class reliever.

Yeah.

So you recycle and then that just eases up your guilt for rampant consumerism.

That’s a good argument. So you actually need to address the other sides of things. You need to actually reduce what you’re consuming.

You need to cut down on what you get through, rather than just recycling 50% of it.

Recycling one aluminium can, can save enough energy to run a TV for up to 3 hours.

That’s interesting.

Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as up to 170mph.

Depends how tall you are I guess. In my case it takes a while.

How tall are you?

Bang on 2 meters.

6 foot….?

6ft 5? I don’t know. I just always say 2 meters as that’s all I know.

It must be quite the barrier to standing up straight. Even I find that a lot of the time.

I get photographed almost every weekend and then on a Monday or Tuesday I see photos of myself and I end up checking on my posture and my weight and even what I’m wearing. It’s kind of worrying in a way. I have tried to walk a little bit straighter. When I sit down I stoop a little bit but when I’m playing I try to stay upright.

Have you got problems with your ears?

Yeah, I should take more care of them really. I used to have earplugs… I know some people that use them religiously when they’re in a club but I’m not as disciplined as that.

Sorry, I’m sounding like your mum again. It’s just it was really clattery in here earlier and it was actually difficult for you to hear me.

Yeah.

So you’re quite self aware then in terms of reading reviews and that sort of thing?

Yeah I do. I know certain artists who have got to a point where the amount of stress its causing them, they get their girlfriend or partner to look at them. But I just can’t. A lot of the time I spend working at home on my own so in a way the Internet is almost a form of company.

You feed off it quite a bit then.

Yeah, most of my reviews are generally pretty good. I can take bad reviews though. I’ve never had something that’s awful but I’ve had 3 out of 5 which is obviously not as good as something I did a year or two ago. You just take it.

So you work at home?

Yeah. I’ve always toyed with the idea of having the studio elsewhere but I can’t really see the point. I can crawl out of bed and it’s just there. Even if it was a 5/10 minute walk away that’d be enough of a deterrent for me to not go in.

Tell us about what you’ve got coming up.

To save me, not so much work, but creative brain power, let’s say, the new series of EP’s on Perc Trax are artist EP’s with 3 or 4 tracks on each one, no remixes, to present this pure artistic statement from each artist. As well as this, the artists work directly with the Perc Trax artist to design each sleeve so it’s a step away from the repetitive label branding where they just slightly change the colour of an image or something like Ostgut Ton where it’s just standard stock photography with the label’s font over the top. It’s quite interesting because so long as it’s not something that really offends me they can do whatever they want. It can be moody black and white photography or a neon cartoon. I think it’s going to be an interesting series as it progresses. The idea was to get the artist and designer to communicate directly.

So you’re not fucking with the designer’s aesthetic and you’re not just chucking any old thing on there.

Yeah. But if someone took a picture of a puddle and wanted that on there, that’s what would happen. I think by the end of the year when I put 6 or 9 of them together in an image then it’ll look really interesting.

So you’re going to bunch them together?

Not in terms of selling them, no. I just mean I’ll cobble together a jpeg just to see how they all look as a whole years releases.

Who does the artwork?

A guy called Jonny Costello who is a guy from Dublin who lives in Birmingham who was a promoter but has recently quit and now does full time design.

He's a great designer.

Yeah he’s good. He’s always been working with other people as he’s not exclusive to Perc Trax, but he’s started doing designs for other techno labels which is the first time I’ve seen him do that and it’s interesting because I’ve known him for so long. I don’t have a problem with him working with other labels but it’s interesting to see his quality of work being pushed into other directions. I don’t necessarily like some of the designs but it’s interesting to see what he comes out with.

So you, as a label, do actually have an influence on the way that someone designs something.

Yeah, in terms of my own release, like The Power and Glory the designs are pretty much own concept that are then brought to life and vastly improved by Jonny. For the Forward Strategy Group album they fired over about 20 different ideas and grabbed jpegs and stuff off the Internet to do with Russian constructivism and stuff. Then Jonny is just so amazing at what he does he came back with 20 album covers and just said to pick one of these. It just came straight off that bat.

So you’re quite pulled into this concept then?

Yeah. In the past when Jonny was working on releases for other artists, we’d have a 3 way thing between me, Jonny and the artist, so for the Truss release I had no idea what it was going to be and Truss came up with these ideas of when we wanted and all the tweaks were made in Truss’ direction. What Truss has done does actually fit in well with the labels recent releases but he did just go a little bit off the map and go a little bit crazy. Sometimes someone might do it to see how far they can push me and take me though!

So there’s no sub-Perc Trax label on it’s way?

Umm, no new labels. Launching Perc Trax as 3 labels so the main Perc Trax label has a series of EP’s with exclusive artwork, there’s the Perc Trax Limited is the most dancefloor focused, there’s no ambient experiments on that one, that’s got a few things coming soon. The first 4 releases on the limited label all have a similar aesthetic with photos of faces on them that have all been tampered with and that was last year now so when it comes back that’ll be a completely new redesign. Then there’s the thing that bugs me the most, which is Submit, which is an experimental noise label.

I’m really looking for something for the Submit label, as there’s really been a rise in Drone and Noise music creeping into the Techno sphere. Pan is a perfect example, but I’m finding it hard to find something that is non-dancefloor but still engaging and interesting. That’s why that label has had 2 instant releases on it when it was first launched and nothing since. It’s quite annoying really. I will find something eventually. I don’t want it to be someone that makes it specially, I want it to be someone where that is their bread and butter. The hunt is on.

What’s your main issue with that at the moment then?

I just can’t really find much that I like. It’s hard because I want to find someone that has a little bit of profile and recognition, but then I don’t want to just pick up someone from a label like Pan and ask them to do an album. I have done that in a past if I love their music on a different label, I just don’t like collecting artists like baseball cards. I’m not going to name names but there’s an Italian label where 4 of there 5 last releases are Perc Trax artists. But they’re tracks that I’ve maybe rejected as they don’t fit as they’re maybe not quite aggressive enough. But then this Italian label hoovers them up. It’s just that I would always push for a label to have it’s own identity.

You just want artists to produce something that is in keeping with your aesthetic.

Yeah. Perc Trax isn’t in a position where it is able to sign artists exclusively, so if an artist wants to record for 3 or 4 different labels then you can’t really stop them. You can advise that it might not necessarily be the right label for them and point them in the right direction, but I have no artists signed exclusively.

There’s no point in banging them out either as you lose all kinds of perspective

But some artists are a lot more prolific than me and they’re make 4/5 tracks a month and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be released but I personally don’t feel that it’s healthy to do an EP every month. If you’re working with so many different labels, you can’t control their release schedules so any narrative or progression in your music is lost because something you did last week might come out before something you did a year ago. That’s one of my main problems as well, with something like Beatport as it’s very hard to trace your way through an artist’s development. You can look at the release dates but then lots of labels release things multiple times or put them into compilations.

It must be difficult, as you say, when you can’t sign someone exclusively.

If you look at when Surgeon was only releasing on his own label you could have a quick look on Discogs and look at the dates they came out as it was never more than an album a year, so you can plot your way through his releases and see a definite development in his sound, technically and musically. Now, in general, it’s just a big mess. On Beatport you never know if you’re listening to something that was made 10 years ago or last year.

Invitation to release on a label is a real compliment but then at the same time it ruins your narrative.

Yeah, and the problem with signing an artist exclusively is that if they produce an album and it doesn’t fit or you don’t like it then you’re falling into the realms of dropping artists and obviously you’re not a major but your acting in that way and it becomes a bit more serious.

I think it’s just a bit more about respect really. If a label is doing a good job for an artist, in this day and age that means getting the vinyl out on time and making it look good and possibly throwing as many gigs as you can their way because that’s where the money is, hopefully they have the respect to not go and record for every 2 bit label around. If someone gets an offer from similar or bigger label than Perc Trax then go for it. If I’m putting the time and effort into releasing someone’s vinyl and they’re offloading the spare tracks to a small digital label then they need to have a little bit more respect. That’s a bit too strong of a word…

But it is about respect isn’t it. It’s the trust thing as well I guess.

Yeah, and that’s the thing with Perc Trax as I have no policy with only signing British artists as I’ve got European artists all over the label. Saying that, it’s definitely an advantage to work with UK or even London based artists as you see them. Whether it’s business/studio thing or a social thing, I bump into Truss at least once a week and you catch up. To see people face-to-face helps so much.

I totally agree. One last point, do you do syncs? There must be a lot of potential money to be made there…

It’s happened occasionally, I don’t push for it and try to secure it and I don’t cold call people or send samplers to supervisors. Somehow, Perc Trax has become the go to thing for one of the guys at music for Dior. So we’ve done about 6 or 7 Dior things recently. All by me, apart from one by Mondkopf. They use them online, at fashion shows; it’s all there. Anyone that knows me knows that that money isn’t going to go on coke and hookers. It might go on the occasional night out but a lot of it is pumped back into the label. But it’s not so much Power and Glory, it’s more Wicker and Steel. If someone has a favourite album they keep hammering it. They took one thing from Power and Glory, one thing from Mondkopf and about 4 from Wicker and Steel. I posted one up a while ago and people were genuinely very excited about it, as it was an opportunity for the underground to mix with a huge brand. But I also got a few comments about me being a sell out and about how they made the uniforms for the Nazis… What can you do!


Gob is out on 7th August via Perc Trax.

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