The Boardroom presents…
"It is customary for the gentlemen who live near the Tweed to entertain their neighbours and friends with a Fete Champetre, which they call giving 'a kettle of fish'. Tents or marquees are pitched near the flowery banks of the river… a fire is kindled, and live salmon thrown into boiling kettles."
Right, now we've established that one let's turn our attention to the matter in hand. The Boardroom's first release Radical Majik pricked up my ears a couple of months back, especially the Mental Health Time Bomb. Formed in 2005 by a load of Rotters Golf Club and Klang Electronik associates they'e built out the collective concept to into a effervesence of a new label. With very limited hand printed vinyl of each release of which we have one lovely piece to give away to one lucky R$N subscriber – more details on that below – the label throws their second party next weekend with Paul 'Leftfield' Daley and Radioactive Man and E.S.C. live launching the second Boardroom release E.S.C.
We caught up with director Board man, Steve Boardman to talk us through the ethos and background of the collective.
Briefly explain the concept behind the Boardroom Collective for us.
Not sure if concept is the right word, it just happened really. I had been working alone doing composition, sound design, and mixing for the moving picture world, and really hankered after the collaboration of my past. I like working on my own, but working with other people allows one to gain new perspectives. So after finding a space through my good friend Sidney Le Sarge, I set about creating a space where I could work with whom I wanted. As my previous work with sound to picture had reached fruition, I had managed to stash a little money to not have to worry for a while. I paid my rent in advance and used this time to build a studio space. That space later became The Boardroom studio. The name came about when I started working with Jon Vick (previously from Locked On records). He used to call me 'Boardy', so it was 'Boardies Room' and eventually 'The Boardroom'. I wanted to work with many people, but still wanted a central focus point. Then people and press started calling it a collective, it wasn't a description of choice. Even though the music is written and produced by many different artist groups, it still has a Boardroom sound, as me and my studio are always involved. It's all quite transient and loose, as different people contribute at different times, but when a few of us are available at the same time, we perform as one whole unit called Boardroom LIve. Mashing up each others tunes in a different ways live.
What's your musical background/production history and music upbringing?
I owe my production hobby to my father. He got into Hi-Fi in the late seventies, (something that is greatly lacking in todays culture). He purchased a Sony reel to reel tape recorder, which I still have. Not sure where he got the money from as we were totally skint and didn't have a TV for years! He used to have these parties where his friends would bring records over. They would listen to them, and at the same time he would record them on to his reel to reel. It could hold quite a few hours on each side at it's lowest speed, so he would have all this music that could be played non stop, like a really long mix tape. Which of course people loved. He was probably one of the original home taping pirates! For me though it meant that even at a very early age I had access to all this music, mainly classics like the Beatles, Stones, and Hendrix, but I loved it. That reel to reel was like a window into another world that didn't exist in the back end of Shropshire. With a little help from my father I taut myself how to use it, creating really odd soundscapes by adjusting speed, reversing playback and creating massive echos while bouncing track to track. Through the love of these different sounds (and teenage angst) I got into the more electronic side of things, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, Portion Control, DAF, and some goth leanings like The Sisters of Mercy etc. When I got my first computer (the Sinclair ZX81) I became obsessed with programming. It had no hardware that could create sound, but by hacking, and typing lots of code from the computer magazines of the day it could. This absolutely blew my mind, and set me on the path of combining my three interests (the last being the opposite sex, generated by the onset of adolescence). Music, girls and technology. What a geeky heady mix. Its all too easy with the internet these daze! 🙂 If I was in an electronic band, surely I would attract the attention of the fairer sex? It took moving to London at the age of 17 to study Musical Instrument Technology in Electronics, at the London College of Furniture (London University now), for it all to happen at once! Learning to program and sample with a Fairlight series 2X (think Trevor Horn, Art Of Noise and Frankie Goes to Hollywood) playing with hand built synths, amps and acid [house], that set me on the path I am now…..
What is the entry criteria when new people want to get involved in The Boardroom Collective?
There isn't one, but being open minded, willing to contribute, and able to deviate from set rules. Its not ones skill set (although that helps), its having ideas and being able to express them, hopefully in a fun way. I only work on equal terms, no matter skill set, or who they are. I always have and always will, as this is the fairest way to get the best synergy creatively. Prescription is the not good in my book, and preciousness or being to serious is a guaranteed fail.
Turning to the artists, can you give us a run down on who's part of the collective and what we've got to look forward to.
Well, it is very difficult to say which individual, or artist is in the collective, as it changes all the time. New artists join and old artists return. It really is not a solid structure but more like an ever changing group, but as I always co-produce all the material, I am probably the only constant. What I can say is there are many scheduled releases. Rad Rice as 'Radical Majik', James Moss as 'E.S.C', Dave Congreve as 'Con/Man', Sidney Le Sarge as 'Le Sarge En Board', Jon Vick as 'Board & Victorville', Pete Lazonby as 'Bored & Lazy'.
How does doing your own releases differ from the days of putting out compilations on other labels?
Well we haven't just done compilations on other labels. The first 'The Boardroom presents…' series was on Klang Elektronik. We have kept that as our label name for continuity purposes. It is obviously a lot more work releasing records ourselves, and as a consequence I have less time in the studio. The advantage of it is that when you want something done, you do it yourself and it is done. No promises are made that are not kept, and it is easier to find out all the information one requires. Ones services are also not used to promote any other entity other than whats agreed. It is also a lot more stressful but as a consequence more rewarding. We pretty much do everything ourselves (including mastering) and I would recommend everybody doing it for themselves, especially if they have a backlog of fine tunes on their books 🙂
Does this feel like a specifically London-centric collective or are you keen for Boardroom to expand geographically?
Well although it is physically 'London-centric' at the moment, I don't think the music is, or for that matter the people that make it. It just happens that we all used to live in the same city and go to the same parties. Initially when we started out we were more known in Germany than here, but we could quite happily exist anywhere, and do really. It doesn't need to have a physical location, it can exist in the ether in between, and converging when needed. I welcome collaboration across, and within the boundaries of space and time! In fact for two months In the new year I will be collecting sound from various countries hopefully. The last time I did this was years ago, only to have most of my recordings stolen on arrival back home!
We're doing a competition to win the first release on vinyl with a loving crafted lino print cover. The tracks released on vinyl aren't available anywhere digitally are they? What was the thinking behind this rather cryptic way of releasing records?
I love creating things that will actually exist in reality, it is very rewarding. For me, sound and music does not just exist as exact copies of itself. It is a form of emotional conveyance that is not at all related to the medium that carries it, but the medium can hint at that. Which analog representation does a lot better than digital. I am very careful when programming to build in errors, so each playback is different and vinyl reflects this. This is essentially the analog sound. When you create something in actuality, an artefact if you like, it is never the same, mistakes embellish it, making it unique to every other copy of itself. Like life, it is the mistakes that make us who we are, and why we are here, and sound is no different. So by making the vinyl mixes different to the digital ones (and doing hand printed vinyl) we are differentiating the two mediums, making the analog one the premium one. We will never mass produce these, and the mixes on them will never be available digitally (although i'm sure they will be ripped). They are just for the collectors. We're trying to follow the screen printing model of creating only a few numbered pieces, that will hopefully push up the re-sale market . So far they seem to be going down well, and the next edition will reflect this.
As someone whose been in it a long time, how do you feel about the whole digitisation of music? Has it inspired a real back to basics approach with the attitude of The Boardroom collective?
Don't get me wrong, I am all for digitisation. It has enabled ideas to populate quicker and more thoroughly. Whether they are authentic is another thing. It has certainly made my life easier and more fun creatively. I just feel that it can make everything so impersonal. There is more loneliness despite social media! When you have something that can actually be weathered by time, it makes what you have, that much more important. We realise we are not immortal, especially when our computers crash and 'the cloud' is hacked. How we craft things, and look after them embellishes a little of our personality and soul in them. This is left in, and on them, as a ghosts of ourselves. I want to eventually embellish every single digital release with a different mistake, making each copy unique. I have worked out how to do it using some old world war 2 technology, I just need to scale it. It is not copy protection or audio watermarking either, but audio artefacts that can be heard and enhance the harmonic content. At the moment it takes ages to do each one, so it's not a proposition at the moment, but stay tuned. So back to basics maybe but with a contemporary slant!
Replace the words of The Boardroom Collective to describe the label/collective. TBC =
To Be Confirmed, or, Total Bunch of Collaborators (replace last word to taste:)
Is there a point were you think the central concept would get diluted by too many members or is it the more the merrier? If so, where do people apply?
As long as it gets diluted with fine beverage I'm happy, and if thats the case, it will definitely be merrier! As I said earlier its not really a concept, it just happens that I worked with many different people in 'The Boardroom'. I am not sure how else it could be configured. Drop us a line on the website if you have any suggestions or are interested in what we do. I am always up for new collaboration or new ideas..
Tell us about December's event.
Well after the label launch night with Justin Robertson, and Will Saul. FuturistiX (our co-promoter) and ourselves have got the mighty Paul Daley from Leftfield, Radioactive Man Keith Tenniswood, Jay Blatch, and PingMonster on deck duty, supporting a live performance from E.S.C, who will be promoting their new E.P. 'The Prophecy'. All on a great tuned sound system, in a dark basement, with an up for it crowd. I am looking forward to the sets from Paul Daley and Radioactive Man. They both have a lot of new material and I am pretty sure it will be part of their weaponry for the night.
Expect dubby slow mo, deep house, building to techno and electro. What else do you need on a Friday to kick start an avin it weekend? Maybe drinks at pub prices? we have that too…..
What should I have asked you but haven't?
What I would like to drink…..
Well I didn't get to buy him a drink… he actually bought me one which was nice of him.
Check the two Boardroom relelases below. Of particular note for these ears is Mental Health Time Bomb on Radical Majik's release but the tripped out midtempo house chugger Fianchetto is also quite a delight.
Release two and E.S.C's The Prophecy takes things into techier territory. I didn't make it to the last WANG – shame on me – but I bet the lead track on here'd set the floor a flying there. Would'nt be out of place in Tresor back in '91 methinks before the fall of the wall. Dark, smoky and some cheap lasers in a confined room. You get the jist… job done.
Roll on release 3!
Get tix and more info on the Boardroom Party with Paul Daley (Leftfield) and Radioactive Man and a host more here.
Want to win a lovingly crafted and limited edition lino-printed 12" of Radical Majik? Then you can cinderella! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with "I'm certainly not bored of this label… gimme this thing of beauty and wonder." in the title. Winners drawn from a ransom note.