Label love #9: Clouded Vision
Clouded Vision, overseen by the watchful eye of Matt Walsh, is one of those labels that has managed to craft it's own recognisable sound even when releasing music from producers spread all over the globe. There is a thread that runs through the output that somehow unites the music, no matter how disparate the styles or production techniques.
Up and running since 2009 and with over 15 quality releases under the belt, we thought it high time to catch up with head honcho Matt Walsh to get an in-depth insight into the running of the label, it's ethos, the way ahead and that 'CV' sound…
Please give us an outline of Clouded Vision. What are the driving forces behind the label and what made you decide it was time to set up the label?
I started Clouded Vision Recordings back in 2009. I had only just started to learn how to produce really and was working with Steve Cook as Clouded Vision a lot. We had done about 8 remixes together alongside 3 or 4 originals and I wanted to build the brand into something, so I decided to release our first two EPs myself, the first being a vinyl release. My DJ profile had already started to grow and I asked a few of my favourite producers if they were up for doing remixes and Alex Egan (Astronomer) The Nialist, 40 Thieves, ZNTN and Photonz all did great versions of our tracks Outside and Neon Rain.
At the time I was DJig a lot at festivals with the Turbo Recordings crew, but the music we were making was slower, more suitable to small basement clubs, so it made sense to build the brand into something as an alternative. After the success of the first two releases I started to receive email demos, something I hadnt planned at all really, and one was Daribis Truckin. I put together a selection of remixes from the likes of Krikor, The Love Supreme, Bozzwell, plus a version by myself and Steve, and the EP became the building blocks of a rise to fame for Darabi (one of which is now Low Jack) but also a signature sound to my DJ sets and a community began to build around it.
As primarily a DJ before a producer, the success of CLOUDED 003 fed my hunger for finding new tracks, coupled with Soundcloud starting to make a name for itself, it allowed me to spend hours searching for unreleased tracks from new producers. The demos came pouring in from the likes of Bozzwell, Sishi Rosch and Remain, (who coincidently put me onto Bubbas unreleased We Need a Break). The community began to grow and those that had done remixes previously sent original demos and before I knew it, my DJ sets were becoming riddled with unreleased label fodder.
You've had plenty of experiences with other labels, do you think the way you've interacted with them has had a significant effect on the way you run Clouded Vision?
Absolutely. I started to help with the A+R at Turbo Recordings while on tour in North America in 2008 so I saw how it helped create an identity to a particular sound and also how a crew quickly builds around it. Turbo was inspirational in my reasoning to set the label up, but I always shopped as a label lover from the outset of my DJ career. Output, City Rockers, Kill The DJ, Gigolo, Crosstown Rebels, Playhouse and Kompakt were the go-to imprints during the electroclash and minimal eras where my career began.
Helping out at Turbo meant that I saw new artists come along all the time and found it really exciting to have a bundle of tracks from someone like Gesaffelstein, who at the time nobody had heard of. Its happened with a few artists already at CV, including Sebastien Tex, Morgan Hammer, Dimitri Veimar and Markus Gibb. Being the first to release a new stars record is a great buzz!
There are artists and influences from all over the world on Clouded Vision. With this in mind how important do you think location and identity are in the creation of music?
I do believe there is a scene starting to build around this music. Daniel Avery and I have tried over and over again to come up with a genre name, but its so hard to find something that fits. It draws influence from a number of areas, notably the dark new wave of Paris, home to a lot of the artists, but also the percussive funk of Mexico and the gritty punk rock of Tel Aviv in the form of the great Red Axes. The advantage of the music coming from such a vast area became apparent when putting together the first Clouded Vision Experiment compilation and the resulting tour that followed it. This year there will be a second comp, with 16 new tracks, many from other new artists including Dark Strands, Few Nolder, Idir & Tunnel Signs, In Fields and Kiwi, plus a track from one of my heroes, The Hacker.
What is a clouded vision?
It was born out of my boredom with hands in the air, banging music during the latter part of 2008 that has since become mainstream. I wanted to portray myself with the music that I really loved, rather than what was current and rocking all the festivals. It takes a while for people to get what you are trying to put across, but Id like to think that now someone could hear one of the tracks and think, That sounds like a CV record.
Is Clouded Vision primarily a 12"s label or are you looking at focussing on more album based releases?
At the moment, it is just EPs. With only myself doing the work I dont have the capacity to do albums just yet. Its certainly something I would like to do though, possibly in 2015. The 20th release will be the compilation, so maybe 030 will be the first album. Watch this space
How do you go about selecting what will be released on the label?
The releases come from a number of ways. Obviously there are a lot of demos, more and more by the week, but I listen to all of them. One of the many luxuries of being a travelling DJ is that you get to meet a lot of talented residents and locals who give you tracks to play. When I first went to Tel Aviv, Red Axes gave me loads of unreleased stuff and it blew my mind. More recently I have met two producers in Vilnius, Lithuania, one is Few Nolder who has done a mind-bending remix of Dark Strands on CLOUDED 018 and will be releasing his own EP as CLOUDED 019. The second is a totally unknown producer called Markas, who will appear on the next compilation, his track has got a Maceo Plex style to it, with added CV twists. Generally though if a producer tells me in an email what genre he or she thinks it is, Im pretty sure I wont like it!
What do you think are the greatest challenges facing record labels in 2014, and how do you see the industry changing in the future (if at all)?
I think things have changed a lot since the digital generation. Some producers want vinyl releases, some prefer the prospect of getting a bit of press and an increase in profile. If you can get a good balance of both you have cracked it. I personally dont mind if a remix or a release of mine doesnt get a vinyl release, as long as it is backed by someone who loves it, and is willing to get it out there as much as possible.
What kind of effect has running the label had on you as a DJ? Do you find yourselves tailoring your mixes slightly differently or do the two comfortably coincide?
The label has been born out of what I play in my DJ sets. Recently in a 3 hour set I can play 10 tracks from the label easily and more often than not the messages I get the next day are IDs from the new material. Being the first to get the next big track is what I have always wanted to be about and DJing is all about sharing great music, so I am more than happy to do that.
Do you and Steve Cook still get any chances to work together?
We dont unfortunately. Steve recently engineered a remix I did for Few Nolder on Best Kept Secret, but he has been concentrating on his own production and is about to release his debut EP on the great all-vinyl label, Tusk Wax. He and I have always clashed slightly over the amount of rave we put into our tracks, in a good way for sure, and his EP is something really inventive, a cross between the slow chug of ALFOS and somebody like Lone or Special Request. He has a great collection of rave music and would blow peoples minds if he played an all 92 vinyl set.
Top 3 Clouded Vision releases to date.
- Remote – Alcyone
- Dimitri Veimar The Boys
- Demian With Love & Voodoo
Have you ever worn real shoes to a club? Where was it?
Im a great believer that trainers are for sport. When worn with anything smart they look ridiculous on me. Real shoes all the way.
If Clouded Vision were a meal, what would it be?
Probably Weetabix. Slow burning, but full of energy and works best very early in the morning.
Who would you most love the opportunity to work with in the future with the label?
I would love to release some of Trevor Jacksons music. He is a great friend and is someone I have admired for years. I have heard a lot of his unreleased stuff and it is incredible. When I first started to get booked as a DJ, my sets would have 5 or 6 Output records in every time and I still like to throw one in now and again today. It was a groundbreaking label and totally incorporated everything I am trying to do with CV.
If you could sign one record from the history of recorded music, what would it be and why?
Magazine 60 – Don Quichotte. The perfect level of slow-mo dancefloor weirdness, coupled with the fact that in 1984 it was way ahead of its time.
The greatest record sleeve of all time?
I mention Primal Scream in every interview, but deservedly so. Screamadelica is my favourite record for so many reasons, but the simple yet iconic artwork is something thats very hard to beat.
Finally, what's around the corner for Clouded Vision, what can we look forward to and where do you see things heading in the future?
CLOUDED 017 Demian is out this week, followed by 018 Dark Strands in March and 019 Few Nolder in May. As I mentioned earlier there will be the compilation at the start of the summer which is being mastered as we speak so more information coming very soon.
Demian – With Love & Voodoo is out on Clouded Vision in March. Listen to the clips over on Juno.
Keep up with all things Clouded Vision over at their FB page.