Label Love #28: Turbo Records
Turbo have had a big year in 2014 – but then we can't think of a year in the last decade when they haven't. The label run by Tiga and his brother Thomas (and, as you can tell from reading the below, we didn't actually clock they were brothers until this interview, slapped wrists all round for the research department…) has constantly stretched the rules of house and techno, pushing at the forms to see just what they are capable of. Whether releasing fractured bass heavy techno from D.I.M, glamorous electro flounces from Tiga, synthetic disco from Robert Calvin, Chicago house reconfigured by Azari & III, or their current support of new hardcore experimentalists Clouds, Turbo has bridged a gap between the commercial and the underground with a deftness of touch that is all too rare. With a current breakout hit – Tiga's Bugatti – making it onto countless end of year lists, now seemed a perfect time to go over a little of the label's history We fired some questions over to label boss Thomas Von Party – and here's how it went down…
Can you tell us a little bit about what Turbo's original blueprints were?
The label is so old it's hard to remember that far back! lol
I think when Tiga started it, he wanted to create a platform that extended beyond Montreal. He was involved with a great club at the time, Sona, and was hosting international talent all the time, he also had a record store, so starting the label was the perfect way to leverage his connections and get his name and taste out there to the world. I think the blueprint was always just to combine dope music with amazing design. I suppose that's how every label starts out!
What are some of the label's formative musical influences?
I think for Tiga and I, 80s music in general was very formative, stuff our dad played in Goa, and then early rave and techno. Altern8, Aphex Twin, KLF, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, etc.
Having been around for a fair time now, do you think the Turbo remit has changed much since your early days?
Not really. I think we've always been a bit idiosyncratic and never really been too 'trendy.' Partly I think that's down to our relative isolation in Montreal, but also just down to our varied taste. I think we'd get bored if we tried to do the same thing for long, so I think the label has consistently changed and reflected our personalities.
How do you source tracks for the label? Have you ever released anything that came completely unsolicited?
Lots of big releases came from unsolicited demos: Gesaffelstein, Popof, Proxy, for example… We still try to listen to all the demos we receive, even if there's a lot of garbage to wade through.
Tell us about your relationship with Tiga and how that came about.
It came about by birth. We're brothers!
In the age of the 3 second attention span, do you still listen to albums?
Sure, but only great ones.
What has been the label’s happiest accident?
I remember once we had a Guy J b-side somehow end up sticking in the Beatport top ten for a few weeks… that was nice. Generally, I don't really believe in accidents. We're certainly happy to see the success of guys like Chromeo, Duke Dumont, and Gesaffelstein… it's amazing to play a part in launching massive careers.
What's the best thing you've heard this year?
Aphex Twin – Syro.
If you could release any record from musical history, what would it be? Is there anything that you'd like done differently with the record?
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works. Wouldn't change a thing.
If money was no object to the label what would you do with it or are you happy with the trajectory thus far?
I think every label would roll a bit differently if money were no object. I mean who would want a gold embossed record sleeve? why not?
What's been the biggest hit for the label so far?
Hmm… either Tiga's Sunglasses at Night, or Bugatti… otherwise maybe Duke's The Giver.
On the recent Beatport Turbo series you separated the labels outputs into genre's – how did you decide what to put where? did it feel like a necessary evil?
Well when your tracks go for digital release they get slotted into horrible genre categories, sometimes way off, so this was an opportunity to define it ourselves, a bit closer to how we see it.
Having had Pusha T guest spot on Bugatti, if you could stick any rapper on any of the Turbo back cat, which MC would go on which track?
Maybe have Kanye return the favour on Viol… hang back and make some loot…
What has the label got coming up?
We've just released a compilation that wraps up the Warehouse Series, next up we have a dope remix pack for this Spanish artist Trances (alias of El Guincho) featuring remixes by myself, Clarian, and Pilooski. Beyond that, more techno mentalism from Clouds, who I think are at the top of their game.
Finally, give us the 5 tracks that you think best sum up Turbo ?
fuck that's hard…
ZZT – Lower State of Consciousness
cuz it's properly mental, original
Gesaffelstein – Variations
still maybe my favourite thing he's done
Proxy – Raven
totally defined an era
Tiga – Plush
maybe my favourite thing Tiga has done… it's quirky, fresh, funky, disco, electro, trippy… so many things wrapped up in one
Clouds – Consciousness
new-breed UK techno at it's finest, the core of the New Jack Techno vibe
I can't believe I had to leave out Duke Dumont, Scandinavian techno, Azari and Chromeo…
Keep up with Turbo Recordings over on their website