The first release on Soft Raw was with Slacker – what’s the process like in choosing artists for upcoming releases?
He actually sent me those tunes to ask what I thought, and if I knew anywhere that would like to put them out. I didn’t get back to him immediately as I hadn’t had a chance to sit down and listen, but when I did a week later, I knew instantly that I wanted them for my label and asked Sam if he’d be up for me releasing it, and he agreed! It was then about a six-month process from sending that email to the official release date. I approached my friend Colin at One Eye Witness to see if he would be keen on doing the distro, which he was, and then my partner Guillaume created the artwork based on some art direction from myself. I had a very strong idea of what I wanted the general artwork themes to be, contrasting elements, i.e. soft and raw textures, with two stickers on the sleeve and a grey centre label with bright coloured text. But then aside from that, I left it all to Guillaume, and he delivered! Each release will look very different to one another, but the general layout of the centre labels will remain the same for now, just for some continuity. The feedback has been amazing so far, so I’m very pleased. I haven’t announced anything officially yet, but the next release will be a debut from an artist and is going to be out early next year, I just got the TP’s back! It’s someone who has been sending me tunes for years and they’re wonderful – I’m so excited to release it.
You’re also an illustrator, when did you pick that up? Did you study art or illustration?
Yeah, I studied graphic design and illustration at university – I do a lot less of that now, but I still find the time occasionally. I do all the artwork for Mix Nights, the posters for Livity Sound parties in Bristol, and have just finished some new T-shirt designs for Phonica celebrating 20 years next year. I also occasionally get commissioned for various illustration jobs, I did some artwork for the centre label on a release by Tim Reaper recently and some editorial illustration for Hii Mag.
How does that work in conjunction with playing music and running a label? Do you find those creative aspects go hand in hand?
It’s definitely played a part, I had a very strong concept in mind for what I wanted the artwork for my label to look like, but I am more of an illustrator than a graphic designer so I didn’t want to create the artwork myself as my partner is a lot better at that type of design than I am! During the pandemic, I made prints that were up for sale too, but I would definitely like to explore the two together a bit more in the future, perhaps if I do some all-night-long shows or something.
Can you tell us about your Impact mix?
I went to record this mix at the end of a super busy November where I had a lot of late-night/closing sets, and was kind of in that headspace. I realised I don’t record many of my DJ sets (which I must get better at), and so I don’t have many mixes that showcase a peak-time or closing set of mine, so I decided to record a kind of power-hour mix playing a load of my favourite tracks that I’ve been playing out recently. There’s a mixture of old and new tracks – it showcases many different genres too from 170 stuff to bassier bits, then into techno, electro, house, and breaks. I wanted to include one of the tracks from the Slacker release on Soft Raw, and since it’s a faster tempo, I decided to go about the mix a bit differently than usual by starting off fast and then going slower and back up again. I think it works really well! I start off a 170, then go down to about 140, and then back up 155. It’s the kind of mix where you’re not sure where it’s going to go next, but when it goes there, it makes sense! That’s kind of what I like to do in my peak-time or closing sets – keep the energy there, but keep people on their toes!
Check out Soft Raw on Bandcamp
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Simkin – See You/Deterritorial [borderlandstate_the best kisser in l.a. ‘2 become 1’
Paleman – Mandible
Mike Parker – The Melting Mask
DJ Stingray 313 – No Knock
Forest Drive West – Sustain
Slacker – Love As A Devil
Sputnik One – Supa Natural (Honeydrip & Spud’s Breaks Mix)
Lithe – Lasik Channel
Product Toss – Canned
Citizen:Kane – Emanuel (Jaroskavibes Remix)
Mike Parker – Spiral Snare 1998 | Remastered
Black Girl / White Girl – Cosmic Crusader
DJ Physical – Lowrider
Overland – Blink For Eternity
Mor Elian – Itch Twitch
Connor Byrne – Fierce Deity
Tafkamp presents Irv Da Perv – XTC People
Shonen Bat – Fluid Seeker
Settle Down – Raised On Tapes
Hooverian Blur – Delusion
Sun People – State of Flux
LDS – fl+
Sister Candy – Keep Bubbling (DJ Sports Remix)
Written by: Tim Hopkins