Friday, November 9, 2012

Introducing :: AutomAte

If you've been listening to our podcasts, you'll probably have heard a handful of forthcoming tunes from a couple of labels operating under the AutomAte umbrella. 

With a rock-solid concept under them, we feel they have a bright future ahead of them and believe us when we say they have some quality music coming out in the next year! 
We got hold of co-owner and AutomAte Deep curator, Deficit to find out a bit more about what they're all about. 

The AutomAte labels are nearly ready for launch. How long have you been involved in the Drum & Bass scene and how did the forming of AutomAte come about?

Long story! Depends what you mean by involved. I started bedroom DJing and going to Drum and Bass clubs and parties about ten years ago. I first played in a club six or seven years ago but I'd say it's only in the last three or four years that I've made a big effort to build something tangible and truly be a part of the scene.
AutomAte has existed in some form since late 2009. It started with a radio show on Intense Records' online station, jointly run by myself and my good friend Tracksuit Mafia. He and a few other mates had started producing their own music and we wanted to start exposing ourselves as artists to the rest of the world. We promoted the show on the forums and social networks each week and started to get a bit of interest but the format got very tired very quickly. We decided to get the audience more involved so we started advertising guest slots. People would send us a demo mix and if we were feeling it, we’d offer them the chance to either play a live show or provide a guest mix which we would air. We met loads of people this way because each DJ would bring their own circle of mates so it was a different crowd in the chatroom each week. The AutomAte Soundcloud page was originally a portal for downloading the radio shows and one of them, a Leon Switch/Defcom tribute mix from my man Nathan E, is still on there for the time being.

After about 18 months, we laid the radio show to rest. By that point we’d switched the format again and had about six DJs on regular rotation but it had become obvious that people wanted downloads, not live streams. A bit like Sky+, people want it on demand. Tracksuit Mafia went his own way to concentrate on production and I started the AutomAte Podcast. After about 9 months this started to really take off and, after 2 years, we've worked with Amoss, Phil Hustle, Nyx (Renegade Hardware), the other Nyx (from Seattle), Retraflex (Flexout Audio), Cursa and more. The next one will be Square (Mindtech Recordings). We're on iTunes, which is the best way to subscribe, and they’re downloadable from our Soundcloud page too.

In late 2010, my best friend (and now label partner) Esion convinced me to give production a try. He'd been doing it for a couple of years and was loving it. Long story short, I was bitten by the bug. Esion lives in Bristol and we started going to the Digital Labz production seminars, which are run by James Arclight. The three of us got chatting and James sent Esion a tune he'd just written. That tune was Pluroform. We were both blown away. We'd chatted about record labels before but Pluroform sealed the deal, if we could get music of that quality then it was game on! That was a year ago and a lot has happened since. We've been very busy but nothing has been rushed. We worked on the label for a year before releasing the first single, which came out on bonfire night.

How would you describe the sounds you're trying to represent across the two labels? What are you looking for when you sign a track?

Esion and I share a mutual love of dark, techy, dancefloor Drum and Bass but over the years our tastes have diverged. Esion's love of tech has extended towards the heavy/hardcore end of the spectrum whereas I've gone the other way towards the more experimental, genre-bending stuff. I guess you could say the two labels represent Esion and I.
AutomAte Tech is all about dirty, gritty, hard-hitting dnb ranging from heavy tech-step and amen tracks to neuro and hardcore styles. If you want to get a track signed to AutomAte Tech, a good start would be to write something that makes Esion and I jump around the room. It needs to be dark and grimy with plenty of attitude and groove. Esion really has the final say on what goes out on AutomAte Tech but there’s nothing that he's signed to the label so far that I don’t play in my sets too. If you have us both running for the nearest nightclub, you're onto a winner.
AutomAte Deep is about warm, eclectic and experimental music. Drum and Bass has always been a bit of a bastard son, a mish-mash of everything from UK Techno to Jamaican Dub to Funk and Soul to US Hip-Hop. It's the speed, the drum breaks and the sub-bass that make Drum and Bass sound like Drum and Bass but the real flavour comes from literally every other kind of music there is and this is the kind of experimentation I’m encouraging with AutomAte Deep; I want to forget I'm sitting in my studio; I want you to take me on a journey to a windy mountain top, a South American carnival, a Japanese temple, the surface of Mars… That’s how to get a tune signed to AutomAte Deep.
We're looking for really well produced music. Professional quality. With our first release, I believe we've set the bar right where it needs to be. Anyone can send us demos and we listen to everything we're sent. We're musicians, we love listening to music. We've had demos from many talented up-and-coming artists and we encourage them, spur them on to keep developing and give them advice where we can. Keep coming back, keep sending us music, we love hearing people progress and we'd love to home-grow some artists.
Apart from that, all the music needs to come from the soul. Writing tunes for the sake of it and trying to emulate other people often results in music that sounds awkward, contrived and false. Be true to yourself and write what's in your heart, whether it's a hardcore face-melter, dancefloor dynamite or a trippy experimental soup. We're passionate about this music and we expect to hear the same from our artists. In fact, that's all we really ask of them.
I much prefer to hear demos that have not been mastered in any way. Many artists seem to feel that they need to squeeze their demos to commercial loudness to grab my attention. Not true! In my experience, most budding producers totally overcook this and I've heard many a demo ruined by poor mastering. All our music is professionally mastered at zero cost to the artist so, if in doubt, leave the master bus alone and just send us the final mixdown, we'll take it from there.

The first release on AutomAte Tech has just dropped, can you give us some information on that as well as what to expect in the near future?

We have plenty in the pipeline. The first release dropped on 5th November. That was Arclight – Pluroform/Surgikal. It's available now in all good digital stores including Beatport, TrackItDown, Juno, iTunes, Amazon, 7Digital and many more. Support for that release has been outstanding. The tunes have been picked up by the likes of Bailey, Raiden, EBK, Nyx, Gremlinz, NC-17, John Rolodex. The list goes on...
Next up, on 3rd December we'll be releasing another AutomAte Tech single. This one is by Fearful, a talented up-and-coming duo from Brighton. The A-side is a heavyweight grumpy slab of tech called Santura and the B-side is a punchy rolling stepper called Gorilla. These boys are a joy to work with and they're ones to watch, they're going to start turning some heads. Again, the release has already chalked up encouraging support from the likes of Optiv, Amoss, Nyx, Phil Hustle, Cursa, Philth and more.

In the new year we'll be putting out more music on AutomAte Tech. Call me old-fashioned but I like to keep an air of mystery, I don't believe in giving everything away all at once. Suffice to say, exciting times lie ahead and we're already working with artists on several releases for the first half of 2013. The best way to keep up with what's happening is, of course, online at SoundcloudFacebook or Twitter (or search for #automatednb)

Around March/April, we're planning to launch AutomAte Deep. The first release on there will be Peg Leg by Ortokore and Near East by ModeBlue. This is a perfect example of what I'm trying to achieve with the Deep label. One side has insanely infectious Latino beach vibes while the other takes you on a Dub-fuelled journey to the heart of a Medina. All from the comfort of your headphones.

We're working on further releases for AutomAte Deep, with artists from all over the place, including Chile, Holland and Italy as well as England and Scotland.

We've also realised what a massive gulf exists between AutomAte Deep and AutomAte Tech. We've been sent a number of tunes which haven't suited the vibe of either label but which we would have loved to sign. Chunky steppers, dark rollers and interesting minimal tracks that didn't have enough attitude for Tech or were too straight-up for Deep. So we're planning to launch a third imprint, simply called AutomAte, to cater for this. The same standards apply across the board, the music needs to be well-produced and engaging with a dark andtechy or an interesting, experimental edge to it. This label is still on the drawing board but if it would make it into our record bags, it stands a good chance of being signed.

Any final thoughts or shouts you’d like to add?

Loads. I can talk about music all day. And I don't want this to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech!
Shouts to my partner-in-crime, Esion. Tracksuit Mafia for his support, especially in the early days. My tech-man Nathan E, who’s like the third member of AutomAte and practically runs our forum, And my girlfriend Julie for putting up with my sub, my ranting and raving, my obsessive nature and for picking me up when it all gets too much.
A special mention to our mastering engineer, Chris Jarman (aka Raiden/Kamikaze Space Programme). I’ve been a big fan of his for a decade now and there's no-one I'd rather have finalising our releases than him. And a bloody nice bloke to boot.
Katie Taylor (aka Shiny Biscuit) for helping us on the PR and promo side of things.
Carla, Gabi, Fergus, Stuart and Andrew for their graphical input over the years. If anyone wants to be put in contact with our graphic designers, just ask.
Finally, all the artists that have worked with us, sent us music or shown an interest. And everyone who has supported us by buying our music, playing our music, spreading the word or just offering encouragement. You know who you are.

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