Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Q&A :: Deficit [AutomAte D&B]

We've been supporting the AutomAte labels since their inception last year and if you've been listening to our podcasts, chances are you've heard some AutomAte beats in there. With that in mind, we felt it was high-time we got co-founder, Deficit to put a guest mix together for our latest podcast and we recently got hold of him to find out how the last year has been for the him and the labels. Read on for the lowdown!

It's been around a year since we spoke to you last. How have things been progressing with AutomAte? Are you happy with where the labels are at this point? 
Very. It’s easy to forget that AutomAte as a label is only 12 months old. In our first year, we’ve put out 9 releases totaling 20 tunes, every one of which has been well received. We’ve had Radio 1 airplay from Friction, Bailey and Nihal, as well as exposure on well-loved dnb-specific stations such as Origin FM, Kane FM, Rude FM & Kool FM. I think the Drum & Bass Arena podcast deserves a mention and we’ve even been approached by Hardcore Underground to have an AutomAte track featured on one of their DJ-mixed CDs, which will ship over 10,000 units. 
We’ve been overwhelmed with support. Some really positive feedback has landed in our inbox from a variety of people, from DJ Hype, Kenny Ken and Nu:Tone to bedroom DJs from the other side of the planet. I value it all equally, it’s what makes this worthwhile. I pride myself on doing things properly and professionally and this seems to have made a big impression on the people we’ve worked with so far. This works both ways, all we ask from our artists is dedication to the cause and to push themselves, which has resulted in the most important thing of all - wicked music! 
Nuff said I think man! We’ve laid a sturdy foundation which we can build on. Priority numero uno for us in year one was to show that we’re serious, we have what it takes and we’re here to stay. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved so far. 

You have three labels running under the AutomAte umbrella. Do you have a favourite so far or is that like asking a parent to pick a favourite child? 

That’s a hard one to answer. I probably shouldn’t in case I hurt the feelings of the other labels, haha. AutomAte Deep will always have a special place in my heart because it’s my own experimental playground, it’s very personal to me. I try not to play too heavily on the segregation between the three labels though, it’s not meant to be pigeon-holey. Some people will just think of all the labels as AutomAte and that’s cool. Other people will have a favourite sub-label, or realise over time that they like the blue ones best, or whatever. 
I think of AutomAte as neopolitan ice-cream. Sure, the chocolate is the best bit, but I’ll sit and eat the whole damn tub. Probably in one go. And if I’m feeling picky, well I can just buy a tub of chocolate ice-cream and to hell with the other flavours. You still following me? I’m not… 

We've been seeing a heavy focus on the Drum & Bass long-player in the last year or so. Any plans to break into this market? 

The short answer is not at the moment. 
There’s two main types of LP. One is the artist album, which I feel would be a bit premature for us. We do have several artists on the roster from whom I think an album, when the time comes, would fit nicely into our catalogue. Releasing a full-length artist album is a big responsibility. The amount of blood, sweat, tears and soul that is poured into one of those means that we would need to be in a more powerful position than we are right now, in terms of fan-base and promotional clout, to do it justice. When the time is right though, we will rise to the challenge and make sure the artist gets what he or she deserves. 
If you’re talking about various artist, compilation type LPs, I’m not a big fan of those. There doesn’t tend to be much vibe or common thread about them. When a label’s been around for a while, it makes sense to put the classics, or best-sellers, or just a selection of relevant tunes on a compilation and give them a second wind. But I don’t believe it’s the best way to release new music. I’d rather put out an EP series, I remember how excited I got in the vinyl days when the next Ram Raiders or Hardware Chronicles was out (though in both of those cases, the best tune was on the first volume!). Hence the Depth of Vision EP series on AutomAte! 

What else can we expect to hear from the AutomAte camp in the near future? Are there any artists you're particularly excited about? 

We have a little trick up our sleeve, release-wise, for Halloween, followed by another big remix on AutomAte Tech. AutomAte Deep has a new recruit (from the other side of the planet, not deliberate but I do love how Deep seems to attract people from all corners of the globe). Actually, come to think of it, Deep has 2 or 3 new recruits! 
We also have an EP in the pipeline for Deep from a duo that I’ve been supporting for several years now and who have also recently caught the ears of Ink/Architecture and Loxy/Cylon. I was hoping to have a release date set for that EP but unfortunately they blew up their sub while making it, haha, so that’s delayed it a bit but at least we know there’ll be plenty of bass! 
We’ve also started work on Volume 2 of the Depth of Vision EP. The first one was very well received so I’m really looking forward to the challenge of following it up and officially making it a series.
Artist-wise, I’m immensely proud of everyone we’ve represented so far. But if I must single some out, Philth & Wreckless are killing it, Fearful clearly have a bright future and I love Ortokore’s distinctive style. D.R.O.P.S are very promising too and PRTCL has had a great Summer. 
Vince Grain came out of nowhere with Roswell Eyewitness, and what you hear is exactly the demo he sent me (apart from the mastering of course). There was no discussion or tweaking, one take, job done. Now THAT’s German efficiency for you! 

Current top five tunes? 
Current top 5 tunes or top 5 current tunes? Haha. 

Philth – Overload [AutomAte Tech] 
Fearful & Keosz ft. Black Louis - Scars [Citrus] 
Ruffhouse & Clarity – Persecute [Critical] 
Vince Grain - Roswell Eyewitness [AutomAte] 
Raiden – Roentgen [Architecture] 

You put a guest mix together for our latest podcast. Can you give us a little insight into that? 
To be honest, I really went to town on this one. Blackdub have been very supportive of us from day one so I wanted to pull out all the stops. 
I thought about the words ‘black’ and ‘dub’ and the original idea was to go in really deep and dark but, as with all my mixes, I wanted to show off a range of styles and eras – it ended up spanning 20 years, from 1993 – 2013! Then I heard Wreckless’ Face of the Deep EP on Peer Pressure and just had to use the title track as an intro, I love that monologue. I wanted to represent a little bit of all 3 of my labels without being a stereotypical label man and turning it into an AutomAte dubcast. A bit of Raiden always finds its way into my sets. You’ll notice a slightly disproportionate quantity of Ram classics in there… they recently put their back catalogue up for sale digitally and I couldn’t help myself, even though I already own every Ram tune in this mix on vinyl. 
This is the first mix I’ve ever made in Ableton Live, which is my weapon of choice for production these days. With the label workload plus starting my own engineering business, I haven’t had a lot of time to make my own music these past 6 months but I did buy Live 9 and Push on release day so this seemed like a good opportunity to go in balls deep, do something new to me and get to know the new Ableton a little better. 
There’s a long, boring, endless debate that goes on about the death (or not!) of vinyl, whether new technology takes the skill out of performing etc etc. I’ve been DJing for 12 years now (8 years of vinyl, 4 years of digi – time flies) and I remember being scared of switching from vinyl to digi because I was so comfortable on the 1210s. But you can’t push forward and keep things exciting if you sit firmly entrenched in your comfort zone. And it turned out the Pioneer CDJ1000 was a marvelous piece of kit, I fell in love with it instantly. It’s the same with Traktor, Ableton and whatever comes next. Sure you can use new technology to do the same old shit quicker and easier than ever before, but you’ll quickly be overtaken and eclipsed by those that push themselves and take things to the oft talked-about ‘next level’. I won’t be selling any decks or doing the majority of my mixes on the computer from now on, nor will I be turning up at a club with a laptop anytime soon, but this has opened a new door for me and the possibilities fascinate me. 
I’d need 4 decks and more arms than an octopus to pull this mix off on decks, and even then some of the effects I’ve used aren’t possible in real-time. Most of it isn’t really obvious in-your-face FX like you’d find on a DJ mixer, it’s more about chopping tracks up, lots of layering and blending different aspects of 3 or 4 tunes together in a way that sounds natural. It’s more of a techno attitude to mixing than D&B. I wanted to really ‘produce’ a studio mix. I sure hope you enjoy it now I’ve talked it up!

As always, do you have any final thoughts or shout-outs you'd like to add? 
My partner-in-crime, Esion. Our resident computer whizz (and wicked DJ) Nathan E. And my girlfriend Julie, without whom life would be meaningless. 
A special mention to our mastering engineer, Chris Jarman (aka Raiden / Kamikaze Space Programme). That man has the magic touch, I’m tellin ya. 
Flexout Audio, Peer Pressure and Fractured Foundation crews. I love hanging out with those guys. Philth can eat twice as much as me and never puts on a pound. Git! 
Katie Taylor (aka Shiny Biscuit) for helping us on the PR / promo side of things. 
All the artists that have worked with us, sent us music or shown an interest. And everyone who’s supported us by buying or playing our music, spreading the word or just offering encouragement. You know who you are. 

Philth & Wreckless :: Poison (The Sect Remix) / Poison (Fortitude Remix) is out now and you can grab it by clicking this link.

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