6. 8. 2014 – 18.00

DJ Pinch

Audio file


Interview with DJ Pinch, August 2014

This is the second interview with you on Radio Student, but it's been a while since the last one, and I'd like you to introduce yourself and briefly describe what you do as a producer, DJ and a label owner.

Yeah, as Pinch, I'm a producer, DJ, I run a couple of records labels – Tectonic Recordings and Cold Recordings - and I make sort of dark dance music on a slightly experimental side.

It's been almost ten years since you've started Tectonic. How would you describe the path you've travelled so far, in sonic terms? How has the scene you've established yourself in changed over the years?

My musical background, before I started Tectonic and was involved with the early dubstep scene, I was very much into jungle, drum'n'bass; I liked techno, grime, garage and things like this. Tectonic began just very simply as a dubstep label. There were very few of the labels around at the time, and it was my vision of dubstep, so things on the slightly more percussive, deeper and often darker kind of flavour. And then I guess, as the label developed and the scene progressed over the years, dubstep became more of a familiar term, and popular worldwide, the sound of Tectonic took on what appeared to be referencing a bit techno-flavoured sounds with artists like 2562 and Peverelist. In more recent years, it's been trying to break out of its tempo bracket a little more, involving some different tempo beats, a lot of stuff at 128, a lot of things I'm enjoying doing with the likes of Mumdance and Logos. It's still capturing the kind of dark and deep experimental sound, but with a different form - so not so much of a dubstep rhythmical backbone, but you know, exploring different possibilities.

Ten years ago, starting a vinyl-only label was quite a bold move. What motivated you to form the label and what would be your advice to someone considering starting a vinyl-only label in 2014 themselves?

Well, I'd say you'd have to be pretty crazy to start a vinyl-only label in 2014. It's pretty tough to sell those units these days. Even 5, 6 years ago, there were a lot more units of vinyl sold on a release in general. Right now, things are starting to pick up again a little bit, there's more interest, increased sales around vinyl, but it's a very difficult thing. The economics are pretty difficult to make it work. I think if you're going to start a new label now and you want to do vinyl-only, then you really should research your market first and make sure that it's possible to sell the amount of units you're hoping to. You need to set up distribution, and perhaps those discussions you should have with the distributor before you press the records, and you can anticipate what the expectations for the sales might be. I'm not trying to put anyone off, but I'm just saying don't jump into it thinking it's an easy thing. Definitely do some research and get your head around what you're hoping to achieve with it and whether or not that's possible.

When you first started, you didn't have a distributor, right?

Tectonic always had a distributor. The very first label I was involved with, a label called Subtext, which has gone on to develop into a different kind of sonic, but back in 2004, there was no distributor that was willing to take it on entirely, so we split distribution between three companies, did some barrack sales for shops – it was a lot of work to sell the units. But luckily, as we progressed, we found it easier to sell units, more people were interested in working with us, and it just kind of went from there.

You still play only vinyl?

I still play only vinyl and dubplate acetates.

Last year, you've started your new label, called Cold Recordings. What's the idea behind the sound/aesthetic?

Well, you probably noticed that there's been a little bit of a sonic overlap between Cold and Tectonic; I guess it would be impossible for them to be completely unrelated, because I'm doing the A&R on the labels. Cold has perhaps got a bit more of a techno-based aesthetic, although really, the whole purpose of the label is to explore new mutations in the hardcore spectrum. Essentially, it's an open platform for a lot of younger producers like Acre, Batu, Elmono and Ipman, and it's a fresh context around which their music can sit and exist, and for some of my own, as well. It's trying to push things in a forward-thinking direction. That sonic is something that will change and evolve over the years, but right now, it's rooted in a kind of grime, techno, percussive mutation that I'm fascinated with at the moment.

The sound is very clinical at times, and reminiscent of 90s Metalheadz. This, I believe, is something you've been trying to achieve in your dubstep tunes for quite a while, right?

Yeah, Metalheadz has been a long-standing reference point for me. It was a sonic reference point to give a sensibility about dubstep in its earlier days, it's also a sonic guideline. For example, the ''Croydon House'' tune I did few years back, in 2010, I was thinking, what would it sound like if Metalheadz was a house label releasing house music in 1995 – so that was a strong reference point for me there, too. I think the important aspect of that kind of reference is a sense of a dark energy, a cold mood, but it's sort of an energising one, it's not something that's necessarily dark or evil-sounding for the sake of it, but it's something that has an empowering sensation on the listener and on the dance floor. That core aesthetic is something that's always been close to my sonic pursuits.

There's been another interesting bass label in Bristol called Livity Sound. I can't help myself going back to that famous dubstep/techno crossover everyone waited to happen in 2007. What's your opinion on that seven years later?

Well, what can I say, I guess a lot of the same sort of people are enjoying the same basic ingredients, but they're just rearranging them in a different way. I always had a very kind of close relationship with Peverelist from Livity Sound, he's a very good friend of mine, so there's always been a shared aesthetic around that. Several years ago, we were fitting techno moods to a dubstep soundtrack, and perhaps what's happening more so now is a little the other way around – elements of the former dubstep and grime aesthetics being worked into and formed around more traditional techno tempos.

How much of a common scene is there revolving around this sound, which is, I don't know, maybe called ''130'' at the moment?

Well, I certainly wouldn't call it ''130'' myself. I don't really think it has a name at the moment. I think the longer it can stay like that, the better. As soon as people start attaching ideas and expectations to it, it helps confine and template a sound into something. I'm sure some journalist will come up with a catchy phrase with enough attention going on around it [laughs], but for me, this is the exciting period. This is the bit that, hopefully will develop and fruit nicely, but for me, it's the equivalent of the very early dubstep years, where there's a lot of uncertainty about what defines the sound or exactly how to predict how it might go into the future. That's what's most exciting for me.

Your b2b mixes with Mumdance are also a definitive indicator of this shift. The latest one you officially released is really good. Would you say there is a new, definitive British sound on the horizon?

These mixes are the result of what we've been working towards both separately and together over the last 18 months or so, maybe a bit longer. It's about finding and creating a space and just kind of moving into it. Like I said before, it's a lot of similar ingredients of things that we're interested in the music we're making together, but it's arranged with a sense of finding a new form. So I'm hesitant to call it an accomplished or a complete new sound, but it's definitely expressive of something we've been working towards for some time and will continue to develop. It's the process of moving and keeping moving in this context that's most rewarding.

I've seen you play a couple of years ago in Ljubljana, it was a great experience for everyone involved, but I haven't seen you play in a long time, so I'm interested in hearing what your DJ set sounds like at this moment.

Well, just come down and check out the show, or get online, there's lots of things to check out! The sound of the mix of myself and Mumdance that's been recently released on Tectonic - that's a pretty good indication of the pool of tunes we're drawing from. There's a recent CO.LD compilation featured on my Cold Recordings label, you can catch a couple of my own tunes on there, and that should give you a go, a kind of a good guideline to the taste of the new end of the sound that's being represented here.

Great, thanks. Any last messages for the listeners of Radio Student?

All good, keep supporting good underground music and follow your heart with it.

More info:



Tectonic Recordings

Cold Recordings

Catch DJ Pinch at OUTLOOK FESTIVAL 2014

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