Interviews

Into the Woods: From forests to festivals

intothewoods

 

Into the Woods host guetslist-only parties, unique to London and with their own underground sound. Starting with illegal raves in the forests of Hackney Wick, the event planners have sky-rocketed to success. In March, they'll be holding a party in a sceret location featuring Romanian heavyweights Dan Andrei and Vlad Caia, they've also got a room booked at Printworks and their biggest party yet, a stage at Junction 2 festival. We caught up with one of the founders Chris Hodgson ahead of their monumental year...

 

How did Into the Woods get started? Where did it all begin?

Well it’s a funny one really. I moved house, I was living in Shoreditch and I moved to Hackney Wick. I was walking down near Hackney Marshes when I thought it would be great to throw a party in the forest. It would be different to have one in an alternative space, we were bored of going to the same venues all the time. So we thought let’s try to get the sound rigged and all our mates that work in music production together and throw a party, and see how it goes. So we threw the first one and it was pretty awesome, probably one of our best parties to be honest. Then from there, we carried it on. We created a Facebook group called Let’s Go Into The Woods and then from that, we threw a few more and it just kept going pretty crazy. So many people started talking about it, but all the events were private. But people were talking about it all across London. People were aware of the parties and before we knew it some of them started getting really, really big. Then we had to move it indoors, but we kept the whole vibe of using alternative space and keeping it underground, and keeping it a secret. We didn’t publically post on Facebook about it, and had parties through the Winter as well. We started using old factories and warehouses, more illegal parties that were under the radar. Then we started getting more events with more people wanting to come, so we had to switch it more to the legal side of things. It changed things up a little bit more but yeah, it started in the forest and grew from there really.

 

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Would you say that it’s your use of alternative spaces that sets you apart from other parties around London?

Well I reckon it’s that but it’s also a few other things really. We do hold parties in normal spaces too, and they all sell out but I think it’s because of the people. We still maintain a guest list so obviously when we were doing illegal parties in forests we really needed to control the numbers so we’d only have a limited number of people that we wanted to attend and we’d make sure that was it.  We still maintain that today. Whether we’re doing an after party in a forest or something like Junction 2, we want to make sure it’s the right people who are coming so we make sure people message us and request to come to the party, we’ll look at their Facebook and make sure they’re the right type of people to come. We’ll then share either a ticket link or the map with them. That’s one of the main things, when you come to a party, you notice the people have all come for the right reasons. We make sure to control the doors. I would also say the spaces that we use and the music. Those three things are what have made us successful recently I think.

 

What would you say has been your best moment so far from the parties you’ve organised?

It’s hard really, I mean you can’t beat the parties we’ve had in the forest. We’ve got some really cool stuff planned this year too, some massive things coming.  I still think, and a lot of people who have come to our parties would probably say that when we do parties in the forest and the sun is coming up or down, that those are the best moments.

 

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You’ve got an event on the 4th March with Dan Andrei and Vlad Caia, can you tell us any more about that?

So we’re not releasing the location until the day, it’s the fastest selling event we’ve ever done. It’s pretty crazy really. In 2016, all the events sold out and this one was on last release after a few weeks so we’re not releasing the location but we’ve got Dan Andrei and Vlad Caia, two Romanian fellas coming in, and we’ve got Dragos Ungureanu and Gabriel Amaru so those guys are bringing some of the Romanian scene this time which should be quite interesting, we’ve had a few Romanians play before but there’s more at this stage so we’re pretty excited about it.

 

It looks amazing, and then there’s the after party as well…

Yeah the after party’s location isn’t being released either but at the main event, but it will be a wicked, industrial space. As you can imagine, we need to make sure we know who’s going there so, at the main event we’ll share the location of the after party. It’ll be all day from midday on Sunday, which will be really, really cool.

 

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Talking of new spaces, you’re going to be hosting in Printworks, this new incredible venue in London, how are you feeling about that? How are you preparing?

Oh yeah, that’s going to be amazing. We went to check the space out and it’s absolutely amazing, it perfectly fits our brand. All the parties we’ve been doing in alternative spaces, and that’s why they approached us, because they knew we do that sort of thing. We went down there and checked out the space, for the first series of events that we’re doing at Printworks we’ve got a 2,500 capacity but the second room is ours and it’s still massive compared to other places we do parties in. It’s a pretty interesting place and we’re working with the production team at the venue as well, making sure we can bring the Into the Woods vibe there, maybe some trees and stuff so still in planning stages but we’ll make that room pretty cool.

 

Yeah definitely, and finally your most recent announcement was Junction 2 festival, which is such an exciting opportunity and such a big leap from where you’ve come from. How are you feeling about it?

Yeah, that was a pretty big one which we had to keep a secret for a long while and announce it cleverly. The guys that we were working with on marketing were really clever, we made sure that our people were represented successfully, because they know that we’ve got such a loyal following. They wanted to make sure that those guys had access to tickets and to come to the party same way they’d come to one of our events. So we’ve been working with marketing really closely, it was massive news for us because there’s only five stages, and the other four are Sonus, Drumcode, LWE and The Hydra, and then there’s us. We’re representing that more minimal, groovy underground sound as opposed to the more banging techno of the other stages and I think because we’re in the forest as well it’ll probably be the best stage if I’m honest. I think we’ll attract the more East London underground vibe. The artists we’ve got booked are some pretty cool guys.  So it should be very good.

 

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Yeah, especially because you are showcasing that underground sound which sets you apart…

Yeah so each stage has a theme going on and we wanted to best showcase emerging talent because they’ve viewed us as a budding underground party that’s come from nowhere and grown quickly so they wanted us to represent that stage and curate from our point of view, artists that are going to get big quite quickly so we’ve got Praslea, and Jane Fitz and some really cool artists going on stage, it should be wicked.

 

What can we look forward to in the future?

I don’t know, we’re just going to continue as we are, we’ve got some really exciting events this year. You’ve obviously heard about some of it but there’s more stuff coming and some of the biggest parties we’ve ever planned but we need to make sure that we keep it the same, keep the same vibe and make sure that the guest list, people and music remain the same. Even though we’re growing really quickly we want to make sure that we’re maintaining the same underground family vibe. Can’t tell you to much, but some very exciting stuff is about to happen…

 

 

Words by Georgia Evans

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Photos courtesy of Into the Woods Facebook Page

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Exclusive insight to 'In Therapy Records'

InThe Banner

With just over than a month gone by of 2017 we thought what would be better than a MEOKO exclusive. Music made from the heart, and not an ego in sight. We present to you, In Therapy Records.

An innovative and forward thinking record label situated in Barcelona. At the heart of it all is Rainer, after several years of holding a Half Baked residency and a string of releases on Serialism Records, Desolat and most recently on the Half Baked label, the time has come for him to delve deeper and launch an imprint of his own. It feels like something from the future, with each low profile artist allowing us access to their mind via the art of sound, and not the image they portray of themselves.

Last year the label was born as a huge release from timeless producer Hi-Ryze dropped, which was also the first full length Hi-Ryze recording since 1999. An achievement in itself. The four tracker Ep is crafted for the dancefloor, with the A side providing the after party treats, whilst the B side takes care of the peak time drivers. A win, win. 

 

 

 

Italian artist Flavio Folco will be providing release number two, 'The Heroic Enthusiasts EP' will see the 909 lovers tracks remixed by Metroplex man Plural. Keeping you in your toes will be two more releases before the summer arrives. The boss man himself, Rainer, is taking care of business with the third release. His debut release on his own imprint will be nothing but special, knowing full well he will bring all his cards to the table. Hi-Ryze also involved with this one with his own interpretation. Maintaining the professional outlook of super quality artists without an ego, the humble Manuk has arranged the fourth release. Ballet Mechanique stepping up for remix duty.

 

 

 

We are ecstatic to witness just the beginning of their journey. In todays highly saturated market it is refreshing to see such a focused and commited group of individuals keeping the quality of the music at the heart of everything they do, continuing to experiment and push their sound beyond any boundaries. What do you get when you create a close knit family of friends and artists, that are dedicated to providing a platform for solid, high quality productions.

 

After working closely with many great labels, It must be a great feeling creating your own imprint. Was there anything in particular that triggered off the start of In Therapy?

It’s been on my mind for a while. A lot of time for contemplation and reflection got me to the point where I decided to start something on my own.


When you decided to launch In Therapy was there a group of artists you had in mind to be involved or did this happen naturally over time?

The tracks really came in naturally through friends but I’ve always had a vision of the music and the kind of artists that I wanted on the label.

 

Having Hi-Ryze on board for the first release, joined by superb artists on future releases. How does it feel working closely with, and surrounded by such talented artists? and also releasing your own records along side them?

For me it’s an honour that such an influential artist from the 90s is still active, supports our scene and works very naturally from his heart. I chose Hi Ryze as the debut EP for In Therapy because his music really reflects the kind of sound that I want to define the label. The same goes for FlavioFolco, Plural and Manuk, when I listen to their jams that’s what I feel In Therapy is about – music with an edge and a lot of personality.

 

You have created a label and culture without an ego insight, why is this so important to you?

There’s too much egotistic bullshit going on at the moment. What really works is the more humble you are, the more you respect things and the better it goes. That’s why I’m talking about less egotistic attitude, it’s a more personal approach to music. It’s therapeutic.

 

We feel as if this definitely reflects in the music you guys are representing.
Is there any advice you would give someone with as much passion and drive as yourself, before starting their own label?

Hard work. Not recommended.

 

It is clear you have a great outlook and plan regarding releases etc. Is there any behind the scenes info you would like to share with us?

Look out for Hi Ryze who’ll be returning to In Therapy to rework one of my tracks into an 11 minute journey and before Sonar a release from the underdog Manuk, a humble artist from Argentina who’s going to step it up for one of his first releases. 

 

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Alex Arnout: Exclusive Chat and Giveaway

alexarnout

Alex Arnout is a champion of the British underground music scene. With over 20 years  experience and a true love for his craft, he has worked tirelessly to create incredible music and discover the greatest new artists.Over the years, Alex has proven his devotion to underground music, launching the careers of Maya Jane Coles, Peace Division, Dusky and many more. His maverick approach to the industry and commitment to integrity is what’s made his record label, Dogmatik so successful. MEOKO sat down with the man himself ahead of the release of 10 Years of Dogmatik- a compilation album featuring two discs of the best original recordings and two discs of remixes. In addition to this, Alex has kindly gifted one lucky MEOKO reader with an exclusive goodie bag and selection of vinyl, read on to find out more...

 

What was your ethos when you first set up Dogmatik 10 years ago?

The ethos behind the label was to find new artists, I was bored of the same artists just always on every label and it kind of stagnates the scene if it’s just the same kind of artists. I wanted to set up a label which discovered new talent. Accomplished, finished full-packaged talent that I believed was out there and not being heard. That was one of the reasons. The other reason, I wanted a great record label, rather than it be a vehicle for one of my own productions, which everyone else was doing around me. I wanted to actually set up a really great label with great artists and not necessarily have any of my productions on there or it being about me, I just wanted to create something for great artists.

 

 

That’s brilliant, how do you think the music industry has changed over the last 10 years?

It’s changed a lot; just how people work, how records are sold, how music is promoted. This having your own label is kind of fighting your own corner in this industry that sometimes churns out not very good music. But, you can’t survive like that anymore. You have to play the social media game. You can’t really survive on being cool and aloof anymore, because everybody else is using the format of manager, magazines, teams, and everything. So it’s changed in the sense that it was a one-man operation but now you’ve got teams of people behind labels and artists. Something that you didn’t have in the underground really. No underground artist should have a manager really because they’re an underground artist, so it’s changed a lot. The record selling industry has changed, there’s a vinyl revival and we’ve sold more vinyl this year than downloads. That’s all down to the majors re-pressing seminal albums that’s not necessarily to do with independent labels getting ahead. So it’s changed on so many levels that I could talk about really. It’s a completely different industry today to how it was 10 years ago.

 

What was the inspiration behind the compilation you’re releasing?

Well we’ve been going 10 years and to some people we’re still a new label. Obviously we haven’t had the force of a massive PR company behind us over the years so it’s still a label that you arrive to. We just wanted to showcase some of the music that’s come out before which I feel is still fresh and still playable today. It was a celebration of our birthday and a celebration of the artists on the label as well, and some of the moments we’ve had on there.

 

 

How did you put it all together? What were the challenges that you faced?

There’s a lot of tracks on the label so it’s hard to showcase every single one so it was a difficult choice. Me and Tim, my graphic designer and also a partner in the label, we just sat there and we found it very difficult but we finally decided on showcasing the moments over the last 10 years. There’s a lot of unknown artists that we’ve put through and they didn’t have a great impact but they had great tracks. We wanted to emphasise the tracks that did actually make an unknown artist a household name. Dusky had ‘Flo Jam’ in 2012 which got voted best dance track on iTunes, so we picked moments on the label, moments for us, and moments for the artists.

 

How long did it take to put the compilation together?

The compilation was done in one evening over quite a bit of alcohol, but yeah we had spoken about it for ages and I’d been playing with what I wanted in there and Tim as well. I guess when we finally got in a room together and thrashed it out it was quite easy and it was quite objective. I’d put a track forward and Tim would say something. It was objective in a good way and we did it in an evening really.

 

 

The compilation is made up of two CDs of original tracks and two CDs of remixes, I was wondering if you have a favourite original track and a favourite remix from the album?

They’re all favourites. I do the A&R, I sign them up, and I go looking for the artists so if I do that and release them on the label it’s a special thing to me anyway, so it’s quite hard to pick a favourite. I’ve had moments with artists that I’ve really wanted on the label like Peace Division and Jovonn, Maya was a home-grown artist. It’s hard for me to answer that… At a push I would say my favourite track on the label without letting anything else that came on there would be Peace Division, ‘Blacklight Sleaze’ because it was reissue through our label but it was a track that was actually played for years. It’s a track that I really liked and I was able to have it on the label years later. 

My favourite remix, is a really hard one. I really like the Rick Wade remix of P Lopez ‘About you’, Rick Wade is a Detroit artist that I’ve been after for a while so to have his take on something we’ve signed is great and the job he did was really nice. Another one which I like is the Peace Division ‘Vibrations’ remix they did for us, that was a collaboration with me and Daren Nunes and Spencer Nunes and we’re all great friends with Clive and Justin (Peace Division) so they were our natural choice to remix it. That remix for me is really nice. We’re all friends, all five of us, and it all came out on a release together so it’s a favourite of mine for that reason, for sure. Abe Duque’s remix of my track ‘Touch’ is a favourite of mine as well because Abe is a producer I’ve followed over the years and I always liked his sound. When you own a label and you do your own productions, I mean this is only like the second EP in 10 years I’ve ever done on Dogmatik and to be to choose your remixer and somebody that you really like and to have them accept and turn out a really nice remix that was definitely the one for me. Another one would be Dan Ghenacia’s remix of ‘Club Therapy’ by Peace Division as well, just a straight-up house remix with a really warm bass playing that really warms up the room and sound system when you play it. So I’ll put that one up and leave it there because I’ve probably named them all.

 

 

You’ve got a talent for finding new artists, one example being Maya Jane Coles and helping them to develop- do you have any advice for the new generation of musicians and producers?

Yeah, definitely. Don’t send in your first track. Make sure you learn your art and learn how to do things and learn how things sound before sending your stuff out. There’s no rush. There’s a certain degree of confidence that comes out of music and I don’t hear that in peoples’ first tracks so the advice would be really learn your art and take your time. You don’t have to sign your first release, that’s it.

 

What’s in store for the next 10 years?

Just more and more releases. We’re going to go into doing a couple of albums. We’ve got a sub label as well called D M K. Which is a sub-label from Dogmatik but really it’s putting out music that we’ve loved over the years. I mean, Daren and I (one of the partners in Dogmatik) we come from that kind of Chicago/ Detroit techno era so we wanted to showcase all that on a label and we wanted to approach new artists that were emulating that sound or telling their own story that weren’t necessarily from Detroit but were influenced by the Derrick Mays and the Juan Atkins and everyone else, so we’re working on that a little bit more. Next year, D M K, we’ve already had an album on there from Kuba Sojka, and we’ll have a couple more artists lined up. So just really pushing both labels forwards and just touching on a couple of new albums including my own.

 

 

So you’re releasing a new album then?

Yeah, it’s about time I did one. I’m going to be working on an album in the next couple of free months and then releasing it on Dogmatik. I’ve probably got a choice to release it elsewhere but I feel it should really come out on there. 

 

To be in with the chance of winning an incredible exclusive goodie bag including vinyl copies of 10 Years of Dogmatik, Monty Luke's 'Dystonic Visions' EP, Alex's 'Touch' EP and Jovonn's 'The Wait' simply send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with DOGMATIK 10 YEARS as the subject heading.

 

Words by Georgia Evans

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"You have to believe in yourself" - An Intimate chat with Mr G and Exclusive Mix

Mr G mix cover

One of the true masters of the underground, Mr. G’s mesmerizing funk-house sound has become his trademark. After setting up his own label, Phoenix G in 1999, he’s created tracks with a unique blend of soul, techno and heavy basslines- winning over the love of his peers and the public. He’s also gone on to achieve success through his work on labels such as Defected, Duty-Free and Skint/Loaded. A true Philly-soul fan, Mr G has delivered an exclusive mix to celebrate five years of MEOKO, this particular mix is driven by expressive grooves and tantalizing melodies, with basslines like butter. From funk-driven rhythmic dance tunes, to laid-back lush instrumentals- this mix has it all. For those who love the classic 70s vibe, Mr G masterfully blends the sound of disco with a modern attitude. The result is a fresh new sound, and a gift to all who listen; as he names the mix, 'From the Heart'. MEOKO caught up with the G for an intimate chat about all things music. 

 

So how are things Colin, what are you up to man?

Well Thursday is my diggin’ day, so we can’t be taking too long! Every Thursday… Even when I was living in London. I’ve been doing it, I’d say, twenty, twenty plus years?

 

So you used to live here?

Yeah I lived here for thirty years, but it was always my dream to get back out. I’m a country boy, so I moved back to the country… Middle of nowhere… Quiet… It was the best thing ever, and it shows because the production is much more interesting.

 

Really?

Completely. I’m relaxed… not worried about the neighbours

 

And when did you move back? Cos I think the first track of yours I heard was ‘My Sound,’ and that was about four years ago? Did you make that up north?

It’s been nine years since I moved and yeah, definitely… ‘More Warm Than Fuzzy’ on Monique Musique!

 

(The waiter brings a soy latte for G and me some dried tea in a cup. I look confused whilst G and Ercin reminisce about Junction 2 Festival where they met in the summer.)

 

What the

Yeah you put that in there (leaves in the pot)

 

Really?

Yeah go on. Go on… the whole lot!

 

E: So are you playing at any festivals next year that you can say?

I’ll probably do Free Rotation.  There’s also a big one in London in June and the Afterhours is at Global Underground. I’m not sure - I’ll let you know when I look at my diary.

 

E: Because you’re not playing so often at festivals?

I don’t play anywhere so often. I don’t play two times at any one place either.

 

I like that man. You don’t need to…

Yeah cos otherwise… You know. I’m 55.

 

Imagine if you were doing that every single weekend?

I’d be bored. I’d really be bored. I don’t wanna be like that. I wanna know that when I come to town, people are like ‘Ah we haven’t seen him in…’

 

Also it was cool to hear you do something different for your MEOKO mix - I was expecting all Mr. G records, or a live set!

Yeah it’s a good mix you know. It’s interesting. Sometimes a cast is functional, but this one I was like yeah! There was no planning - I pulled a box of rare records out, went through them and kind of thought yeah ‘you, maybe you.’ but the rest was on the spot. So I started with the first two or three.

 

 

 

And just let it go… yeah… that’s cool. Do you like to listen to a lot of podcasts as downtime as well?

Well Friday is my music day so I’ll get up clean the house, walk the dog

 

Haha I clean and listen as well!

… I’m not so keen on listening to podcasts though, because for me podcasts have gotta be left, right, centre, you know, upsetting, whatever… I hate when someone does a mix and it’s just like that (flatline) - because you as a person don’t shine. You know more about me just by my podcast. People are like ‘Oh, wow, he likes that!’ that’s the fun of a podcast, but most people don’t use it as that.

 

I was surprised actually, like I said, I thought it would be all your own records, like housey, but then it was like…

But house is like this big (small). I like indie, rock, funk, blues, reggae, classical - it’s just music. I grew up where you could go to a club and the guy would play… (everything) Whereas now everybody wants to play like THAT (house). It’s true - Nobody takes any risks anymore.

 

Yes, that’s the nature of it.

Well if you take a risk and it doesn’t work, the promoter will be like ‘Well I’m not booking you again’ and he tells everybody else.

 

E: And when you go to play is it two hours? Five hours? What do you prefer?

Listen I play live, one hour. If I’m happy, and there are a few places around the world - I think I played Bogata, I did two hoursJapan two hours. There are places where if you’re relaxed and free to do as you please, if it’s someone I like, or someone who says just play… I just do my thing. If after an hour, I’m not happy? Thats it. But if I’m relaxed? I just play. But I don’t like to be told. You either let me play or not.

 

And when you are in the studio, are you playing like in your live set? I can envisage you playing at home like you do on stage!

Yeah the same! And I’m dancing - and if I don’t dance (at some point), the track doesn’t get released. Never. No dancing, no release.

 

MrgOnWings

 

Haha brilliant. And you started it all with the MPC right?

Yeah I just had an MPC. I spent years… two years in a dark room… I almost went mad. Yeah. You know you make something today, you go tomorrow, turn it on, nothing. You didn’t save it properly so you learn, okay, this is how you save, then you go away and a week later the same thing happens, or you catch your foot in the cable. You’re making the most amazing track and as your walking out the room you take the plug out and its gone.

 

Savage.

E to me: Are you ready to face that pain?

… I am facing the pain haha

… I’m not sure yet.

 

Hmm I find the whole thing a bit difficult. Music making is hard, but the actual creative process is even more difficult. There is no path you know, you gotta find your own way and get better at it, get shit, get better, then I listen to someone I love and I go ‘fuck I’m so far away’ haha

But you’re slightly deaf already you know. You listen to too louder music

 

Yeah I have tinnitus already

Yeah I can hear because your tone is like slightly higher. It’s fascinating. Straight away.

 

You can tell that I’m deaf because my tone is higher?

And because you speak louder. Because you don’t hear it so well, you speak louder. I’m the other way. I like to whisper. I want you to listen to me. If you have clear ears and I speak slowly and clearly, you’ll take more notice. Try and work the other way. I don’t work loud, at all. I work the whole day, so quiet, it’s stupid. Like I’m trying to make a bass … out of no volume, because if you can make anything, if you can hear it low, when you expand it, it’s gonna be amazing. Whereas everybody that makes it loud

 

Thank you.

I had tinnitus in 2000. And I had it really bad - and I read some articles at the time and all of them said you can come back from it, you can retrain yourself.

 

 … And how is that going?

I don’t have tinnitus now, I haven’t had tinnitus for five years. Even now if I go in a big club with a big system, I don’t wear earplugs… you just make sure the monitors are never directly there (in front of your ears). So mine are always going directly behind me… It’s just learning your craft. The more you know about it, the more you protect yourself.

 

And what about your routine? Like you said you have Thursdays for diggin', Fridays for listening, are you quite strict with studio time? Do you make tunes on specific days?

Yes, if you work from home in this industry, you have to have routine. The minute I started to get up early, exercise, walk the dog, have my porridge, in the studio by ten thirty, work straight until six, it started to work. It’s like a job. Also though I know that some days I’ll go in and I’ll think … No, there’s nothing here today. But I don’t waste time trying to find a solution - I might listen to some music, I might play a game, I might go for a walk… Because you need sometimes that gap. A quiet period, so that you’re hungry - it’s like a game, if you’ve ever played a game that you love every night - you leave it for a week and when you come back you think ‘OMG this game is better than ever!’ It’s like that in the studio. Sometimes you take some time out, then start again, get a new patch of samples, you make some new sounds and you’re like ‘Oh man, I’m in love with you again baby ooooh (rubbing hands together) here we go!

 

 

 

Yeah that’s cool. It keeps your quality high as well - especially if you are always keeping things new.

Exactly. And if I don’t feel it, why would I release it? I don’t release for you remember? I mean if you’re making music for other people, you’re in the wrong place. I got here today, not because I conform to nobody. I had this blinkered vision of myself… When I started, people used to come on stage and say ‘Yeah it was a nice show man, but it wasn’t continuous’ and I used to be really upset and go back home and think ‘Well I don’t want it to be continuous. I don’t wanna be like everyone else where you press play and it’s like this. I want it like - this is one track - this is another sound, I wanna go disco deep, techno soulful. But yeah, as the time went on, people understood that this is the only way he does it.

 

Cool…

Yeah, and they accept you, and that was for me the most important thing of my learning in this industry. Stick to your thing. I’m not following anybody. I listen to it all, I listen to everybody. There’s people I love. There’s surely sounds I’d love to copy, but that’s them. And like all the articles I read when I was younger, all the greats they worked. All I wanted was to make music and release records. Its just steely determination. You have to believe in yourself - and trust me, there’s times when even me gets insecure.

 

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Mr G MC25

 

Thanks very much man, I hope you enjoy your diggin’ day and have a wicked Christmas.

 

Marlon G

 

Interview by Marlon / Ercin

 

More Mr. G or http://www.mr-g.org.uk/

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Under The MEOKO Microscope - Fabe & Mix

Fabe-Interview

The Under The MEOKO Microscope series is back with a bang, as we call upon Mannheim based, producer of the moment, Fabe. Already in a short space of time he has won the hearts of many across the globe, with his warm charming grooves and swinging basslines. Tirelessly working in the studio on his tight productions, and creating a personal feel to his Dj sets, he has landed himself some huge releases so far. Sukhumvit Records, La Pena and Valioso Recordings are just a handful of presitigious labels on his discography. Whether creating his own records, or stepping up for a remix, it is obvious Fabe is in town with his huge sound.

Along side all of this, the young German producer has created a special platform for his own sound and it goes by the name of 'Salty Nuts'. An imprint representing his character and an opportunity to express music in his specific manner. Definitely recommend checking out the handful of high quality releases so far on the label, from himself, and friends David Nicolas, and Toby T. Recent months have also seen the launch of another fantastic project called 'Ho Do Ri' the killer combination of Fabe and Sukhumvit Records man Ben Balance. Judging by the first release it is looking promising for the duo. 'Another Groove Era'.

 

Earlier this year was the release of his highly anticipated 'Square Town EP' on Fuse Londons sister label, Infuse. Lead track 'Kim on Gin' has been rumbled through systems all over with support from many high calibre artists such as Dan Andrei and the wizard Ricardo Villalobos. Adding to the success of the release he has also joined the Fuse crew for their labels 5th birthday party at Studio 338 earlier in the year, and was part of their huge 'Fuse 8' tour, as he set the vibe in Berlin's famous, Hoppetosse. So it is nothing but fitting that he is making his Village Underground debut this coming New Years day, with Enzo Siragusa, Djebali,Maayan Nidam and the OdD boys. One not to be missed.

 

 

Come and join us as we take a look at Fabe under the MEOKO microscope.

Hi Mate, First of all thank you for time. Very excited about this. How long have you been working with music? And what would you say your main influences/inspirations have been over the years?

Hey Zac, nice to meet you and thanks for having me for this feature :)

To be honest i wasn`t really musical at school but i got in contact with music quite early. I was packed by the hip hop culture from the age of 13 in the early 2000`s and that was also the time when i bought my first sampler. It was an Korg Electribe S. I used to rap at this time and i wasn`t really into producing but to be a real hip hop artist it was important to get in touch with all Elements of Hip Hop

90`s rap music is still a huge influence for me and i think the music that I`m doing currently is not far away from it. House like i`m doing it, is maybe more Hip Hop than the rap music from today, So there is no big difference to me in what i`m musically interested now, as what I was in to in the past.

 

Growing up in Mannheim, Germany, how would you say this directed your musical tastes? for example record shops, or clubs?

Mannheim gives me probably the most input for my ideas and of course it influenced my musical taste from the day i got in touch with house and techno. As i already told you i came from another background and as i felt in love going out for techno parties i started to study the Mannheim Music scene & history.

As Labels like Oslo, cecille and 8bit started to get big they got asked in an old groove magazine interview… What is the mannheim sound about? and they answered it isn`t really something new. We don`t do something that didn't really exist before.

But to me Mannheim sound was always characteristical for simple, but most groovy and highest quality house music. Now, with all the inspiration I received in the point of djing and producing from Mannheim artists such as Nekes & Federico Molinari , me and my friends will now bring the sound of this city to the next level.

 

You have your own label 'Salty Nuts', what made you start your own label? and we also love the name, what made you choose 'Salty Nuts'?

In late 2015 and during 2016 i had such a big output with productions and it was important to generate a platform where i can release what i want when ever i want. The music and the concept behind Salty Nuts is similar to my person, It`s about being spontaneous and not working to much on details. Sometimes a simple idea tells the story immediately. But don`t get me wrong i`m very perfectionistic when it comes to the mix of a track. Groove is always depending on quality but often there isn`t so much input needed. And that`s what Salty Nuts is about it`s about the spontaneous perfect loop pressed on vinyl.

Also  the name was an idea off the top of my head… I love watching series and hanging in front of the TV with a cup of salted nuts as well as i love fitness… And as you know nuts are a huge protein source to gain muscles. That`s where the name comes from.

 

Teaming up with Ben Balance as 'Ho Do Ri' seems very exciting. How did this start? Anything else lined up in the near future with the two of you?

Yes, our Ep on Infuse just came out and we will continuously release on our own label Ho Do Ri. 002 and 003 are already on their way just as we are working on an EP for Mariano Mateljans new label u.dig.

 

Congratulations for your huge release on Infuse earlier this year. Seems you are working closely with the Fuse guys, what triggered this off? How did you meet?

Thank you. Yes, I`m really glad we came together. Ben knows Archie already for a couple of years and he was also the first I met from the crew. I guess it was at Sonus Festival two years ago when I met the whole crew in person.

Releasing on infuse and fuse this year was definitely bringing me a step further into the game, and after hanging a couple of times and playing together we quickly recognized that we have the same Attitude about techno, raves and stuff…

 

As i played with Rossko the first time back 2 back at the 5 Years Fuse afterparty in London he said to me and my Mannheim friends…“we have to expect that we share the same frequency“ and that`s why i also think it`s natural that we stay together and keep working together.

 

Are you excited to make your Village Underground, London debut New Years Day? 

Oh yes of course. I can`t wait for it. I`ve never been there but i've only heard many good things about it. Especially about the Fuse Party at NYD. It`s a pleasure for me to do my debut on such a great date and I just started  preparing myself for it.

 

FUSE NYD Rave Part 1/Day at Village Underground

Fuse NYD

We are so excited for your forthcoming release on La Pena, how does it feel to have a double EP on the way on this unique label? What were the ideas behind it?

Yes, the first idea was to make a double Ep. Einzelkind and I were not able to decide which tracks are best to take for the EP so we thought to do two parts of it. But now we decided to bring a 4 track Ep and another 10 inch record  a couple of month later on the new sub label La Peña shots.

It means a lot to me that Arno believes a lot in me and my music, and La Peña feels already like a perfect home for my sound. The label was always flexible, releasing quality music but not only one kind of it. Always a bit different but also familiar sounding house and techno grooves. A label for timeless music i would say.

 

The „Life Is Audio“ EP is maybe that one I`m the most proud of. I can`t wait to have the finished record in my hands. It`s my most musical record and it`s also the only one with a real concept behind it. It tells the story from the past year and reflects my person perfectly in a musical way. Every track has it`s own picture and that`s why it makes for my most emotional record. All tracks are connected with intro, interludes and outro parts which I made out of recordings of my environment, mixed with electronical designed sounds out of my elektron machines. The idea was that you can listen both sides without any break in one run to get a kind of Album listening experience.

 

You clearly spend alot of time in the studio. Would you like to talk us through your studio, and your favourite equipment when making some magic?

Of course this is the part i always like to talk about most. :) two years ago i discovered elektron as the company that really impressed me with their gear. I used to buy an elektron rytm that almost changed everything in my productions. You can use it as a classic sampler, analog drum machine and synthesizer with amazing effect and amplifier options. It`s a high learn curve but when you study this machine you can do amazing things with it. You can do whole tracks with it. Mix and compress it just with this one machine. My Ando Ep on Sukhumvit records was almost just only produced with this one box.

Fabegear

I`m also a gear lover but this showed me that it`s often more important to understand and know how to use one machine before buying the next one and the next one. It often seems like people have a lot of gear in their studio but they are using everything randomly without understanding how they really work. But for me it`s important to understand what`s happening. I guess this is also important to generate your very own unique style.

After i felt in love with the elektron rytm i also bought an elektron four which is the main synth of elektron. It`s working also in the same sequencer way as the electron rytm. The sequencer of the elektron machines delivers countless possibilities to generate your very own patterns.

In addition i use some bass machines, synths, a 16 channel mixer where all my gear runs through and recently also some eurorack modules, and then Ableton for recording and arranging. I always change or add something to my setup when i`m on the way to get bored of something. This should never happen.

I don`t want to reveal everything but maybe check some of my Instagram video clips to get to know what`s happening in my studio ;-)

 

On the DJ side of things, have you had any particular highlights or clubs that you enjoyed the most when playing? But also who are your favourite artists to see play?

I don`t know which club or party i enjoyed most. I love playing and raving with my best friends a lot.

Parker Lewis is my favorite Club and it`s always most fun when we all come together at our secrete private spot in Mannheim after the club gets closed in the morning. We always share incredible moments with the guest DJs there and everybody gets the best picture of what the Mannheim scene is about.

Praslesh

Ricardo Villalobos & Praslesh are always inspiring me a lot with there sets. It`s always a different and new experience listening to them. My friends Sedee who brought me in touch with the classical way of djing with vinyl and CD are still inspiring me a lot and they were the main influence while generating my way to mix in the past years.

 

Thank you so much for creating the mix for us. Serious grooves. What is your aim when creating something for a mix series? and the ideas behind it?

You are welcome. Thank you for thinking about me.

I don`t have a special aim when i record a mix it just has to transport the mood and feeling i`m just with. This can go in different directions but if there is something significant it´s maybe that i choose tracks with similar styled house grooves that make you dance even when it`s just a podcast to listen to. I never move that far away from the dance floor.

Fabe Exclusive MEOKO Podcast - 234

Fabe Mix

Last of all, do you have any exciting more exciting news you would like to share with everyone? Dates, releases, collaborations etc?

A lot special releases will come in 2017 and some other very cool projects are in progress. You will get to know everything at the right time…

FABE

Again thank you so much for your time. 

Words by Zac

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An Interview with Blind Box

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The brainchild of Julien Sandre and Italian duo Konstress Blind Box is a fresh new vinyl-only label where quality music remains top priority. The label has been received well within the underground music scene with past Blind Box releases receiving support from heavyweights such as Raresh and Praslesh. We caught up with the label to talk about the journey so far and whats in store for the future. 

Blind Box seems to be a perfect hybrid of both your sounds. how did this partnership come about and the motivation to start the label?

When we decided to create our own record label, back in 2014, we equally had a strong desire to express our vision of the dance music, with no restrictions coming from the stereotypes, the timing or the complex mechanisms involved in the music business. Thanks to our friendship and above all to the professional respect we have for each other, it wasn't difficult to find ourselves on the same page, creating a sound which truly reflects our common grounds.

 What’s the story behind the name Blind Box?

You can expect everything from Blind Box. We want to feel free to spread every single shade of our musical history, no matter what the business says. Obviously we have our own credo, but we love to manipulate it as much as we can to surprise our supporters and, most of the times, ourselves too. It's like receiving a gift in a closed box: you don't know what's in there, but you know you will like it.

 You’re a fairly young label, having founded Blind Box in 2015 what has been the best part of the journey so far?

We really hope that the best is yet to come and maybe everyone has his own highlight, but probably the best part of this journey has been the first release. Putting your hands on the vinyl or finding out Raresh played it when no one knew the label was truly exciting!

What made you decide to create a label that purely releases on vinyl as apposed to digital?

We play vinyl, we collect vinyl and we see vinyl as the most iconic piece in the DJing history. It was obvious then trying to get into this world, which sets a higher quality level compared to the chaotic digital business. We started this journey to leave our mark, not minding the returns.

Your recent release Blind Box 004 by Lopaski feat. remix by SIT has been played by the likes of Praslesh, how does if feel to have the label be shown such support within the underground music scene?

Raresh has been our very first supporter. He played 'Just me' from the Blind Box 001 when the record wasn't released yet, and nowdays the whole Arpiar crew among many other djs, from Kerri Chandler to the Fuse guys, are supporting every release making ourselves really proud of this hard but surely exciting work.

 

Do you have a particular process when it comes selecting artists for the label, how do you select new music?

We have no fixed process, we just share our likes trying to select the artist we would love to have on board. Sometimes it takes a while to choose the right tracks for the release, but as there are 3 of us, this helps us opening our minds towards the different directions we follow in that particular period.

Konstress you have recently released your second instalment on the label how has that been received?

After the excellent response to the pizza record, the second EP, set to be released early January, confirms a good hype about this project, being played by many DJ/friends from the underground scene. Our own namesake record label has been conceived with the only purpose of releasing what can be seen as the result of a journey started almost ten years ago. No rules, just music coming from the most varied nuances of our background as on ode to what means the most to us: our roots.

konstress

How do you guys manage yourselves between the label and your personal projects?

Spending time to define a release is the best part of the process. It takes weeks, months but doesn't affect your personal projects: actually planning Blind Box helps us to find new incentives for our own works and gives us the chance to stay constantly in touch, as Julien lives in a different country.

Other than focusing on the label what are you all working on at the moment?

J: At the moment I'm working on a different project, tangentially micro-house oriented as also my productions as Julien Sandre are moving towards that direction, finding support from people like Zip, Raresh or Sonja Moonear among others.

K: We are currently working on the third release of our own label and also focusing on some collaborations which allow us to explore new musical paths as satisfactorily happened with Julien. But what keeps us really busy is the constant and obsessive research of new vinyl’s to add to our collection, clearly reflecting and affecting our production outputs.

Julien you recently played at Watergate for the first time how was this and did you play any Blind Box releases?

I will play at Watergate on the fourth of January and I just can't wait. It will be my first time in Berlin and I'm truly excited to be playing in a legendary club in the most iconic city when it comes to electronic music. Blind Box is surely helping me a lot to reach different people and I will definitely be playing the latest releases as I usually do during my DJ-sets, as we simply release music we love and we like to play.

Julien

Where do you see the label in five years time?

We really hope to keep this high quality standard, setting Blind Box as a key figure in the underground scene. We want to keep working with the artists we admire also introducing new label formats.

What do you think sets you apart from other labels out there at the moment?

We started this project to simply release the music we feel. The combination between strong grooves, heavy bass lines and our distinctive deep touch has come naturally and is making Blind Box a fresh and recognizable product.

Do you have any label showcases planned for the future?

We are trying to set up some showcases across Europe, also collaborating with other labels we are friends with. Events like Sonar or ADE would be our preferred options to start our own parties, so stay tuned :)

Blindbox 005 by Subb-an is forthcoming on the label can you tell us a bit more about this release?

Blind Box 005 is a quality release that truly satisfies our expectations. After the huge response to the Lopaski release, we wanted to step up with something that could impress our supporters, and when Ash got in touch with us to start working together, we knew we were on the right path. His works are unquestionable and Dana Ruh also did a great job on the remix. It was truly inspiring working with such a great artist and we are glad our remix is being appreciated as much as the originals he delivered.

 

What are your plans for the label in 2017?

In order to explore our wide background, we will introduce a parent label, named Blind Box Basic, on whom we will spread a more minimal driven sound. Three original tracks from one of the artists we love, in a brand new format. First press will come next January, signed by Chris Carrier under his moniker 'Monsieur Georget'. Currently, we are defining a three-tracker from Diego Krause and a new EP entirely produced as Blind Box with a high profile remixer, both coming next on the main label. Also we'll be releasing our first Various Artists, which is taking months of meticulous work to be set up. We are deeply focused on what's next, always trying to deliver quality music, which is what people are expecting from us.record

Want to get your hands on a Blind Box release? Blind Box are one of the featured labels in our MEOKO ON WAX competition, we are giving one lucky person the chance to WIN 100+ Vinyl. Enter HERE 

Interview by Mahala Ashley

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An Interview & Mix with Guy From Downstairs

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The ‘guy from downstairs’; usually the name tag given to a person you may pass by from time to time that may know little or nothing about. Usually there’s a sense of wonder about what they get up to or what their about, but nine times out of ten they remain an enigma within close range. This ‘Guy From Downstairs’ started much the same, in both the literal and fabled sense of meaning. MEOKO got a chance to de-mystify the ‘Guy From Downstairs’ as some insight into his underground odyssey was given…

 

So… GFD, Guy From Downstairs, Victor? I think your name has to be one of the most original names that people come across when they’re first introduced to your music; I guess i’d like to know how did you get to that name? A guy named Colin told me a story once;

Well, around 2008-2009 I ended up living in England in the same house with friends from back home Romania. I‘d never released music officially at that point and I was getting ready for my first digital EP. The amigo named Colin (which you mentioned - he was living above my room) was the one who simply made a joke that I should use “Guy From Downstairs” since I was living in one of the rooms on the ground floor, making beats all day. Lacking any second option that moment, I said, "sure why not" :) He’s a very special friend of mine, not only did he come up with the moniker that I use today but he was also one of the first people who opened my eyes to the deeper, “special” minimal sound. 

 

Haha… Very original indeed! So Colin first introduced you to the “special underground music”. What were you listening to back then?

Oh man, a bunch of stuff. First, I wouldn’t say I knew too much about that type of techno before getting to England. Of course I would hear the classic house – kind of sound - here and there and I loved that, but I was all about Hip Hop mostly. The turning point was when I met my friends in England that were into the underground minimal scene. It changed my perception of sound, of what you can do with a rhythm and how you can use some elements to create magic. I was already into producing hip hop instrumentals but then I found some records that made me reconsider what I wanted to express in a track. For example, I certainly remember that my brain went really crazy when I heard “Gow - Jiffy Hornswoggle”. 

 

 

It’s also funny that I started to discover the music that Romanian artists were making when I was living in the UK. I think Ali Nasser, Negru, Livio & Roby and [a:rpia:r] were the first ones that I listened to.

 

Hip hop seems to have a strong foundation with a lot of Djs and producers in the underground scene. It’s funny that you discovered home grown talent in the UK! So it was production first and DJing followed?

Yes, production was first. My personal experience with the transition was that I could find more room for creativity in the minimal sound. The "trippiness", the oddness, the improvisations that turn into jams, the feelings that you can express through some rhythms and patterns, the analog machines, the people getting together to enjoy the never-ending music. I got hooked immediately, could’t help myself! Of course Hip Hop is still my first love, but my religion is the minimal sound. Or the house sound. Or is it techno? I don’t know, that’s why I always hate to label it.  :)

 

And yes, in terms of labels its all of the above, there are way too many, but those three are just perfect. Your experience is one we all share, so your “religion” is more than appreciated. You’ve had many releases in recent years both digital and vinyl, but this year you decided to launch your own label; GFD. Firstly congratulations, I know the first release GFD001 had a lot of success and initially sold out. What made you take the leap into creating your own imprint?

Thanks! What made me create the imprint? Hmm, well maybe just because it’s fun to release music just the way you want to without any pressure :) At first I didn’t regard it as a label in its traditional term, mostly thinking about releasing a little 12-inch collection with some of the tracks that, I felt, represent my sound to the core. I was really happy to see the positive feedback from the start.

 

 

 

GFD002 was released this November, and hopefully it has the same impact as the first release. It must be a good feeling when you find footage, with the likes of tINI & Bill Patrick, Daniel Bell, Livio & Roby, Tofu Productions and more playing your GFD sound around the world?

Yes, I’m always happy to see when the music gets to the right ears and I know that the infinite hours spent locked in the studio pay off when people are feeling your tracks on a massive sound system somewhere “out there”, whether it’s a dark London club or a tent by the Black Sea.

 

 

 

I can imagine it must be a cray sense of fulfilment?! The GFD label artwork is pretty funky, is that your creative influence or is it all left to the artist?

The dude that creates the artwork, Alexandru Ceaus, is my former desk mate from high school, one of my best friends today. We share a common love for urban art and cartoons; I always loved his style and I could not conceive the label without his drawings. Either he wants it or not,he now has a job for life as visual artist for the GFD label.

 

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Keep them coming! Do you have any plans to collaborate on the GFD label, or will you keep it just for your own productions?

Yes I've been working with a few friends that I connect with very well in the studio; there will also be collaborations featured on some of the upcoming GFD releases. Who/what/where - you'll find maybe sooner than you know :)

 

We look forward to more from the label :) A quick rewind to 2014; you made a trip to Ibiza to play at Sankeys on the Randall M & friends line up. Was this a massive turning point in the GFD story?

Yes, it was! I got to see Ibiza for the first time and had a great time playing alongside Randall in the Spektrum room at Sankeys; it was amazing to experience the island, spend time with friends and simply enjoy every moment!

 

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Fast forward to 2016 and the I guess I could say you have been back on tour? The US and Berlin have had the privilege of the GFD sound. Firstly, how was the US?

It was sweet (and super hot!); was really looking for the chance to spin in the US at some point in the “GFD story” and this year, in August, it finally happened. I’ve played a couple of parties in Brooklyn, hosted by my lovely people from Green Room, one in a very colourful ”Brooklnyesque“ location and another one on a rooftop all night long. And. also in Miami at the Electric Pickle for my friends from Unmute which was super lovely!

 

 

And more recently your played in Berlin?

Berlin was more recently and it was also an awesome experience and a milestone for me. I was lucky to have my debut at Chalet, from 5am, picking up the decks from Julian Perez, playing through the morning for a few hours. Loved every second of the vibe :)

 

Sounds like an amazing summer, but one work hard for over the years. What does the Bucharest winter have in store for GFD?

 

Did you say “GFD showcases”? Or maybe I dreamed about it.

 

 

Haha, some weird telepathy going on here… Well?

Bucharest always likes to be surprised. So I will do how Bucharest pleases; surprises will be.

 

Keep us posted, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on what’s in store & thank you for your time.

And thank you!

 

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GFD 233 

 

Interview by Anwaar

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