- Published on Friday, 27 July 2012 14:31
Weekend Adventure: Touring Inflatable Stonehenge Hits Westminster
This Saturday something quite unique comes to central London, and it’s not anything remotely related to the O word. If you can brave public transport, legions of lost tourists and what promises to be more sweltering heat, then MEOKO suggests you head to Westminster for the next leg of Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller’s latest project: Sacrilege. All you need to know is this: it’s basically an inflatable version of world-renowned prehistoric pagan monument Stonehenge. Perfect for getting over those post Secret Garden Party blues with something that’s actually quirky and fun in the centre of town! Considering you can only touch the actual stones once a year on solstice, bouncing about a replica is probably the closest most of us will get.
Visit the Sacrilege website to see its other stops: http://sacrilege2012.co.uk/
- Published on Tuesday, 17 July 2012 23:03
As Deadmau5’ rodent visage is plastered over the cover of Rolling Stone magazine this month, mainstream America begins to seriously discuss the rise of “EDM” and its impact on dance music and about how the scene’s “DJs rule the world” in a fashion that smacks so much of arrogance that frankly, most Europeans find it faintly amusing. Meanwhile, north of the United States, across the border in Canada, pivotal producers and DJs have been quietly beavering away creating an underground scene in the city of Toronto.
Thanks to labels like Crosstown Rebels, key players in the Canadian scene such as Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White (well-known as the duo Art Department) are already at the forefront of the UK’s flourishing deep house scene. Others, like the boys at act and now label My Favorite Robot, have been piquing interest for a while, and with an ever-growing roster of superb artists hand-picked from around the globe, are set to fill your ears and iPods with even more of their music.
The genesis of My Favorite Robot began in a city known far more for its jazz than its dance, as co-founders Voytek Korab and Jared Simms began DJing together in 2002 in their hometown of Montreal. But it was Jared’s move to Toronto that sparked the catalyst for the growth ahead. Coming under the wing of No 19 Music (the label helmed by the aforementioned Jonny White), meeting Nitin and future MFR member James Teej, as Jared puts it “shifted our projects into a higher gear. Voytek and I started to spend a lot more time in the studio, [then] we started the label, and eventually James joined MFR as a third [member], which, looking back, happened in a very organic way.”
Jared describes the formation of the label in 2008 in much the same manner: as a natural progression. Surrounded by friends following similar paths, it made sense to them to “have this new avenue to start releasing our own music, and that of our crew, unfiltered and in a timely way.” As their crew continues to expand beyond Toronto, and indeed Canada, to encompass acts such as the UK’s Eric Volta, Finland’s Jori Hulkkonen, Sweden’s Tiger Stripes and more, they join the ranks of highly respected global underground dance labels that manage to combine a decent global output whilst continuing to support their local scene and artists.
Reaching this level of recognition and acclaim for the label took some time as the first artists released consisted of themselves and their small pool of local peers and usual suspects. After finding their feet 20 records in, they began to look beyond their circle of friends for “strange foreign robots” to add to the mix.
With Voytek, Jared and James all in charge, keeping the label output as a true reflection of the trio’s combined taste creates constant discussion between them about what direction to take it in, coupled with simply searching for artists whose music they like. Their modesty distils this to this rather straightforward process: “Most of the music comes from artists or acts that we contact if we are into their music and think is it a good fit for the label.”
Modesty is a trait that seems to run throughout the label’s ethos, if Jared’s belief that the Canadian dance scene doesn’t need My Favorite Robot is anything to go by. “We’re not big-headed enough to think that we are a necessary part of the scene… but I will say that we are very much trying to do our own thing and ignore what might be considered as the ‘norm’, and we’re trying our best to make a real contribution and release good music.” A far cry from the American attitudes of EDM (a genre that MFR would describe themselves as) but certainly more in line with a more European style of releasing music.
Humility aside, this year has already seen bigger and better things for the label, with a recent showcase at the celebrated Off Sonár in Barcelona back in June and their first full-length releases due before the end of 2012, from Fairmont, Sid Le Rock and Jori Hulkkonen, and plans to push things forward with more album and events in the future.
My Favorite Robot obviously take their work very seriously, but it’s clear their success lies in their approach to releasing music and their strive to better themselves and to grow as a label; an attitude succinctly summed up as “our proudest moments are still ahead of us.” It’s also evident within their choice of name; the obvious connotations to technology and future sounds but also “kind of playful and not quite as serious. We thought it was a win-win situation… even if someone says they hate My Favorite Robot; they are still calling us their favourite. How can you go wrong?”
My Favorite Robot’s latest release Andrew Grant and Lomez “Has To Be Love” with Amirali remix is out now on vinyl. Visit www.myfavoriterobotrecords.com or be a fan of theirs on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/MyFavoriteRobotRecords] for more info.
- Published on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 23:31
London and Berlin as often seen as twin pillars of taste-making within the dance music scene in Europe, as discerning clubbers don’t just look to the more established or more popular labels, but lately, more often than not to underground fledgling ones for their fresh new music. Whilst here in the UK it’s people like Hypercolour and Futureboogie who seek out new sounds and artists, over in Germany their counterpart stands as Shir Khan’s Exploited Records.
Originally a DJ, Shir Khan (real name Jan Simon Spielberger) now considers himself a jack-of-all-trades; label-founder, talent-spotter, radio host, remixer and promoter are all talents he can lay claim to. It’s clear he’s the type to be constantly pushing himself and evolving his multitude of projects in order to stay abreast of a industry always in flux.
Exploited’s genesis began around 2007 when Khan’s wish to make a DJ Kicks style compilation, but lack of label willing to clear all the necessary rights and release it on his behalf, led to him taking matters into his own hands. In the way of all good projects, it naturally led to him discovering a desire to take it further than the initial idea. As he spoke to different artists for the purpose of collating their music he came across tracks that he wanted for EPs instead.
However the very first Exploited Records release was a vinyl-only affair from the Parisian producer Surkin, that he modestly explains happened by accident. “A friend of mine was the A&R at Berlin label City Slang and he’d just recieved a remix for one of his artists by a French newcomer. He told me that the original artist hated the remix so much that they didn’t want to put it out. Since he’d heard I was about to start a label he offered the remix to me to put out as an original Surkin release.... and I did it and it was a pretty good start. Erol Alkan, Boys Noize and Soulwax all loved it around that time.”
Nowadays, of course, Khan doesn’t simply wait for music to fall into his lap. A considerable amount of work goes into discovering and nurturing the artists on Exploited, and into the music they subsequently produce. Taking unknowns like Amsterdam’s Homework, Austria’s Joyce Muniz and homegrown talent like Adana Twins, Claptone and the teen duo Cocolores, and establishing them as hot names to watch out for in relatively short spaces of time is a point of pride for Shir Khan. “I think it's great to work with new faces - but it is normally a tough and long way to get them where you want them to be.” he says.
Maybe it’s the thought behind the artist selection process that sees him first question whether considering whether they click as individuals that ensures strong bonds between the label boss and his protégés. He states, “Of course the releases are all about musical quality but still personal style comes first.”
This dedication to keeping relations tight-knit is somewhat at odds with the rapid rise of success. As new releases turn into instant Beatport and Resident Advisor chart-climbers, all industry eyes naturally turn towards the label. Shir Khan admits that (and apologises for) a large number of emails and phonecalls go unanswered as things get more hectic, promising, “Exploited will expand in the future. That's for sure.” With the debut from Purple Velvet, a recent side project from Coat Of Arms member Chris James, hitting the front page of Beatport upon release; they look set to be expanding sooner rather than later.
Indeed, they only seem to be building upon success after success at the moment, as Exploited’s popular disco edit series Black Jukebox hit its third edition a fortnight ago with Doctor Dru reworking the Italo disco classic Voice Of Q and rather aptly renaming it Voice Of Dru. With its souped-up, dancefloor ready sound, familiar and yet more exciting, it’s no wonder it too has made its way into Beatport users hearts and made a dent in the overall Top Ten.
If anything it is the Exploited Records ethos that truly sums up this label’s recent rise to fame: “Connect the dots. Destroy the genre…. Exploit popular culture by recombining elements from the past, twist them around, mix them up and make it sound fresh.” And therein lies the secret. Exploited aren’t recycling the same old deep house sounds that are starting to seem like an emcumberment to the scene, they’re looking to the past for that element of familiarity that keeps clubbers happy but providing a new, modern take on it. As Shir Khan himself says “In the end I don’t care if its house or disco or whatever - it's only about music that can excite you - even if it's only for a certain amount of time. It's hard to make timeless dance music these days. Time seems to move faster and faster.”
You can catch Shir Khan and other members of Exploited on a special label showcase on Beatport’s Ustream channel on Wednesday 23rd May 16:00 – 22:00 C.E.T
Words: Rachael Williams
- Published on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 18:41
Bank Holiday Easter Weekend 2012 – London's Top 10 Parties
With well over a hundred events taking place in the capital over the course of the upcoming Easter Weekend, Meoko thought it only polite we try and provide you with a much abridged rundown of the Top 10 best parties London has to offer between Thursday 5th and Sunday 8th. Starting with..
- Published on Monday, 13 February 2012 17:29
When one thinks of Miami, one does not think underground clubbing hotspot. Those visiting Miami are more likely to be confronted with the ‘super clubs’ such as LIV or Mansion, filled with girls dolled up to the nines, guys dropping tens of thousands of dollars for a table and the ‘Electronic Dance Music’ that is sweeping across the States thanks to acts like David Guetta and the Swedish House Mafia. But there is one club, tucked away Downtown that brings the type of atmosphere and music that the discerning music lover and clubber craves. That club is the Electric Pickle, affectionately referred to as The Pickle, and it’s pretty much the only club in Miami dedicated to bringing underground talent from all over the world to in-the-know underground house and techno aficionados.