Matthew Dear and Ryan Elliott Take A&R Reigns at Spectral Sound

spectral_sound_elliot_dear

Ghostly International’s offshoot Spectral Sound has developed an impressive catalog of music since launching in 2000. Over the span of almost nine years, the label has released choice albums, such as Matthew Dear’s Leave Luck to Heaven, and choice techno efforts by the likes of Jeff Samuel, Osborne, Geoff White, and James T. Cotton. After a solid run of releases, co-owner Matthew Dear has announced that he is taking over A&R duties for the label with Ryan Elliott.

“Ryan and I are simply on the road more than anyone in the office,” Matthew Dear tells Big Shot. “The past few years have seen us playing a lot more, meeting new acts, receiving demos on the road, and playing more new music out in the clubs. Since we experience the physical reality of what things sound like out there, it was only fitting that we took over more of the artistic direction. We want the label to reflect more of the life we’ve been experiencing.”

“Context is one of the most important elements of dance music,” adds Ryan Elliott. “Playing somewhere around the world most weekends really lets you hone your ear as to what works well and what does not. We want to bring that to our release schedule even more than we have in the past. We both are continually playing, receiving, and looking for new music, so its only natural that we parlay that into our A&R duties. It’s also good to have more than one set of ears deciding on releases. If something grabs both of us right away, it’s usually a good sign that it is a track or artist we want to pursue.”

Spectral Sound has a slew of upcoming releases dropping in the next few months, including EPs from Osborne and Lee Curtis, as well as singles from Seth Troxler, Bodycode, Kate Simko and Death Is Nothing To Fear 5.

“Spectral has always been very amorphous in our direction in sound, and we’ll definitely stick to that path of continuous change,” adds Dear. “Things will get deeper than they have in the past. We’ll also be planning more label showcases and residencies around the world.”

“Spectral Sound 2009 is aimed squarely at the dance floor,” concludes Elliott. “Groove heavy tools for DJs. Further development of our core artists and a constant ear to the ground, looking for like-minded new (or new to our label) producers. As Matthew stated, we also want to do more real-time events, pop-up Spectral parties and label nights to help deliver our sound.”

14 Questions For Josh Wink

josh_wink1

Philadelphia’s Josh Wink helms the mighty Ovum label, regularly rocks dance floors at festivals and clubs all over the world, and has a plethora of amazing albums, singles and remixes to his credit. On the eve of the release of his latest singles collection, When A Banana Was Just A Banana, Wink fields questions submitted by Big Shot’s readers.

Image: Chris Soltis

1. I’ve heard some buzz about your upcoming album. What can fans can expect to hear?
Igor
Warsaw, Poland

Josh Wink: The album [When A Banana Was Just A Banana] is a collection of singles. I will be working on a different LP next year with more of a concept. This album is solely a collection of tracks that I’ve been playing out in clubs/festivals that need to be released. The [tracks] blur the lines of house and techno.

2. How is your year so far?
Candice Tompkins
Latham, MA

All has been great! I’ve been blessed with being busy DJing, traveling to great locations, and having great crowds to perform for! Ovum Recordings is still going strong, and we look forward to the new releases and doing more Ovum nights around the world.

3. What is your involvement these days with Ovum Recordings? How do you go about signing music, and can I send you a demo?!
DJ Silver
Miami, FL

It’s hard to keep up with all that technology presents us with. We’ve been bombarded with demos in all formats. And it’s hard to make the time to listen to all the CDs, USB drives and links. But Matt Brookman (who runs the office and the ship) listens to a lot [of the submissions]. I get a lot [of music] on the road and sift through the ones that will be released and the ones that get passed on. Time and patience is a virtue! We sometimes take our time, but that’s what happens when we get over 20 demos a week! Once we get something we like, I tend to play it out and get a crowd reaction—that’s a good judge of [a track] being something we’d like to release.

4. I heard a world famous DJ recently play nearly the same identical set in a different city during the same DJ tour. Can you believe the nerve of this guy? I was annoyed. I’ve heard you play many times over the years, and I’m always impressed how you mix it up and always bring something special to each DJ gig. How do you manage to keep things fresh while you’re on the road?
Stephen
via the Internet

There’s too much good music being released for me to always play the same sets! But we as DJs definitely have our favorites and support them whenever we get the chance. I’m happy that you have been able to catch a show when I’m in your area, and I’m also happy that you are continually impressed. I still have a passion for performing as a DJ, and with this passion, it makes it easy to want to keep doing what I’m doing. I always spend time before tours/trips getting new music together; burning my vinyl to CD, getting new releases categorized, etc. But when it comes to the performance, it’s always a spontaneous process. I really feed off of the club or festival’s vibes and moods, which helps me decide when to go artistically. But it’s always different, hence having different sounding sets.

5. You’ve had a lot of hit records like “Higher State of Consciouness” and have done extremely well for yourself since you started releasing records back in the day. What else do you want to do with your life beyond DJing and making music?
Kim
Munich, Germany

Well, it’s a good question. A lot of my friends and colleagues in the music industry are asking themselves the same question, as it’s a difficult time to make a living with Internet file piracy and the recession. I would think I’d be involved the music industry and doing something music-related. If not, maybe [I’d become] a doctor or a cook.

6. I’d like to know when was the last time you made a decision based upon principle?
Owen
New York City

A lot. I feel it’s important for one to keep their integrity and do things that work with your beliefs. I don’t do any work with cigarette companies and everything at Ovum is approved and worked on by our teams with our vision. I try and make logical, educated decisions about which events to participate in. Principle is important, when one has control. The problem is nowadays so many things get twisted and are out of the control of an individual.

Continue Reading

Tribute Record Planned for D’n’B Producer

jonny_beck

Months after the tragic and untimely death of New Zealand based drum ‘n’ bass producer Jonathan Beck, who was one half of CERN, Cyanide Recordings, with the help and dedication of Phace, Misanthrop, Bulletproof, Teknik, and most importantly, Jonny’s closest friend and production partner, Ollie Cern, will pay tribute to their fallen friend with a special memorial record. Proceeds from the memorial single will go to Beck’s mother and brother.

Vulcanic would have been a dream come true for Jonny. Started in NZ in December 2007 by Phace Misanthrop Bulletproof and both Jonny and Ollie Cern, and completed by Florian Phace after hearing news of Jonny’s tragic passing in July 2008, the creation Vulcanic and chance to work with two of his greatest influences was one of the highlights of Jonny’s career.

After Jonny’s passing, three of his closest friends came together in remembrance to honour, to mourn and to heal. Scatter the Ashes is Bulletproof, Teknik and Ollie Cerns expression of sadness and loss during a time when things were still so raw and painful.

Both tracks are a true testament to not only the influence and inspiration and happiness an encounter with Jonny Cern would leave you feeling, but also, we hope, a true testament to the love and admiration we had for our dear brother and friend.

Clone Records Calls It A Day

clone records
Dutch imprint Clone Records has announced that it is closing. The label released high quality, underground electronic music that didn’t follow fads or trends. But let’s have them explain their decision to quit the record biz via their press release:

After running the label since 1993/ 94 we recently noticed that we were going to repeat ourselves. We started as a label influenced by the first wave of techno and house labels who were just releasing music for the sake of good and personal music (we cloned what they did… by just having fun and release music which we enjoyed ourselves).
We have started very immature and without having an idea in mind that we we’re going to make this a business…

At that moment we were exploring the field of minimalish techno and acid. Then our attention slowly moved to electro, post Detroit techno and the new sonic territories with modern electronica. We’ve had the return of disco in the late 90’s and the nu-disco thing and a fusion of styles in the early ’00. Simultaneously we’ve released dark electro techno, campy nu-disco ,advanced modern electronica and personal favorites in the rebound.

Artists developed into different directions and there is not much we haven’t touched in our field… from very ‘obscure’ records to ‘underground’ dance floor hits that got big festival crowds and balearic holiday ravers moving.

So what is there left to do? Basically there is no challenge at this moment… we can continue releasing everything we like (from people we like) without a marketing strategy and without a potential buyers in mind as we used to do… but we already did so for many years.

At this moment we don’t understand the popularity of many artists and releases….or… actually we do!. We do, to a certain level, because we’ve tried many things when we just started our journey into music when we were teenagers and when we started the label +/- 15 years ago! By now we do understand the tricks and formulas of dance music and the different users. However using these tricks and formulas just to ensure maximum effect would be betrayal to our own musical ethics because our goal with Clone records is to entertain ourself with the music we release (and to be clear… with the music…and not the side effects). Somehow we feel we’ve had an almost complete life cycle of personal evolution in dance music and thats also how we developed the label into a versatile label which is releasing different styles of dance music for different purposes. Its a difficult decision because the label is doing very well and we get warm reactions from the strangest places in this world and we could do this for another 10 years!
But in order to remain passioned about what we do, we feel we should not continue the label as it is.. so we won’t.

but no worries.. there will be new things coming, but its just not exactly clear what, how (and when). More news on that in a few weeks time!

There will be to two remaining releases (scheduled for Februari.)
C#55 – I-f ft Fred Ventura/ Ajello – I cut my heart out (Craig Richards edit)/ I’m ready
C#56 – Marco Bernardi – Mystery Of Nazerus (plus a limited Marcus Bernardi rmx 12″)
then it will be quiet on the label…

oh… and Clone Clasic Cuts still has some releases lined up (incl a Unit Moebius CD release), so for now we don’t know what will happen with that.. but most likely we will continue with the Classic Cuts Series.

ps. no worries about the rest of our activities!! the store, the distribution, publishing and digital distribution are continuing as they are!

A moment of silence, please.

Did Justice Deserve to Get Served?

justice in jacuzzi

Justice seems to have hit a rough patch lately, eliciting speculation from their fans and no doubt causing their publicists endless headaches. After a slip of the tongue that brought to light the fact that hundreds of samples scattered across their much-lauded 2007 debut, Cross, were never cleared for use, several photos have surfaced of Gaspard (better known as the taller, hairier half of Justice) rocking out at a gig on an un-plugged MIDI controller.

Anyone who knows anything about electronic music knows that in order to function, a MIDI controller has to be connected to a computer; otherwise….it’s dead useless.

So what does this mean? Does Justice fake their live sets? Does the short one do all the work? Does any of it really matter? Well, Gaspard had this to say to URB.com in his defense:

“Yeah, shit happens! I remember the story, I couldn’t remember the city but i think it was in Manchester. I didn’t noticed at first, because as you can see I was looking at the computer to launch the next vocal hook and right after I realised that the blue screen went black, so there was no way possible it could work. So I plugged it back in, big deal! And the next thing you know is this picture.”

Hmmm…curious. What timing! Regardless of whether or not Justice is taking us for a ride, their live album and tour documentary, wittily titled A Cross The Universe (get it?!), drops digitally today via iTunes. The physical release comes out December 9th via Atlantic Records.

Watch closely and see if you can’t spot the loose USB cables!

Words: Carl Ritger

Exclusive: Ben Watt Shakes Off Writer’s Block with “Guinea Pig”

ben watt

DJ/producer Ben Watt of Everything But the Girl fame has talked to Big Shot exclusively about his upcoming single, “Guinea Pig,” which marks his first track in three years for his revered London-based Buzzin’ Fly imprint. Though Watt’s discography is packed with choice house singles like “Pop A Cap In Yo’ Ass” with Estelle, “Attack Attack Attack” with Baby Blak and “A Stronger Man” with Terence Trent D’Arby, among others, he says his new single is the result of conquering a three-year battle with writer’s block.

“‘Guinea Pig’ is my first stand-alone single for the label for three years. I’ve been suffering with periods of indecision and writer’s block for much of that time, which has not helped my productivity much!” Watt confessed. “But I discovered a new working method where I kidded myself that I wasn’t really working but just messing around. It was an experimental process, hence ‘Guinea Pig.'”

“People imagine that after 25 years of making music, I must be permanently creative. But even veterans suffer doubts.”

Watt says the glowing reaction to the track—the vocal version features Julia Biel, who sang on “I Love You” released on Buzzin’ Fly in 2004—by several top DJs “has been like a blood transfusion. To see kind words from people like Francois K, Laurent Garnier, James Zabiela and Will Saul gladdens the heart. People imagine that after 25 years of making music, I must be permanently creative. But even veterans suffer doubts.”

In addition to Watt’s new single, Buzzin’ Fly will release Chaos Restored 2 mixed by Justin Martin next week.