Al Bradley Q&A

Hello Al and welcome along to Magazine Sixty. What have been the highlights for you in the past 15 years, as 3am Recordings has been releasing music since 2003!?!

Hi & thanks for having me! There have been several along the way, I guess the ones which stand out are the first time I heard something off the label being played by DJs we really looked up to (that was Silicone Soul playing a track from TAM001 at Basics in Leeds in 2003), then Rob Da Bank playing Alex Moran’s “New Fish To Fry” on Radio 1 too, a pretty cool moment. I think at that point I expected to take over the world haha. Gig-wise really the highlight was having fabric host us for the label’s 10th birthday – it seemed like a real recognition for the hard work put in, plus naturally it’s such a brilliant venue to play at.

How have you seen the ‘industry’ develop in that time for better and worse – which I guess may run parallel to the rise of the Internet, easy access and streaming?

I believe there are pros & cons to how it’s changed; in one respect, the internet and digital aspect has really blown open the old level of ‘control’ (for want of a better word) that labels had, for all genres, whereby artists needed a label to get their music out there. People can really follow a DIY path now, so it’s much more democratic in that sense – you don’t necessarily need thousands of pounds to get something out there now, via digital platforms. However the flip-side of this is that artists don;t seem to take their time now; as soon as someone has finished a track, they’re desperate to get it out there, so the number of demo emails I receive which have one track on there, CC’d into about 4000 email addresses, is ridiculous. This leads to a huge amount of disposable music and what seems to be a bit of a desperation just to get stuff ‘out there’, rather than developing a selection of sounds and targeting labels which are appropriate to what you want.

What is it about four on the floor that still ignites your excitement after all this time?

Good question and I don’t think I have a real answer! I bought my decks in 1991 and thought it’d just be a passing fad, but here I am 27 years later…. There’s an energy in house music, people are still reinventing how it sounds, new people (much younger than me!) find it and want to push it forward and create fresh excitement, so there are constantly changing nuances in the sound; I guess those are the reasons it still has a hold on me really. There’s just something about getting some records & putting together a mix, playing in a club, or just checking out new music with a friend to compare what we have, when you hear the beat and the energy contained within, it just still works for me. When I received the TAM088 vinyl, which had my first ever track on 12″, I got all emotional when the first kick on my track played throguh the speakers. It’s a bit ridiculous really, but that’s the kind of hold it has on me!

Celebrating the anniversary is the labels next release on June 4 which features four tracks by four artists. How does the release represent 3am’s direction in 2018 and can you tell us about how you choose these productions in particular?

The release I feel showcases what the true ethos of 3am has tried to remain true to over the years; it’s not easy pushing new artists right at the start of their careers, but it’s something I’ve tried to do throughout. So on this release it has Ceri, whose debut ever release was for 3am (a remix of Askani), plus I’m giving Helsinki-based Twisted Puppies their debut on vinyl. Michael Lovatt is an artist who has become close to the label in recent years, representing us at gigs in Berlin several times, plus he’s an artist who is on the rise, so it wa the right time to get him on the label. Danny – aka Dubble D / Moodymanc – featured on 3am a few years back, so he is making a return as a long-time friend of the label. So this EP represents artists who’ve been involved with the label one way or the other over recent years, plus for Ceri she was always going to be back on 3am and it’s a pleasure to get her onto a 12″, likewise for Twisted Puppies – they’re the fifth artist making a debut on vinyl from the last three 3am 12″s, so that’s something I’m really proud of. Especially after I was told I couldn’t sell records without big names…

Pre-order: https://www.juno.co.uk/products/ceri-dubble-d-3am-wax-vol-2/677958-01/

How did you first get into Dance Music? Which clubs and DJ’s initially inspired you? And how would you describe the scene in Leeds now?

I’m originally from Stockport so it was ventures up the road to Manchester which kick-started it all; predominantly the Hacienda but also The Boardwalk & Konspiracy (!!) were places I went. The Hacienda was the main influence though, I was actually there on the last night it was open too, I’ve got the ticket framed in my hallway even now (geek alert…). Outside of Manc, Leeds was a regular place I visited, Back To Basics and the residents there really adding a new dimension to the music I play; Ralph Lawson & James Holroyd in particular really showcased sounds which still influence to this day. For a relatively small city-centre, there is so much going on – you’ve got smaller places such as 212 & Distrikt which have great DJs on and free entry, then venues such as Wire & Mint which showcase a brilliant selection of styles and nights, up to Church and Mint Warehouse, which have the A-list DJs housed in much larger venues. So there really is something for all tastes; it’s a very strong city for electronic music right across the board, definitely.

Can you tell us what inspires you outside of the world of House Music. Any authors, artists, musicians, writer’s etc you would care to share?

Well my favourite writer is George Orwell; people immediately think of “1984” by him (which is, for me, the best book I have ever read), but his fantastic use of language and his clear distaste for the upper-classes (despite coming from a well-to-do background, which he shunned) is evident in his writing. “Coming Up For Air” is another of his books which still has a relevance in its story today, plus “Down and Out In Paris and London” is a really amazing insight into the North of England at the time of writing. I’m also a bit of a film geek; I tend to watch more films than general TV really; I’d say some of the films from the 70s would be my choices (Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Serpico etc), but more recently films like Shutter Island & There Will be Blood are favourites too. I listen to plenty of other music too, there was particular excitement when confirmation of Arctic Monkeys live tickets was sent to my friend Lyndsey, who managed to sort us two for Sheffield! Really looking forward to their new album, their previous one “AM” is an absolute gem & up there with my favourites of all time.

What are your feelings on nostalgia? Does such great emphasis on the past stifle creativity or enhance it?

Another good question! I’m not too keen on the word ‘nostalgia’ really; what has happened in the past of course is hugely important (otherwise why would I have a Hacienda ticket framed on my wall, from 1997 haha!), but I suppose it’s how these things are done. For example I’m not really a fan of “classics” type nights, where all the music is from say 1989 through to 1991, primarily because that’s not a true representation of what was played, it’s just the biggest/most well-known tracks from that period and it wasn’t really like that at all. I play old records in my sets, I love old records, but I play them within all the new stuff I have – I’ll do it as a little reminder of something from the past and also because it’s something I like and it fits with what I’m playing, but I wouldn’t want to do a whole night of “Hacienda Classics” for example. it’s correct and important to learn from the past, but don’t get stuck in it… When people say “the music’s not like it used to be” or whatever, that does bug me a bit – of course it’s not what it used to be, if it had stayed the same since 1988 then it’d be a bit stale! The whole reason I believe electronic music remains so vital is because it changes and progresses. Yes look back and get excited by old music, see what the early tracks were, that’s valuable and crucial to involve yourself in, but treat it all as an ever-expanding and changing sound – that’s the key for me.

And finally. Can you talk us through the process of creating music for you, from where an initial idea might spring from to how you then produce it, including a favourite piece of hardware/software you like to refer to?

I guess it just all comes from the music I hear and have heard over time – whether that’s consciously or subconsciously. As I’ve been buying records since the mid-80s, It probably explains why I’m rubbish at sticking to one sound. Production-wise I use Ableton; I tend to just muck about with basic ideas of drum/percussion and bass initially, then go from there. Software-wise I do tend to use Sylenth a lot, it’s something of a go-to bit of software for me really. The Eventide plug-ins have also been regular favourites, easy to use and great sounding. I’d love to say I have a studio full of expensive gear and name-drop some super-expensive synths, but I’d be lying I’m afraid! I can’t remember who said it to me, maybe Rob Small who does the 3am mastering, but it was something like “it’s not the gear, it’s the ear” – I’ll use that line anyway 🙂

http://www.3amrecordings.com

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Bobby Pleasure Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Bobby. Can you start by telling us about why you felt there needed to be a label such as Needs – not for profit, in the world today? And can you tell us about your personal philosophy for life and music?

When I conceptualised Needs it was around the time of Trump & Brexit. I was feeling a lot of social dissonance and I wanted to try and do something about it; using the music and scene that I love as a means to spread a message of unity and togetherness. Music is the most powerful force on the planet. In a world of ever-evolving technology, communal centres such as nightclubs are becoming increasingly important in terms of social interaction and it’s here where people and ideas can come together.

The next and third release features five different artists, each with a differing sound. What attributes do you look for when putting together a release?

I look for timeless music from artists that I love. Music that will sound great in 20 years time. With the releases being various artist EP’s I try to group them stylistically as best I can and also try to order the EP in a way that the release flows naturally, and makes sense when listened to as a whole.

*Needs003 is in aid of the refugee crisis. Featuring Lord Of The Isles, Mehmet Aslan, Petwo Evans, Bartellow, Nick Gynn. Released 16th April on Needs not for profit: pre-order link.

And can you tell us why you chosen the charities so far?

I chose charities based on several factors: the work they do, the demographic(s) they help, the reach they have and the areas they offer support. I also looked if they had any previous involvement in the music industry as I thought that would maybe make any potential partnerships easier.

In broader terms do you think Dance Music culture is more or less self-obsessed than other parts of society? Do you think that the ease with which the internet connects us all, also creates a sense of unease?

Definitely. I think it’s a general problem facing all of humanity. More and more we seem to be living a solitary existence as humans, with people mainly socialising and working from their phones and laptops. But like how I mentioned earlier, the thing that dance music culture has is the nightclub and also festivals. It’s quite a rare thing when that many people get together and interact and we should really embrace those experiences. It could be that we see important social movements emanate from these gatherings.

Your new single: Renegade EP co-produced with Adam Curtain is due out in April on Trouble Maker. How did the collaboration come about? And can you tell us about the process of creating the music?

Ahhh yes and I’m very excited about this! Me and Adam have been friends for a while and we hit the studio together about a year ago. We have very similar tastes but brought different vibes to this project. It was a very natural exchange of ideas and we created something separate from our own musical identities. However you can still really hear both of us in the music. It’s super nice when you collaborate with friends and it works out like this.

Do you think nostalgia has helped or hindered music creatively?

I think it can do both. From a production perspective it’s always helpful to look to the past for inspiration but it’s important to also do your own thing and find your own style. From a DJ perspective we’re in the midst of extreme rare record/digging culture, where the emphasis can sometimes be more about how rare or expensive a record is. However I believe dance music and electronic music is evolutionary by nature and will always naturally move to the future.

You recently launched your own night Pleasure Club at The Lion & Lamb in London. How did the night go and what are the ideas behind it? How do you choose a particular guest to play?

It went really well thanks. I’ve been involved in my fair share of parties over the years and I wanted to create an all-encompassing experience that was a culmination of everything I’ve learnt along the way, as well as a platform for me to showcase the music I really love. Pleasure Club will be my ultimate expression of this. Guests are chosen simply because they are the best selectors I have come across in my time as a DJ. Expect the best music, an open minded crowd, plenty of attention to detail and lots of extra treats thrown in. Keep your eyes peeled for a Pleasure Club membership card!

You are part of the first: inner city electronic, event in Leeds this coming June. Tell us some more?

I was label manager manager at 20/20 Vision for 4 years so I know Ralph Lawson really well. I’m so happy for him that this new vision has come together so well. It’s looking like a really incredible event which should be very exciting for not only Leeds but also the UK scene. I’m honoured to be involved at the first one and I can’t wait to see the action unfold.

And finally. What are your plans for the remainder of 2018?

In 2018 I’ll be releasing some more music (including my first solo EP), starting another label, DJing at lots of amazing parties & festivals, and where possible using Needs as a platform to raise awareness for different causes and charities.

https://www.facebook.com/bobbypleajure

https://www.facebook.com/needsnotforprofit

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Whitesquare – Aoyama Dawn EP – 20/20 Vision

Whitesquare’s unforgiving yet thoroughly pleasurable The Block opens out this new EP to all sorts of exciting possibilities. Fuelled by an in your face Detroit stab which informs the drum machines upon which it relies this startling production renders subtlety redundant. But then this so richly deserves to be played LOUD that you could be forgiven for doing so and on repeat. The appropriately named, Sound follows suit this time with an unnerving sequence of events that builds tension into an art form via rumbling low-end theory offset by unfussy percussion. Excellently remixed by Ralph Lawson & Rui-Z who proceed to strip it all down and then rework the pulsating rhythms applying fizzy electronics and a delicious heightened edge to the number.

Release: March 20
https://www.facebook.com/Whitesquaremusic
http://2020visionrecordings.tumblr.com

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Reviews: 180

pokeryouANDme & The Analog Roland Orchestra feat. Black Soda
Reflection EP
Poker Flat Recordings

This stunning release from the label engages you on many different levels flying the flag somewhere in-between haunting and spiritual. Black Soda’s unnerving voice only serves to heighten the tension created by youANDme’s dark fusion of terse electronics and while this may not always be a comfortable ride it most certainly is a captivating one. A Dub and Acid mix accompany the original again sitting you at the edge of imaginative forward-thinking atmospheres. The Hyenah remix then explores warmer elements of rhythm on a welcome relaxation of all that simmering tension, while the equally engaging ambience of the Morning Light version provides similar pleasure.

Release: September 30

https://www.facebook.com/pokerflat.rec

http://www.we-are-youandme.com

http://www.theanalogrolandorchestra.de

Sascha Dive
After the Storm
Minimood

You could use the adage: method in the madness here but that doesn’t quite get to where it needs to be. Sascha Dive’s forceful repetition drives into the heart of the night with an unsettling combination of whirring, synthesized sounds and undulating bass hits along with spoken echoes plus brisk drums. All of which induces a kind of hypnotic wonder that you will either plug into gaining the sonic rewards, or not. Ion Ludwig supplies the remix with a succession of deep, pulsating low-end notes and a warm rush of keys defining extra possibilities that surprisingly make you forget about which genre to attach to the music you’re listening to.

https://www.facebook.com/saschadive
http://www.minimood.com
buy http://www.decks.de/t/sascha_dive-after_the_storm/c77-o0

Ralph Lawson
Lost In The Storm
2020 Vision

Excellent production from the main-man Ralph Lawson who sets the controls to stun on this fiercely underground arrangement of sounds. Setting aside the five remixes which accompany the original this smouldering combination of dubbed chords and sizzling drums breathe fresh impetus into the electronic soundtrack, bravely defying your expectations with this percussion fueled gem while satisfying your thirst care of its brooding ‘Storm’ ignited sound effects.  The remixes then all play on, and around, the theme with the enviable list beginning with Hector Couto, Barem, Shaun Reeves, Fernandos and ending up with Rui-Z. Leaving you with the suitably abrupt Storm FX to finish.

Release: October 3
http://2020visionrecordings.tumblr.com
http://www.ralphlawson.co.uk

Gari Romalis
D-Alpha Experience
Future 1701

Gari Romalis begins his own label Future 1701, alongside Subwax Distribution, with the this typically pounding yet soulfully rewarding set of numbers. The Quarentine Mix of People Under The Stairs begins this set of four care off its warm, oversized kick-drum amid a gentle wash of atmospheric keys. Itz Krazy (Word) follows with a perkier tempo which again engages emotive keys alongside the thumping rhythm section. Next, God of Dawn supplies suitably expansive, filtered ambience across this captivating production, leaving the undulating electronics of Hard Limiter (Trading Spaces Mix) to end this notable debut from the imprint.

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Reviews:110

Adriatique
Midnight Walking EP
Culprit

adWhat better way to introduce to 2014 than another superlative release via Culprit. Indecently one of my favourite labels but none-the-less this tastefully brooding epic bears all the hallmarks required right down from the teasing, haunting synthesizers to the breathy, psychedelic vocals delivered by Name One. An effective Dub version follows feeling strangely brighter minus the voice, as second track Rolling Stone completes with more twisted electronics and heavily treated vocals sizzling their way across the airwaves.

release: January 27

https://www.facebook.com/adriatiqueofficial
https://twitter.com/adriatiquemusic
https://www.facebook.com/CulpritLA

Rick Wade
Sweet life EP
FINA Records

Rick WadeVeteran Detroit and Harmonie Park main-man Rick Wade gets set to release his soulfully charged grooves on Northern imprint FINA. The title track as the name suggests positively drips with emotion as strings accompanied by poignant, minor chords all feel timelessly free in amongst the easy drums. Remixes come from a techier, Mr Beatnick and a perky Tom Taylor & Simon Morell version that ups the tempo and intensity for those late night moments. The Chateau, proceeds with further inescapable funkiness alongside celebratory rhythms galore to satisfy both the historian and dancer care of the well placed sample. Jazz Militia, then takes a tougher stance as deeper beats and bass offset the filtered string infused grooves all over again.

release: vinyl January 31/ digital February 14

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rick-Wade/42735184215
https://www.facebook.com/FINAREC

David Herrero
Bad Day EP
Defected Records

davidDavid Herrero’s instant party-time slammer neatly fuses a classic Chicago bassline together with insistent hi-hats and hook-line vocal edits plus 80’s styled chords to great effect. The arrangement doesn’t pull any punches either, aimed squarely at dancefloor action with its sassy breakdowns all producing a rush of feeling. Indeed, I Like That Feel continues the concept albeit on a deeper tip with more old-school punctuating vocals and synths. O’Clock, then finally calls time amidst a blaze of fiery Todd Terry-esque snares and a cool, rolling bass all of which tellingly links the past to the future.

release: January 20

http://www.davidherrero.info
https://www.facebook.com/davidherrerodj
http://defected.com

https://soundcloud.com/defectedrecords/sets/david-herrero-bad-day-ep-edits

 

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