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…


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 🙂


Cosmic Pineapple Q&A with Kim Booth.

CP_1-web-610x610Cosmic Pineapple: Where did the inspiration for the name come from and please talk us through the concept behind it?

The name originally came up in Mexico at the end of 2012. I noticed how happy pineapples seem to look and the word cosmic naturally flowed before the pineapple! If you want a deeper meaning, the pineapple can also be representative of the pineal gland (which is associated with the pine cone). It’s a tiny gland at the centre of our brain that controls the circadian rhythms. The pineal gland is generally blocked on most people (fluoride is one factor of this, as it calcifies) and also life / media / society in general doesn’t feed the pineal gland to awaken (a child’s pineal gland is very open but closes as it gets older, for example). When the pineal gland is open it can lead to mystical experiences. Meditation is one good way to get it to open…Cosmic is a word I have loved for a long time, it is just out there and denotes something we can’t quite understand but makes us feel good!

You are running a series of Thursday nights at Ibiza Rocks House at Pikes Hotel in September. What are your plans for the evening, and why did you choose Pikes as the venue?

cos pPikes is such a magical venue. The history is crazy, the original owner, Tony Pike, built it from a finca in the late 70s and in the early 80s and it became this place of hedonism… Lots of artists used to stay at Pikes and Wham shot the video for Club Tropicana there. Tony went out with Grace Jones and people like Jean Claude Van Damme, Freddie Mercury, Kylie Minogue all stayed there. It went a bit downhill in the 90s/early 00s and since Ibiza Rocks has taken it over I love to see how it is evolving. I have known Dawn and Andy since a few years and I used to work with Sarah who now runs the events. I’ve been to some great parties there and I also used to teach yoga there, so I have seen both sides of what it can do. My aim for the cosmic pineapple parties is to fuse the music and ‘magic’ side of Ibiza, I use magic in this sense as more of a spiritual meaning. There will be a healing area with yoga, conscious talks, different healings and more. A night bazaar on the pink tennis court, which will have little market sellers from over the island. A creative area for people to experience different art classes – i think art is such a strong tool for transformation and creativity is our gift as humans! There will be cosmic music around the pool in the day time.  There will also be an outdoor cinema from Cinema Paradiso every week, which will lead into the night of the dance – two small rooms with wicked unannounced DJs. The idea is based on conscious raving and to explore all these little gifts we have to offer. I am also making them free with a charity focus. So in a sense you are partying / sharing / enjoying / creating for a cause… Which in itself makes it a spiritual practice.  I see these events as little cosmic and creative wonderlands to explore.

What importance do you think Dance music has in 2016 as a unifying force – compared with the seventies and eighties Disco/ House culture has society become more self-obsessed and insular?

I think we are in a new era and there is a reason why dance music has exploded as it has now. I love it when you are on a dance floor and you share exactly the same experience with everyone around you – a unified experience of oneness. On a dance floor everyone is the same and you can share a dance move with someone you will never meet again in your life. I’ve also met some amazing characters and friends in dance music that you just can’t find anywhere else. I have changed my perception when I go to clubs now. I used to chase which track was what, but now I am more focused on what the actual music is doing to me – how I want to move, what sounds move what energies, etc. There is something to do with the repetitive beats and rhythms which lure you into a meditative state. I also think it’s quite interesting how dance music averages around 120/130 BPM, which is double the human heart rate and i feel the rhythm something we can slip easily in to. I think dance music is very healing – it definitely attracts a lot of people who need some kind of healing or are searching for something a bit higher – and can shift a lot of heavy vibrations and allow you to feel elated when you get that good DJ who connects to the crowd and the music coming through.

Please talk us through you inspirational website?

The concept of the website is to inspire people to connect more to the self, the other and planet earth. I am a kind of seeker for higher knowledge. I have realised how a higher perspective can help you deal with life’s difficulties and make you understand more. A spiritual practice really helps me to be connected and trust in life. The idea is to share what I learn and to invite other people to share their own experiences and wisdom. I would like for it to be a web of good vibes from people around the globe! It is also really helpful for me to keep myself in check. I can come out of being in this space quite easily, so it’s always a good check in!

And tell us about the Cosmix series of mixes. How you go about choosing the DJ’s and do you have any standout editions so far?

I love the Cosmix! I’m so happy to put these out and they always inspire me at the right moments. For the DJs, it’s a natural selection. It’s generally someone I have seen out, or randomly emailed and told about the Cosmix, if they like it, they do it! I love it when people I have known for a while do them, as I can have fun reminiscing how we met for the write-up – dance music has some very interesting characters and stories to tell! RE standout editions, they all are in their own way and reflect a time of where everyone is at. I can’t say favourites. I would just go on and check out what mood you’re in!

Can you give us some background on yourself Kim? Where and how did you first get into Dance music and how would you say it has shaped your life?

I got into dance music at 16. My friend Tracy used to take me to a club called Bentleys in Bognor Regis. I think the first ‘proper’ DJ I saw play was CJ Mackintosh there, which was when garage was big. I got obsessed and used to listen to Danny Rampling’s Love Groove Dance party religiously and read all the dance mags to see what was what. I applied for work experience at Ministry magazine, Mixmag and Muzik when I was 18, forgot about it, and about six weeks later got a call from Ministry Mag to come and do some work experience. I stayed in a friend of a friend’s flat for two weeks in London and the mag liked what I did so kept me on for a bit as a junior writer. I then did a bit more work experience / freelance for Mixmag and Muzik and kind of fell into PR from there. I worked at Defected Records for a few years and got such a great education on the London house, disco and gay scene; I only recently realised how important this was! People like Luke Howard (who is now part of Horsemeat Disco) and Guy Williams used to take me to all their gigs and I loved it. It was also around the time of Roger Sanchez ‘Another Chance’, KOT ‘Finally’, ATFC and more, and was a really exciting and eye opening time. From there I worked for Underwater Records for a few years, around the time of Tim Deluxe ‘It Just Wont Do’, which was also a lot of fun and was very much like a family with people like Amy Thomson, Darren Emerson, Caroline Prothero, Garry Blackburn, Matt Stewart, Lottie and Yousef. I started my own PR company 11 years ago, after going traveling in Australia and Thailand. It started with Dan Ghenacia and Serge Santiago and built from there. Now we are three people working there and represent artists like Carl Craig, Josh Wink, Cassy, Ellen Allien, Steve Bug, Apollonia, Danny Daze, Stacey Pullen and more. Freedom has always been a big thing for me and I also have to love the music and respect the artist. I am very fortunate how it has developed over the last 11 years, i am not in this for the money, but more the freedom, experiences and creativity it allows. I have worked with artists and events who are on the same vibe and don’t mind my quite unorthodox approach to it all! I generally go away for a bit every winter and have emailed people from the back of camels in India and had to get a boat to get internet in Guatemala. It somehow always works out.

How would like to see Cosmic Pineapple develop into 2017 and beyond?

For the website, to get more people sharing and I think one thing I would like to do is hold cosmic and creative events / retreats around the world. I love traveling so much and experiencing different cultures and connecting to different lands. That would be quite magic!