Klasse was born out of the need to do something different, I have been involved in music for a while and it seemed like the right time to start my own label. I enjoyed working with other labels but felt the need to create something that I was in total control of, from the artwork to the music I wanted to ‘be’ the identity of the label. There was no grand plan of world domination, just a simple platform for myself and my good friends that surrounded me….Klasse started in 2010, amongst an explosion of new digital labels, I began to see a lot of content being created and a lot of it seemed really half-hearted shitty album artwork, bad design and carbon-copy music seemed to be everywhere and Klasse was my way of counteracting all that, a place where we could consolidate all of our interests…music and beyond.
Your new single: Sail On is built around a classic sample. Can you talk us through the process of producing it, and about your relationship with Amirali who is featured on the release?
Sail On is similar to most of the other tracks on my album, heavily sample based and with a heavy leaning towards hip hop, classic breaks and live instrumentation. I had had the track for a while and it seemed to be begging for the right vocal, I tried various things but nothing seemed to fit right. I was lucky enough to be put in touch with Amirali, we had a brief back and forth and he laid down the vocals, they fit perfectly from the get-go and the track just fell into place. Amirali is a talented dude with a great voice, I recently saw him play at Panorama Bar and really enjoyed his set….
Where you get your inspiration from/ which artists have most inspired you over the years?
I’m constantly returning to the music I enjoyed as a teenager, Mo Wax, DJ Shadow, early East Coast hip hop like Mobb Deep and Wu. My album was directly inspired by these early connections with music and I think these sounds are deeply embedded in my consciousness. I spent a lot of time digging for weird and wonderful music, listening to a lot of Jazz on labels such as Three Blind Mice, taking inspiration from Jamaican steel drum bands and abstract Cosmic music from Italy. I looked everywhere outside of dance music for inspiration and influence and I think that comes across in the music.
The title refers to a few things, the main one being my slightly left of centre placement in this world. It’s kind of tricky to describe but there are parts of my personality that are dominated by OCD tendencies and sometimes I am unable to see the ‘middle ground’, I’m obsessed with extremes…everything is either ‘ON’ or ‘OFF, ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. Hence ‘BLACK’ and ‘WHITE’, there’s no grey area of mediation and negotiation…no room for movement. Essentially it’s all about me being a really awkward dude….I guess that sums it up!
The music on the album is primarily for listening, I didn’t want to make an album that was focused on the dancefloor…most of the tracks range between 90-110bpm and feature some sort of Hip Hop influence. I used a lot of classic breakbeats and classical instruments on there, attempting to marry them with electronics and a more standard ‘dance music’ template. Every track was a pleasure to make, whilst making the album I tried to ignore fashions and trends and this made it flow very naturally….good music always comes easy!!
The artwork for the label is also particularly distinctive. How would you describe that?
Art and design is a huge part of my life and I want Klasse to look as good as it can, commercial identity is always really important…especially in today’s world of facebook, emails and never-ending social feeds. The idea behind most of the artwork is simplicity and effectiveness, all the artwork needs to work on a wide range of scales…most artwork is viewed as 300 X 300px thumbnail these days and it needs to stand out amongst the rest of the shit out there. I take inspiration from my interests, graffiti, punk zines, outsider art and ‘the good old days’…it’s important for me that the visual side of Klasse has a definite grain and roughness to it…something different than the usual shiny, rounded and polished graphics of most labels around these days.
Earlier this year I took Klasse Recordings over to Barcelona for the ‘Blanco Y Negro’ graffiti event…in conjunction with Montana Spray Paint and betahaus barcelona we put together a handful of likeminded writers and got busy.
Heres the video for the event, which features an exclusive peek at a new track from my upcoming album. Enjoy!
You also A&R for the label. How do you find the standard of music around in 2013, what do you look for when signing a track to Klasse Recordings?
I look for a uniqueness and individuality, a track needs a personality just as an artist does. I enjoy tracks that have a good balance of functionality and originality, weird is always good..something to surprise the listener out of their comfort zone. These days I get sent a lot of ‘retro-house’ and I’m done with hearing the same old deep house organ stabs and diva vocals, by default I find myself leaning towards colder, more techno-ish styling’s. Our recent release of the FJAAK guys is a perfect example of what I’m enjoying at the moment, synth heavy, hook laden and drenched in analogue goodness….please send more like this!
Where can people get to hear you Dj this summer?
I have a few shows coming up; I’m really looking forward to playing with Kink in Basel, Spring Festival in Austria and the new Aerophilia festival just outside of Berlin. We are also putting together a great show for Off-Sonar, I’ll be playing alongside John Heckle and Arttu…most of all I’m looking forward to playing alongside my homies at the next Klasse label nights….watch this space!!