Let’s start off with the name of this compilation! “Snails pace” would indicate slow . . . Referring to the BPM correct?
It was called Snail’s Pace for 2 reasons. One was because of the focus on slower BPMs as you mentioned, but the main reason was because the process from start to finish was so long! I wanted this released by mid-spring/early-summer. I’m starting to learn that releases have a life of their own and it’s gonna happen whenever it happens. It’s worked out well though because a couple extra tracks have been added which is great. Usually, I provide some kind of brief and concept to the artists, but this time round I didn’t have anything apart from saying that I wanted slower tracks. I think at one point I wanted to create a mix CD for the artists which contained a lot of breaks from the early hip hop, and all kinds of samples from artists like Basquiat and Rammellzee, but it would’ve taken so much effort and I’m lazy so it didn’t happen. I think Snail’s Pace was a bit of an evolution from that idea.
Ha ha great double meaning! It seems a bit of a reoccurring theme when it comes to people doing VA’s, one great quote I heard was “it’s been like trying to herd cats” ha ha! Even though it’s been tough would it put you off doing it again?
Not at all mate. The herding cats thing is correct lol, every single compilation has been like that. But when it’s all done and I listen to it in the car, it feels great. With every single release I will get the music ‘out there’ as much as possible, and that’s the thing I find tough. It’s a brilliant feeling to receive feedback, and when people buy a release, or include it in their sets/playlists, etc…
Generally the back catalogue would suggest that you focus on more of the dance floor orientated side of electronic music rather than the more chilled vibes of the snails pace compilation, with that said what made you decide to release an album of music in this style?
I think it happened quite naturally. A few of the artists involved in the release make music that is not dancefloor-oriented, and for me personally I was making music that was a bit slower. After the Cat Therapist release I wanted to have some kind of continuation from that in someway too. When I was younger I really liked the downtempo tracks from the Metalheadz tin box album, and the stuff that MoWax was doing; I think that was an indirect influence to organising this compilation. Also, I’m a big fan of the Dark Skills releases that came out on Bandcamp, he also makes House as Rick Wade; and stuff like Marc Mac’s ‘Game of Chess’; ATCQ ‘Love Movement’ album too, even slow stuff from pop artists like Mabel.
I think following on pretty closely from the cat therapist release with the VA will be good as they are similar with the down tempo element and also could give you an opportunity to maybe keep the down tempo vibes going on the label if you wanted too post the Snails pace album too right?
Yeah I think so, but a lot of the releases and direction of the label just depends on the music that comes through from the artists, friends, and anyone that sends tracks over. I worry sometimes about whether FPZ releases are all over the place regarding genre, bpm, and mood. But that’s life innit, so I don’t try and force things with the releases. Saying that, one thing I’d like to do is more artist based releases/projects, just gonna have to see how it goes.
Can you give us some idea of what it is about the slower tempos which resonates with you personally?
I spend a lot of time driving in my car, and it’s nice to have the slower stuff banging in the stereo. I think as it gets hotter during the UK summer (fingers crossed!), we all spend more time outside, and people don’t wanna hear uptempo stuff all the time. Slower tempo’s are nice to vibe with and get wavey to.
And while we are at it, let’s talk about inspiration within the downtempo genre. Give us some examples of artists, labels or tracks that you enjoy within this vibe ?
I’m not in tune with it that much if I’m honest. As well as the stuff mentioned earlier, there is a label called ‘Be Ripe Records’ – they released an album from Joe Corfield ‘Transient Sounds’, and an album by Circa ‘Drizzle’. The stuff Cat Therapist and Between Walls/This Geez make is wicked. I’ve been feeling a lot of the UK Jazz sound in the last couple years too, like Ezra Collective. I’m a fan of the early ‘Trip Hop’/Bristol stuff from people like Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, Smith & Mighty, etc…. and I liked some of the stuff that was out on Fat City records in Manchester at the end of the 90s. I think so much cool stuff in that genre came out in the late 90s, it’s hard not to be influenced by it. Got to give a mention to the stuff that’s been released on Muj, Next Phase and Noisy Meditation too. There’s also a West Mids (ish) artist called Helix the Space Cat, who makes/made some amazing and inspiring music. Also events around Birmingham that focus on graf battles have DJs playing these kinds of vibes, like Secret Walls. There’s a load of West Mids DJ’s that play this kind of stuff too like Gumsoul, Deviant, The Unspeakable plus a load more I can’t think of right now.
The track list sees label regulars gathered together . . . Did you request music specifically for the compilation from the artists or was this music you already had?
It was a bit of both. I knew I wanted to do a downtempo release. I’d mentioned it to some of the artists in passing whenever we hooked up. I think the tracks by L-Qui and Between Walls weren’t specifically for it, but I’d heard it on their Soundcloud pages.
So when exactly did this compilation get conceived and how was the process of putting it together?
I think around the start of 2019. I’d played a set at the end of 2018 for Listening Sessions’ 5th birthday, and I started off with slower tempo stuff and then picked up the pace. That made me want to have more of that kind of music. The process was a nightmare! Haha. It took so long to pull together, and it seemed like there were obstacles throughout the last few months. It’s nice to release something different to what has been previously released on FPZ so it’s all worth it, and it’s brilliant how things have come together. Whenever I organise a compilation, there are always a few tracks that appear at the last minute which adds to the excitement. In this case the Chemist RNS track. Most of the previous compilations have had a concept behind them and I’ve come up with a title, and arranged for the artwork – this release wasn’t like that at all. The artwork is a photo I took on my phone in my garden, I thought the snail looked cool against the blue.
What I always enjoy about the label is the fresh names/ talent that I discover and within this compilation will be no different. For any body new to your label, can you give us some background on the people who you selected for this LP.
Between Walls: Otherwise known as Bastard Man and This Geez, although I think he’s ditched the former alias. I met him at Listening Sessions a couple of years ago – he has a beautiful jazzy vibe that is naturally in his music. His music reminds me of some of the stuff Aquasky used to make in the late 90s. I think he does his drums live, so there isn’t any quantisation involved (I think), I like the feel/groove of the beats he makes.
L-Qui: Is an alias of Elkie, and is one of the co-founders of Listening Sessions. He makes and plays stuff at a range of BPMs. Before Listening Sessions, he was involved in an event called Shelter which is how I originally met him. He’s a really safe guy, as is everyone at Listening Sessions! If it wasn’t for people like him, a lot of us would have no where to play our music in Birmingham.
X-161: An alias of Junglekid – my bro from Manchester. I don’t think he’s made much downtempo stuff before. He does this annoying thing of sending me loops and unfinished tracks lol, but Carbon sounded wicked to me as it was, as did Never Knew. He’s into his Grime and I think that comes through in his tracks.
Chemist RNS: He’s been part of a fair few FPZ releases. He’s one of the Chameleon Audio gang based out of Walsall. Chemist is known mostly for his 140 music, but makes a lot of different styles. I’m not sure if this track of his was an old one, or specially made, but it’s so different to what he’s typically known for. I’m really happy that he came through with the track at the last minute – perfect timing!
Guerrilla Monk: An alias of Cujo Cussler, one of the artists from the After Hour Authors crew who do graf/art in and around the West Mids. We’ve been sending each other music over the last couple of years. I’m a big fan of their label After Hour Audio. I love the artwork that Cujo makes, he does his own tees and stuff too. The music he makes is equally as wicked. I think he’s inspired by a certain psychonaut 🙂
SLVJ: She’s an artist from Portugal that writes her own beats and does her own vocals too. She’d been supporting the releases on FPZ and Alternative Architecture and got in touch with some tracks that she made. I sent her a few beats and she did the vocals on top. I think she has a brilliant voice, and I love the tonality and the accent. She’s been releasing some amazing music.
Stormcatz: An alias of Illspirit. He’s from the After Hour Audio fam. His music is so funky, but not in a typical way, more to do with bass side of things, well to my ears anyway. I’m a fan of the music this guy makes. I think he came up with the Stormcatz alias for some of the non-140 stuff he’s been making. A really safe guy, and he makes wicked videos of filming landscapes with drones!
Vice & Doctagonr: They are the same person/people. I’m not sure what I can reveal here, so it’s best I don’t say anything else!
For the above artists, hopefully I haven’t mentioned anything incorrect or nasty – if I have, apologies!
Rawtrachs: That’s me!
Moving away from the compilation,let’s talk about the fanzine that you operate. For any of the readers that aren’t aware . . . Can you give us some background on it please!
The fanzine started about 9 years ago. I was inspired by reading about the fanzines that were made in the Punk era. I liked the DIY approach. I’d dabbled with zines here and there, and wanted to have a go. The first issue featured interviews with Fracture and Seiji (from Bugz In The Attic). By the time I got to the 4th Issue, I’d been making more friends in Birmingham and decided to shine a little light on artists from here. Around that time I had a release on Justice’s MJAZZ label, and I wanted to put a compilation together of Birmingham based artists – he recommended that I put it out myself, and that’s how I got into releasing music (and not making that many zines since!). The reason I started the fanzine was because there is so much great music out there, and I wanted to help spread the word. I’m gonna be honest (and probably shoot myself in the foot too), but I was pissed off with how the ‘bigger’ physical and online magazines never paid much attention to artists that weren’t buried up their backsides – at least that’s how it comes across to me – please don’t hate! I think over the years, people are so used to being spoon fed, and I wanted the zines to be an introduction to artists so people could find more out about them and the music they make. I don’t know if I’ve achieved that, but I’ve met some amazing people, and have some brilliant friends from it. People from Birmingham/West Mids and beyond have been so supportive in lots of different ways, I can’t thank these lovely people enough.
Ah man well said, I couldn’t agree more in regards to bigger magazines. Lesser known artists need way more support in the music industry no doubt and quite frankly there’s pretty much no support from bigger media outlets which is such a shame!
Where did you go about sourcing artists to show case when you started to focus more on lesser known peeps within the Fanzine?
I do feel a little bad for thinking like that, but that’s how I feel. I know that’s how it works sometimes, it’s like that in life isn’t it like with ‘work’ and stuff, as in you have to be seen to be doing the right thing at the right time otherwise you have no relevance, it’s a game. And as a famous rapper said, “don’t hate the playa, hate the game!” LOL. Although now it’s all about playing the algorithm too!
Sourcing artists/labels is easy, I have to stop myself tbh because there is so much talent locally and everywhere else. If I’m a fan of the music/label/art I will see if they are interested in a feature or some kind of interview. On the rare occasion, people have carried out interviews or wrote articles to be used in the zine. Also, some artists have approached me about having a feature in the zine. I’ve been lucky to interview some amazing people, but sometimes I feel I ask the same questions all the time!
What can we expect from future Fanzines?
Well the next one was supposed to have been out a couple of months ago, but hopefully the interviewees are cool with me being late 🙂 The next fanzine is going to be a good read, I’m not saying more than that! Like with the music releases, I’m a big fan of most of the artists that feature in the zine. There is more I would like to do, but time is limited, it just depends on where my attention is at.
You’ve mentioned “the listening sessions” a few times, so let’s take an opportunity to discuss that! A great concept for any producers wanting to hear their music loud and of course a great place to network within music too, must of been good for you linking people for music for the label since it launched right?
Without a doubt. Futurepast Zine as a label started just after Listening Sessions. I’d met most of the earlier artists from nights that happened in Brum like ‘Movement’ and ‘Shelter’ which were before Listening Sessions. The guys that run Listening Sessions, Elkie and Goosensei, are really down to earth and work hard. They are always welcoming to artists that are new to Listening Sessions, they are some of the most supportive and encouraging people I’ve met. We’ve played at each others events, and we did a joint event a few years back – I can’t thank them enough for putting on amazing events and taking risks. They have created a hub/community for artists in the Midlands, it’s not limited to Birmingham either. A couple of weeks ago I chatted to someone that had travelled over from Derby to play his tracks. The music is never stale, there are always new artists so the music is really fresh.
Let talk about Sub Fm and your regular show . . . Give the readers some background what it’s all about!
For the past couple of years Anjin, Hollow and myself have been doing a few 6hr streaming sessions and we play anything we feel like and get wrecked in the process – Krytikal has joined us a few times too. We’d been talking about doing something regular, and I listen quite regularly to the Sun People (Simon/off) show on sub.fm and noticed they had some slots available so I made a request for a show. We’ve been with them about 3 months now I think, and we have a 2hr show on a Sunday (1pm to 3pm) every fortnight. It’s a big commitment and I Iive some distance away from Hollow and Anjin, but they make it over! We do tend to play whatever we feel like, it’s all quality music, and hopefully it all makes sense. We’ll be getting some more artists to join us every now and then. I love doing the show, it’s great to have friends over and chill at home with my family before the weekend finishes – it’s a great start to the week, and sometimes when you go out to events you don’t always get the chance to have a proper chat. The shows are a great way of testing out new tracks too.
So the Snails pace album is locked and ready to go but what else can we expect from you moving forward on either Futurepast Zine or Alternative architecture labels?
It’s hard to say. The next release on Alternative Architecture is by Eone who has been making some incredible music, Krytikal did a bootleg of a track by MoJoe which I want to release at some point too. We had our first vinyl (lathe cut) release a couple of months ago on FPZ which was wicked, it would be nice to do another next year maybe. I don’t like to plan much as I don’t want to put artists under pressure… In the words of Ray Keith, I hope to “keep throwing shit at the wall until something sticks!” Next year will be Futurepast Zine’s 10th birthday, it would be nice to celebrate it in some way and say thanks to everyone that has been a part of it, and shown some love and support. FPZ and AA wouldn’t be here without them so I’d like to do something.