Red Eye Records: Wine, Weed & Vinyl

We caught up with Tom from Red Eye to talk a little about his backstory and his thoughts on the vinyl business.

Most of you will have come across Red Eye at some point. We were on there over the weekend and to our delight picked up a few records that we’ve been wanting to see repressed for some time now: Rudoulpho’s Sunday Afternoon and Workshop 12. There’s some real gems on there at the moment, so over the next few days we’ll be posting a “Subsoil Recommends” thing.

Red Eye Records

Can you give us a quick introduction to yourself and also to Red Eye?

I’m fairly old now as I started Redeye in 1992 when I was 20, it started as a little shop doing House/Hip Hop and what became Jungle/D&B but was then tagged as hardcore.

Where was your shop? What made you make the move to an online store?

The shop was in Ipswich, I used to work for my step father in his wine business for a couple of years and when he closed it I took over the lease and turned the wine racks into record racks. We traded on-line and through the shop there until the shop side of things was almost pointless.

I went into mail order and then on-line in ’97 and ’99 to survive, we had no cash and I used to live off selling weed really. We were always a good shop and going on-line gave us the opportunity to show a wider audience what we were about.

Do you see online record stores as posing a challenge to “physical” ones?

Walk in stores should see a resurgence as everyone misses them in some respects but the competition from on-line traders was years ago now.

Is there anything that you feel record stores could be doing better?

I have not been into another record shop for ages so I can’t really say what they are doing or should do but if I had the time I’d like to run one like the Italians run a bar. I’d sell records, food, coffee, booze, ice cream and have a space for people to relax while their mates bought some beats.

You hear so much these days about the resurgence of vinyl sales. How much have you seen that reflected in Red Eye? There are people who seem to think it’s mostly down to older people buying expensive double packs of old Pink Floyd albums, that sort of thing rather than people buying new 12″s.

Sales of records have gone up for sure, I suppose that people who actually pay for music would like something more tangible with a 2nd hand value instead of digital. Records are the best way of listening to music if you have the chance, we all know that.

Have you got anything else to add?

We sell good records to great people and we love it.

Rough House Rosie Interview

Rough House Rosie

Over the past year there’s been some deep sounds coming out of Cologne due to the work of George Beridze and his Rough House Rosie label. Although the label is only 4 releases young, George has managed to forge out a sound and an aesthetic that is recognisably and undeniably Rough House Rosie’s.

The Rough House Rosie visual aesthetic has its roots in silent films from the first part of the last century. The vinyl print is a rendering of Clara Bow‘s face, the title actress in the 1929 film Rough House Rosie, which has forever been lost with only a trailer remaining.

“I think the 1920s were the best times to be around. And I also love cinema from that era. I have seen many of Clara Bow’s silent movies and this particular one was interesting to me because it is lost. I really wanted to have seen this movie, the plot seems nice and the title also.”

Talking to George, it soon becomes clear that the Rough House Rosie project is a labour of love for him, born out of a desire to introduce new artists and sounds to the house music community.

“In late 2012 I moved from Munich to Cologne and I was in my new empty flat. I had no internet and no bed, nothing, so I listened to my whole music collection on my laptop. And I thought I have here some nice tracks from HVL produced a while ago, so why not start a label, no one wants to release them anyway.”

Although there’s plenty of imprints releasing deeper house inspired sounds, George doesn’t see Rough House Rosie as just another one of them. He counts Udacha, Firecracker Recordings, Mathematics, Minuendo, Deep Explorer, Workshop and Leleka among his influences but he sees his label’s music as a variation on the kinds of sounds that these labels are known for rather than as a direct tribute.

I think the kind of music I release doesn’t exist for such a long time…I mean it is not typical deep house I wouldn’t say. I’ve been into this music ever since artists like Vakula, Pjotr, Alex Danilov and A5 emerged.

Originally from Georgia, George moved from there in 2007 as a student, living in cities including Amsterdam, Lyon and Munich before settling in Cologne.

“Cologne has several places where one could hear quality house music, notable house and techno names visit this city. Also it is located quite nicely for travelling to Netherlands or any other place, so basically good music is all around.”

George Beridze

Although George lives in Cologne, none of the artists whose music he’s released do.

“None of my artists are Cologne based. HVL is Georgian as am I, so we know each other from there. Although at the moment he also lives in Germany in Stuttgart. Alex Danilov is Russian and since I speak Russian I talked to him through soundcloud about doing a release with RHR, since I am a big fan of his music. All of us like the same kind of sound I guess.”

I ask him if he sees this as an obstacle to working together and releasing music, but he doesn’t see it as a difficulty or an inconvenience.

“Ok, so I live in Cologne but none of my artists do. But I don’t think the city is important, only the music is, the label could be based in Greenland, it doesn’t really matter. I call the label a family because we share a love of the same music and sound. Also, with Russian, Georgian and Ukrainian artists I personally share a Soviet past and childhood, so we sort of get each other.”

In fact, he’s gearing up to release a VA featuring artists with whom he doesn’t even share a country, past or language, just similar musical ideas.

“The Rough House Rosie family will be definitely increasing although mostly with new faces, with people who have had 1-2 releases or none at all. I don’t see the point in re-releasing the same thing over and over again. In the future RHR will be paying homage to Japan and Japanese music lovers with a special VA. Of course, HVL will also be back sometime in the future and we will also see some other artists return who have already collaborated with RHR.”

I tried to push George for a hint as to who’s appearing on the Japanese VA, but he was having none of it. Next out on the label is Silent Movie Sounds Vol. II featuring a few of our favourite artists: Pjotr, A5, Laak and Gamayun. Be quick!

Record Watch: undersoundLAB 002

undersoundLAB 002

Undersound, who put on parties in London, have just released their second release on their record label arm, undersoundLAB. Following on from the success of their first release, featuring music from their residents and friends including Subsoil favourite Isherwood as well as d:Alog, Matt Joe and Harry McCanna, the second installment continues in much the same vein: it’s music that’s made to be mixed.

undersoundLAB 001:

undersoundLAB 002:

The tracks come in at an average of about 7 minutes long, so they’re perfect for a nice, long blend. Each of the artists pays a lot of attention to the elements of their respective track that many producers disregard all too often -I’m talking about layered percussion, faint samples in the background, those little tweaks that come in every few bars- all of which combine to create a track that stands up to repeated listens. It’s not enough to throw together a beat, a bassline and some chords and call it a banger and that’s something that Undersound’s roster of artists seem all too aware of.

There’s a real attention to detail that’s evident in the production. If you concentrate on listening to the release in full, you’ll realise just how much is going on all the time. If you’re not particularly concentrating, you’ll find yourself drawn into those loops, but without finding them boring.

I’m talking about the release as a whole, I’ll get a bit more specific in a minute, but I guess it’s a testament to Undersound’s curation of this release that the tracks can be spoken of both as a group and individually. They’ve got simultaneously an element of commonality and uniqueness to them, which in my mind makes a good release compared to a release with good tracks on it.

Track 1 comes courtesy of Harry McCanna. It’s got quite a bright vibe to it that’s really propagated through the synths. They don’t take centre stage however, that’s the role of the drums. The driving, layered beat keeps things moving and the occasional almost UKG style bass notes that come in provide a point of reference. Good quality drumwork features quite prominently on the tracks we’ve heard from Harry, and this one is no exception.

Track 2 is by DTG. This one’s all about airy synths and a beat that leads with hi-hats, but to reduce it to synths and hi-hats is a bit of an injustice. There’s a lot more to the melody of the track than just that soaring synth, and there’s a lot more to the beat than those shimmering hi-hats.

The release closes with a really strong offering by Lowpass. The skippy beat stretches the 4/4 template we all know and love and its jittery nature is complemented by the restlessness of the samples used in the track’s melody. Lowpass samples organic instruments but arranges them in an abstract sort of way; it’s hard to tell if they’re dissonant or harmonious sometimes. The same arrangement of musical notes isn’t repeated either, the samples go off in different directions over the track’s 7 minutes. As the instrumentation builds up into a bit of a crescendo, the beat fades momentarily before coming back in with more of a kick. A really well balanced track that rounds off the release very nicely.

undersoundLAB 002 is a great release and it’s available from their Bandcamp. Be fair and pay a fair price and maybe one day they’ll be pressing vinyl. It’s available in FLAC and it’s got great artwork if you need further encouragement!

You can also visit the Undersound Soundcloud. They run a really solid podcast series that’s worth checking out.

Insights into the Bristol Music Scene from Varme & Idle Hands

Bristol Stokes Croft MusicImage courtesy of Zosia Swidlicka

We gave the same set of questions about Bristol’s musical climate to 2 people involved in different ways in music in Bristol. They may have come up with different answers, but they both seem to hold true in their own ways. Read on to see how they responded to our very general questions.

Chris Farrell runs the Idle Hands record store on Stokes Croft. He’s a regular face behind the decks for all sorts of nights and has brought artists and labels to town including L.I.E.S. and Blackest Ever Black.

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Paul Popa has been a Bristol resident for the last 3 years. In that time he’s been involved in setting up one of the city’s most forward thinking club nights, Varme, which has invited artists including A Made Up Sound, Fred P, Romansoff & Vester Koza to the city.

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Describe for us what it is you do in Bristol.                                                    

CF: I run the Idle Hands shop, DJ and put on some parties. I also run the Idle Hands label and have some involvement with a few others.

PP: Well I’m in my final year at uni. This was the reason why I moved to Bristol besides the music scene. From time to time, I throw parties in an attempt to showcase my musical taste.

Did you find it easy to get involved with music, or was it a struggle to get a foothold in the city?

CF: I just fell into it really. I was in Imperial Records (formerly a shop on Park Street) one day and someone was at the counter asking if they had any jobs. They said that they did. The bloke who asked seemed pretty clueless so when he left I went up and had a chat with Ralph who was working there, got an interview and got the job. In the years since I have consistently worked in record stores and Djed. I never saw it as getting a foothold, it was just me getting on with life and the things that I liked doing.

PP: For Varme it wasn’t really. Initially, I thought that it would be a struggle as I was new in town. However seeing loads of nights appearing out of nowhere and doing well made me more comfortable with the idea of starting one.

What dominates the musical landscape at the moment?

CF: Undoubtedly house music in all its various guises. I was in Broadmead earlier and walked past a couple of shops all blaring out the same identikit house, albeit different tracks. It reminds me of how DnB used to be in Bristol about 10 years ago – it didn’t matter where you were in the city, you heard it. There is still a healthy amount of bassier stuff about and there seems to be a renewed energy for roots reggae, steppers and dub.

PP:  I can’t say there is something that dominates really. Each style of music has its own crowd and it’s wonderful to see that even though Bristol is a small city, there are several nights that put on great parties.

Do you feel there’s anything lacking? Anything you’d like to see more of?

CF: I think if anything there is a little bit too much going on. I can’t quite keep up with everything that’s happening!

PP: I’ve always been really into techno and I think that the city lacks a huge variety of techno events. Room 237 have been doing a great job since last year, however I would love to see more Minimal/Dub-Techno influenced lineups. That 90s Minimal sound has started to be popular again (with artists like Steve O’ Sullivan making a comeback) so I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that here. Also I think there are loads of nights popping off lately that do not bring anything new to the scene. Personally, I think that if you want to start a night, you have to be original. Try to book people that haven’t been in town before. Challenge the crowd if you can 🙂

Do you think that there’s a consistency between Bristol’s musical heritage and its current crop of artists?

CF: Bristol’s musical past weighs heavy on the present. It is hard for artists to escape comparisons with things that have gone on here before. I think there is an expectation of ‘bass’ rightly or wrongly. The Jamaican influence is generally mentioned. All these things have a grounding in truth but I wonder sometimes if it is just a case that we have all been referencing the city’s former glories for so long that we have come to see links even if they aren’t there.

PP: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of new artists move to Bristol because they have the feeling they could be influenced by the rich history the city has. Hopefully, it will keep going like this for years to come.

Is it possible to view everything going on under the same grouping, or is the scene made up of various disparate groups?

CF: I think it would depend on who you spoke to. Peoples conception of a ‘scene’ will be different from one person to the next. I am lucky enough to know and be friendly with people involved with various types of music. To me it seems like disparate groups who may or may not drink in the same pubs together. As a small city there are always going to be crossovers.

PP: If we’re speaking about the electronic music crowd, I doubt there are various disparate groups. When I go to parties (no matter if it’s techno, hip hop, house etc.) I always see the same people, more or less. I think nowadays, people listen to loads of music so it’s impossible to say there are people that just go to house or people that just go to disco. Most of us are into loads of music and I think this is a good thing.

What sort of response to what you’re doing do you get from the rest of the country?

CF: I’ve never really thought about that. We just get on and do our own thing. It’s nice if other people are into it, but I try not to spend my time obsessing over facebook analytics and the like. I probably should.

PP: Last year, we had a great response. Had an offer from Echo Festival to host a launch party in Bristol with Fred P. It’s great to see that people appreciate your work especially when you do it out of passion.

What about outside of the UK?

CF: We have a following in Germany, Berlin for instance. It has been good to go over there and play this year,especially the Golden Pudel in Hamburg, where Kowton and I played in the summer. It is something I would like to do more of.

PP: Can’t say we get a response from outside the UK at the moment. I have plans for later this year to start up a label and stop doing parties for a while. I have always wanted to create a platform that releases great music from talented artists. So hopefully, we will get a good response outside the UK when we do that.

Who are the most exciting Bristollian talents for you at the moment?

CF: The term Bristolian is problematic as many people here involved with music have moved here and are not originally from Bristol. I like what the Young Echo collective do, plus what the Peng Sound and Dubkasm crews do. These are people who actually grew up in the city as opposed to people like me who migrated here.

PP: Livity Sound is probably my best tip from Bristol. Their music is really special for me and it kinda reminds of the old Dubstep days. Hodge is also getting really good. His last two EPs on Punch Drunk are showing the huge talent that he has. Also he is one half of Outboxx, which is another great project I recommend. The Young Echo lot are also on my list. I love the fact they’re bringing the music that they love without thinking of the current musical trends in the scene nowadays.

Finally, where do you see Bristol heading musically in the future?

CF: I think Bristol will continue to be a place that is welcoming of musicians, producers, DJs etc. In terms of the music being produced here, it tends to be whatever London does we latch onto and put our own spin on things; making it distinct from the capital. I think the house music thing is going to be round for a while yet then we are due a DnB revival right?

PP: Hard to say really however I’m pretty sure it will be something good as it has been in the last couple of years.

Check out our review of the latest Idle Hands release, Shanti Celeste’s Days Like This/On My Own

Record Watch: Christopher Rau – Mehris Mood EP (SMALLVILLE37)

We’re huge fans of Christopher Rau over at Subsoil Blog, so naturally hearing that he’s got a new release due to come out on Smallville warrants a post.

Christopher Rau Mehris Mood Smallville

This release sees Christopher Rau at his best: lyrical piano riffs, playful basslines and health and safety vocals are all backed by a depth of texture which renders the final result far from transparent. On the contrary, Christopher Rau seems adept at getting the most out of his samples; at taking them in unexpected directions, and at giving the final result a healthy dose of longevity. It’s not just this release either. 4 years on and we’re still listening to his debut LP, Asper Clouds and always hearing something new.

On the A side of this release is Mehris Mood. This is a really solid opener, matching a lively, playful, oscillating bassline with subdued gong-like sounds in the background, faint snatches of a vocal and something approaching a chord. That all amounts to a polished final track that I can really imagine wreaking havoc on a dancefloor.

The B side begins with Friends, which sounds almost like a theme tune to a kids’ cartoon with its twinkly melody before that beat comes in, transforming the track entirely. The calm beginnings of this track make me tempted to view it as one you’d play early on, but I’m not necessarily convinced it would have no place later on in a set. Listen closely and the beat is full of little sounds to keep it interesting.

The EP finishes with Cherry Jams, probably my favourite. This one is a builder, it seems to go towards something and yet never quite gets there, but that doesn’t take away from it. An enigmatic piano motif plays over a muffled health and safety vocal, creating a trippy atmosphere that doesn’t come across as cliché. The beat keeps things moving forwards, it’s sort of broken down into its constituent parts and is complemented by an occasional drone.

Those of you familiar with Christopher Rau’s sound will greet this EP with delight; it’s more of the same and yet something new at the same time. To those of you who don’t really know much about him, Mehris Mood is as good a place to start as any. As soon as it’s out, we’re gonna get it, if not for the music, for more of that Smallville artwork!

Record Watch: Shanti Celeste: Days Like This/On My Own (IDLE023)

Shanti Celeste Days Like This Idle Hands

In the years I lived in Bristol, Idle Hands opened up in Stokes Croft, stepping in to the void left behind by Rooted Records. Idle Hands is a great store, and if you’re around, you should definitely drop in. The label is in many ways a reflection of the physical store; it releases music by names from further afield, such as Toronto’s Kevin McPhee alongside music made more locally by the likes of Kowton, Kahn and Andy Mac.

Idle Hands has been a home for the harsh, machine driven sounds of Rhythmic Theory as well as the more summery sounds of Outboxx. The label’s newest offering, made by Shanti Celeste who also works in the store, perhaps is most akin to Outboxx’s laid back groove, but it speaks as a testament to her talent that despite being surrounded by records all day, she’s managed to forge a style that is recognisably “hers.”

Days Like This/On My Own builds on her debut release on Idle Hands affiliate, BRSTL. BRSTL005 was 2 cuts of straightforward, honest house music built around vocal samples. It was a solid release, but if there’s one criticism to be leveled at it, maybe it was played a little bit too safe. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still a good release. IDLE023 picks up where BRSTL005 left off, but adds a bit more panache: the groove is more defined, there’s a clearer feeling behind each of the tracks and the production is more tight.

The A side, Days Like This, develops around one of Shanti’s vocals and is backed by some piano chords. The beat is fleshed out and a big bass comes in. It’s a perfectly balanced track with each of the elements suitably matched to one another. It’s the chords that really make it for me, they form a really infectious hook, with each phrase signed off with a nice, punchy snare.

On the B side is On My Own. Coming in at 9 minutes long, it’s a bit more of builder than Days Like This. Also built around Shanti’s own vocals, this track is however, a bit more restrained and a bit more spacious. It’s got a great laid back vibe to it and as layers of synths are added to the mix and the beat grows more sparse, it’s the B side that works on the mind, in contrast to the A side’s more danceable rhythms.

If this release is anything to go by, it looks like Shanti Celeste is finding her groove and working out how to complement her vocals to the full. A great Idle Hands release, we’re excited to hear what she’ll put out next.