Just ahead of the release of my latest mix compilation I had a chat with the guys at Decoded Mag talking about Berlin, the album making process and the general quality of music being released today…
The release of Beyond Borders 2, sees you choose Berlin as the inspiration for this compilation, can you give us an insight into why you chose this particular city?
After ‘King Unique’ had chosen London as the first city in this new series earlier in the year I started to think of some of the other most influential destinations in Electronic Music. New York and Barcelona crossed my mind and then Chicago for it’s heritage, plus of course, Ibiza. But I’d just been back to Berlin for the first time in a few years and it reminded of just what a creative city it is and how much quality underground music continually comes out of there, so in the end, it was an obvious choice.
With regards to putting this together, how did you approach compiling the tracks and the order in which you sequence them in the mix?
I wanted to make sure that the album had a distinct Berlin flavour so made sure to include lots of artists and labels from the city. I think I’ve managed to do that. And there’s a good balance of new and familiar names. I also wanted to use some of the big tracks from my gig at Suicide Circus in the summer so the album had a particular time and place attached to it. Another thing I decided was that I wasn’t going to worry to much about everything having to be new and exclusive. There was a time when that was an important factor for me when doing a mix CD but one thing we’re not short of these days is a supply of new music! Plus, in a few months time when none of the music will be new anymore, it’s the quality and longevity that ultimately really counts.
How does making a compilation differ from say, creating your radio show?
The radio show is very much a rolling 60 minute collection of my favourite tracks of any given month. It’s put together in a few hours and it’s shelf life is limited. It’s transient. There’s always another Radio Therapy around the corner. Whereas a mix compilation, especially one which is going to be released on a physical format, is something that I put a lot more time and effort into as I want it to be something people keep going back to, something that stands the test of time. The other main difference of course is that for a Radio Show, I can play anything I like without permission. I don’t have to worry about licensing the tracks which naturally, makes the compilation a much more considered process.
The track list features of a wealth of talented emerging and established artists, including several from your Selador label, and artists based in the city of Berlin itself. How difficult was it choosing just 15 tracks from the many you will have been sent over the course of it’s inception. Did you find you had to continually reassess and alter what you wanted to be showcased?
A lot of the reassessment is down to the licensing issues I just mentioned. If you don’t get clearance to use a particular piece of the jigsaw, it may mean you have to re-evaluate the whole puzzle. And then of course, there’s a constant stream of new music coming in all the time, so you might want to find a way to accommodate some of that. So yes, the goal posts are always moving to some extent. Eventually though you have to draw a line and get down to doing the job in hand with the pieces you have, otherwise you could go on reassessing forever.
Continuing on from the first showcase mixed by King Unique, how do you see the series evolving, as this is a departure from Armada in terms of their overall sound? Are we seeing a shift in what output labels such as Armada are willing to focus on?
I think so. I know they’ve got plans for the next one already and I think it’s a bit of a pet project for some of the staff there that are particularly into the more underground side of things, so there’s definitely a passion for it. So yes, I can’t see any reason why the series can’t turn into a major player within the genre. They’ve certainly got the kind of infrastructure that can be very successful in whatever they do.
As we near the conclusion of 2015, what are your thoughts on the quality of music being released?
There’s always plenty of great music being released but unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder to find due to the sheer volume of releases. For me as a DJ and record label owner, the market is far too saturated with mediocre tracks. Things that wouldn’t have made it to release a few years ago are now ten a penny. Literally in some cases!
You’ve got some producers now making several tracks a week and putting them straight out there into the market place with very little consideration to quality control. That never happened before. It used to be that you’d be lucky if you got a new single from your favourite artist every 3 months. But then, with the turnover of music so quick now, why would you spend too much time and effort on something? What’s the point of spending weeks on a track that could be forgotten about as quickly as it took to make! So people just throw it out there and if it doesn’t stick, don’t worry because there’s another out next week. We’ve got to get back to a culture of less is more, quality over quantity. Otherwise we’re in danger of the whole scene eating itself.