Standing tall as a producer who knows no bounds; combining the most exciting elements of techno and dubstep with finesse and a truly unique style, October is certainly one to keep an eye on. A DJ who lives and breathes analogue equipment and vinyl, his own Caravan Recordings imprint, run out of his native Bristol has, in the same breath released bass rich, frequency heavy experiments from emptyset alongside dancefloor orientated productions from artists like Antoni Maioovi, Tim Green and Jilt van Moorst alongside his own, groove heavy work.
With his forthcoming appearance in Room 3 on the 19th November somewhat epitomizing the 4x4 lean of Appleblim’s Apple Pips label – who are taking over the room - we caught up with him to talk processes, Bristol and record shopping in the recession and he blessed us with an 80 minute epic promo mix, an “all vinyl mix of pure analogue deep house and techno.”
Hi October, how are you?
I’m ok - slightly hungover, blurry eyed and tired.
You're playing as part of the Applepips takeover of Room 3 on the 19th - what's your history with Appleblim and other DJs from Bristol?
Well, Laurie and I actually met once (or maybe twice) many years ago back in the day when Pinch used to do parties in the basement room of a drum & bass night called Drive-By; held in the now closed notorious Level club in Bristol. That was at least 5/6 years ago. We met there briefly and then I never saw Laurie again till I played a free party last summer. However, that was yet another brief encounter. It was only until early spring this year that we actually became proper mates and started working together.
A very good mutual friend of ours, Oli Warwick who’s starting a new label called Smorgasbord wanted me to do something for it, but due to the concept of the label; I had to choose a dub-step all star to work with. Appleblim was my first choice and luckily he was up for working with me. So ever since then we’ve been held up in the studio together.
We pretty much all know each other really well here in Bristol. I’ve known heads like Pinch and Peverelist, before dub-step was even a twinkle in their eyes. I clearly remember the day Pinch sent me an unfinished version of ‘Qwali’; - one of the finest examples of electronic music from Bristol. Can’t forget to mention Will Gatekeeper, another amazing producer.
Im doing a few collaborations too with Kowton, Chris ‘Idle Hands’ Farrel, Borai and my label partner, James Fiddian but there are so many more DJ’s in Bristol that really deserve massive credit for molding the scene into what it’s becoming today. Richard Carnage, under_score, The Kelly Twins and the whole Cuisine crew really need to be mentioned too as they have been the backbone of the scene for years and they don’t get the cred as they deserve.
Where do you see your music sitting within electronic music genres?
That’s a difficult question as many people might think differently of my output. To me it’s just deep house; house and techno with dub undertones. I have always been massively inspired by the US sound, particularly, Detroit, NYC and of course Chicago but I can’t deny that the way I work is totally inspired by King Tubby, Scientist, Prince Jammy and the whole Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound thing.
Are genres particularly relevant to you in the grander scheme of things?
No not at all. I love all forms of music. Theirs is only good music or bad music. I can appreciate if something is good no matter its genre. I might not like it but I can still think it’s good.
What software/hardware do you use in the studio?
24 channel Tascam desk, Revox reel to reel, KEF 104 reference monitors, Sampson servo amp, TLAudio compressor, Orban parametric EQ, Patch Bay, Filter Factory Analogue Filter, Ibanez Harmonizer and bitcrush delay, Korg Reverb unit, Digitec Delay, Symetric Gate and Expander, Juno 60 synth, Crummar Synth, Casio synth, Yamaha FM7 synth, Farfissa, Horner Clavinet, Korg DD drum machine, BOSS drum machine, Buzz Osborn’s (Melvins) old Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, Electro-Harmonix Memory Man, Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phaser, Fuzz pedal, MXR dynamic compressor, MXR gainer, Horner Jazzmaster copy, Fender Jag-Stang, Klira/Framus rare german electric guitar.
I sequence it all on Logic 5.5 on a crappy PC with no internet that sounds like it’s gonna blow up on me any second. I don’t often use any plug-ins, it’s all outboard, but if I do, I tend to stick to Fabfiler EQ’s. I also occasionally have been known to use the Logic noise gate plug-in.
And what recommendations do you have for aspiring producers?
Stay away from cheap crappy softsynths and software in general. If you can’t get your hands on a piece of kit, stick to using samples. Knowing your frequencies helps too but at the end of the day, the most important aspect of making music is what goes on between the ears.
Why did you start your label, Caravan, and what is the ethos behind it?
After my brother died, I felt it was important to do something meaning full with my life. So with the help of Multiverse, I started Caravan, a label that didn’t necessarily need to stick with one genre; hence the name. I never wanted it to be just a house and techno label, I wanted the freedom to be able to occasionally release something different. Antoni Maiovvi’s ‘The Thorns Of Love’ and the emptyset album are both good examples of this. Plus we are also planning on releasing a BBC Radiophonic Drone style album made entirely on modified vintage guitar pedals by Audionaut aka Mat Sampson.
I take it you are a vinyl only DJ, where do you recommend buying records in such a digital age?
Oh this is a real tough one… if you asked me this question a few years back I would of listed a bunch of awesome record shops we used to have in this town but alas we are down to the last few strongholds of Bristol. Rooted Records needs to mentioned as it’s the only place one can buy new vinyl. If you want great second hand stuff there’s Prime Cuts. That’s about it for me and Bristol record shops; the rest of my vinyl comes from online shops like Discogs, Juno, Boomkat, Clone and Hardwax when I’m in Berlin. I gotta give Juno credit as they pretty much have everything. Its hard ordering from Clone and Hardwax as the postage is expensive so I buy from Juno and Boomkat in the UK.
What problems do vinyl only DJs face?
It depends on where you’re playing really. In Germany and certain parts of Europe and the US, vinyl is still number one, so it’s never a problem when I’m playing abroad or outside of the UK. The most common issue’s I’ve come against most is some clubs don’t feel the need to have the turntables set up properly as they are considered secondary these days. Most of the sound-checks get done with CDJ’s or laptops – and of course, due to their digital nature, have no issues with room feedback, refraction or the vibration every club suffers from, so when I stick the first record of the night on – it’s just sounds awful. The turntables have been unearthed and the tone arms are generally unbalanced and sometimes there aren’t even any needles, which is why I bring my own.
The other issues I have is with laptops, controllers and all that shit. Now I am by no means dissing anyone who plays live - most of these issues is down to space – there are simply too many different mediums of technology in the DJ booth these days and not enough vinyl. In fact the last time I went out as a punter in Bristol, there wasn’t a needle or piece of wax in sight. Depressing…
But in all honesty, I rarely have these problems nowadays. Most the clubs I’ve played in have been a joy to mix in – particularly, Cookies in Berlin, The Bunker in NYC, at Freerotation festival, Delete in Bournemouth and Robert Johnson in Frankfurt. Let’s see if fabric compares… hehe.
And what are your current recommendations on wax?
Ah there’s so many too mention! I’m really feeling Mike Huckaby’s ‘Defender’s of the Deep House World’, Murphy Jax feat Mike Dunn – the music is hot beeswax too. There’s this random 12” called MCMLXXXVII – ‘Work EP’ on an unknown label. If you could find it, it’s well worth tracking down. Also really into the new Soundstream 12” and ROSS 154, ‘Until My Heart Stops,’ is amazing too. There’s this random record by The House Nerds called ‘Let’s get Nrrrrdy’. Terrible name but don’t let that put you off, the b-side is one absolutely killer record.
Of course I’d be stupid not to plug my latest 12” ‘That Placid Track’ on Caravan backed up with an Ewan Pearson turned to the darkside version. The mix I just did for you guys showcases all my favorite records too.
What do you have in the pipeline for the rest of 2010?
We’ve started our first bi-monthly Caravan party which kicked off this Friday just gone here in Bristol at TB2. Our first guest was the incredible Kassem Mosse and we also had emptyset, Kowton, Chris Farrel and myself on the bill.
My next forthcoming 12”, which is imminent on Ewan Pearson and Sasse’s Misericord imprint, is a deep house excursion and one of the tracks features James Fiddian (Caravan label partner) on Rhodes, Bass and Synths.
Also myself and Ewan Pearson have been collaborating in Berlin – the results of which will be forthcoming on Kompakt’s latest Pop Ambient compilation under the ‘Bhutan Tiger Rescue’ moniker.
I also have another collaboration with Fiddian and Borai forthcoming on Apple Pips and a new project with Kowton and Chris Farrel, titled the Renegade Scientists forthcoming on Caravan. Also mine and Appleblim’s collaboration (which will be a regular thing from now) is forthcoming on a new Bristol label; Smorgasbord. I also have something on the boil with the mighty Geiom but that need finishing first...
Oh yeah, Chris Farrel and I have been working on some dubby bits for his Idle Hands imprint too. If any one’s in Berlin on Nov 23rd, come see myself and John Osborn play all night long at Cookies Club. I think that’s it for 2010.
Any final words?
Yeah, I’m on the market for 1 secondhand silver Technics 1200 turntable and a nice vocoder. If anyone can help just hit me up online… also I highly recommend Swamp Thing by Alan Moore! As endorsed by Appleblim and Gatekeeper. The best thing you’ll ever read – possibly… Thanks.
October - Apple Pips x FABRICLIVE Promo Mix
1. Conforce - 'Shade' (Delsin)
2. Patrice Scott - 'Eclipse' (Sistrum)
3. Mr. Fingers - 'Waterfall' (Alleviated)
4. John Heckle - 'Life On Titan' (Mathematics)
5. TAZZ - 'Lost' (Underground Quality)
6. M+M - 'M&M Theme' (Let's Pet Puppies)
7. Raza - 'Gonna Make You Work' (Millions Of Moments)
8. Black Jazz Consortium - 'Build It' (Soul People)
9. TJ & DJ Raybone - 'Gone' (Rush Hour)
10. Cultural Vibe - 'Ma Foom Bey' (Easy Street)
11. MCMLXXXVII - 'Risque Business' (Unknown Label)
12. Murphy Jax feat. Mike Dunn - 'It's The Music' (Clone Jack For Daze)
13. Shari Vari - 'A Number of Names' - Eddie Fowlkes Techno Soul Mix (Puzzlebox)
14. Unknown Artist - 'Untilitled' (Serious Grooves)
15. Roy Davies Jr - 'All I Do' (FXHE)