Will Saul, boss of Simple Records and Aus Music, is a man who likes to keep his standards high. His labels smack of class – everything from the impeccable quality of the music to his commitment to decent packaging and artwork to the writing on his websites – rarely does anything feel rushed or shoddy.
His latest compilation ‘Aus Music…All Night Long’, which demonstrates the label’s open-minded and musically embracive A&R policy, was released last week – so we caught up with Will to find out not only how it all came together, but his own productions, and some interesting plans for future labels…
Your new compilation ‘All Night Long’ has just been released. What’s the concept behind the album?
The concept of the album is to encapsulate the sound of the label - past, present and future. The past on my DJ mix of the back catalogue on CD 2, and the present and future with 13 totally new and exclusive tracks from the core roster, friends of the label and artists who we'll be working with in the future on CD 1.
We hear there is a series of vinyl releases to accompany, what tracks can we look forward to seeing on those?
All the tracks on CD 1 will be available on vinyl EPs as we love the black stuff! Originally we weren’t going to release one of the two Martyn tracks (‘Electric Purring’) or the Sideshow track on vinyl, but the demand from the shops has been so strong that we’re doing a limited edition 10” of these two tracks that will be out at the end of June.
It’s released on Aus music, as opposed to your other imprint – Simple – what are the differences between the two labels?
I started Aus nearly 3 years ago with Fin Greenall (Fink on Ninja / Sideshow on Aus) as an outlet for more leftfield sounds and to develop album artists from Sideshow and Lee Jones (also MyMy). Simple is aimed more at the dancefloor (the deeper end) and Aus is more for the home / car / headphones with the original music (although the remixes on Aus are often aimed at the dance floor). There is a little bit of crossover between the labels as occasionally Simple will go disco or get particularly deep, and sometimes Aus will drop a dancefloor bomb.
One of the most interesting aspects of the album is some of the dubstep leaning sounds in there, and the hooks up with some of that scene’s biggest players such as Martyn and Ramdanman. When did you start to become interested in that sound, and how did those hook ups come about?
I started getting really into dubstep late 2007/early 2008 when a deeper more melody centric sound started to develop. Appleblim, Ramadanman and Martyn (amongst others – obviously Burial) were right at the centre of this. I reached out to Laurie Appleblim as I’d heard he was doing a mix for Tempa, he sent it over to me well before it was released and I was blown away by it. From there on we became friends and exchanged a lot of music. He was really into Aus and Simple and was playing and charting our releases. He actually gave me ‘Sous Le Sable’ for the comp nearly a year ago but it took a while to get all the other tracks on the comp together. I also got him (along with Komonazmuk) to remix a Sideshow single with a vocal from dub/reggae legend Paul St. Hilaire which he did an amazing job with. Laurie introduced me to David Ramadanman who I think is one of the most talented producers out there. Martyn I got in touch with as I really wanted him to remix one of the other Sideshow singles but he couldn’t do it – but we kept in touch.
To be honest I got into dance music via hip hop, breaks and broken beats – essentially bassline music and Simple first started releasing this type of music over 8 years ago. I was drawn away from breaks as I felt the scene wasn’t really open to deep and interesting melodies, which was what Simple was all about. At the same time I was working in Koobla Records (which became Phonica) and getting exposed to house and techno as it was going through a resurgence (producers like Mathew Jonson were just emerging) so started making and releasing more four/four based tracks. None of it was intentional; it was just a natural progression which I didn’t think about at the time.
Appleblim & Ramadanman made a house track for the album, whose idea was that?
Well Laurie was staying at mine around the Eastern Electrics night last year as we were both playing. We were playing each other forthcoming tracks on our labels and also new stuff we’d just made and he played me ‘Sous Le Sable’ - I signed it on the spot. I really feel it’s one of the first truly fresh takes on house in ages as it’s coming from producers at the top of their game from a different scene, that don’t have any preconceived ideas / rules in their head about how a house track should sound, and are writing from the heart.
The current dubstep scene is in rude health, with a huge diversity of sounds coming from within it. What sort of condition do you think the deeper and more melodic end of techno and house that you represent is in?
I don’t think there’s as much invention going on within house and techno as dubstep, but that’s because house and techno has been around for much, much longer and has already re-invented itself 10 times over. Having said that, there’s a wealth of great deep and interesting house and techno out there at the moment. I’m really feeling dOp, Patrice Scott and Keith Worthy, Peter Kruder is back with some new material which is always a good thing, Runaway, the Ostgut Ton label, Omar-S, DJ Koze, Argy’s new material, Wolf + Lamb, Dial, Tensnake, Running Back and I could go on and on...
What have you been up to recently production wise?
I’ve just started work on my next artist album. I’m working on some vocal tracks with Paul St. Hilaire for this. I’m trying to make at least 50% of the album vocal tracks. So as well as Paul I’ll be working with Fink. There’s also a huge old Philly Soul legend that I’ve managed to contact who hasn’t done anything in years that I’m really hoping to work with but I need to finish the tracks first :) I can’t tell you who it is as nothing’s been agreed yet. I’ve also just finished remixes for The Juan Maclean’s classic ‘Happy House’ on DFA (this one I did with Mike Monday) and one for Cortney Tidwell (who I also hope to work with on my own album). Mike and I also recently remixed ‘Justify’ which is a forthcoming Appleblim & Ramadanman single on Apple Pips. I’ve been working a lot with Mike Monday – who is criminally underrated in my opinion.
What’s next for Aus, and for Simple?
On Simple we’ve got EPs from Adultnapper and Psycatron (he’s also just about to release an EP on Carl Craig’s Planet E) over the summer then singles from Motorcitysoul (with a Roman Flugel remix), Peter Kruder and I’m reconstructing my old track ‘Where Is It’ with Ursula Rucker which will feature a Steve Bug remix. On Aus there will be a single from Roland Appel in September with a remix from Runaway (DFA) then a single from me called ‘Teddy’s Back’ with a dOp Remix and an EP from MyMy which will be their first vocal tracks.
Finally, we’ve heard talk of a new label you are setting up with Appleblim and Ramadanman. Can you shed any more light on that?
It’s still at the discussion stage but everyone’s really up for it...watch this space. :)