Sometimes in life you just don’t think about the shelf life of a project; you just do it because you have to. And it’s only when you come to a milestone or anniversary that you actually stop, look back and think about how much time and effort you’ve invested into that endeavour. I always got the feeling that it was that type of unwavering drive that was pushing Mark Gurney and his buddies in running the 2nd Drop Records label. When something’s a true labour of love, it shows. And from the music the label’s released, all the way down to the quality cut of their house bags or the expressive design of the artwork (provided by specially picked artists) it’s always been obvious that the team behind the imprint were super passionate about their art forms.
After releasing early music from people like Pearson Sound (back when he was still the fresh faced Ramadanman) and LV, Gurney and his label partner James Bliss hit out with the phenomenally well received Seven Lies album from Djrum earlier this year, cementing their ability to work beyond the confines of the traditional 12” singles they’d favoured up until that point. It definitely marked a bit of a progression for them musically as well as in terms of format and following on from it they’ve been incredibly active in the field, sourcing records from people like Rick Grant & Lakosa and Pedestrian.
But furthermore, to celebrate the label’s 6th birthday – which is exactly the type of milestone I hinted at before, that makes you take stock of the amount of time that’s passed since they released Rama’s version of ‘Good Feelin’ – the guys are taking over Room Three for the first time, populating the mezzanine with a mixture of their label roster (Djrum and Pedestrian) and friends (Randomer). To commend the occasion properly and have it stand tall like the candle in the icing of the birthday cake we asked them a few questions and further prodded them into making us a mixtape that could help define a bit of their current outlook. With their usual brand of exceptional panache, they just this morning delivered this…
How did 2nd Drop Recordings come about? Without going to deep into it, what made you want to start putting out records?
2nd Drop Records is James Bliss and Mark Gurney at its core, with a number of superb people supporting us in many ways, from Ralph Solly to DB. James and I have been friends since the age of 5 years old, and have always loved music. After a youth record label project I ran shut down in 2007, I asked James if he wanted to start up a new one with me. He said yes. At the time we were going to FWD >> and DMZ regularly and were in the dance with the likes of Pearson Sound, Oneman, Untold, JKenzo, Braiden, LD, Rusko - who effectively evolved into the 2nd wave of dubstep or indeed the post-dubstep diaspora as it is now. So those were the producer we started to release music with.
What do you feel are some of your big achievements over the last six years?
Still being here after 6 years is an achievement in itself. Especially with the way the industry is. To have been able to constantly build and grow the label whilst navigating through an ever changing and developing underground scene by simply releasing sounds we loved and felt deserved to be pushed and shouted about. Being able to release early music from the likes of Pearson Sound, LV, Falty DL, Pedestrian, Tessela, Alex Coulton, South London Ordnance, some of the best music makers in the scene right now, is vindication we’re doing something right.
We’re also really proud of breaking our artist album cherry with Djrum in April this year. The feedback and reviews have been exceptional, and it’s great because Felix has become part of the 2nd Drop family over the past couple of years, so this release feels even more personal to us.
And it’s actually been really great to finally host a room at fabric for our 6th birthday. It’s an honour.
Do you think you’re still driven by the same impetus as when you started putting out records? Do you still get the same kick out of it?
Absolutely; if we didn't we wouldn't be doing it. We still have the same burning passion for discovering new sounds. We also get a great sense of satisfaction by nurturing relationships that result in collaborations, new music and remixes. Plus sourcing brilliant illustrators and artists for the centres and sleeves is just as important and rewarding for us.
You recently started putting out longer form releases, the Future Foundation compilation and Djrum’s album… has that been a goal for a while? To build up artists in this manner?
We always liked to think we'd eventually put out longer playing formats but had no set plan. We waited for the right opportunity. Future Foundations enabled us to test ourselves and 'cut our teeth' in the delivery of an album. That then gave us the confidence to go on to deliver Djrum's debut album, Seven Lies, whilst doing the album and Felix the justice they deserve. Trying to find artists who have the right sound for an LP is really hard. But someone like Djrum is perfect for it. His sound is super widescreen already, and 60 mins will give you so much more freedom and scope.
What else have you got coming up this year?
We're pretty rammed release wise until Xmas, so expect a pretty steady flow of music from us every month. We have a 12" from Pedestrian dropping Monday 28th (next week), which has been getting a lot of love from across the board, and one we're more than hyped about. Then a 12" from Bakradze (Aka Gacha) towards the end of August which is great. Then all being well we have a special vs. project from Felix (Djrum) plus another EP from him before the end of the year. We are also in the throws of putting together the next instalments of the Future Foundation series.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve put together?
We put it together over a couple of the hottest damn days this year! So that was fun. James and I put the tracks together, and DB engineered it all. Tunes wise, it's a bit of a rollercoaster, spanning the BPM range from 98 to 165, quickly popping by our “dubstep” roots around the 140 bracket and then finishing around the 130 mark, which we think nicely reflects the label's ethics: good music at any tempo or style.
Tucked away between a few classics from The Alkaholiks, Sammy Levi and Loefah, and a couple of our personal current dancefloor favourites, are a number of recent releases on the label. From the brilliant ‘Core’ by Lakosa & Rick Grant that has a great sound design to the afrocentricsm of Pedestrian's forthcoming ‘Kalakuta’ and oscillating tech of Backrdze's ‘The Room’. It's also really nice to introduce an exciting new collabo between Djrum & Onoe Caponoe, where he's vocalled one of Djrum's tracks from the Seven Lies album. You'll see more from those guys later in the year... and on friday night in Room Three!
2nd Drop Records - FABRICLIVE Promo Mix
Sammy Levi - Come Off The Road (Eclipse)
Djrum - Comos les Cerdos remix ft Onoe Caponoe (2nd Drop)
Special Request - Capsule (Lee Gamble remix) (Houndstooth)
Igor Jadranin - Blue Phase (Bokhari)
Bakradze - The Room (2nd Drop)
Lakosa & Rick Grant - Core (2nd Drop)
Pedestrian & Jasperdrum - Kalakuta (2nd Drop)
The Alkaholiks - Damm! (Loud)
Onoe Caponoe - Tick Tock & Where's The Sheets (Audio Doughnuts)
Machinedrum - Eyesdontlie (Ninja Tune)
Synkro - Look At Me (Djrum remix) (Mindset)
Martyn - JW on a Good Night (Revolve:r)
Loefah - Mud (DMZ)
Teddy Music - Ice ft D Double E (Teddy Music)
Delfonic & Max Graef - Second Chance (2nd Drop)
Prince Jamo - Sheep To The Shepherd (Salomon Heritage)
Djrum - Turiya (Tessela Remix) (2nd Drop)
Bodyjack - I Wanna Be (Bodyjack)
Eden Zoo - If I Recall Reclickly (Dub)