Five years on from starting his label, Last Night On Earth and before he joins two artists to shine on the label in recent years Kate Simko and Fur Coat on Saturday 28th May, Sasha walks us through the five cornerstone releases that have served to solidify its place in the scene in our latest Cornerstone Tracks feature.
1. Kate Simko & Tevo Howard – Beat Behaviour (feat. Jem Cooke)
Sasha: Kate produced the PolyRythmic LP with Tevo and this is definitely my favourite track on it. It’s especially appropriate for fabric, as it’s the sort of record you can drop in Room 1 at 5 in the morning and it would just sound like it was made for the room.
What is it about the room that makes it especially enjoyable to play there?
There’s something very unique about the way the DJ booth is designed. I know they’ve thought about it a lot, but I think it was really more of a very happy accident because of the architecture of the room. I’m sure playing up on stage gives you a very different view of the room, but the fact that the booth is kind of nestled underneath the balcony and you’re in the middle of the dancefloor, virtually at the same level, but you’re in a sort of cage that’s completely protected and you can’t see anyone’s faces. You have this perfect cocoon, and there’s something very unique about that. I don’t know any other clubs where you’re so close to the action, in the middle of the dancefloor, but also so protected from distraction. You’re in the action, but people can’t get at you and flash cameras in your face, or reach over, and because of that, as soon as you get there, immediately it allows you to get into your zone, and focus on what’s coming out of the speakers. That’s why you can play such long sets in there and time just flies by.
Is this distraction, especially with phones being flashed in your face, a huge problem when you’re touring?
It drives you nuts, but… I mean especially in those rooms that are designed to be very dark, and then people turn their camera phone on, it’s really distracting. You can’t be too shitty about it, but I do wish that people would leave their cameras in their pockets and get on and dance. That’s not the world we live in though.
2. Fur Coat - Katarsis
I was really buzzing to play with these guys. I’ve played with them a few times recently. I had them play on my boat party in Miami and they were superb, and I was really looking forward to getting something from them for the label, and having them coming down to play with me at fabric, that night’s gonna be really special. They’re just making really great dancefloor records at the moment; the perfect records for the middle of your set that can really take the roof off the club. They are really focussing on those peak-time records and they’re doing a very good job.
Is it important to have a personal connection with the artists that you release on the label?
Initially you are listening to music that fits with the rest of the label. Sometimes we’ll approach people – if somebody’s making music we feel fits the label, we’ll approach them. Other times, people send us stuff and we hadn’t necessarily thought about releasing music from them, but it just seems to work. So sometimes the personal connection is already there, like I knew Henry Saiz already, and I played his music a lot, so it was natural to ask him to make something for the label. Once a year we have a big meeting with the whole label crew, and we think about who’s making great music at the moment, so we can talk to them about making EPs for us. Obviously some people just send us stuff out of the blue, which is also wonderful. A lot of the time, when someone’s released on the label, I try and do gigs with them and build a real personal relationship.
3. Hunter/Game - Canyons
I didn’t really know the Hunter/Game guys too well, but they sent music in and it blew us away, so we had to release it. This release of theirs really helped to solidify the sound of the label. It was a peak time record that you could drop at the peak or the end of your set and yet it was still very musical and it had a lot of depths and layers of sound and melody in it. It really nailed the sound of the label I think. It came out at that sort of time when people were starting to make dancefloor records that had loads of melody in them again, like the Innervisions guys. There was this movement that seemed to decide that it was okay to use melody, and it went from being very minimal to people going back to synthesisers and analogue. It’s a record that perhaps didn’t get the recognition it deserved at the time, but when we get around to retrospectives and remixes on the label, this will be on the top of the list.
You talk about the ethos and sound of the label, but how would you personally describe this?
I don’t know if it’s something that I can necessarily put into words, or we even set out with any particular style in mind, but it just sort of happened. People started sending us sounds, and once we had released a few records in a certain vein, things like the Hunter/Game stuff, the Alex Niggemann stuff and Henry Saiz’s stuff, it all seemed to fit a certain sort of sound, but I don’t really know how to put words to it. Labels don’t seem to make any sense to me any more. The Canyons record is labeled as ‘Tech House’ on Beatport, but to me it sounds more like a trance record.
4. Henry Saiz - Moonspell
I’ve already mentioned, but Henry’s been really great for the label. He’s released a lot of stuff with us, and he’s always sending us music. As well as that, he’s become a good friend. We knew and respected each other before he started releasing on the label, and he would send me music, but since he’s released with us, we’ve done a lot of gigs together and hung out. He’s a great guy, and he always brings a big crew of people with him when he DJs and he’s got a really nice group of friends that really support his music and it’s always a pleasure having him play with us. He has a really unique sound; there’s something about the way he approaches making music that’s really unique.
5. Alex Niggemann – Tarkus
It’s probably the biggest track he’s released on the label and it’s going back to 2014, but again it was a really important release for us, because it was around that time when a lot of the techno DJs started playing melody and these lines between techno, house, and progressive house got blurred and now none of it makes any sense, but this was a record that everyone was playing across the board. I saw it pop up in charts for loads of different DJs, and again it was a peak-time record, but it seemed to crossover through quite a few different styles of DJs’ sets, which was great to see.
Do you believe that the blurring of lines that you talk of is a good or bad thing for the scene in general?
I think it’s great to be honest with you. Whenever people try to define a sound, as soon as they stick a tag on it, it’s usually gone. I mean it’s okay to call it ‘classic house’, and certain records are just straight up ‘house music’, but most of the other labels that have been attached to things, they just don’t seem to make sense. As soon as a genre is defined, people are trying to experiment within that genre and that’s the beauty of electronic music since the beginning; new sounds are always being formed because somebody does something new and then fuses that with something else. It’s constantly happening; pop will eat itself, techno will eat itself, house will eat itself, it’s that whole mentality that keeps electronic music vibrant and exciting. Who could have predicted that people would be playing records at the speed of Drum n Bass, even a year before that happened? There’s no way that people could have predicted that and it’s incredible how that whole movement grew.
We’re also going back now and looking to the beginnings of house music, and even 90s house music has had a massive comeback recently and this music is constantly eating itself and spewing out new versions and that’s what keeps it fresh.
You’ve at the five year milestone with LNOE now. What have you got planned for the next five years?
It’s five year now, I really wasn’t counting actually! I think we’re just gonna keep on doing what we’re doing. We’re loaded up with releases, and we’re having to turn down really good music, just because we haven’t got space for it on the release schedule, so I’m quite happy for it to bubble away as it is. It was never supposed to be a label that was going to be something that turned into a huge commercial thing with a big office; it just wasn’t really designed for that. It was designed for me to be able to release my own music and also to be able to break artists and nurture talent. I’m just really happy with how it’s grown in such an organic way and the sound has formed itself.
Lastly, even though you don’t play much vinyl yourself any more, is it still important to you to be releasing tracks on vinyl from the label?
We do the odd thing, but the problem is there’s such a long lead-time now with vinyl and it’s quite difficult. So many people are releasing vinyl now, you have to have everything really mapped out. We started off releasing virtually every release on vinyl as well, and it’s definitely tailed off unfortunately, but it’s just a logistics thing. Whenever there’s a really special release, we try and bring it out on vinyl too.
I really miss the days of playing vinyl actually. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about going back to playing that way. I’d definitely have to practice a lot. I just get really jealous when I see DJs at the airport with their box of records with them and I’m there with my 2-inch USB stick, maybe I’ll go back to it some day.