In this industry, nobody's ears are as highly trained as a mastering engineer’s. These are the talented individuals who are routinely trusted to take an artist’s finished track and make it shine, tweaking, releasing and realising the full scope of creativity of its maker. It was as a mastering engineer that Ashley Burchett started his life in music, but he soon applied his ear for good sound to his own productions after engaging in the hedonism of London’s Lost parties and attending them at their height.
It’s rather fitting thenthat it was through Lost that Burchett would get his first break with a release on Lost organiser, Steve Bicknell’s Cosmic Records under the name, Ø [Phase]. Here he began laying down his own take on techno following them with a maintained steady slew of quality releases, but it was really when he hooked up with Ghent's Token Records, an imprint he's loyally aligned himself with since 2007, that he grew into an ever stronger presence on the European circuit.
This coming Saturday night Burchett’s been invited by Luke Slater to DJ in RM2 as part of his next Mote-Evolver takeover and despite having never released on the imprint, his sound has grabbed the UK pioneer's respect and they will be combining behind the decks for a special 5 hour back to back experience. Ahead of the weekend we took the opportunity to speak to Burchett, to properly introduce him and get to know him and his history a bit better.
You’re by no means a new comer but, for our readers who may not have come across your output before, could you begin by telling us about your first experiences with music? When was it you first came into contact with techno?
Ø [Phase]: My first exposure was through an older friend’s collection - that was Detroit techno. I was already drawn to electronic sounding music before then so when I heard techno it fitted that appeal. After that came actual clubs; seeing Derrick May, Jeff Mills and the like really cemented the love for me.
Who would you cite as your major influences, musically?
There’s lots, but to name a few: Derrick May, Kenny Larkin, Luke Slater, Robert Hood, James Ruskin, Jeff Mills, Kraftwerk, Moritz Von Oswald and DJ Funk...
Where do you look at the moment for the music that you’re most into? Like what artists, labels or regions output are you playing in your sets?
I look everywhere I can, with whatever time I have available. There’s stuff that appeals to me from all over the place - there are great artists pocketed across the planet. There a few Ukraine guys I'm really into right now: Yan Cook, Woo York and Stanislav Tolkachev. Tolkachev is an all time favourite for me in fact. A genius. My friends at Dystopian in Berlin are doing great things also. Berlin kind of goes without saying though if we’re talking techno.
So, what is UK techno to you? People definitely feel there’s a definition of it, using it as a journalistic term, but is there something a bit more cohesive you could pin to it?
Hmmm... I think in some ways, trying to pin a sound down to a region is difficult and a slight myth because it’s always based on a number of different perceptions. For example, I often meet people who think I’m German. Does that mean I am English with a German/Berlin sound or am I German with a UK/London sound? Someone else might argue that the current Berlin sound is a slightly slower version of what was originally a UK sound. There are labels and artists that come to define regions but generally I think it’s much more fluid.
It’s been 2 years since the release of your first album Frames in Reference. Have you any plans formulating for a second long player?
Without giving too much away, there is definitely stuff in the pipeline. Fitting production around touring is a challenge but something may well come together soon.
I read that in the past you’ve done the production, art and cutting of your own records all yourself. What does that mean to you as an artist, to be able to have complete control over all aspects of the release?
It’s a double edged sword a bit. On the one hand it means you can present your vision exactly the way it is in your head without any other influence. That feels nice, but on the other hand an outside perspective can be very useful. Sometimes in doing everything [yourself] you can’t see the wood from the trees (so to speak). A second pair of ears can be helpful where mastering is concerned.
Can you tell us a bit about Token – they’ve been your home for quite some time now what has made them the good platform they have been for you?
Token is run almost entirely by the Belgian DJ ‘Kr!z’ - a very hardworking and focused guy and someone who has become a good friend too. He approached me at the time of setting up the label to talk about a possible release and we developed the relationship from there. It’s those factors - friendship and focus - which have helped make it a success it think.
You’ve pretty much only released on Token since you signed for them – do you still get a lot of requests from other labels to release your tracks? Are there any others that are on your wish list of wanting to release with?
I do get some requests, yes, but I don’t have really have a wish list. There’s plenty of labels out there that I love and might be interested it releasing on, but ultimately I think it’s better to develop an identity in one or two places and not spread yourself too thin as an artist.
What’s the rest of 2015 looking like for you?
Touring is the dominating factor for me at present. I’m slotting in production around that where I can and generally trying not to burn out.