Hailing from the oft cited musical melting pot of Bristol, Tectonic is one of the newest additions to our burgeoning FABRICLIVE residencies roster. The offspring of arch-innovator, Pinch, Tectonic has become one of the most revered imprints working in and around dubstep, housing albums from Cyrus, 2562 and Pinch himself alongside high profile technoid 12”s from Skream and Benga, 140bpm excursions from Flying Lotus and deeper work from Joker and Jack Sparrow. Constantly pushing the sound towards the deeper end of the spectrum, Pinch’s label has never confined itself simply to one style, choosing instead to harness the low end and stark drum patterns so engrained in dubstep, in a plethora of different ways.
“I always used to say that Tectonic is primarily a home for deep and heavy forward-thinking music,” Pinch explains asked about the roots of the Tectonic sound, “but I think there is a bit more to it than that - which is harder to pin-down - but could be quickly summarized as “...that I'm into!” You can't expect to shape a new sound with every release, but you can focus on putting out material that is on the fringe of what's happening more commercially, and I try to do that with Tectonic.”
“I guess what I’m saying”, he continues, “Isn’t really about being leftfield or challenging for the sake of doing so; but not being afraid to step away from the trodden path to try something new. It is a dubstep label first and foremost, but I don't believe in rules, there's only ever guidelines.”
Centred around dubplate culture and the quality of how a tune sounds over a big and properly tweaked rig in the dance; it comes as no surprise to learn that it’s a big part of Pinch’s Tectonic process to road test tracks. Cutting possibles to vinyl so he can hear the extent of the productions in an environment he’s completely accustomed to, its Pinch’s own personal barometer that gauges suitability.
“If I like how it works on the dancefloor, how it sounds loud and so on, I'll find out if it's available for the label and then look to put it out. It's a process that works for me as I get to test drive upfront material, giving my DJ sets a bit more edge and also I get to see how the tracks work on the dancefloor before committing to a release.”
Going on crowd reaction and his own eagle ear Pinch has successfully managed to position the label at the forefront of the scene since its inception back in 2005. The Tectonic imprint has become a label people look to for inspiration as well as an outlet for great, fresh takes on modern bass music that fits into Pinch’s grander vision and aesthetic. Take the latest release on the label, Brooklyn-based MC and producer Pursuit Grooves’s ‘Foxtrot Mannerisms,’ is an album that embodies Tectonic’s willingness to buck fickle genre restrictions drawing more on the touchstones of hip hop, house and soul than ‘dubstep.’
“Pursuit Grooves sent me a track over myspace ('Start Somethin') which was nearly dubstep tempo (a touch slower) which I decided to cut to dubplate and played a couple of times at the end of a set. It became apparent that most of her other music reached other genres more directly than dubstep - you can hear a lot of hip hop and housey influences in her music for instance - but it was all really good. I couldn't believe she'd not had any offers from other labels already.”
The album defiantly steps way out from what some may perceive as the ‘classic,’ rolling Tectonic sound but Pinch is confident that Tectonic’s core audience is willing to share in their vision.
“It makes me feel confident in the strength of label's following that we could carry this off. I'm also very lucky to be working with so many talented artists,” Pinch concedes. “As you build a relationship of trust with key artists you can come to trust what they want to do also and a perfect example of that is 2562 who's second LP for Tectonic, 'Unbalance', was less accessible than his debut 'Aerial' but has gone on to sell just as well if not better regardless.”
The growing confidence and support has (luckily for us) led to Tectonic joining the FABRICLIVE family, and it is certainly testament to the growth and evolution of dubstep, in all of its multifarious permutations, that Tectonic will be diving straight into Room One come Friday 11th June.
“It's a real honour to be hosting Room 1 at fabric and I hope the Tectonic vibe fits the space… I can't wait to hear the bass push through those crazy under-floor speakers you have in Room 1! I’m slightly anxious, but I’m certain the vibe will be great regardless - the line up across all three rooms is fantastic - I couldn't have asked for a better start to it!”
Given that the landscape of bass music has entirely transformed from what it was a matter of years ago, and as one of the earliest proponents of the sound outside of London - bringing the bass pressure to the already overtly active soundsystem culture of Bristol with his Subloaded parties - Pinch has witnessed dubstep’s proliferation from an insider’s perspective.
“It's a funny one”, he muses. “I always imagined that dubstep deserved to be so much bigger than it was in say 2004-2006, but these last few years have just been a blur. Dubstep is currently becoming integrated with the mainstream in a way that I really didn't anticipate would happen. At the same time though, it's maintained a more progressive side that continues to unfold new mutations and spin-off directions. Tectonic has grown with the scene in general these last few years and I'm very happy that there is a significant interest in what we put out, especially considering that some of the releases are on the more leftfield end of the current dubstep spectrum.”
Being the kind of person who looks to the future, choosing to never rest on his laurels or stagnate, there is a hell of a lot more to come from Pinch himself as well as from Tectonic in general with singles from Bristol producer Jakes, dark garage pioneer Darqwaan and the Leeds based Jack Sparrow in the wings waiting to be unleashed.
“As well as my forthcoming plate on Tectonic ('The Boxer') I've got a remix for Emika coming on Ninja Tune and a plate for Loefah's Swamp 81 imprint and a couple of other remixes on the go at the moment that will likely see light of day by the end of the year. I am now at the point where I'm thinking of my next album and starting to write some things with this idea in mind. If everything goes to plan it should be ready for next Spring... Don't hold me to that though!”
“Plus I'll be announcing a very exciting special project in a few weeks that will be forthcoming on Tectonic in the autumn. I don't want to say just yet, but it's definitely going to be the biggest thing the label has put out to date.”
To commemorate Tectonic marching into fabric Pinch has given us download rights to a recent promo mix he recorded. Download it for a taster of where he’s at right now and make sure you touch down on 11th June when Skream, Kuedo, Youngsta, Kryptic Minds, Pursuit Grooves and DJ ThinKing join Pinch to launch his label’s new home in London.