Posts Tagged ‘Ubermax’

Kevin McKay

By Sigmund K

On the 5th of July, Ubermax returns to the lazer basement with Glasgow Underground’s boss Kevin McKay, a man who has been in the industry since the ’90s and who has, amongst other many achievements, discovered Mylo, and released steadily throughout the decade on his own label. In the ’00s, Kevin spent most of his time managing the career of his artists, releasing only a few records on GU, until a couple of years ago when he decided to re-launch the label and do what is the most important for us; release amazing music. We asked him a few questions ahead of Ubermax…

Kevin, you decided a couple of years ago to re-launch Glasgow Underground (GU), which looks like a brilliant decision when we look at the quality of all the new releases. It seems that your whole career has been fed by the need of picking up new challenges, was reviving GU a new challenge or did you feel that people were getting back to the older house sound?

I think that’s part of the joy of working in music. You’re never allowed to rest on your laurels for too long: the scene changes too quickly. There is a real change-or-die mentality that runs through the music business. Obviously you see that everywhere to some extent, but in music I think it is all the more evident. Luckily I get bored quite easily so I’m always looking for new things. I signed Mylo and set up Breastfed partly as a reaction to how serious house music had become. This time round it’s a bit different. I had spent the last four or five years doing too much of the business side of running a label and wanted to get back into the creative side. Glasgow Underground had put out the odd release since 2002 but I hadn’t really done anything with it due to my commitments to Mylo and Grum. I was also really enjoying where house/dance music had ended up post minimal and electro and so when I started making tracks again, it seemed like the perfect home for them.

GU has recently launched a series of compilations, with the first edition mixed by JD Twitch from Optimo. Can you tell us a bit more about this project, and can give us some hints about the rest of the series?

I love compilations but there are so many fantastic ones that people can get for free these days from the likes of RA, Fact and Data Transmission that the idea of putting up something for sale just because it’s a great selection of music seems a little out of date. As well as this, dance music is now a truly global phenomenon. As a DJ in the ’80s and ’90s you might come across the odd record from outside of the main dance music strongholds; the UK, the US and mainland Europe, but it was rare. Nowadays there are thriving dance scenes from Melbourne to Mexico City with their own collectives of DJs and producers. I wanted to create a compilation series that reflected this and gave the listener a kind of audio rough guide to a city’s underground scene. I started with Glasgow as it’s probably the city I know best. Keith/Twitch is a brilliant DJ, has great taste in music and was using Ableton at Optimo when a lot of laptop DJs were still at school. He also stands above the cliquishness that often permeates through Glasgow’s club scene. Those reasons meant he was the best person to give an eclectic, inclusive snapshot of the homegrown Glasgow club scene in 2013. 

In terms of future editions, there are loads that I want to do but I also want to make sure that I get the right people to do them and if that means waiting for DJs/producers other commitments to finish before I get to do a certain city, so be it. Hopefully I’ll be able to announce the next volume soon.

The Glasgow scene looks like it is exploding, and exporting more and more young talents. We are big fans of that scene at Ubermax as our past guests include Ooft! and Sei A. What do you think is Glasgow’s role in the global dance scene?

I hear a lot of DJs cite nights in Glasgow as some of the best DJing experiences they’ve ever had, so I guess on one level, Glasgow provides the kind of hedonistic underground scene that delivers world-class DJ experiences. Not that I’m gloating about Glasgow, its just that in a city that doesn’t boast the riches of London or New York, where it seems to rain for 11 and a half months of the year and where the population apparently have the highest rate of heart disease in the world, there has to be one good reason to live there.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned from starting out as a DJ and producer in Glasgow it’s how important it is too keep your feet on the ground. There’s a healthy you’re-only-making-dance-music-son-it’s-not-a-cure-for-cancer style reality checkpoint awaiting anyone who starts putting on too many airs and graces. It is also a common Scottish trait not to praise people for fear that “they will get too big for their own boots” and so when you do get props, you know it’s truly well deserved. And while I don’t think a lack of praise is the best way to encourage new talent, I do think that people that come through the Glasgow scene retain a down-to-earth-ness that can be lacking in well-known producers from other places. 

Over the years you’ve been an excellent spotter of new talent. Are there some young artists that you really like at the moment? Or that will appear on GU and that we haven’t yet heard of?

Cheers! I really enjoy the A&R process. There are a few producers from Glasgow that I really like right now. Some (and hopefully all) of these will appear on Glasgow Underground in the future; Barrientos, ThoseBeats, Mermaids. Outside of Glasgow we have a single due from London/Bristol based Bxentric that Cosmic Kids, Phil Kelsey and I have remixed and there’s a new producer from London called Lumino who’s also recording for Danse Club and has an EP due on GU. As well as that, there are loads of people not on the label that I’m into. I do a monthly radio show on www.sceen.fm that archives on the Glasgow Underground Soundcloud and you’ll find loads of new music and producers on that.

Let’s talk about London now… What is you experience of London as a DJ? Can you tell us your best and worse London gig memories? 

I haven’t DJed in London for a while so I’m really looking forward to it and in terms of experiences, I’ve never had a bad one in London, I guess I’ve just been lucky. My favourite place to play in the past was a straight tie between Kenny Hawkes and Luke Solomon’s Space @ Bar Rhumba and Harri’s night at Plastic People (when it was on Oxford Street). 

What are your next challenges for the future?

Keeping working in music and having as much fun as I can doing so!

Join Kevin McKay this Friday 5th July at Dalston Superstore for Ubermax from 9pm – 3am.

FIFI

Miguel Dare takes over the top bar tonight for Truth Or Dare. With a live PA from the legendary Feral Is Kinky and DJ sets from Rowdy Superstar, Mark-Ashley Dupé and Joanna aka FIFI it’s a perfect match with downstairs Ubermax party with Greg Brockmann. We spoke to FIFI ahead of Truth Or Dare to quiz her about her thoughts on the crossover between fashion and DJing…

How does your classical piano training translate into your current DJing style?

The impact of my classical piano training on my current DJing style is mainly technical. Piano playing develops hearing awareness. When you play piano, you train your ear to hear pitches and tones in relation to one another and  you learn to understand the rhythm and how music is put together. When I decided to learn how to DJ it came easily as I already knew all the technical aspects , it was just a matter of getting familiar with the equipment and type of music I want to play.

Vinyl or digital?

I learned how to DJ on vinyl. I loved the fact that you can feel the bit under your fingers. Unfortunately most of the clubs where I play don’t have vinyl decks anymore. I had to adapt and switch to CDs, which on the other hand  gives me easier and wider access to the tracks that I want to play, as the majority of music is available online.

How much music crossover do you get with your day job in fashion?

A lot! On a daily basis. Music and fashion are  inseparable, both celebrate and encourage creativity and the expression of the self. Most musicians consider their fashion style as important as their musical credibility. They manifest the personality of their music into what they wear, and how they wear it. In my fashion job I was lucky to come across some of the brightest stars of the decade like Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce, Kanye West, Mykki Blanco and many more.

The other obvious manifestation of the collaborative spirit with music in my fashion job is catwalk shows and fashion films. The perfect song has the power to convey the aesthetic of a designer’s work in ways which presenting the collection on its own cannot.

What’s your favourite track to end the night or your set on?

Pendulum – Tarantula. It works for every crowd. It’s hype; people love it, know it and go crazy when its on. It’s classic and it’s never failed me!

Join Joanna aka FIFI for a game of Truth Or Dare tonight, Friday 1st March at Dalston Superstore from 9pm – 4am.

Ooft!

Glasgow based house producer and DJ Ooft! aka Ali Herron hits up London town next weekend to join us in Dalston for Ubermax. In addition to making his own deep house, Ali also runs the small UK label Foto Recording that’s previously released acts such as Cole Medina and former Ubermax guest Medlar. 

Known in part for his work with fellow Glaswegian, The Revenge, Ooft! has been steadily gaining more of our attention, and even recently appeared on one of our favourite NY radio shows, Beats In Space. We caught up with the man himself to find out what we can expect from his laser basement set, his feelings on his hometown and more…

What’s in your record bag for Ubermax?

I always pack a mixture of house, disco, soul, and some slower stuff so that I’m prepared for most situations. At the moment I’m particularly feeling tracks from Deetron, Lauer, Daniel Solar, Nick Nikolov and more. There are loads of great tracks kicking around at the moment.

Why did you decide to set up your own label, Foto Recordings and what’s the label’s defining feature?

The main reason I set the label up was simply as a vehicle for releasing my own music. As time has passed I’ve ended up putting out music from other people but mainly close friends of mine. As such there is no defining feature… unless you count ropey artwork!

Foto Recordings artwork

What are your favourite UK labels (other than your own!)?

UK wise here are a few super-consistent favourites: Wolf, Delusions of Grandeur, Use of Weapons, Firecracker, House of Disco, Seven Music, Extended Play, and Disco Deviance. Pretty much every release always has at least one track I really like and end up playing loads.

Anything exciting due on Foto for 2013?

Absolutely nothing! My main aim was to get four releases out over 2012, which should hopefully happen when the next OOFT! EP comes out at the beginning of December. After that I haven’t made any plans for the next phase. We’ll see which way the wind blows!

You were recently on renowned NYC radio show Beats In Space- how did that go and are you happy with the show you did?

It was great fun, really easy too considering it’s a long time since I’ve done any live radio. Tim Sweeney is a consummate host. I thought I was only on for an hour before we started but it was 90 minutes so I managed to get plenty of my favourite tracks played and am pretty happy with the results.

[Listen here]

Who are your all time house heroes?

I could reel off the usual suspects like Lil Louis, Romanthony, The Nightwriters etc but my biggest influence has definitely been two DJs from Glasgow – Harri & Domenic. They have played together every Saturday night at the Sub Club since 1994 and have been my inspiration and education in all things house. I think most artists from Glasgow would be hard pushed to say anything different. 

Describe your relationship with The Revenge…

We’re really good mates with a shared love of music. He was my main production mentor and helped me to learn the basics of music production as I was a DJ with no clue how to do anything! We worked together as OOFT! initially a few years ago before he got too busy with his other projects, but luckily by that point I’d kinda learned enough to continue working on my own We’ve recently started DJing together a lot more again after a long time time flying solo with our monthly Instruments Of Rapture parties back in Glasgow (with Craig Smith from 6th Borough project too).

Where do you go out in your home of Glasgow? What venues and nights are really doing it for you at the moment?

I’ve said this in other interviews before but we’re really spoiled for nightlife in Glasgow considering its small population. There are five or six solid underground nightclubs, of which the Sub Club is my favourite (because it’s the best!). You can basically take your pick most weekends as there will be three or four decent nights on every Friday and Saturday.

Why do you think Glasgow has got such a good dance music scene?

It’s a hard one to pin down but I think the city has traditionally had the weekend socialising scene for many generations where young people would go out to drink and dance the night away and forget about their jobs looming on a Monday morning. This tradition allied to disco, house and techno (and all the newer offshoots) makes for a very potent combination. When it goes off in Glasgow, you know all about it!

What made you want to start making music?

It started off the back of DJing really. I had some favourite older records which I found very hard to mix as they didn’t fit in with the rest of my music. So I started experimenting with basic cut and paste editing of a song so I could get it into my set. Fast forward eight years or so and it has all just grown organically from there! 

And what one song brings you instant nostalgia for your childhood?

Any track off Tina Turners greatest hits, Chris Rea’s New Light Through Old Windows or Survivor’s Eye of The Tiger off a compilation called American Heartbeat. These were the main cassette tapes in my folk’s car stereos! Heady days.

Ooft! joins us for Ubermax on Friday 23rd November from 9pm – 3am with Sigmund K and Eugene & Mortimer. 

5 Minutes With Ed DMX

Drum Circus takes over the top bar tonight with Ed DMX of DMX Krew fame! An extremely influential artist who’s released on respected labels such as Warp, Rephlex, Ghostly, Fresh Up and Permanent Vacation; his work spans various styles, from hard techno to electro and even taking in synthpop. We managed to pin down the eclectic and enigmatic Ed for a five minute chat before his set tonight…

EDMX – Cerberus from EDMX on Vimeo.

You’re named after the Oberheim DMX drum machine… what’s been your most recent hardware purchase?

Some new Doepfer modules for my modular synth.

Can you distill into one sentence why analogue is important to you?

It sounds nice, it’s fun to play with and I can get the sound I want very quickly.

In a 17+ year career, what’s one record you’ve made that stands out for you for whatever reason?

Galaxy Love because it’s the newest one :) and the vocals are in tune for once.

You’ve been pretty vocal over the years about your love of music generally and your dislike of “genres”. What sound will you be aiming for with your set at Superstore this Friday in that case?

They told me the idea of the night is “guilty pleasures” and while I’ve never been ashamed of liking what I like, I guess that means playing stuff you can’t normally play in a club set. At the same time, it’s a Friday night gig in a bar so I guess I’ll aim for the more camp end of disco, ’80s favourites, maybe a spot of dancehall, ’90s r’n’b… a bit of everything as usual but no hard techno!

And what one record, either by yourself or not, can we expect to hear?

Work It by Missy Elliot.

Ed DMX plays Drum Circus with Pony Girl (Endurance), Ian Robinson in the top bar whilst in the basement it’s Ubermax with Adeline (Get Physical), Kais, Sigmund K and Eugene & Mortimer tonight (Friday 12th October) from 9pm – 4am.