Delusions of grandeur has come a long way since The Soul Part II was released in 2009… which I recall picking up in Phonica with my friend Rob one afternoon…. you’ve since passed the 50 mark last year. How would you say the label has evolved over that period?… and where do you see it going in 2016?
We’re actually due to hit our 50th release and have a lovely double vinyl release with seven tracks from the likes of Nebraska, Session Victim, Son Of Sound and Ugly Drums. It’s a good summing up of the label’s development over the last seven years taking in deep and dusty house grooves, some more blissed-out Balearic moments sitting alongside some wonderful left of centre, disco-tinged tracks to keep the dance floor energised. Initially we saw the label as a more EP orientated outlet but I’m happy to say that we’ve since seen many of our regular artists such as Session Victim, 6th Borough Project and Toby Tobias branch out to release LP’s with us.
I started collecting records in the late 80’s – mainly dub and more experimental electronic stuff from the likes of Meat Beat Manifesto, Renegade Soundwave, Tackhead, all the On-U Sound releases – but in the early 90’s I got bitten by the house music bug and labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Nugroove and Emotive became my obsession. Most of the parties going on were more on the rave side of things but I began to get asked to do occasional sets in back rooms where I could get away with the deeper stuff that I was into. I also had releases under the name Flag which came out on UK label Jumpin and Pumpin around ’91and began playing a few live gigs locally which gave me a taste for performing in clubs and made me realise I wanted to do this professionally.
DJ Koze talked about needing a decent length of set to take people on a real journey… Is it common to get a set of that length these days? do you prefer it?
Well I’d say that 2 hours is the minimum length that you can establish some kind of feeling and get your personalty across but I’m always happy to play for three or four hours if it’s a great place or somewhere I know from playing before.
The digital revolution has certainly made the financial side of running a label much more tricky. We still produce vinyl for both Freerange and Delusions Of Grandeur but the production costs and waiting times due to the decline in manufacturing plants etc make it a labour of love rather than a sensible business model! Thankfully we’ve seen a return in popularity in vinyl which means there are a lot of great, vinyl only labels emerging again and from a DJ’s perspective this helps keep things interesting in terms of making discoveries and being able to make your sets more unique by playing less easily accessible music.
What sort of music was in your household growing up?
I was really lucky with my musical upbringing as both my parents are professional musicians with great taste in jazz, fusion and soul. Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and Weather Report were always on the record player and my dad used to take me record shopping with him to a place called Star Time in Bishops Stortford where we’d both grab piles to listen to in the booths. This was how I first discovered the Streetsounds Electro compilations which were a huge inspiration for me as well as countless other young B-Boys across the country!
The back catalogs of Freerange and delusions are impressive in their own right, and with them there are a few names which continue to pop up. I assume this isn’t coincidence… can you you tell us why these artists are co compelling? (Craig Smith, Session Victim, Shur-i-khan)?
We’re very proud to have worked with all the different artists on the labels and do indeed try to build lasting relationships rather than just one off releases. I guess the common thread with artists we like to work with are that they are all very open-minded musically, have wide-ranging tastes and have great record collections from which to pilfer their samples!!
What sort of “bag” do you pack for the road these days?
I normally play from digital when I’m travelling – although mostly wavs as opposed to MP3’s – but usually bring some vinyl as well. As always, I packi heat in the form of plenty of Freerange and Delusions upcoming material as well as plenty of raw basement jams, percussion-fuelled house and maybe a tripped-out, stripped back disco edit or two.
Who have you played with recently who’s blown you away?
It’s always a pleasure to play with Session Victim. Those guys manage to make tracks that I have but rarely play or have completely overlooked sound amazing. Another favourite of mine is Rainer Truby whose sets always surprise and inspire in their variety. There was a guy called Kaka Franco who played before me at a party in Curitiba, Brazil who was really good and he stuck in my mind.