Do you remember the last time you bought a double CD compilation? These pieces of music have become so rare nowadays, that we couldn’t resist to bow to the audacious initiative of Bass Agenda Recordings head honcho Andy, and ex-Red Rhino Records assistant manager David Moss. Together they have joined their forces to bring you the "Free Real Music - Disc 1&2"; a selection of more than 25 refined cuts from worldwide Electro and Breaks artists, whether they are veterans or emerging talents. You'll find here big names such as Egyptian Lover, Maggotron, JockD and Afrikaa Bambaataa, along with newcomers Andy Clark, or OpziO just to name but a few. Ranging from Electronica to Ambient, passing through Electro Bass and even Electro Pop, this breathtaking compilation celebrates Electronic Music in its most eclectic form, but all "sit well together as best buddies"… Electro, Techno, Miami Bass, with the vibes ranging from harsh to mellow, fast to slow, dark 'n moody, to light hearted and playful” as Mossey explains.
Behind the "Free Real Music" concept hides a common wish to connect artists directly to their public, challenge the established rules of music industry and bypass the intermediaries. Starting out as a single CD project, the compilation soon expanded to a 2xCD release by popular demand from the artists themselves. Let's go deeper into this exciting project with Andy and David:
Chris Nexus 6: What's the story and genesis behind the Free Real Music project?
David Moss: Well, after initially thinking I’d miss the return of Bloc’s legendary weekender, I suddenly received an invite from Alex Bloc as he wanted me there rather than not. Seen as I wasn’t playing a set or doing much of anything I just thought it would be good to do SOMETHING whilst I was there, and after many many private conversations recently with artists and labels, old and new, about the struggle for recognition and reaching a wider audience, I thought a cheaply produced compilation CD, paid for by these labels and artists themselves but handled by me would be a great help…then I realized the scale of this task and asked Andy if he thought this was a good idea and if we could do something together on this in reaching out to the people we know.
Andy thought as I did that this, if we could keep the cost down and get enough people interested, would be a great help to the Electronic Music scene. Andy priced up the cost of production and in just 24 hours we’d filled one CD and were still getting more interested. I said to Andy we could get 2 CDs at this rate and sure enough in just over 48 hours we had enough artists and labels involved from varying angles of the Electronic Music genre that we had 2 CDs worth of music from both legends and the new guard.
Andy Barton: It’s exactly as Mossey said really. I had some fairly heavy family stuff going on so going to BLOC was off the cards for me, but when Mossey asked me about this idea I was keen to help make it happen. It was a major task given the timescale! We had spoken on and off over a couple of years about the industry and the frustrations around it and the general lack of support for electronic artists, Electro in particular. I’d say we are like minded and the whole thing rang true with the ethos of Bass Agenda – artists at the front, open to all and proactive. Running a label myself has shown me how incredibly hard it can be to get the support and attention of distributors and so on these days; something about going round all that and finding another way appealed to me. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea that ‘this is how it is’, but we need to stop thinking that way and challenge the idea that people motivated by money and trends should be the ones calling the shots – even in this tiny scene.
What were your intentions?
DM: To create a free CD compilation of new music to show the public that our scene and its artists are here, busy and producing music that deserves to be heard. Like a taster if you’ve never heard of these artists, to be given out at Bloc to the very people who love and support Electronic Music.
AB: Mossey and I both get approached a lot by people wanting to promote their music. Bass Agenda is a vehicle for that but there is only so much I can fit in. This CD project was about getting the music to people in a way that breaks the apathy caused by endless online postings and digital downloads. For me it was also about giving artists the chance to show they are serious. The whole thing was funded by them, they had to hit deadlines. I get people who contact me who expect the promo fairy to come and get their music out there. This was a project showing that the scene has motivated, creative and serious people in it who deserve to be heard. I wanted the artists involved to feel special, proud and that their work has worth – the exact opposite to how your average distributor or vinyl manufacturer can make them feel.
How did you hook up with Mossey and how did you share the work on the project?
AB: With Mossey being the one who could make it to BLOC he had the legwork to do, he had to be the one physically in touch with the CDs, labels and everything else on that side. I handled the bulk of the communication, costing etc., as well as promoting the tracks away from BLOC; getting airplay (Dave Clarke played 3 of the tracks) and broadcasting the mix that w1b0 volunteered to do. Artwork was Mossey’s baby, he truly went above and beyond the call of duty on that. Given the way we had it was quite amazing – a two disc compilation in physical format with over 25 artists, getting handed to 1000 people – 4 week process end to end! Crazy! But then that shows what motivation and passion can do vs the bullshit structures people like to build around art.
How would you describe the compilation? Musically?
DM: A varied mix of both legendary and pioneering names in Electronic Dance Music, as well as fresh talent rising up and new names to the scene.
AB: Musically it’s a snapshot of the current Electro scene, with some closely related styles (Techno, Hip Hop etc.) It captures the diversity in a scene that is made up of long serving legends, newcomers just getting started and everyone in between. The standard is very high and covers just about every vibe the scene has to offer. What I like about it is that there is no snobbery here; its people from multiple countries at multiple points in their journey doing what they love and sitting side by side on the same platform. There is no way anyone will like every single track; but if they find something new and go on to buy something by one of these guys, then it’s been a success. This is the way the underground sounds when you don’t apply any judgement filter.
What would you say regarding the track listing?
DM: It astonished us! The level of quality, the range of taste and feelings in them, the pace in which everyone responded…remember, this was conceived and delivered in just one month! Even the way both Andy and I compiled a CD each, with nothing but the order in which the tracks were sent to us to inform each of us WHAT tracks we had to put into a nice listening experience order… Andy taking the 1st bunch then myself taking the next lot of tracks to arrive… they both went together so easily and so well as to actually sound like they were picked and chosen through to create a ‘soft mix’(not mixed together, just outro to intro), when in reality we didn’t pick and choose between ourselves the tracks we liked and wanted to use on each CD at all! BOOM! It was like we’d asked for particular tracks knowing an order we wanted to put them in!
AB: Mossey is right, it was surprisingly easy to make the thing fit together. In some ways I think having the variety helps, it is harder in my view to piece together lots of similar tracks. Actually maybe it’s not harder, it’s actually just not as interesting. I loved putting the different styles alongside each other – it was a continuation of the ethos of the whole thing.
What does Bloc represent for you?
DM: This gets personal for me. I was invited to the 1st BLOC by an old friend just after I’d returned to the UK from Holland after the death of my Step Dad. I wasn’t in a good place and hadn’t seen Kieran for years... He paid my ticket and I had such a great time seeing people I only knew online, friends from way back, and new friends in the scene. The level of quality at BLOC and the vibe really got me. Seriously good quality Electronic Music from across many genres presented as a healthy mix of live and DJ sets. I later was asked to play a set at another BLOC and was gutted when the London ‘thing’ happened that very nearly killed BLOC. To see them return to the weekender style and line up Alex and George procured was nothing short of astounding for one event. That then inspired me to try and do my own part for both BLOC and the artists and labels I love who weren’t actually in attendance but whose music IS what BLOC is about…a quick chat with Andy and we were all systems go!
AB: Ironically I have not been to BLOC! Mossey has way more first-hand experience to share on that. For me it’s a massive demonstration of what the underground scene can achieve, especially in light of the problems they had in London. The line-up this year was killer, just so many talented people in one place and so cool to be a meeting point for the community that keeps this thing alive. I can’t think of a better place for the CDs to be given out at.
The project supersedes the fact it is a CD compilation. It witnesses the fact that with will and ideas, one can realize great things, in particular in the music business where many have failed. What's your opinion about this?
DM: I come from the old school, Post Punk, DIY independent music industry. I worked for and was schooled by one of the companies, both a shop and a distributor, that took interesting and little bands and labels and helped them do better….even getting a few into the old top 10 and a few to number one! That was Red Rhino Records. I see this is missing right now from independent music and my experience is why both labels and artists trust and talk to me privately about their plans, play me tracks in mid production and seek advice. I personally want to use what I learnt over 30 years working for Red Rhino, and my own experiences of gig and club promotion and radio, to try and help indie labels and acts reach further, do better and attain their true potential as makers and providers of REAL MUSIC, hence FREE REAL MUSIC and the imagery of being held behind bars.
AB: I have kind of answered this already I suppose and you are right Chris, this is more than a couple of CDs, it’s a statement by us and by the artists. I am maybe a little naïve or romantic or whatever but to me this is what underground really means – the way it came about, the people on it, the way it reached the public all sum up the authentic meaning of underground to me and the values that set it apart from mainstream culture etc.
Music business wise I am in many ways learning as I go. Mossey has some amazing experience behind him. Running BAR has and continues to teach me hard lessons. I am lucky that through Bass Agenda I have interviewed some incredibly knowledgeable and experienced people. There is no doubt the internet is an amazing tool for us all, I mean without it the CDs would never have happened in the time we have. The downside I think is that it’s making people feel limited in their options and like there is only one way. I feel it too – it’s like Facebook is the only promotional tool there is! Realistically we probably reach the same cluster of people every day on Facebook. Some of the ‘older’ ways of doing things still have a place but because they are harder, require more effort, etc., they get left behind. I cannot claim to be an expert in any of this, but I am up for trying different things to move things forward as best I can.
Thank you guys!
OpziO talks about the project:
“The Free Real Music" concept has worked really well for my OpziO track ‘Cryo Baby’. This track was originally produced in 2012 and gathered some nice Soundcloud comments at the time, but like all things its hard to keep up DIY promotional momentum. So David and Andy’s idea to get a CD out there at BLOC Weekend struck me as a great move. It was clear throughout a lot of work, talent and know-how went into the production, and all artists were kept involved through a dedicated Facebook group.
At the BLOC event, David worked hard to distribute the CD to the right people, with Andy providing an online resource for the tracks too. Within a few days ‘Cryo Baby’ turned up on Dave Clarke’s “White Noise’ radio show. Since then it’s been picked up by Luke Slater and Mark EG, plus people are playing it online.
The project has taught me that you can get a signal through the noise with the right approach. There’s a lot of skill and experience out there, but often many people play their cards close to their chest. Free Real Music has proven that collaboration and teamwork produces a superior force!”
About the release:
Following Lectromagnetique and w1b0's overtures, CD1 offers deep workouts from Canvax, Pi-xl and Keith K Hopewell. Will Web, SIAK and OpziO coming next pave the way to harder mechanical experiments, while Gangway Invasion, Rab Achinplus, then Darkmode provide dark Electro cinematic horror disturbances! Finally, BBUCHH concludes the first salvo of Electro tracks with intricate “Renegade”.
On CD2, legendaries The Egyptian Lover and Maggotron move on with two epic slaughters on an offensive mission to make you dance. After a couple of uncompromising songs by achim.bloch and Alavux, Andy Clark, then Axon distillate some weird advanced psychedelic space disco music. LBE, Miotek, and O.K.irky instantly following give you an appointment on the dancefloor with three severe cuts. Before the disc ends, Robodrum reminds us that "Electro House Is Not Electro" whereas Jerry La Flim turns Analogous Doom's "Serving A Vector" into a funky tune.
As a conclusion, we get back on form with two remixes from Scarper and Erik Bullon respectively of Gouiseion and Kontakt Ende’s tracks.
Available only to the 1000 Electro freaks at 2015 BLOC festival, "Free Real Music" was downloadable for a limited time as a free (but incomplete) digital edition with tracks from the full physical version except a few ones restricted to the CD format only.
The music industry has still something creative to offer!
Interview and brief release overview by: Chris Nexus 6