We chat to the Leeds-based DJs, producers and label owners via email about their creative process, what they’ve learned from setting up Gruuv and the changing role of the dance music producer.
Attack: Your new EP’s out on 2020Vision but you’ve mainly been releasing on your own label, Gruuv, since launching it back in 2010. How has the process of setting up and running the label been for you? Have you learned a lot along the way?
Audiojack: We’re learning new stuff all the time… We love running the label and have a strict quality over quantity approach; we’d rather not release anything than put something out which we weren’t 100% on. We don’t run the label for profit; we run the label to promote the artists and music we love. This approach has meant we’ve taken risks where others might not, which has ironically resulted in many successful releases and a lot of interested artists who dig this approach and are generally a bit tired of dealing with the profit-focused, trend-following labels.
Do you have a specific agenda with Gruuv or is it simply a way of putting out anything and everything that you like?
We don’t have a strict agenda. We’ll often be drawn by the kind of music we’re currently playing in our DJ sets but we’re not restricted to that. We want people to feel that every time they listen to a track on Gruuv, even if it’s not to their taste, they can appreciate its quality.
Have you turned down any tracks which you loved but didn’t think were right for the label?
We’ve turned down lots of tracks that we knew would go on to be hits. One EP in particular we knew would be massive and it was, but it wasn’t the right sound for the label so we don’t consider it to be a mistake.
Go on… Give us a clue!
That wouldn’t be fair on them. They’re solid producers and the music was of a good quality, it just wasn’t to our current taste. We want to stand proud when talking about our label, and we couldn’t do that if we’d put profit before integrity, even once.
Likewise, do you ever think there’ll be a time when you make a track and want to release it but don’t think it’s right for your own label? Is there any particular reasoning behind the Get Serious EP and the No Equal Sides EP coming out on 2020Vision?
2020Vision’s our home label and has been since we started. However, variety’s the spice of life and we have no plans to release all our music there. Similarly, we have no plans to release all our music on Gruuv. By releasing on other labels we can open our music up to new ears, meet new people and learn how other labels work, which is all valuable life experience. The next few original tracks we release won’t be on either 2020Vision or Gruuv, so stay tuned on that one.
We couldn’t be proud if we’d put profit before integrity, even once.
So, speaking of your original tracks, let’s talk about your creative process. How does it work in terms of who does what in the studio? Do you each have specialities?
Rich is an ideas man and Jamie has the patience for fine tuning and perfection.
What’s your approach to making tracks? Do you usually know what you want to do before you sit down to do it, or do you just go into the studio with an open mind and see what happens?
When we get into the studio we try and get a nice groove looping which would be the backbone of the track. We then separate out the different instruments and start from the beginning, moving forward along the time line like a railway builder laying tracks. Once we’ve got to the end we go back again and again, tweaking, fine tuning, adding and taking away parts until it’s right. The last part can often take up the most time but it can be the difference between a good track and a great track.
We used to search through sample banks to find something exciting that we could use for a good riff or something cool. These days our process is far more considered as we pre-plan our schedule, speak to vocalists, write lyrics and work on concepts to make sure our music has a point rather than just being some beats that make your head nod and your feet move.
Do you think that has a crossover effect on the dancefloor? Does music with a point work better in a club?
Actually, music with full vocals generally doesn’t work as well in clubs as simple, quirky, easy-to-remember one-liners. But then these days we aren’t making all our music specifically for clubs. We’ve got more to offer than just regurgitating old samples of other people’s music. We want to add something new and original to the scene with each release and feel like we have something of substance that we can look back on and be proud of in years to come.