Calibre: Behind ‘Shelflife 4’
Like a hazy sign appearing in the midday sky Calibre‘s Shelflife 4 has appeared on the long-running Signature label. As always with DM, it’s a trip off the beaten path, off to see what’s hidden beyond. Time to catch up with him in some depth.
Hello, how’s life with you?
Very busy, working with my music and being a father, beautiful and tiring, but very inspiring.
With each instalment of the Shelflife series I never know when the time frame is: so when does all the music come from? Old, new?
It’s taken from 2000 until 2013; I like compiling this series, it’s interesting to feel the changes as a producer, looking back on material isn’t always easy but I like digging around looking at older work and finding things, it’s funny and sometimes moving.
How are you changing as a producer, what set of things have crept in/crept back in?
I suppose I take my time, I am less impatient, I allow myself to live with it a little longer these days, it’s nice to listen to something new after a pause.
Speak of time and time passing… does it seem like an ages since the days of The End and that quite lovely mid-00s period, to name just one era? Not to mention back to your debut, Musique Concrète? For me time doesn’t matter like it once seemed to…
Yeah I have a sense of being part of something for a while, it’s a strange thing, a feeling that words can’t quite explain, I feel emotional about it sometimes, it seems like music marks us all in some way but its also very nice to be part of a story.
A much-loved track from you is ‘Model Way’ and it’s on this comp. What recollections do you have?
This is from 2002 maybe? To be honest I don’t remember too much, those where my drinking days… I remember Grooverider playing it at Fabio’s night Swerve at the Velvet Rooms in one of my early trips to London.
Tell us how Cleveland Watkiss and Marky came to be involved in their respective tunes, ‘Space Time’ and ‘Amen Tune’?
Well I’d actually met Cleveland with Marky in some pub in Manchester; they’d had a gig up there, and since then we always meant to do something, it’s taken a while but finally this vocal on space time was worth the wait.
The tune with Marky was done in his little temporary studio in Sao Paulo, we did it and thought meh…but it grew to be a great dancefloor tune.
On to another track from the comp: what does the title of ‘Bottles and Airports’ refer to?
I think I did this post-travel hangover, it’s not very admirable, but there you go… I wanted to say it always struck me as a great irony the sale of a highly intoxicating drug in an airport, but the first answer is correct.
Sidestepping a bit… there was a period when you did ‘non Calibre’… e.g. Shine A Light, Valentia. Is there more of this mode one day?
I have an album coming out soon on Craig Richards label ‘The Nothing Special’ it has much material that relates to the Dominick Martin stuff but it will be released as a Calibre project, and I feel like its fine for a change and a widening of my horizons so expect more of this stuff.
Your vocals: would you ever sing live, or perform live? I wonder this when I hear the ‘jazzy’ side of you, and that’s on SL4 too. It’d be cool!
I have plans for that as well, I just need to get used to singing in front of someone for the first time, it feels like waking to the edge of a cliff.
Drumming is a bit easier, I had time playing live, and I loved the way I could bury myself in trying to hold back and contain the rhythm, but to do a live version of the studio work is something I have wanted to try for a long time.
Take us into ‘Love Worn Soul’ in terms of how it came about…
The piano sample are from my first sessions in Valentia in Ireland, I have used those sessions many times, it felt so magical that time spent alone with the wind and the sea, the actual tune was made a bit later, it has that feeling of the swirl of Valentia to me
… and ‘Down on You’? This is great.
I think this typifies a period of work in the mid 00s, simple grooves and the subtle insertion of more of my high vocal, a real liquid tune.
Is there one more tune of your choice, to discuss?
I wanted to mention ‘Salsoul’ which is the oldest tune on there, I think it’s early 2000, and it was recorded on 8 track tape originally.
When I was recording with tape I only ever used two channels for the lack of space, and the magnetic tapes cost a bit more than the normal tapes so I was always tight on room and quality, as you can hear… which I love.
What other music is in your head or came to you recently: a random tune, any era/genre.
I was always a big fan of Leatherface the punk band from Sunderland, I know that recently their guitarist Dickie Hammond passed away, so I have been listening to their gravel soul of late, remembering the beauty that can be conjured from strange places.
Calibre image by Nick Ensing