Chatting Ish with SpectraSoul
Since the inception of their Ish Chat imprint, SpectraSoul have proven they’re inspired as ever, and on a serious mission. The objective it seems is to release some of their best work to date, an objective they are well and truly smashing.
The third release on Ish Chat comes in the form of the sublime Second Chance EP. 4 crucial cuts – all killer, no filler – once again flaunting their versatility as producers, striking the perfect balance of styles in classic SpectraSoul fashion. From liquid gold to to halftime treats like this absolute gem…
Out today, it’s essential listening. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to catch up with the Brighton-based duo to chat about the release, the advantages of running their own label, and what to expect for the rest of the year…
Ez fellas! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Where have we caught you today?
Jack: Dave has just got back from Thailand after going off to find himself for 6 weeks, so we’re just catching up and making plans at the studio.
Your Second Chance EP has dropped today… Been rinsing this one for quite a while! Big ups on another stellar release. It truly feels like you’re as inspired as ever. Has your approach to releases changed drastically since the inception of Ish Chat? I’d imagine there’s a lot more pressure now you’re responsible for every aspect of the releases, so does that impact how you approach them conceptually?
Dave: Thanks! The pressure is actually off. We can indulge a bit more and try things out. With this EP series we’ve been doing, we just take our time and when we have a set of tunes that fit together, then we set a date and release it. Musically, we’re just enjoying what we’re doing at the moment. The freedom is great.
It certainly shows in the music! It’s been really interesting watching the imprint evolve.. This’ll be the 3rd EP on the label, what’s been the biggest advantage of starting your own imprint thus far?
Jack: The freedom, and the ability to take control of every single aspect of releasing our music; the art, whether we want to do a video, the promo plan, the affiliations we make, the branding. It’s an interesting time. People are taking control of their own path. Us, Lenzman, Alix, Breakage and others. I think we all realised, around the same sort of time, that we had strength outside of the usual go-to labels – it was simply a case of a trade-off between having their networks and stability vs. us having control of our output.
What have you found most challenging, then?
Dave: Initially, it was just tricky setting it all up. But now it’s up and running, it’s really simple. We have a great relationship with the guys we work with and they bring a lot to the table in terms of distribution and contributing with advice for manufacturing. The trickiest thing is probably the A&R side. We have to trust our own judgement of our own tunes, which isn’t always easy. Being objective about our own music can be tough! Arguably though, since we don’t run our label for the sole purpose of profit, our decisions are more pure, and hopefully that is represented in our output so far!
100%! Has having control of all aspects of running the label given you a fresh take on the industry?
Jack: We’ve always tried to do our own thing, right from the very beginning. We now operate outside of the industry. We are our own industry. The only time we come into contact with the wider ‘industry’ is when we come to actually release any music. We’ve been fortunate enough to build up some good relationships with the right people and so we never seem to fall into any of the stereotypical pitfalls of the music industry.
Back to the EP, anything in particular inspire the title?
Dave: The vocal, ha!
Fair play! 😉 Second Chance is a seriously lush, mesmerising roller for me… I want to ask what inspired it, as well as the other tracks on the EP for that matter, but I often feel funny asking questions about inspiration behind tunes to be honest. Do you ever really sit in the studio and have a preconceived notion of how you’re going to approach a particular tune/ release, or is it always a case of bouncing various ideas between yourselves just until something fits?
Jack: The simple answer is no. We’re very process based. We tend to sit down with a bag of samples or sounds we’ve made and just take a little journey. Inspiration is difficult to describe or pin point. Sometimes the process is inspiring, and sometimes we do have an idea of the kind of thing we want to work on. Sometimes, when everything just falls into place, that is inspiration enough to keep going and keep moving.
Take us behind the concept for the Second Chance video…
Dave: Jack’s friend Tom had been in touch about doing something for us. He has a great eye and is constantly collecting images. He focusses on small details and makes them beautiful. The concept was to focus on loneliness and the contrast between rural and urban environments. We’re really happy with how it came out. We really pushed him to try some whacky and weird ideas and he really went over and above.
What strikes me most about this EP is how diverse it is. From lush liquid, to half time gems like Beat Keeps… Your versatility and ability to switch styles so flawlessly has always been incredibly impressive. Has this always been intentional, or an inevitable by-product of your eclectic taste?
Jack: We get bored easily. We need to keep moving and trying new things all the time otherwise we get restless. Again, this has been a theme throughout the first 3 EPs on the label. We really want to showcase whats going on in our studio. Day to day, we jump around and switch between projects. Also, it should be said that the D&B tempo is just so versatile. It can’t be said enough. There is so much scope. It’s just about trying to push a bit and find a bit of space we can call our own. Maybe we’re trying to do too much!
I say keep doing what you’re doing! On & On is a bit of a heartwrencher. Is there a backstory there?
Dave: If only I could give you one! To be honest, that one came together really quickly. It all just fell into place. We never plan things, and if you asked us how we did something retrospectively, we probably couldn’t tell you. It’s just not the way we work. We wouldn’t approach a session saying “I really want to write a heartwrencher today”. It just doesn’t happen like that. We just react to the process we’re working with, or the samples in front of us, and we keep it moving!
Fade Away is a crunchy little beast. Have spent too long nodding furiously to that one! Seriously tight production…
Jack: I wish we could take all the credit for that one, haha. We had the Fourward guys polish off the mix on that track. I’d gotten it to a certain point, and I just wasn’t quite happy enough with it. Again, it comes down to objectivity. I couldn’t stand outside of it, listen to it, and know what it needed.
We’re not hung up on being the loudest or most technically gifted when it comes to mixing. We care much more about the music. With this EP though, we were up against it time wise and had to mix all 4 tunes in under 2 weeks. It wasn’t going to be possible. TeeBee helped out too! His buss mixes really did add the extra 10/15% that was needed at super short notice. That said, this was the first occasion we had help!
No shame in that at all! Being at the helm of your own imprint obviously means you can be super selective about where your music goes pre-release… Do you think it’s important to uphold dubplate culture as much as possible in the current climate where a lot of us are constantly sent promo after promo, somewhat saturating the quality of releases?
Jack: I haven’t checked a promo in months. The idea that hundreds of others have been sent the same release in one fell swoop just doesn’t get my juices going. Maybe i’m stuck in an old-school mentality, but when I used to go out to see a DJ, I wanted to hear music that I couldn’t hear elsewhere. Nowadays, I like receiving music direct from other artists in the same way that we supply our music directly too. It keeps us talking. Plus, we have a tight little group of people who trust each other and send out months in advance, not a few days. That means we can all rep music we believe in way ahead of time. The trouble arises with radio/ premieres/ online, but that’s another story…..
Dave: It’s good that its coming back to artists sharing music amongst each other, and we’re all supporting each other’s projects. It feels more personal, and it feels like more of a ‘movement’. This protective attitude over music is damaging things.
I need to touch on the Elliot Moss bootleg you did recently as it’s such a beautiful piece of music. How did the bootleg come about?
Dave: I think I was sample hunting and stumbled across the track. I wanted to shape it into something new but, as it turned out, it was just too close to the original and we didn’t want to stray too far from that vibe either.
Jack: I turned up at the studio and Dave had the basic loop running. I knew straight away what I thought it needed, made a few changes to the arrangement and added a couple of sounds and that, as they say, was that. It came together really quickly. That’s what’s good about the way we work. Dave can be objective about decisions and directions i’m taking and vice-versa. Two heads are better than one.
Jack, I’ve only recently learned that those were your vocals on From the Jaws – well played, Sir!! Have you experimented with your voice before or was this a totally new thing for you?
Jack: It took a lot of work to get it to sound like that, let me tell you! We just get sick of waiting on vocalists. One afternoon I just had a little hook in my head and I just thought fuck it and set the mic up and did it myself.
I’ve done a couple of other tracks for another project, and some backing vocals on a couple of the new SpectraSoul records we have coming up, but its not something I spend much, if any, time on.
Now the label is established with a few releases, have you thought about bringing other artists onto the label?
Dave: We’ve thought about it, but for the foreseeable future it will probably remain as a platform for our own music & collaborations. Not saying it will never happen, but we’ll play it by ear.
So where to from here? What can we expect from you guys for the rest of the year?
Dave: After the ‘Second Chance’ EP, we’ve got a special collaborative project lined up which will be released in April. It’s super hush-hush at the moment, but keep your eyes peeled over the forthcoming weeks….
Jack: Aside from that, we’re just weighing up the possibility of SpectraSoul album number 3. We’ll be right back….
Ooooft, bring it on! Big ups guys!
The Second Chance EP is out now on Ish Chat, get it here.