Since Kevin Griffiths’ 2012 Tsuba Records tour is just a couple of weeks away, Metric caught up with the label boss himself for a bit of a chin-wag…

Hi Kevin, thanks for taking the time out to have a chat with us. Your Australian Tsuba Records tour is coming up this month, with appearances in Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne. This is now your fifth tour to Australia, what do you enjoy most about coming back to Oz?

I do love the place there’s no question & my wife is Australian so there’s always been a real connection. The scene is smaller but the enthusiasm more than makes up for it so I really look forward to each tour.  Some of the best music around is coming out of Australia at the moment too with the likes of Mic Newman, Tornado Wallace, Nil by Mouth and The Carter Bros. Musically Tsuba seems to fit really well and matches the sunshine vibe I think. London can be a bit jaded at times and even though everyone raves about Berlin, I could never live there and genuinely have had better gigs down under.

What are some of the high-points of the times you’ve spent down-under so far?

Brisbane is always fantastic for me and the date I usually look forward to the most. Can’t wait for the boat party this time, which is always something a bit different and exciting. Sydney is always fun and this time I’m playing at the new One 22 club and then a Sunday party which I hear great things about. In Melbourne I’m playing alongside Mic Newman so its a real Tsuba affair. This time around i’m not making it to Adelaide which is shame as I love playing Sugar, the only club I know with a Bozak mixer.

We’d like to think it’s Brisbane… but where’s your top spot to play in Oz?

It is! This will be my fourth time back at Bar Soma so I’m practically a resident ;-). Adam and Rikki are fantastic hosts and there’s usually many laughs to be had, as well as some of the biggest steaks I’ve ever seen!

We’re all pretty familiar with your exploits with Tsuba Records, which hits 6 years running this year, but we’d like to know more about where it all came from, how did you get into it originally?

I’ve always been a record collector and a DJ, but my entry into the industry was from the business side of things and I’ve got many years experience in running labels and music distribution. I was head of label management at Amato for a few years, at the time the largest distributor of vinyl in the UK, and looked after labels including Freerange and 20:20 vision, before going on to run Fine Records (Tiefschwarz label) and then starting Tsuba. The industry has totally changed in that time and vinyl sales are a fraction of what they used to be. Bigger labels would regularly sell 20,000 but now its mostly 500 runs, so its actually a bit of a cottage industry now for most labels. I have an office at home and practically do everything myself so my overheads are very low, which is the only way its a viable business.

Who & what sounds inspired you in your early days? Do you feel these influences come though in your productions and selections for the label?

I went through a big Sasha and Digweed phase going to all the Bedrock parties (and Babelicious which was the night preceeding Bedrock) and Renaissance in Derby. At the time they were streets ahead of anyone in terms of mixing ability and skill, it was literally 2 decks and a mixer, not like now where technology has made it possible for anyone to DJ. They would hold mixes for several minutes and create a unique vibe in the process so it was quite a magical time in that respect. I challenge DJ’s now to try that on vinyl! In those days they were playing lots of US house from labels like Tribal and in the UK Weatherall’s Sabres Of Paradise & Guerilla so it was amazing music, but the breakdown’s started to get longer and the music quite grandiose which really turned me off. In search of something less dramatic I really got into Nuphonic, Soma, Paper Recordings and Classic which is the sound I’ve stayed with ever since really – emphasis on groove and melody with a timeless feel. When producing I try and follow that path and my next musical project is something much slower and not so clubby along those lines.

Can you tell us a little about your label offshoots – Tsuba Colours & Tsuba Limited?

Tsuba Colours has more of a classic deep house vibe with each one on coloured vinyl with matching sleeves and shrinkwrapped. I’m coming up to number 10 now and will be doing a retrospective comp in January next year. Looking back I’m really proud of the catalogue which includes some real classics – mixes from Larry Heard, Steffi and Sashca Dive and some timeless originals. Sascha is doing number 10 which includes two incredible mixes from Merwyn Virgo Four that I’m more than a little excited about. Tsuba Limited is my vinyl only label, which is a definite labour of love as they make little money. Musically its a bit more underground and covers techno, jackin’ house tracks and some deep house. They are all numbered and handstamped so are hopefully a bit more collectable & generally speaking I find these releases easier to do as I don’t need to think about the more unpredictable digital market. Milton Jackson is the next one with 3 really great trax, then its Creative Swing Alliance and a 4 track V/A EP, so again the catalogue is building really nicely.

The label has had a bit of an image refresh of late – what inspired this and does it have a connection with the name ‘Tsuba’?

Yeah I got a bit tired with the old look so the logo was tweaked slightly and i started working with a new designer who introduced some amazing sleeves based around vibrant colour and geometric design. This co-incided with a new website including a shop based around this design so overall I’m really happy with how Tsuba is now presented. The update is not so much connected to the name Tsuba, but design is increasingly important for me and it feels like there’s a strong theme and direction to follow for the next few years. Having the shop has been a revelation and I was really surprised by how many people want to buy vinyl direct and support the label.


What can we look forward to from Tsuba over the next year?

On the big Tsuba there’s new EPs from Okain (with a killer Gerd mix!), Quell, Hector and the next Tsuba Samurai EP with two killer tracks from JMX and Moodtrap confirmed so far. Moodrap is a project from two established producers which is exclusive to Tsuba and there will be another single from them after the summer. Putting projects together exclusively for the label is something I’ll be doing more of in the future. Huxley is having a fantastic year and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and he’s currently working on another EP. Add in the Tsuba Colours and Limited releases and 2012 is another busy one.

You’ve started a series of secret warehouse parties in London this year, already hosting friends of yours like Spencer Parker and Sascha Dive… What plans have you got for these, & do you enjoy running parties like this as much as running the label?

I used to be a promoter about 5 years ago & had a night called ‘issst’ which was originally with Tiefschwarz, so did many warehouse parties which in the end was quite stressful. It made me realise I didn’t want to be a promoter on that scale, but I’m back doing it again! Its different this time around as there will be less events, based around getting the right acts rather than being committed to doing a party every month.  The first party was a real success with over 600 people in the freezing feb weather (it was -8 outside!) and on 12th May Steffi and Huxley are the guests so thats sure to be another good one. As a serious label these days you need to do parties, but to answer your question I much prefer running the label.

Thanks for having a chat – we’re looking forward to your appearances in Brisbane on Saturday April 28. Enjoy the tour and see you then!

Very excited to be playing for you and looking forward to a cold one (or two ;-)).

Subtrakt and Metric have joined forces to host Kevin Griffiths on Saturday 28th April. Boat Party boards at South Bank 12pm, and the club after-party hits Barsoma from 9pm.

We’re pleased to be joining forces with local Brisbane crew Subtrakt to host the boss of one of our favourite labels – Tsuba head-honcho, Kevin Griffiths. Kev’s embarking on a whirlwind tour of Aus taking in dates in April/May. We’re going to have details out shortly, but so far we can say the Brisbane leg will be on Sat April 28  and it’s on a boat, so get your sea-legs ready!

Ahead of his Australian tour at the end of this month, yours truly caught up for a pow-wow with the man himself – Kirk Degiorgio.


Hi Kirk, we’re getting excited about your upcoming tour to Australia, with appearances in Melbourne, Brisbane & Sydney, as well as a double appearance at Playground Weekender. Will this be your first trip to Australia?

Yes, my first trip – finally!

You’re no stranger to the northern hemisphere festival circuit, and you’ve been playing and running club gigs for over 2 decades since your first club night ‘Sweat’ in Ipswich in 1986. Do you now have a preference for the outdoor / festival type gigs, or the more intimate and maybe more intense club environment?

I love both – but they need to be approached differently I think. It’s not something I can clearly define, but there is definitely a difference in the sets I play at clubs, to those I play at festivals. There is also a difference in how I approach an intimate club with a large venue too.

How do you approach the different environments muscally?

As I mention above – it’s not something I can easily define. Possibly as a festival I will play more uplifting/euphoric tracks – whereas darker more introspective tracks might work better in an intimate club. I’m not the kind of Dj who will pull out lots of
well-known classics – I just think that’s patronising to the crowd. So no matter what the venue, I’ll always try and challenge them a little – without becoming too indulgent. At the end of the day – I’m a party DJ and that’s what I like to give my audiences – a party!

Early last year, you curated with Ben Sims the Machine parties in London. Do you have any further plans for this or other projects in the club-space in 2012?

Yes, our Machine nights are going from strength to strength. We have them planned for Berghain – Berlin, The Loft – Barcelona, Trouw – Amsterdam, Dublin, etc, etc. We will also host 3 events in London again this year – missing out the summer because of
the impending Olympics chaos.

You were one of, if not the first to pioneer the use of Ableton Live for DJ’ing in the early 2000’s, and you’ve used Live exclusively since 2002. What was the inspiration to make the switch at such an early stage? How has the technology matured since then?

I was a strictly vinyl DJ until Ableton came along. I tried CD’s but never really got comfortable with them. In the early days of CD-J’s, self-burned discs would be unrecognised or they would skip, etc. Of course they are rock-solid now and I sometimes use them for old-school funk/jazz/disco sets. Most of my disco-funk tracks are my own re-edits so they don’t exist on vinyl.

But Ableton enables me to build a set in a vertical as well as horizontal way. It’s like a 3D set.

The fundamental technology hasn’t changed that much – but the wealth of great MIDI controllers and the increased quality in portable audio interfaces has really helped digital sets.

But my technique has changed greatly over the 10 years or so of using Ableton. I think it’s a unique approach and I haven’t seen any other Ableton DJ’s play the same way. It’s taken me 10 years to develop my unique style, but I think its worth it.

You’ve had many aliases over the years, the best known being ‘As One’, as well as, amongst others, ‘Blue Binary’, ‘Offworld’, and ‘The Off World Ensemble’. Do you just like to keep the punters guessing, or is the idea musical and image separation?

Originally this was a legal way of signing non-exclusively to different labels. There was also an intent to have different musical styles – Future/Past was also for harder techno, Blue Binary for ambient tracks, etc. But it was never a strict separation. I tend to use my own name for releases now. I think its less confusing when using internet searches, etc.

You’ve also been involved in several bands, most recently pop project ‘The Beauty Room’ which released a critically acclaimed studio album through Peacefrog in 2006. Do you draw inspiration for these projects from the black soul, funk & disco you listened to as a youngster?

I draw inspiration from black music in all my material. It’s what I love, what I am. The Beauty Room came about from collaborating with a co-writer who had a completely different musical background (Radiohead, Peter Gabriel, gospel). The common ground we had was Steely Dan who we both obsess about.

As mentioned, you were heavily influenced by funk, soul and disco music in your formative years, and this is evident in your music today. Who were your heroes when you were growing up?

Earth, Wind & Fire, Funkadelic, James Brown, Stevie Wonder – and a ton of producers like Patrick Adams, Greg Carmichael, Randy Muller etc. Remixers like Shep Pettibone, Francois K, Walter Gibbons, Tee Scott, Larry Levan, etc.

It seems that these genres are as much a part of your musical persona as electronic music and techno, is this a fair assessment?

Absolutely – and for me, House & Techno were a continuation of this tradition. I had Juan Atkins records in 1983 as a kid collecting electro and many of the early NY and New Jersey Garage producers came out of the disco-boogie scene of the early eighties.

What can we expect to hear when you get behind the decks in Australia?

I’m going to bring my full-on techno sets – with the exception being a soul-funk-disco set for one of my two performances at the Playground Festival. So expect upbeat, intense, cutting edge techno.

Thanks for chatting to us Kirk. We’re looking forwards to hearing you play at Barsoma for Metric’s first show of 2012. Enjoy the tour, and see you at the party!

Many thanks – cyu soon!

METRIC returns even bigger and better in 2012. We’re very pleased to be hosting from the UK – KIRK DEGIORGIO (Freerange / Mo’Wax / Planet E). To say Kirk has had a long & illustrious career is an understatement, Kirk has proven over many years to be a heavyweight in the production world along with being a renowned DJ. Touring in Australia for Playground Weekender, we’re lucky enough to have Kirk make a detour up to Brisbane for a special side-show. With an impressive list of solid studio albums and talent across the spectrum of dance music, Kirk is sure to make this night one to remember.

Supports on the night are rounded out by local legend BAAX, Subtrakt & Buxton Records boss Adam Swain, along with James Hunter, Leon Farrell, Dan Bishop, and METRIC resident Wadza.

KIRK DEGIORGIO (UK) –

Almost as if to try and throw his fans off the scent, Degiorgio has used As One, Elegy, Esoterik, Critical Phase, and Future/Past as recording aliases. In 1992 Degiorgio recorded his first release on B12 Records and shortly after founded the ART label (Applied Rythmic Technology) releasing early material by seminal artists such as Carl Craig, Aphex Twin, Stasis, and The Black Dog.

Degiorgio went on to record material for ART, Planet E and R&S before signing As One to New Electronica for the albums Reflections and Celestial Soul, which both made the Muzik Top 30 albums for 1994/5. Further albums for Clear (UK), Mo Wax, Ubiquity, Versatile and Neroli cemented Kirk’s reputation as a seriously heavyweight producer with a unique, individual sound, beautifully combining elements of jazz, soul, techno and funk into electronic tracks.

For the past 3 years Kirk has focused on his mainstream pop band The Beauty Room whose debut album was released to critical acclaim in 2006 on the Peacefrog label. The follow up album – recorded in L.A. and London is due in the summer of 2009.

Kirk’s DJ career started at local breakdance events in 1983. He is credited with being the first ‘professionally known’ DJ to use Ableton Live for his DJ sets. A tour of Japan 2002 saw him use Live exclusively which he has now done ever since in venues worldwide.

– KIRK DEGIORGIO (UK)
– BAAX
– Adam Swain
– Wadza
– James Hunter
– Leon Farrell
– Dan Bishop

Tix onsale @ http://www.residentadvisor.net/event.aspx?334263

https://www.facebook.com/events/344288685593497/

METRIC Pres. Kirk Degiorgio (UK)

METRIC Pres. Kirk Degiorgio (UK)

 

Welcome to the Metricblog – here we’ll keep you updated with events, news, reviews, interviews, tunes & mixes to keep you on top of all things Metric.

We’ve got our first gig of 2012 about to be announced shortly stay tuned!