Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
Curating a host of sounds ranging from underground house to alternative hip hop, Sound Pellegrino is the independent French label founded by pioneering Parisian producers Teki Latex and Orgasmic that's known for its genre-bending releases and up-and-coming artist roster. In celebration of their fourth birthday, the guys behind the label are releasing the 'SND PE Vol. 1' compilation, which features material from the founders, current roster and friends of the label. Check out below what Teki, Orgasmic, label manager/compilation producer Emile Shahidi and the artists themselves (including Matthias Zimmerman, Jerome LOL, Todd Edwards and surkin) have to say about the tracks.
BEN BUTLER & MOUSEPAD — Still Moving
Teki Latex: Ben Butler & Mousepad (aka Joe Howe) hails from Glasgow. His track is the perfect intro for the compilation, a slow build-up tip-toeing around house, rap and opening credits of a news flash. Dare we say Walter Crunk-ite?
Ben Butler & Mousepad: The track started from a sample from King Sunny Ade, Yoruba world music pioneer. In contrast, it was finished in a freezing studio in Glasgow's east end, with two heaters on constantly and jackets and woollen hats indoors!
MATTHIAS ZIMMERMANN & SCNTST — Rick
Matthias Zimmermann: Talking about the inspiration [for this track] is quite strange, since we were skipping highly focused through A LOT of music for 3-4 hours and I remember that actually NOTHING we were listening to, before the production process started, was soundwise similar to Rick! There might also be a tiny sample of Art Garfunkel's In A Little While somewhere in there… not sure we kept it, though. The track manifested as we were jamming around at Bryan's [SCNTST] bedroom studio in the Bavarian province. Thanks to Bryan's mom's awesome Schweinekrustenbraten and awesome Bavarian wheat beer dinner we had before, it was a cinch to begin this. We finished the track the next afternoon after having a truly German breakfast with awesome Weißwurst and—guess what—awesome Bavarian wheat beer. Yep, instead of coffee. SO the story is really that spectacular.
ORGASMIC — Diamond Falls
Orgasmic: Diamond Falls is my first solo track ever, I made it using a Virus TI (brass), a Dave Smith/Roger Linn Tempest (drums), a Roland Juno-Di (lead synth freestyle), CDJ 2000 + DJM 900 to record scratches that I used as additional percusions in the song, recorded and sequenced everything through Ableton Live. It represents a lot of infuences of mine, my turntablist background with the scratches and the way I played the lead synth which is more like a long freestyle (that also comes from spending hours of just freestyling on the decks smoking weed), my unconditional love for drum tools (the intro of the song) and the modern R&B culture, more specifically the musical genius of T-Pain, who I admire a lot.
During the mixing with my friend and engineer J-Mat I was still looking for voices to cut up and insert in the track, and as his studio is shared with Feadz from Ed Banger (well it's actually at Feadz's house), he was also there and suggested that I record some myself, which I did and that's the autotuned hummings you can hear in the song.
Emile Shahidi: 10 years in the making! No, not really but it's truly Cedric's [Orgasmic] first solo instrumental track after countless rap beats for TTC, three street albums for Cuizinier and collabs with Teki as Sound Pellegrino Thermal Team. He's really into skeletal drum tracks and that was the general feel of the material he was working on until spring, so he really took us all by surprise coming up with such a melodic second part, so warm, luminous and generous. It's truly a transformative performance on his part and the happiest track on the album. Hence, it has a strong signifiance to us and it instantly became a new "voice" of the label.
THE PHANTOM — Cruising
Teki: Bartosz's [The Phantom] excellent tracks on Silverback have been played countless times on the Sound Pellegrino Podcast so we wanted him on board. For us he delivered the very singular Cruising, where a throbbing house beat is invaded by piano arpeggios birthed by the saddest thunderstorm ever and a slowed-down ghettotech vocal.
The Phantom: The title comes from William Friedkin's nocturnal thriller Cruising starring Al Pacino. At the time of recording, I used to listen to a lot of Wim Mertens' soundtracks (especially The Belly of an Architect) and percussive club records from the 80s and this is the result.
Emile: We all assumed the title came from there but no one dared to ask! Did you know that Steven Spielberg was going to direct it at first?
JEAN NIPON & KOYOTE — R.M.S. (to Steve)
Jean Nipon: It started when Alex [Koyote] came back from his one-year voyage in Inca country, his 909 under his arm, ready to go back to the studio.
Koyote: I see Jean and I recognize him as Pachacutec reincarnated. Then everything clicked: paying homage (very clearly) to one of our heroes Steve Poindexter, taming Jean's brutal life force with my martial mindset and expressing ourselves in true and respectful Chicago ghetto house language. We made four tracks together, all of them with this aesthetic, with the same drum machine, same synth and a few samples. Orgasmic & Teki asked us to finish R.M.S. for the SND PE album.
123MRK — Can't Believe
123Mrk: I started it one year ago, never finished and I forgot it. When Orgasmic invited me to record a track for the compilation I wouldn't have thought of Can't Believe but he said "make it simple!". It's hard for me sometimes not to go complicated…
Orgasmic: In fact we received a first track from 123Mrk which I liked but the thing is that it could have been on one of his two first EPs and we always want artists to do for us something they wouldn't do on another label. One night Teki & I were playing in his hometown of Marseille and I was hanging out with Arthur [123Mrk] who told me he had this loop that was sitting here for a year and I'm like "damn its really really good, I want this one! Please don't complicate it, the alternation of the two movements makes the track for me we don't have to lose this in the process." I like tracks with a good and simple idea exceuted well, and it was already there in this 1 minute demo. I put it on loop mode in my iTunes when I came back from our show with Teki (that's how I listen to music hahaha) – after half an hour, so 30 plays, I go to Teki's room and I'm like "I think we got it!".
NICOLAS MALINOWSKY — Skateboarder
Emile: Nicolas Malinowsky has been a very active skateboarder for 20 years. Co-founder of the French cult magazine Chill and member of the creative collective Ill-Studio, he's releasing his first single on our label whose visual identity he's been overseeing since the very beginning. Starting from a skate video he directed, then sliced and sampled, he made Skateboarder, an audio and video "musique concrete" dance piece which this is the sound track of.
Nicolas Malinowsky: I crashed my computer many times doing the first version of this project so I had to export it in chunks of 30 seconds that I stitched afterwards. Editing video with Ableton is a practical but fragile experience… The vocal is Tony Ferguson rapping on the intro of his part on Plan B's Virtual Reality. That made a big impression on 14-year-old me so it has a very personal meaning. All sounds have been recorded with the video camera's great built-in mic. It's a Sony VX1000, a skateboard video staple since 1999. Almost no effects or filters, I wanted to use the raw sounds. I asked skateboarder Pacôme Gabrillagues & videographer Hugo Maillard to do slides on the marble floor because I knew it would make a great lead and to their credit, they came up with the metal sort of gong I've used for the drum kick and many other great ideas such as the tricks in the parking lot (check out the video) which have a great natural reverb. Skateboarding is a very loud activity, this is why we get thrown out of spots very quickly so to me it was very exciting to turn the "nuisance" into music.
K-LAGANE — Bump
Teki: We met the young K-Lagane at a DJ competition we were the judges of. He won us over with an excellent selection and smooth technique then we stayed in touch and he played us his demos, distinguished by a very straightforward elegance.
K-Lagane: I wanted to make something simple and efficient using house and bass grammars with this very Detroit bass sound that's very present throughout all my DJ sets and the music I make, plus a very simple repetitve vocal sample that haunts the track without becoming too boring… I hope!
TWR72 — Heat
Emile: Tom and Roger aka TWR72 aka the Black & Decker of club music, two of the most reliable tool makers of the decade.
Teki: They had already released an EP on Sound Pellegrino back in 2011. Heat has a receipe as simple as this: a jacking beat, 3 stylish synth notes and a haunting vocal. Another perfect one for your tool box.
TWR72: We made "Heat" in the coldest week we had so far this year. We were spending our winter in the French Alps on a snowboard holiday and the weather was terrible the whole week. It was snowing all day long and temperatures reached far below 0°C. Because it was storming we couldn't get on the slopes every morning so we searched our fun elsewhere, producing Heat. A moody, summer house/techno track to bring some warmth in our apartment.
SURKIN & TODD EDWARDS — I Want You Back (Canblaster rework)
Emile: The original I Want You Back was one of three tracks on the Surkin & Todd collaborative EP released last year on Sound Pellegrino. While the release initially shaped up as a modern garage affair, that third one organically grew into a proper song. When he heard we were prepping up our first collective album, our buddy and studio neighbour Canblaster from Club Cheval spontaneously offered a rework of the song.
Surkin: As a big fan of Todd's vocals on [Daft Punk's] Face To Face, I really wanted to try to do a real song with him and he didn't done one with his untreated voice since then [and not until Fragments Of Time on "Random Access Memories"]. We'd just finished two instrumental club tracks and I did a beat very quickly and he sang this awesome verse. Then he added harmonies on the chorus and that's how the song came to life.
Teki: Canblaster added his signature touch here: an inimitable sense of harmony and unveiling that entire verse that didn’t make the original cut.
Todd Edwards: There is a second verse that wasn't used because it wasn't strong enough to match the first one. It is the quickest I ever wrote a song. From spending three days in the studio with Ben [Surkin] smoking French Lucky Strikes (I love them) my voice had a raspy depth I haven't had before.
MODESELEKTOR & SOUND PELLEGRINO THERMAL TEAM — Negativity
Teki: For our most faithful fans and our own selfish pleasure, a new collaboration with Modeselektor. A tradition started with TTC featuring on our Berlin brothers' first two albums. On this one, I go against all the corny community management disguised as positivity on social networks. I transform the house preacher into a megalomaniac stand up comic, bitter and pessimistic. The track is also came out on Monkeytown and 50 Weapons with a remix by Bambounou, an artist we had the pleasure of introducing them to.
DJEDJOTRONIC & MAELSTROM — Buran
Teki: Two Frenchmen—respectively affiliated to Bromance & Zone and Boysnoize records—champions of techno and bass hybrids join their darkest energies for a very rewarding piece. Don’t get fooled by the relatively tracky beginning: the second half holds a deconstructed, grimey, violent drop.
Emile: I mean… try not to blink… five seconds of fog of war followed by a million laser-accurate kill shots dealt from the turret of a nuclear submarine docked right across the street. Solid Snake, this one’s for you!
Maelstrom: The funny thing about this track is that until it came out, I really thought of it as an atmospheric, almost deep record. I had no idea how hard it was because I hadn't played it yet in a club… and now it's in every of my sets. Structure-wise, to be honest I don't really remember who did what because Jeremy [Djedjotronic] and I both polished every elements and every movement of the track so it's truly a collaborative one, there was no particular task assigned to any of us two.
EERO JOHANNES — Real Virtuality
Teki: Eero is a Finnish champion of the skweee scene (a post-Timbaland Scandinavian lo-fi funk) who already released an album on Planet Mu. Real Virtuality is a digital R&B jewel with immediate pop appeal. Every time we play it, people rush to the booth and ask us about it!
Eero Johannes: It's originally inspired by the Japanese humanoid robot HRP-4C. I didn't have Vocaloid (the engine that HRP-4C is using) at that time so I had to use a singing script for OS X instead and ended up casting Vicki for the lead.
JEROME LOL — Tell U
Jerome LOL: When Sound Pellegrino began, it was notorious for releasing music with unconventional samples. Though the label's sound has progressed, I thought it would be fun to create a song built mostly out of vocal samples as an homage to the label's past.
Emile: Like Jerome said, Tell U truly evokes our first releases (by the likes of Renaissance Man or Zombie Disco Squad) and without sounding "passé". I really love the production, it reminds me of the best Salaam Remi beats for Nas. Also, if The Wire had a sixth season, then this surely would be the theme song.
CRYSTAL & TEKI LATEX — Get It?!
Ryota Miyake (from Crystal): Keita [Onishi, another band member of Crystal] came up with the idea of this song about four years ago (the first demo can be heard on our Soundcloud page). We often played this song in our shows with my random nonsense old school freestyle rap. But my rapping was terrible! I couldn't decide how to finish the song for years so there are plenty of bounces with different directions. Then Teki came up with brilliant vocal lines and lyrics, and brought the idea of a conversation between a Japanese female robot and him in it. So I asked Siri if she wanted to do a track with Teki, and she said yes so we had Siri sing in, you know, her own style.
Teki: To me this song is part latin freestyle, part soundtrack for Pop'n Music (one of those popular "Bemani" Japanese musical video games that inspired Guitar Hero). The lyrics tell a naive tale of love and friendship between what seems to be man and machine, or more probably two robots with different language processors. If a rollerskating rink version of Dance Dance Revolution existed, Get It?! would be the theme song. The absolutely mind-blowing video (directed by Shinya from Crystal in actual 3D – glasses are included in the vinyl version of the EP) has me flirting with Siri and eating various fruits and sushi in space, regurgitating them before they transform into the members of Crystal. And we're all skateboarding in space. See for yourself here.
Sound Pellegrino released 'SND PE Vol. 1' in June 2013: buy it here.