Kowton is a producer based in Bristol whose slant on dance music has been impressing us for a little while now. Whatever he comes out with always swings with a certain distinctive something about it, there’s consistently a subtlety and rawness to the way his tracks unfold that’s unmatched by any of his contemporaries.
His first release was the ‘Basic Knowledge’ 12” on Bristol institution Idle Hands back in 2010, which showed a paired back, and deep handling of murky techno that still moved with a certain deft groove. It’s this way with a pulsating sprung rhythm that is part of the reason his tracks, though they usually sound like they’re pulled together from bare elements, really stick; from the brilliantly delicate shimmer of Keep Walking released on [Naked Lunch], to the exemplary subtle strut and spidery movement of Never Liked Dancing, again a release on Idle Hands. He’s also collaborated with Peverelist on the ‘Beneath Radar’ EP, and Manchester producer Tom Diciccio on an EP, and over the past year or so has had numerous releases on key new labels such as Teal Recordings and Keysound.
A little while ago he announced the launch of his new imprint Pale Fire, and the first release which will be the ‘Des Bisous’ 12”, a production of Kowton’s own. Des Bisous shows a keenness to keep pushing his sound forward into new territory. It’s a far more hard-edged, hyped-up production than his usual fare, all sharp percussion and dextrous grimey flex, and has definitely whet our appetite for whatever he might do next. This mix is in a similarly amped up vein to his new release, a deep beginning that gradually moves into raw territory, all dripping with club sweat and tense energy.
How’s it going?
Good thanks! Just been served the smallest veggie burger imaginable but apart from that everything’s great. Busy trying to get everything ready for this label launch.
Can you tell us a bit about the mix?
Yeah: its starts deep then gets raw and ends with some anthemic buisness. Originally I was trying to make it all upfront tracks but it was fucking with the flow of things so now the tracklist is a bit more of a compromise on that level – it’s by no means perfect but I think its important to go with what works together over just having a load of new bits in there. Anyway the whole thing is quite rough and ready, I can’t be fucked trying to make everything perfect all the time so I just left the mistakes in. I find those Ableton studio mixes that have become the norm a little bit dull.
You’ve started your own imprint Pale Fire. How come?
A whole bunch of reasons really, mainly though the new bits I’ve been writing didn’t really fit with the Idle Hands aesthetic so Chris (Idle Hands owner) suggested I did my own thing and he’d distribute it. Its the ideal situation really: I like the idea of having a vehicle for my own stuff that allows me to get things out quickly and have total control of the way they’re presented and there’s someone else to take care of the admin side of things.
Is there a particular aesthetic or idea behind the label?
Just raw dance floor tracks. No bullshit press releases or promo lists: records that speak for themselves and make people move.
Your next release ‘Des Bisous’ is quite different to your previous work – it sounds a lot closer to Grime, whereas your older tracks as Kowton seem to have a deeper, perhaps less ‘peak time’, feel. Any particular reasons for the shift in sound?
Just trying to find space to keep moving forward and not get too stuck into a production formula. Fucking about layering strings over a rough house sound seemed to work so I did a few tunes like that. Its great how they’ve been received and it makes a change to be able to play my own stuff at peak time too! I’ve always played a lot more banging sound to the tunes I’ve made, its good to be able to bring the two together.
You’ve released on a lot of different and interesting labels in the past. Are you careful about choosing who to work with?
Yeah, again I think its about having a balance though. I like to keep it to people I know who have followed for along time, though if there’s an opportunity to work with bigger labels and get my music exposed to a broader crowd then I’m not opposed it. I think as long as the music you present as a producer isn’t compromised in order to fit with a more commercial angle then its all good..
Also, a lot of those you work with seem to be based in Bristol. Are you keen to keep things local?
I guess it just works that way because these are the people I see on a daily basis – I share a studio with Peverelist, I work in Chris’s shop, a lot of people drink in the same pubs, go to the same bars etc. Being a bunch of nerds, music gets talked about alot! I’ve done a few things outside of Bristol though: there’s the split EP with Tom Dicicco from Manchester and last year I was in Leipzig working on a bit with Kassem Mosse. I’m doing some stuff with Teeth and Desto at the moment for their Signal Life project. Its definately not a deliberate descsion only to work with Bristol people!
Are there things outside of clubbing and club music that influence your productions?
Usual stuff really: films, books, having money, not having money, girls, being happy, getting depressed, the weather. I over think most things, with music I try and let it be a more subconscious process other wise I’d just go fucking mad. I find considering the implications of earning a living from having ideas generally completely chokes any kind of creativity.
Where should someone who has never been to Bristol before be sure to go?
The Bell pub, just off Jamiaca street. It’s the finest drinking establishment I know. Idle Hands for records, The Bank for pizza, Magic Roll for amazing wraps, Donuts for dope clothes, Harry Blades for a hair cut. There’s a new venue opening called The Exchange which everyone’s very excited about too. Just don’t get a veggie burger from Cafe Kino.
Vatican Shadow – Church Of All Images (Regis Version) (Blackest Ever Black)
Alex Couton – Bounce (Peverelist Remix) (forthcoming Ytivil)
Elgato – Luv Zombie (Hessle Audio)
Tessela & Gram rcy – Space (Dub) (unsigned)
Teeth – Jusqua Tendresse (Kowton Remix) (Sound Pellegrino)
Kowton – Jam05 (forthcoming Pale Fire)
Apointment – 05 b1 (Appointment)
Vinalog – Pattern 3 (Relative)
Kowton – Jam01 (Livity Sound)
Kowton – Des Bisous (Pale Fire)
T.S.O.S – Over Beats (Soundsampler)
Joy O – Ellipsis (Head High Remix) (forthcoming Hinge Finger)
Hyetal – Northwest Passage (unsigned)