Local record labels seem to be a dying breed of late. The financial costs too high, the returns too low. Fortunately, there are still some people wanting to make a go of it. Enter Slipstone Records. I caught up with founder Chris I'Anson and label debutant Kesper (aka Chris Pawlik) about Slipstone, the release and drunken house party agreements.
Good to talk to you guys. To start off, what was your inspiration behind starting the label?
CI: At the end of last year I was getting a bit sick of the same sounds being used and churned around. There wasn’t anything that I wanted to hear really - I was being sent promos that all sounded like each other. It all just got a bit old. I was bored of seeing the same names on the same labels. Don’t get me wrong, the tracks were good, but it wasn't anything groundbreaking. Then, I had a little trip abroad to Berlin, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t influence me. When I was there I just heard a lot of really, really good stuff. When I came back I was hearing the same old house sounds, and I thought, I could do something new. Felt like the right sort of time too, university work was growing a bit stale, and I didn’t want to go into that straight away. So I thought, what do I love? Music, so I’m gonna do that.
Nowadays, a lot of people starting labels shy away from vinyl because of the expense and the perception of it being a dying art. How important was it that your label was going to revolve around vinyl?
CI: It’s very important. For me, playing vinyl is more fun than playing digital tunes, but it’s about the whole experience - the cover, the sleeve. Doing an arts degree, being able to do the creative side of the record, it can be my creative output; the vinyl, the cover, all the extras you’ll get with the record. I don’t know, digital is kind of throw away. I just love vinyl, and at the end of the day, you’ve got to do what you love.
Very true. I’ve been meaning to ask, what was the reasoning behind the name?
CI: I was having a lot of trouble coming up with the name really - I thought for ages. I’m an outdoorsy guy so I wanted to give it an outdoorsy feel, but the names I came up for that didn’t really work. Then I thought back to when I grew up, and near there, there’s a climbing crag called Slipstone rocks. I always loved going there and I loved the name. So I thought, let’s have that. I really like the name and so far the people I’ve talked to like it as well.
Yeah, I'm a fan. A question to both of you - Who approached who when it came to the first release?
K: I think I commented on one of Chris’ mixes on soundcloud.
CI: Yeah it was a bit weird really.
K: I don’t think we’d have found each other if I hadn’t…
CI: Yeah you commented on my mix, then I checked your tunes out. I messaged you - you had a profile picture that didn’t show who you were - but I assumed it was probably someone I knew from BPM or the Leeds scene. Turns out we hadn’t met. This was about six or seven months ago, and when I decided to start the label, I thought Chris would be right for it.
K: Yeah, you approached me at a house party.
CI: Is that where it was?
K: Yeah…I told you had I had some tunes for you.
CI: I can’t remember...
Where all the best relationships start….
CI: Haha yeah. We were just dancing in the main room, Chris was right next to me but I hadn’t realised.
Kesper [photo credit: Bryony Eacott]
Kesper, have you always produced the same sort of music that's being put out on Slipstone?
K: Well, one of the first ever tracks I remixed - an Anton Lanski tune - kinda kicked things off for me, the structure of the track, the way it sounds. Ambience and atmosphere have always been a huge part of my productions so I wanted consistency, that floaty-ness and breath of fresh air you get with those sort of tunes. So I’ve just been sticking with that, and I feel this release is a result of the tunes I’ve made before - lots of different sub-genres, minimal techno but also the ambient side of things too. Yeah…we just did it, just happened.
I know you’re associated with the Bristol-based Banoffie Pies - how influential were they in your release?
K: Those guys have been massively inspirational. They just had this idea and they went for it, and you know, I’m kinda following on from that they’ve done, but up in Leeds.
Are you thinking long term with Slipstone, Chris? Anything lined up, future releases?
CI: I’m kind of taking it easy at the moment. I’m not doing this to churn releases out, to get content out there. If I’m approached or I find some good stuff, I’ll get in touch and try and get something out, but at the moment I’m in no rush. I have got my eyes on a few people, but no solid plans at the moment. We want to focus on quality output, the pressing, the artwork, everything.
The artwork seems like an important part of the release - you’ve mentioned previously about getting local artists involved?
CI: Yeah, I want to get as many people involved as possible - if we can make it a community label, it’s more likely to succeed, and the easier it is for people to promote their sounds. It’s difficult in the music scene and I feel it’s important that people help each other out, so I want to do that as much as possible.
I noticed from the promo video that there seemed to be a space theme, was that deliberate?
K: Yeah, we wanted the EP to have a concept.
CI: A lot of people are starting labels but there isn’t a unique selling point. With this release, the sound, the image - it all works together.
K: Yeah, we wanted to make it concrete with the first release, we felt it was important. It was in line with our own vision and other people’s feedback.
Have you got a date for release?
CI: May 4th and we’re doing the launch night on May 7th.
You must feel like it’s gone incredibly quickly. What is it...six months from conception to release?
CI: Yeah, it’s gone so fast. Rather than thinking a week in advance, at the moment I’m thinking months in advance.
K: It’s hard to stick to that plan as well. There’s always delays, issues…
Well, I commend you for it.
CI: Thanks. We’re trying to add as much value to the vinyl release as possible. Hand screen-printed artwork and a few more treats that are going to be in there…yeah. If you’re going to invest in a physical piece of media, you want to get your money’s worth.
Appreciate you talking to me today guys. To finish, Kesper - favourite tune at the moment (and not your own)?
K: It’s actually a free download, by these two amazing eastern european producers, Gorje Hewek & Izhevski.
And Chris, if you could sign anyone to your label, who would it be?
CI: I love the sounds and have been inspired a lot by Oliver Schories, a guy who's not got much of a rep round here compared to on the continent. He, and sounds similar, are a huge inspiration to me. But maybe not for the label, well not yet at least...
Moonwalk EP - Kesper [Slipstone]
[SLIPSTONE001] is out May 4th.