Kmag touches down with Under Pressure label boss and head honcho Anakyne alongside the boys from The Funktastics as they unleash a nice and heavy EP on the imprint as well as give Kmag readers an exclusive tune.
It's so good to see Under Pressure back in business as a label. You guys were churning out some solid bits for a few years and then just dropped off the map - what happened?
Anakyne: Our first releases from Stakka & Skynet, DJ Skinny and Friction in 2001 made for quite a great debut and with these the label had garnered quite a lot of interest. In 2003, just as we were ready to unleash a trilogy of releases and launch two new labels, our distributor called it quits, taking the plunge with all of our money, bringing the whole thing to a dead stop.
A while later I still decided to release a few of the tracks since they were mastered and ready to go and they came out as UPDR 009 and 010 which were distributed as limited edition promos and are super rare! The good news is that the whole Under Pressure back catalog will soon be available in digital format.
In 2012, Under Pressure returns, this time as an all-digital imprint. What finally led to the decision to restart the label? Why all-digital?
It was a while since I wanted to restart the label but I took the time to really think about it and observe the evolution of the digital format. The digital format is great since it allows the artists and the label to explore a wider scope and it enables us to release 6 or 8 track EPs and touch different styles doing so. In the future though we definitely want to release vinyl.
My mom gave me the bug a long time ago and you know I'm a vinyl junkie, owning more than 10,000 records. Can't be having a real label without physical products and since the point of this whole adventure is to have fun, we will do everything we can to gratify our whims and little desires…
This time around the imprint has a slightly different focus, reflecting a much broader range of genres - talk a bit about your decision to focus on "bass music" and how you see this reflecting what the imprint represents and stands for.
You know, I'm now 39 and I enjoy all sorts of music. So if I decided to relaunch the label, it was first and foremost to indulge my passions and humbly give my vision of things. The long term goal is to build a rich and quality catalog of releases encompassing the styles I enjoy the most. I love music for its variety and its diversity and if I can make of this label the soundtrack of my life, it would be perfect.
I would love to make it the perfect mix between Gilles Peterson's, Shy FX's and Busy P's labels, adding my own sensibility and my own touch to it. It's also another motivation for the artists to explore any new terrain they feel like and know that they will have an open minded ear and a place to release their tracks. In the long run I just aspire to work with people I appreciate and belong well with so we can build something we'll all be proud of.
This first EP from the Funktastics seems to capture this vibe perfectly. Talk a bit about this release, how it came together, and why you chose these tunes to relaunch the imprint with.
I've known these guys for a very long time – over 10 years, and we've always had the same musical tastes. So working with them is fairly easy. At first this release was only meant to be a single, but they showed a lot of interest in the project and it snowballed into a four track EP and a video! Indeed the official video for 'Soultown' is in the works as we speak and is almost ready to be unleashed.
This question is for the Funktastics: For those who missed your releases on imprints like Good Looking, Shogun Audio, and Spin recordings, introduce the members of the crew and what kind of sound/vibe/vision you guys are pushing musically.
The group is composed of original members C-Nine and Hugabass, also known for organising the legendary I Love Jungle parties from 2003-2007 in Paris and starting the famous Jungle Juice parties not long after, also in Paris. We were joined about two years ago by the legendary DJ Science, who was a pioneer of the UK sounds in France, playing hardcore techno as early as in 1991, becoming a major player in the French jungle / d&b scene. He's basically the French equivalent of Fabio and Grooverider, combined in one (laughs).
As far as music goes, we're still attracted by the funkier side of d&b, but we've also started producing a lot of other styles, from hip hop to grime to dubstep and electro. Sometimes all of these combined! But always with funk, soul and electro flavours blended in and shining through. The most important thing for us is being able to put really musical tunes together – not just an 8 bar gimmick loop running for 3 minutes.
One of the greatest developments in the scene these past few years has been the ability for artists to experiment with different tempos and influences in a much broader way. You guys seem to be taking advantage of this and really exploring your love of funk, electro and dancefloor bass.
We've always been working at different tempos but back then it was much easier to get d&b tracks out there. As you said, the scene is now pretty open to anything bassy, so we're taking advantage of this and even though it does not shine as much on this Soultown EP, the next EP will have a lot more variety with electro, hip hop, old-school jungle and d&b. But fear not, the vibe remains as funky as ever, no matter what tempo we're exploring.
Most importantly, I understand you're giving away an exclusive tune for Kmag readers...
When we released our Soultown EP, we were looking for a good track to give away that would make the connection between our older releases and this new one. We've had this tune we worked on a couple of years back that didn't get released and that fitted the bill perfectly. As you'll hear, this again is using a big portion of a soul track as a base and that could mean trouble as far as clearing the samples. So here it is in all of its glory and for free!
As told to: Chris Muniz
With eight EPs in the pipeline due for release in the next 12 months, expect an ungodly amount of drum & bass, Baltimore, dubstep, hip-hop, house, UK funky and UK garage to hit the streets courtesy of the Under Pressure crew. If you're really feeling that U.P. sound, be sure to check the sister imprint, Flavor Records, which Anakyne promises us is set to release some banging bootlegs sure to get those hands in the air.
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