WORDS: Alex Caslano
“To say it was an honour is an understatement…it was hands down the best experience we’ve had to date.” Reflecting on their set at last month’s T in the Park, Darren Quail is clearly still buzzing. As one third of burgeoning techno outfit and label, Animal Farm, he had the privilege of opening the Slam Tent with friend and co-founder, Charles Turtle. “The Slam Tent is somewhere we used to dream of playing and it really was everything we imagined it to be. From the second we stepped on stage to the very last tune, we were grinning form ear to ear!” And for good reason. Since throwing their first event in 2004, Animal Farm have risen through the ranks to become one of Glasgow’s most recognisable club brands, and their opening slot in the legendary Slam Tent consolidated that.
Responsible for bringing Ben Klock to Scotland for the first time as well as a whole host of fresh-faced talent, the collective have acquired a reputation for promoting quality artists and solid sounds. Launching their own label, Animal Farm Records, in 2013, they have released music by the likes of Bleak, Guise and Michel Lauriola, focusing on distinctive techno which doesn’t compromise. “The releases have been fairly varied but all are deep, driving and tough – what we love about techno” says Darren. “We know what we want to hear on the label when we get demos and if it doesn't grab our interest instantly we just kind of know.” With productions from Animal Farm’s own studio forthcoming, the collective are clearly focused on what they want to achieve, with Darren also contributing a track to Slam’s recent ‘Transmissions Glasgow’ compilation under his alias, Quail. “We want to see the label grow into something that really stands out, as I think we have done with our club nights here in Glasgow” he says. “I guess we want to continue with the hard work we've put in for the last ten years and continue to grow as artists and people the best way we can.”
Check out the most recent release on Animal Farm Records below, as well as our full interview with co-founder Darren Quail, in which we talk more about Animal Farm ambitions and the state of techno in Glasgow:
SynthGlasgow: You had the honour of being the first DJs to play the Slam Tent at the new T in the Park site last month; what was the experience like and why do you think the Slam Tent has such a legendary reputation?
Animal Farm: To say it was an honour is an understatement. It was hands down the best experience, DJ wise, we've had to date. The Slam Tent is somewhere we used to dream of playing and it really was everything we imagined it to be. From the second we stepped on stage to the very last tune, we were grinning form ear to ear! The the arrival of the crowd was nothing short of spectacular so really added to the high we were already on. The Tent's reputation has been built on the quality it has provided T in the Park over the years. Going back to the beginning, it's always been about variety with the line-up and catering for everyone who goes there. Sometimes people give it a bit of stick for the line-ups, but it has to be fairly across-the-board, and by the time everyone's in there they're having a ball regardless! Everyone has had a special Slam Tent experience and that helps to fuel it year in year out.
SG: Animal Farm seems to be growing in momentum year on year, becoming one of Glasgow’s most respected techno brands. For those who may have just discovered you, can you remind us of how Animal Farm started and progressed?
AF: We started out as three friends wanting to play out and have fun; I guess we still are those people but it's definitely become a lot more serious. We did the usual bar gigs, kicking off at the now shut Halt Bar, followed by a residency at Bar Bloc on Bath St for some time. Eventually we moved to the Soundhaus (an amazing underground venue that had so much history - now demolished to make way for some horrific flats no doubt) and got our break in the Sub Club on a Monday night in 2009 where we had Ben Klock for his first ever appearance in Scotland. I suppose we set ourselves a standard that night that we've always tried to keep to, with fresh faces in the techno scene coupled with the bigger names. We always stay true to what we want to see as much as playing the promoting game!
SG: Glasgow has always had a strong connection to techno, represented on the global stage by the likes of Slam and Soma. How would you describe the city’s techno scene in terms of new talent and its current state?
AF: Everyone knows the Glasgow scene is booming, but to be honest, I wouldn't say it's hugely booming techno-wise at the moment. There seems to be a bit more of a house resurgence recently with the likes of DABJ leading the pack. The city has its new nights that come and go and it's stalwarts like Pressure/Return To Mono, but I would say the guys at MPC (Missing Persons Club) have really been working it lately with their free parties at La Cheetah – they have some serious bookings lined up for the rest of the year. Also, Darren Roberts aka Deepbass has probably been the best thing to come out of Glasgow this year for me in terms of techno exports; he has been working solidly on his productions and it's now beginning to pay off. He's carved himself a great sound and had a fantastic debut release on Soma this year which has done really well. With an album in the works, it's only going to get better from him.
SG: You took the leap and launched your own label, Animal Farm Records, three years ago, releasing music by the likes of Bleak, Guise and Michel Lauriola; what inspired you to start the label and how would you describe its sound?
AF: It was a natural progression I think from where we were at. We've been working on our productions for sometime but we also wanted to put our vision of techno out there too. It's hard work and finding the time to do everything the label needs to stand out from the glut of releases is challenging, but it's rewarding to see them out there and see the reactions from people who enjoy what we do. The releases have been fairly varied but are all deep, driving and tough – what we love about techno. We know what we want to hear on the label when we get demos and if it doesn't grab our interest instantly we just kind of know. Michel Lauriola’s demos were great and he's just sent us a load more; he's really advanced his sound. I'm really looking forward to some of the releases we have coming up and we'll be debuting our own over the next 6 or so months too.
SG: You’re back at the Sub Club at the start of September and also join Pressure for a Transmissions special this Friday. Can you tell us a little about what characterises an AF event and the guests you like to book?
AF: I suppose at the end of the day it's a party. We try not to take this too seriously as we want to have fun and we want the people attending our events to do the same. We bring in guests we know are of a high standard, be it international or local. As DJs, we obviously are constantly searching for and playing the latest artists so we keep a fresh outlook on things, and that helps us in terms of who we want to bring to Glasgow. It really is about striking a balance between the unknown and the bigger names sometimes, however.
SG: As mentioned, Animal Farm has been on quite a journey since your first event in 2004. What aspirations do you have for the label and club night? And what can we look forward to next in terms of new releases?
AF: We want to see the label grow into something that really stands out, as I think we have done with our club nights here in Glasgow. As I said, it's hard work trying to balance day to day life with organising multiple events as well our new venture with Clouds, ‘Headstrong’; but it's great to be able to do what we do and also play at other events around the country bringing what we love to new generations of clubbers every year. I guess we want to continue with the hard work we've put in for the last ten years and continue to grow as artists and people the best way we can. In terms of AFR releases we have Spanish producer Joton up next which includes a remix from Arnaud Le Texier; a follow up to this summer’s ‘Industrial Ecos’ from Michel Lauriola should also be out before the end of the year too. Arnaud Le Texier will also follow his remix on AFR with his own solo EP including an Oscar Mulero remix and we Will finally see our own productions come out too! They've been a long time in the making as we want them to really represent ourselves and where we've come from and I think that is apparent in the music and ethos we have on Animal Farm.