Feature: Rolling With High Sheen
FEATURE: Rolling With High Sheen
Words: Colin Brownbill
The time has just gone 1am in Glasgow’s legendary Sub Club, the air is thick with smoke and bass is pummelling the packed dancefloor. With strobes flickering at a disorientating rate and the low ceiling coming under constant attack from a barrage of pumping fists, the scene is one of organised chaos. All of a sudden a wave of spine-tingling synths fill the room, sweating punters are bathed in a white light before a massive drop pierces the relative serenity. This is the sound of High Sheen and the dancefloor knows it. Unleashing their eponymous debut earlier this week, Glasgow’s freshest new label are ready to show their hand.
Initially established by Ben Martin and Sam Murray as a platform to release some of Glasgow’s burgeoning talent, it’s been impossible to ignore the quite deserved hype surrounding the launch of the label - not least because their primary signings have been a staple in the local scene for some time. Encouraging up and coming producers Mia Dora, HaHaHa and Raksha to combine sounds in the studio, the trio have delivered something truly original as an introduction to High Sheen’s quite visionary aesthetic. With names as diverse as Disclosure, Mary Anne Hobbs and Jacques Greene repping the collaboration, it’s easy to see that we have something truly innovative on our hands here, with a widespread appeal which escapes the all to quick to stamp pigeon-hole police.
Obviously it’s no secret that we rate Glasgow’s escalating talent rather highly, and to have watched the three producers in question come together for a release on a passionate home-grown label really is exciting. Clearly this is just the beginning, but having heard some of the forthcoming material and talked extensively with the label’s cofounders, there is no question that High Sheen will make a name for itself which is both respected and recognised as pushing in one direction and one direction only: forward.
Check out High Sheen's debut release below as well as a free download from HaHaHa & Raksha, plus promo mix from Ben Martin:
Free Download via XLR8R
We also had the pleasure of catching up with Ben to talk about the label's origins and what you can expect from the High Sheen in the future:
Synth: Ok, let's talk about the foundation of the label and why you guys started it - obviously we're great believers in Glasgow talent, what and who inspired you to create High Sheen? Was it a reaction to what is going on in Glasgow at the moment or something you'd always wanted to do?
Ben: Well, we both DJ and promote quite a lot in Glasgow and we don't like sitting still so we saw this as a natural next step for us. Seeing as everyone has their hustling face on these days, we get sent a lots of demos from local producers and the best bits tend to rise to the top. We found ourselves with some amazing unreleased music made by friends of ours and figured we could do a good job at putting it out. One day I sent Sam a text saying 'Do you want to start a label with me'. He replied 'Definitely' and we took it from there. It was that simple really. There was no great eureka moment. Well, if there was I didn't notice it.
Also, being club promoters we are clearly suckers for pissing money against a wall in the name of music. Everyone in the business knows that the best way to do that is to press a load of vinyl records by musicians nobody has ever heard of and put them out there, for only you lot to seal our fate. We couldn't pass up that opportunity.
Synth: Your first release is collaboration between Mia Dora, HaHaHa & Raksha entitled 'High Sheen'. How important was it for you to announce the label this way and how closely does the track represent the High Sheen sound?
Ben: I am not so sure we saw it as fundamental in any way. We just stumbled upon a cool idea to announce us all in one go and ran with it. It represents us as family which is important for us at this early stage as strength lies in numbers and all that. Then again there's something to do with cooks and broth we might be forgetting. Time will tell.
'High Sheen' represents the sound of the label in that it's well produced, interesting electronic music that is hard to categorise. It's also fun which we saw as being a good way to kick things off. At first we asked the boys to get together in the studio and come up with 'a banger' for us to kick off with. Their first attempt was exactly that, albeit not quite what we were after. They made us this dark and broody techno number that will see the light of day at some stage. It's super good but not what we wanted as our debut so it remains in the vaults for now. 'Ah... you mean a banger. Not a BANGER'. Yep.
Being only one release deep and remaining with open minds, it's hard for us to even know what our sound is at this stage. The next run of releases will define that for us and even they are keeping us on our toes.
Synth: You have forthcoming releases from all the aforementioned, releasing on limited edition vinyl and also featuring artwork from Grampian Mountains and Andy King. Do you find releasing on vinyl adds an extra dimension to the label and how important is it for people to have something physical they can play?
Ben: Having DJed for 10 years and being a classic hip hop geek of the highest order, I paid my dues on vinyl and still collect records today. Sam is the same. Both of us love the tangible product experience a vinyl record offers, from the moment you spy the art work as you walk into the shop to getting your bag of wax home for their first plays. There's nothing better than wincing through the pain of a paper cut under your finger nail as your rip the packaging off only for your favourite music to crackle into action with the full dynamic range that vinyl offers. All the while your eyes are taken in by 12" artwork you can hold in your hand and really appreciate. Andy King and Craig from Grampian Mountains have such brilliant ideas and artwork, it would be a travesty for them not to be printed properly. They should never have to settle for being just a thumbnail.
Artwork for the label comes from Grampian Mountains & Andy King
Synth: Obviously setting up a label is no mean feat, especially in the current climate of illegal downloads etc. What was the journey like getting to this point - was there a great sense of relief when you could finally start shouting about it?
Ben: Definitely, we were chomping at the bit to announce it all but had to sit tight until we were ready. It was a slow process at first as we had to start from scratch. All we had were a handful of tracks we loved and nothing else. We're also very busy anyway so kept pushing things back under the pretence of getting it right. Sam plays things a bit cooler than I do so he had to keep reigning me in. It was for the best though and it will continue to be for the best. I am just excitable and forget to hide my hand and not just lay it all on the table. He's got poker shades and everything.
The journey was pretty relaxed. We worked out what we had to do as we went, asked some friends in the business for advice and put in place a team of like minded people who all offer something unique from each other. There's never been any doubt in our minds that what we have to offer is just what we want to put out there. Nothing less. If you can't be confident with that then you're done for.
Synth: Ultimately High Sheen is a Glasgow born project and you no doubt plan on representing the city's best talent, but will you also be looking further afield for future releases and if so, are there any particular artists, locations, sounds you have your eye on?
Ben: We won't be limited to Glasgow producers in our output just as we won't be restricted by musical styles. We just want to release electronic music that is exciting to us, regardless of who made it or where they're from. If it fits our ethos for the label and gets us going then we'll look at putting it out. As it stands we have 3 artists making music for us to share with the world on their behalf. Our first 3 releases are all set and ready to go but in the mean time, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. We are working with new producers and planning the next batch of releases, but for now we are focussing on what is in front of us. Ask us no questions and we'll tell you no lies.
Synth: Finally, if you had to verbalise just what High Sheen represents, what you are all about and where you plan on going, how would you do it?
Ben: Em...this is a bit vague especially as we don't really know ourselves until it all starts to take shape. We just want to release music that excites us and represent ourselves to the fullest, making sure everything is the best it can be. If people like it then great, if they don't that's ok too. Pricks.
'High Sheen' by Mia Dora, HaHaHa & Raksha is available now from all the usual outlets
High Sheen on Facebook
High Sheen on Twitter
High Sheen on Soundcloud