WORDS: Alex Caslano
With a tracklist which includes everyone from Carl Cox to Marshall Jefferson, ‘The Brood’ is one of the most respectfully decorated albums of 2015. Acting as a veritable who’s who of house and techno, it features the seductive tones of Robert Owens as well as production credits from Eddie “Flashin” Fowlkes and X-Press 2. The man behind pulling together this impressive array of collaborative talent is Glaswegian producer Gareth Whitehead, and he’s made quite a statement with his debut album.
“The album’s concept was to pay homage to the origins of house and techno, so to implement this I had to collaborate with some of the producers who were responsible for creating these styles” says Gareth. “Similarly, it was also important to reflect the contemporary sounds of house and techno so this was achieved by collaborating with Bulletdodge’s new breed of artists.” Having founded his label, Bulletdodge in 2008, Gareth has worked with many iconic producers as well as supporting local talent, releasing quality house and techno from across the spectrum. ‘The Brood’ certainly reflects this, with the deep, emotive sound of the Robert Owens featuring ‘How Can I’ sitting next to the hypnotising groove of ‘In My Mind’ – a collaboration with fellow Glaswegian, Mash.
The album’s first remix package even features a mix from Balearic legend, Alfredo. “I’ve applauded Detroit and Chicago on the original album, but the scene wouldn’t be where it is today without Ibiza” affirms Gareth, “so it was appropriate to involve the DJ who founded the Balearic sound, DJ Alfredo. Without his input I don t think acid house would have had the impact it did in the UK.”
In early November Gareth pays homage to another of dance music’s great pioneers, welcoming Mark Flash and Mike Banks of legendary Detroit collective Underground Resistance to Paisley, where they will play the equally renowned Club 69, now known as The Club – one of Scotland’s most notorious underground venues. “The Club was one of the first places in Europe that UR played in the 90’s so we felt it was time to bring the guys back and let the next generation hear what they have to offer” - a notion which certainly resonates with the concept of ‘The Brood’.
Listen to a sample selection from ‘The Brood’, as well as the first remix package of the album featuring mixes from Alfredo, The Revenge and Jan Cree:
You can read the full interview with Gareth and Bulletdodge events promoter and producer, Sqyre below:
SynthGlasgow: Starting with a bit of history, where do your roots lie in Glasgow’s club and electronic scene and how did you find your way into production?
Gareth: If I’m honest, until we started hosting label parties at The Club in Paisley I never really had any real involvement with Glasgow or the surrounding area’s clubbing scene, so my roots weren’t necessarily embedded in the city. Don’t get me wrong, I frequented The Arches, The Art School and the Soundhaus in my early twenties, but it was more as an occasional clubber. I’ve never been affiliated with any of Glasgow’s parties or trends, preferring to concentrate more on Bulletdodge’s identity.
As a teenager I played in several rock bands, not really discovering electronic music until my early twenties. After not gaining much success from playing in bands, I found writing music as a solo artist more enticing. At that time I was listening to more electronic music styles than any other genres of music so it seemed more natural to start producing those types of sounds.
Sqyre: I was influenced by Club 69 and The Arches and what they were all about as clubbing institutions. When the nights went off in there, they went OFF. Production for me was always something I wanted to explore; I started off using Reason as I loved the whole hardware look, but quickly found myself drawn to Ableton. When I started to learn there were no schools or the tuition that is readily available now which is fantastic. I met Gareth when I answered an Ableton tuition advert he’d posted on Gumtree. The rest is history, as they say.
SynthGlasgow: Gareth, you founded your own imprint, Bulletdodge Records in 2007; how would you say the label has changed over the past 8 years? And what did you learn from your previous label Edit/Select?
Gareth: It was Tony Scott and myself who established the label and production outfit, Edit Select (named after one of the parameter selection buttons on the Korg ‘Micro Korg’) in late 2006. I wrote ‘Asperity’, the first release for the label, with Tony taking an executive producer’s role. Before realising we were going to set up our own imprint, Tony distributed ‘Asperity’ to a few DJs at the time and received a great response from it. It became clear that initiating our own label would be more beneficial to us as we could control the music’s direction. Setting up the label taught me how a record label should be assembled – from how it’s structured to how it functions.
My involvement with Edit Select was only for the ‘Asperity’ release. Soon after I set up Bulletdodge as a platform for my own and like minded producer’s output. Bulletdodge’s focus has always been to release music across the house and techno spectrum and I think we’ve always strived to do this.
SynthGlasgow: This summer you released your debut album, The Brood’, featuring an extensive list of collaborators including Robert Owens and Carl Cox. Why did you decide to make ‘The Brood’ a collaborative release and what significance do the featured artists have?
Gareth: The album’s concept was to pay homage to the origins of house and techno; so to implement this I had to collaborate with some of the producers who were responsible for creating these styles. Similarly, it was also important to reflect the contemporary sounds of house and techno so this was achieved by collaborating with Bulletdodge’s new breed of artists.
SynthGlasgow: Obviously it’s quite an impressive range of artists. Are all these guys personal contacts and were they keen to get involved?
Gareth: Yes, most of the producers involved in the album I had worked with previously. They were all keen on the album’s concept so I think that made it easier.
SynthGlasgow: What was the process like behind writing the album tracks? We can’t imagine you were able to get in the studio with everyone so how did ‘Upsurge’ with Eddie Fowlkes work out for example?
Gareth: Most of the tracks were written remotely, so either I started an idea or the collaborator did, and we passed the project back and forth online.
SynthGlasgow: We’ve seen some intriguing pictures of your live set-up when performing ‘The Brood’; how difficult was it to replicate the sound you achieved in the studio with hardware and how does the set take shape?
Gareth: Preparing for the live show was a project in itself. Michael Greig, the mixing engineer at SSR London and my live set partner, spent many hours processing each track’s stems so that it sounded as close to the album as possible. The live set incorporates stems, MIDI and hardware to provide a more stripped back, raw approach. The live set is very much in its infancy but it will develop accordingly.
SynthGlasgow: The first remix package of ‘The Brood’ features mixes from Jan Cree, The Revenge and perhaps most interestingly, Balearic legend Alfredo. How did he get involved and were you surprised by the mix he submitted to you? It’s tougher than we were expecting…
Gareth: ‘The Brood’s concept will evolve over the next year or so; there will be a series of remix packages for some of the singles and then the album will be remixed in its entirety. In-keeping with the album’s concept, I have chosen remixers who contributed to the house and techno scene. I’ve applauded Detroit and Chicago on the original album, but the scene wouldn’t be where it is today without Ibiza, so it was appropriate to involve the DJ who founded the Balearic sound, DJ Alfredo. Without his input I don t think acid house would have had the impact it did in the UK.
His musical versatility is so varied I didn’t know what to expect from the remix; all I knew was it would be something special, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
Sqyre: When I found out that the man responsible for clubbing as we know it was remixing my track from ‘The Brood’ it was unbelievable. I thought it was the perfect track from the album for him to remix as it has that deep element to it which I knew he would relate to. I thought he’d take it down the Balearic route, so when I heard it I was like WOW. I wasn’t expecting it, but to me his mix sums up his sets really: house, techno, acid and the Balearic element are all present in the remix.
SynthGlasgow: You have a party coming up with Underground Resistance stalwarts Mark Flash and Mike Banks at The Club; can you tell us a little about the significance of UR and having Flash and Banks play the infamous Club 69?
Gareth: Mark has completed a remix for Bulletdodge, and we’ve had a solid relationship with the Underground Resistance guys for several years, releasing the likes of Nomadico and MGUN. The Club (aka Club 69) was one of the first places in Europe that UR played in the 90’s so we felt it was time to bring the guys back and let the next generation hear what they have to offer.
Sqyre: Yeah, this is huge for me as a promoter; the history of UR and what they stand for stands the testament of time and always will. Recently while at ADE I was sat chatting to Addy from EPM and she mentioned that Club 69 and the Rub A Dub guys were the first to bring UR to these shores some moons ago and they still mention it to this day. So that special connection with the club is fantastic, and it’s all the more special that they are coming back to play not only the venue itself, but for Bulletdodge. I for one can’t wait as it’s sure to go off in there!
Bulletdodge and Tantric present Depth Charge (Mark Flash & Mike Banks at) The Club in Paisley on Sat Nov 7th. Advance tickets are available via eTicket. Gareth Whitehead’s ‘The Brood’ is out now via Bulletdodge, while the first remix package featuring Alfredo’s mix of ‘Need It’ is out on Nov 2nd.