Having collaborated with the likes of Motor City Drum Ensemble, Adonis and Rekids since setting up shop in 2009, the East London company has long made inroads in the world of dance music. It's hardly surprising, given that Mangan is a producer himself, with releases on labels like Front Room, Made To Play and Bedrock. Mangan (under his Mango guise) will be at the helm of the vinyl-centric Millionhands Music's first release, the Breathe Easy EP, which will feature two tracks of slinky, synthy house music. Drawing parity with the label's parentage, the record will have touches that should be familiar to anyone who's sought out the company's limited-edition wares: the first 50 copies of this and each subsequent release will feature hand-stamped and screenprinted artwork.
We got in touch with Mangan to find out more about the path from music to clothing design and back again:
Tell me a bit about your personal history. How did you get started making music?
I run Millionhands with the help of some close friends and loved ones. I watched Purple Rain when I was 11 and got a guitar. Was in a band at school. Studied music technology at university. I learned how to record a band, how to sample (on an actual sampler), work with MIDI and other stuff. I was a scratch DJ in a band who did some touring who no one has ever heard of. I made and played a few dancing records for while and did some remixes under various different guises for folks. I also spent some of my teenage years in Germany, which is where I learned to do budget graffiti and high-intensity running man-style dancing. It's also where I first experimented with making my own clothes. My mum had always made clothes and worked with fabrics, and she helped me construct various hats and garments in a '90s hip-hop style. I have pictures. There's some bad shit!
How did you end up designing clothes?
Must be something about Germany. I was living in Berlin (my second stint in the fatherland), it was cold—obscenely cold. I was ready for something a little different, and I'd always wanted to make tees. I had the idea for Millionhands about three months prior to moving to Germany and just kind of started. I had some of my own designs, and then I approached people I'd worked with or dealt with like Made To Play and Permanent Vacation. Then I squirreled out a contact for Adonis via MySpace and got him on board.
How are these two things—music and clothing design—related?
Clothing and music are intertwined and have been since the birth of popular culture. A place like Biba, for example, in the late '60s and early '70s was the place to be seen and to shop. More current high-end streetwear like Bape or Billionaire Boys club have obvious hip-hop affiliations. Obviously we're way less mega-star-glamour-puss. We make musically inspired tees—taking poignant or relevant imagery and phrases and turning them into designs that people want to wear. I think that musical geekery is sometimes a bit of a badge of honour, and what we do can resonate with folks who feel that way. We work with labels and musical folks, so there's a connection for us there. Our goal when we collaborate with these guys is to put as much love and thought into the tees as a the label would put into a limited vinyl release.
What made you want to start a label? Is this a recent inspiration or has it been a long time coming?
The label thing has been a long time coming, but it's taken until now for it to feel right. I'm happy with the music, happy with our little company and the family that's forming around it of interesting and interested people.
Do you have any artists in mind for future releases or will this mostly be a platform for your own productions?
We'll be releasing tracks by our MH family and a select few other folks. I'm super excited about this excellent live track we've just signed from this crazy Canadian five piece band, which is a song, with live brass and strings and great vocals. Plus we've got a wicked straight-up house record called Jungle Kisses, which is all drum machines and live piano.
01. Breathe Easy
02. Redlight Feelgood
Breath Easy is currently available on Millionhands Music.