Throw in a little acid, some jazziness, a little deep techno and you're finally ready to understand why We Play House records stand out in a market saturated with reissues and throwbacks. For this label and its followers, house is just as fresh, relevant and diverse as it has ever been. Most important, though, is that house is the starting point for everything that comes after, helping maintain a connection to the past while simultaneously pushing forward.
Like any house, We Play House is only as strong as its foundation. Head honcho Bart Van Neste, AKA Red D, has been a DJ for nearly 20 years, including a weekly Friday night party in his hometown of Deinze at a spot called Clues that has been going on for 13 years. Playing a wide range of disco, soul, house and techno, Van Neste has used his experience to develop a keen ear for quality sounds. On the concept of translating his DJing experience into a record label, Red D had this to say, "I have 100% faith in my own judgment, so that's the criteria: My taste."
Essential We Play House Jams
San Soda - Het Zwarte Kanon
San Soda's style can range from disco-sampling bangers to complex melodic techno, but this one wraps all his best qualities into one. Deep synth tones and pads will move your heart while the thick bass drum groove will move your ass.
Raoul Lambert & Nacho Marco - Cinnamon Dreams
"Cinnamon Dreams" has just recently been released, but it's already one of the gems in the label's catalog. Stuttered vocals and lush synth chords frame a relaxed disco-esque groove, but it's the acidic flourishes drifting in and out that help achieve a higher state of consciousness.
FCL - Let's Go
This collaboration between label head Red D and San Soda, featuring Lady Linn, harkens back to '90s vocal house, but fits neatly into modern sets due to its stripped-down tracky feel. It's a perfect example of how WPH bridges the gap between past and present.
Russ Gabriel - Le Voyeur
Russ Gabriel's "El Juan" originally appeared on another label, but was smartly packaged here with the jazzy "Mr. Din" and the title track, which is the highlight of a solid EP. Taking advantage of an epic chord progression, synth strings and a driving drum track, it's deep house at its very best.
But while the pairing of Red D and San Soda now seems obvious (they even record together as FCL), it took some time for their relationship to develop into the structure that gives We Play House its shape. The first demo San Soda gave to Red D contained some edits and a track that would eventually surface on WPH Purple. It was the second demo that contained the tracks that became the first We Play House record. There have now been five solo San Soda releases on the label as well as a split 12-inch, and the FCL project—a collaboration between Soda and Red D—has also released an EP as well. Soda is seemingly part of nearly everything they put out.
More recently, however, We Play House has also focused its attention toward developing talent from inside Belgium. Raoul Lambert has had his hand in many releases over the years under other aliases, while Maxim Lany owns a titular imprint that Red D calls WPH's "sister label." Included in the forthcoming releases on We Play House will be the debut of new Belgian artist Lemakuhlar.
Perhaps the most important connection with a Belgian artist, however, is an unexpected one: Flemish jazz queen Lady Linn guested on FCL's "Vocals for Everyone" earlier this year, and their collaboration has led to Red D playing at more mainstream festivals and clubs than ever before where he spreads the gospel of We Play House with sets featuring Linn singing over instrumental house cuts. A music video for the Red D and Lady Linn vocal remix of San Soda's track "20070505" even got airplay on TMF, a channel owned by MTV.
In addition, there are also the successful weekly parties at Clues and the We Play House monthly that bring in out-of-town guests to play for crowds that, as Red D puts it, "are not trainspotters, they're not scouring the net for every single release, they're not on websites or forums spreading their musical wisdom, they just like to party and hear good music."
The party aspect is important. But so are relationships that have formed as a result. Through connections made from playing shows in Belgium, artists like Chicago's Tyree Cooper (who also played at Clues the night San Soda first met Red D) and Reggie Dokes have been behind some of the releases that helped garner a worldwide audience for the label. It is not difficult to choose which outside artists to include. As Red D puts it, "Until now there has never
A clear philosophy has certainly helped things as well. On the back of each release, Red D puts a phrase: "Some of us claim to be artists (but we are just playing records)," "Some of us believe the CDJ2000 will replace the laptop (but we just use the laughing third party and could not care any less)," and "Some of us claim to own a record label (but we have more than just a laptop and a Beatport account)" are just three. While these may sound like messages from a witty dance music fortune cookie, they also act as simple statements of Red D's ideas about how dance music is. (And how it should be.) We Play House even has a series of limited colored vinyl-only releases, proving that they also walk the walk when it comes to the vinyl/digital debate.
With both action and purpose rooted in quality, where does the label go from here? San Soda's debut album will soon see the light of day. And a full release schedule will complete 2010, with WPH RED and WPH YELLOW set to drop from Lemakuhlar and Humandrone respectively. WPH 011 will arrive courtesy of Sebastien and WPH 012 brings a new EP from FCL. Red D is looking to move his production experience working in FCL to bear on solo releases of his own. His long-term vision for We Play House? "I can only see it continue what it does now: To release good music."
Download: RA Label of the Month 1009 Mix: We Play House Recordings Mix
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Sebastien San - Pulsation
Luv Jam - Black Moon (San Soda’s Blame Red D For The Vocal Chords Remix)
Deymare - Talkin About That (San Soda & Gratts Boo To Boe Recordings Refusal Remix)
San Soda & Just Nathan - Wasmachine
Miss Djax - Acid Music
Humandrone - Rude Low
Freddy Fresh - Barogue
Raoul Lambert & Nacho Marco - Cinnamon Dreams
San Soda - Middelmatig in 1993
San Soda - Birdies That Fly
Klangmodule - Konsonanz (FCL Remix)
Nathan Fake - Dinamo
Maxim Lany - This Nostalgic Feeling