Slave, Solomon and G have vastly different sound palettes, but through Edwards and Masters’ careful selection process, a through-line can be drawn that connects Rekids' output. There is a hypnotic feel to many Rekids releases—one that makes even the most awkward-sounding loops make sense—as well as a devotion to the big room and the groove, whether it be breakbeats, acid house, Balearic or space-hop. As James Masters puts it: “I don’t know what that common thread is, other than to say that it’s music that Matt and I love.”
Discovering dance music
James Masters: A girl I used to hang around with at University in Wales introduced me to the delights of the dance music world. I was into indie music at the time. I ended up setting up a club night there on Fridays. That’s how I first met Matt. He was a resident at Ministry of Sound at the time and we would have him play for us on Friday night, and then we’d basically kidnap him for a massive free party up in the mountains.
Matt Edwards: It was at the tail-end of the free party scene. Some of those parties in Wales were really big, like 4 or 5,000 people. I think it became harder and harder to do those kind of parties by the late ‘90s—the implications of being arrested or caught became a lot more serious. If you were a DJ, you were liable to get your records confiscated.
JM: We had a lot of fun doing that in the early and mid-90s and we stayed in touch after that. He went off into his making music world and I went off into my corporate world.
How Rekids began
ME: One of the reasons that I started the label was Jesse Rose (who I live with now in Berlin). About four years ago he had a bunch of labels and I thought, “Bloody hell, I should really start one”. I think at the time there really weren’t any good UK labels. There were a few, but many more European/German labels had come through and there weren’t really any exciting labels to look out for in England.
by Todd L. Burns
1. Mr. G – U Askin?
Breakbeat hardcore meets tech-house in this frenetic and hypnotic track.
2. Radio Slave – Bell Clap Dance
RA’s #2 track of 2007 is a dancefloor epic that justifies every second of its ten-minute running time.
3. Toby Tobias feat. Kathy Diamond – The Feeling
This forthcoming disco-fied single wraps Diamond in a cosmic cocoon.
4. Radio Slave – My Bleep
The track that started it all: Matt Edwards lays the repetitive, crunchy template for the label.
5. Audiofly & Paul Harris – Miscalate
Smooth and melodic, the six note riff that holds this collaboration together is unforgettable.
ME: It seemed like James was the perfect person, you know? He’s this hard-nosed businessman.
Who does what at Rekids
JM: Rekids is just me and Matt. Matt is in the studio all day so I do everything else.
ME: James totally understands the mechanics of running a label. He comes from working in a corporate world, so the funny thing is that now he has to deal with these idiots in the dance music world. I think a lot of people really respect James, and a lot of people are really scared of him because he does everything by the book—he can pop in and really look at the figures. Whereas myself, I’m not very practical. It seems like that’s the downfall for a lot of labels.
JM: We’re both really involved with A&R. We won’t put anything out that we don’t both get off on. There’s a nice sort of meeting-point that we both have: I would sometimes say that Matt has a more cutting-edge angle to his A&R and sometimes mine is a little bit more from “in front of the DJ booth” than behind it.
The sound of Rekids
JM: Radio Slave is very much tied to Rekids. Obviously the Quiet Village project is not at all tied to Rekids in any way. I think it’s always going to be dance music in terms of the feeling.
ME: There’s a part of me that wants to expand the record label, and try and push the label into different musical areas. I don’t want Rekids to be seen as just a house and techno label. I’d love for Rekids to be seen as a Warp-type place.
JM: One of the things that we’ve done with all of the remixes we’ve commissioned is to try to bring in other people’s views, and make sure that those interests are very different from the original version so that it each 12-inch isn’t just a straight electro house record or a straight tech house record. There are people who’ll be into the a-side or the b-side, but hopefully if you like one, you might also like the other side.
JM: Although we may have full-artist albums with some really weird stuff on there, the bottom line is the 12-inches are going to have things you can play on the dancefloor. If you were to see Matt do an eight-hour at the Panorama Bar, he’ll go all over the musical spectrum from disco, punk, everything. Hopefully there’s a bit of that in what we do at Rekids, but with a sort of electronic pulse.
Why Radio Slave tracks are so long
ME: Obviously the tracks that we make are meant for clubs. I’m not sure how many people want to listen to ten-minute tracks at home, you know? I’m never looking at the clock, but it sometimes does amaze me when I see how we get to ten or twelve minutes pretty quickly and I think, “Where’s the time gone?” A recent Moby remix that I did came in at 18 or 19 minutes and the label really loved it, but they just had to cut it down for the CD. I don’t go out of my way to make tracks that are long. But with mixes, especially when you’re working with vocals, I like to have the space to give the tracks to breathe. I get really frustrated with indie dance because it’s so stop-start. You never really get a chance to actually enjoy the music. It’s quick fix syndrome, giving everyone a little blast.
ME: I’m a lover of the classic mix. I was lucky enough, for example, to go to Ministry of Sound when it first opened and hear Larry Levan play CeCe Peniston’s ‘Finally’ but he’d play it for like a half-hour. He’d start out with the dub, go to the mono mix, then go to the vocal. It was this whole sort of building, drawing tracks out, creating drama within music.
Radio Slave in Berlin
ME: I had a really tough time in my personal life last year. I needed some space so I came over in the summer and started looking for a place.
JM: Matt was like “basically music is my life and the place to be for the music that I’m making is centered around Berlin.” So that was his first idea of where to go.
ME: Berlin is great. It’s got a real community spirit with regards to the electronic music world. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of rivalries or politics that I found when I lived in London or Brighton. Everyone seems to be working together, there’s no real bad blood here.
JM: I try and go to Berlin at least once a month to have a few days of meetings and go through everything Rekids-related with him. We’ll sit down and go through all the business stuff, all the release plans, and then there’s the day we spend talking about each other’s new music.
ME: I went back to England to play last weekend and it was nothing compared to the Berghain. The freedom that you get in that club. You don’t see door people, bouncers walking around. It’s great. It’s super cheap, super big, and really quiet too.
ME: We’ve got a folk artist that we’re looking to sign, you know? We’ve already got a demo of the album, it just needs a little bit of work and it should be ready to be released later this year.
JM: On the album side, there’s Toby Tobias’ album Space Shuttle. We’re also working right now on putting together a 2CD compilation of some of the Radio Slave remixes. And we have Radio Slave’s No Sleep project, which will be the culmination of all the No Sleep singles messed around with, chopped up a bit and played with.
ME: We’ve got this guy Jjak Hogan that we found from a friend on MySpace and he’s making this stuff called space-hop. It’s experimental hip-hop from Atlanta. I’m a huge fan of hip-hop, the whole J Dilla thing.
JM: One of the things that we really like about Jjak Hogan is that they don’t take themselves so seriously, they’re into having fun. We think it’s a really good antidote to super-seriousness.
ME: Luke Solomon has already finished his second album for us too. It’s a much poppier album, and we’ll hopefully be putting that out in September.
JM: We’ve also got Danton Eeprom and Dubfire remixing No Sleep tracks. Toby has also done a strong vocal track with Kathy Diamond, which will be released as a single. The music is flowing again. There was a period from November until February where we would have normally liked to get one 12-inch out per month, but we had our hands tied [due to Amato's closure]. Now we can finally open the floodgates again.