The Bristol producer will launch his own imprint later this month.
Bristol's Joe Cowton originally started out making dubstep as Narcossist, but as profiled by Richard Carnes in a 2009 RA feature, he began to make slower, more house-leaning tracks as Kowton, the alias that has since dominated his output. Kowton has released tracks on labels like Idle Idle Hands, [NakedLunch], and Peverelist's Livity Sound, but this month will see the launch of his own new imprint Pale Fire, his first venture into label territory. Pale Fire will be vinyl-only and consist primarily of Kowton's own material, and the first release will be his "Des Bisous," backed up with a dub version. "Des Bisous" is typical for recent Kowton, spare and embellished with strings, or as the man himself describes, "a grime track but if STL had made it pretty grotty and low-fi. Like an old Danny Weed track, UK turn of the century proto dubstep type thing."
RA spoke to Kowton about the motivation behind the new label.
You've got some really strong connections with some really nice labels. What will having your own label allow you to do that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise?
I guess the tracks are just a bit different, like when I suggested putting it on Idle Hands to Chris [Farrell], he was like, “it might be a bit raw.” I told Pev we should them on Livity and he's like “well it's a bit similar to other one we just did,” so I might as well do it myself, you know?
How would you describe the style of the tracks?
Just dance floor tracks. I like the idea of it being for DJ tools in the best sense. They're just meant to play in your set, they'll smash it hopefully, no pretense or trying to be clever really. I think with Livity we got it nailed a bit—we're putting stuff out quick, the tracks are only a month old or so, there's been no sitting on them waiting for people to do things, it's just "get it out there." Not being precious, that's the key thing, just being like, “yeah this works.”
You just said that you want to put out dance tracks, something you can put it in the mix and just smash it. To me that sounds different from the records I've heard from you recently.
[laughs] That's a fair point. I think there's a contradiction in my own stuff between what I make and what I play, and I think it's kind of nice bringing those two things together. I prefer doing that but the music I've been making has been a bit esoteric and a bit heads-y, with this I can go beyond that. These newer bits you can play at 3:00 AM or whenever, and it's quite nice to play your own tune to a crowd that's going off.
With regards to Idle Hands and Bristol in general, do you feel lucky to be in this tightly knit creative pocket?
Definitely, definitely. "Tightly knit" is the word, there's maybe 10 or 15 people or something like that but I think Bristol's getting the attention, it's fantastic to be able to do stuff and have so many potential outlets for it and people will listen to you. Do you know this guy Beneath? He's in Sheffield on his own. He's doing great stuff but he hasn't really got a scene around him so it's obviously taken him longer to get to where he's at. In Bristol, Pev and Pinch and Appleblim and everyone are particularly supportive of everyone. If someone's good, we'll look out for them, it's fantastic.
What's with the title?
It's a Nabokov reference, I'll try to explain it without sounding pretentious. [laughs] I think generally a label grows into it's name doesn't it? With something like Blackest Ever Black, you might think "maybe that's not for me" or whatever, but it's become what it is and it's fucking brilliant. So I was looking for sources for phrases that sat nicely, and I think Nabokov's particularly brilliant in the way he puts words together. To me it sounds perfect really. Again not being precious about it, it's a name, it'll do. I think it's a nice phrase, it looks good written down, that's it really.