The Hessle Audio co-founder gift-wraps the year in house/techno/bass music.
"Connect the dots"—it's a phrase that seems to have entered into the electronic music vernacular in recent years. One of the labels running the most reliable boat service between the increasing number of genre-related archipelagos is Hessle Audio, the UK-based imprint Ben UFO, AKA Ben Thomson, runs alongside Pangaea and Ramadanman. It was at this point we intended to give you a run-down of the genres the label put out this year, but many of its releases have simply been unclassifiable. Thomson brings his and the label's endless influences together for a regular show on London's Rinse FM, while you'll often find him stringing together house, techno, UK Funky, garage, grime, dubstep and their derivatives during his DJ sets across the UK and Europe.
For his RA podcast we asked Thomson to summarize 2010 on the dancefloor and 48 hours later he sent us back this blistering 29-track mix, emphatically emphasizing that the dialogue between almost all types of electronic club music has been thrown wide open.
How and where was the mix recorded?
At home on Technics 1210s and an Allen and Heath Xone:42. I used Serato SL3 for the digital releases, but used vinyl for the most part.
Can you tell us a bit more about the idea behind the mix?
I limited myself to new records I'd bought and played out this year. The only exceptions are the Wiley tune, which was given away as part of his massive twitter leaking campaign (one of the biggest events of 2010 for me) and the "Woo Glut" mash-up by Ramadanman, which is unreleased, although both original tunes were released in 2010. It's worth mentioning that the "new music only" policy means that I haven't included anything on Rush Hour, which feels like a big omission given how instrumental they've been in pushing under-valued older music, and in turn influencing the music new producers are making. It's also worth pointing out that this mix is nothing more than my favourite dance records of the year, it's not supposed to be a comprehensive "best of" and it's not really representative of my DJing or record buying habits—I play a great deal of older music when I play out.
How will you personally look back on 2010 from a music standpoint?
2009 felt like the year where most of the boundaries in our corner of the scene in the UK started to disintegrate; personally 2010 felt like the year where I figured out where I wanted to take my DJing and where we could go with Hessle Audio as a result of that. On a more general level I'll look at it as the year where people from this scene felt free to move away from 140 BPM in any direction they wanted, encouraged and propelled forward largely by new labels.
Hessle Audio enjoyed another standout year in 2010 (and reached #4 in our labels poll). Can you tell us how you hooked up with artists like Blawan and Elgato who all had debut releases for you this year?
Elgato was someone who we'd all known and DJed with for a couple of years, and when we heard the music he was producing it felt only right that we release some of it. We first heard Blawan's music through Untold, who forwarded us a few of his tunes that he'd been sent through MySpace, which included "Fram." It was the first time we'd signed music by a producer we knew nothing about, although it transpired that he'd grown up in Yorkshire and had been coming to the nights we ran in Leeds. Aside from playing the music in clubs and on the radio, we don't tend to speak much about our release schedule, and as a result of that people have often thought these guys might be other producers in disguise, or even me, but I think people are coming round to the idea that there's no conspiracy or genuine mystery behind it.
What are you (and the label) up to next?
The next 12-inch is a two-tracker by Pangaea. That's been mastered and should be out early next year. Aside from that we've got a couple of 12-inches lined up followed by a project later in the year on a bigger scale than anything we've done before. I've just contributed to a cassette series called the Trilogy Tapes run by the designer Will Bankhead and David [Kennedy/Ramadanman] will be mixing the next FabricLive CD as Pearson Sound.