Just like its founders Artificial Intelligence, Integral Records’ spirit is defined by collaboration.
Whether it’s the early collaborations of Technicolour & Komatic (now Technimatic), the recent Philip fusion with Phil:osophy or the ongoing mystery moves of Dawn Wall and Mohican Sun, there’s always been a strong collective energy to the label.
Glenn Herweijer, one half of Artificial Intelligence, puts much of this spirit down to D.O.P.E, a Leeds-based night he was resident at with Marcus Intalex and Ant TC1. It’s here where Glenn road-tested plenty of his production partner-to-be, Zula Warner’s, early creations and initiated a trend of creativity from connection that seems key to understanding how both Artificial Intelligence and Integral have developed. With the label now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Glenn and Zula are hosting a massive event this Friday and releasing a 10 Years Of Integral album next month. They’ve also put together this killer mix of past, present and even a few cheeky future Integral moments…
For an even deeper look into the label’s past, present and future, we called up Glenn, Zula and a few other Integral artists for their own perspective on the label’s soul, signature and spirit, how its developed and where it’s headed…
You guys were already doing the rounds for several years before you’d even started Integral, right?
Yeah, which goes back to my university and pre-university days. I’d always DJed before I started producing and I ran a night in Leeds with Marcus Intalex called D.O.PE. When I left uni, I really wanted to get involved with producing, mainly via Soul:r which Marcus had since started and who wanted to give us an opportunity but also through NOS from Hidden Agenda and Ant TC1. They’d offered me a remix, but then I linked up with Zula straight away and it all started from there, we wrote a couple of originals and a remix which got signed to Dispatch, Soul:r and Commercial Suicide
Sounds like AI came organically out of a community of like-minded people! Moving forwards, give us the low-down on Integral’s beginnings. The who, what, where and whys of things…
Integral started 10 years ago and at that point we were DJing a lot on the circuit, we had a little crew of people close to us and were getting sent quite a lot of music. This was before they’d all been signed and that, so it was the likes of Alix Perez, Lenzman, Steve Survival and Zero Tolerance, Lomax who I guess are the original names. They were sending us a lot of original ideas and tracks, we were playing them out and it got to a point where we realised we had loads of cool people around us and decided to set up a label so we could push music from the people around us. That was the original idea.
So, it was a platform for music you loved?
Yeah, that’s how it first started, me and Zula and just wanting to support the music we loved playing out and to support the people around us. We already had an idea of the music that we’d put out and it was all different types of styles at the time, with Heist’s early stuff which was more for the dancefloor and Survival, who was techier. Zero T and Perez were on the liquid as well so it was really versatile, we were just thinking about music that we could fit within our sets, what we wanted to push and what was ground-breaking.
On that note, let’s get into the music and the eight tracks you think tell the story behind Integral…
SURVIVAL – THE JAM
Artificial Intelligence: So, that was the very first track we signed and I remember when Steve sent it to us we were in Japan, in our hotel room, on our first tour. We were just blown away. We thought we needed to do something with it, to push it out, and our original label Widescreen was only for our own material. It ignited all the conversations because we had other music at the time, so it pushed everything into gear and as soon as we got back to London, we made the call and set up the label with The Jam being the first release.
Survival: It was a big moment when I played this to Glenn after it was done and him and Zula went nuts over it, I think they wanted to put it out on Widescreen originally, but then I got the phone call and they said they wanted to kick off a new label with The Jam and it all happened from there.
ZERO T & STEO – REFUSAL
Artificial Intelligence: Zero T (Cian) had always been sending us demos to play out in our sets and Refusal was one of them, so as soon as we set up the label the first call I made was to Cian to tell him we needed this tune. I rung him the minute we got back from Japan, so at that point we had Steve’s The Jam and Cian’s Refusal, which was something we’d already been playing out and that no one else had. It was in all of our sets, we loved it and so it was an easy win really.
Zero T: Steo and I met in the mid 2000s in Dublin through a mutual friend DJ Psyence, who was a Bassbin resident DJ. We found that we had an identical musical sensibility and all the same tastes in music in general. Steo’s hip-hop outfit, The Infomatics, was going strong and he kindly sent me some beats of his….300 of them!! I was blown away by all of it, but there was one deep house sketch that had a vocal reminiscent of Justin Timberlake or even Michael Jackson! I called him straight away to ask where he sampled it from when he revealed it was him singing into his PC mic! Immediate studio summons were issued, he came down and we built the beat together, with Steo keying in the intro sample hook. The vocal was from one freestyle take he recorded over it. The whole thing came together that afternoon without any effort. I think we both knew we were onto something!
TECHNICOLOUR & KOMATIC & LSB – ROTARY MOTION
Artificial Intelligence: I’d heard an early version of Rotary Motion which was really, really deep and quite different to the final version. It completely amazed us and properly stood out, made us think about what we were producing and inspired us a lot. Then I think Luke was keen to come onboard and put his touch on it later down the line, and that ended up being the finished track. He gave it real energy, a big build up, spruced up the drums and it just ended up being the perfect combo and one of the biggest tracks in our sets for a long time.
Technicolour: Rotary Motion came together in two stages. Andy and I actually made a different version of it about a year before the track everyone now knows was released, but it was on a much deeper, introspective tip. For the train-spotters out there, if you hunt hard enough online it actually got played in its original form on the radio once or twice. We’re always sending ideas and sketches back and forth with Luke LSB and when we fired this one over, he suggested that with a few changes it could be something really euphoric. So, we sent him the file, he basically stuck a rocket up its backside and the final Rotary Motion was born.
LENZMAN & REDEYES – THIEVES IN THE NIGHT
Artificial Intelligence: We’d done Lenzman’s debut single On Integral, Ever So Slightly, which was another turning point for the label and so we were keen to lock in a second 12” to follow it. At that point I think he was hanging out with Redeyes and he was sending me over some demos of music they were doing together. Thieves In The Night was the first of two that came together in a single and it was instantly a massive track, I remember giving it to Fabio and it became the big track at Swerve before it was out. It just ended up being another really special release for us and we love the hip-hop influence in it which really comes through.
Lenzman: I had been a fan of Julien (Redeyes) for some time and we invited him to play at our club night (Fever) in The Netherlands. The night was a complete disaster, but we had fun all the same. I was just starting to get some music signed and we talked about doing some collabs. We’re pretty sure Thieves In The Night is the first thing we ever made together, and it was kind of inspired by our mutual love for 90’s Hip Hop. I think I had the sample and Julien had the vocal and the drums, then maybe I tweaked the bassline, but it’s hard to know for sure it’s so long ago. I do remember it felt like a natural partnership. Glad we’re still working together all these years later.
DKAY & INTOXICATED – THINNER EDGE
Artificial Intelligence: Dkay was a substantial influence for us in our early AI days in terms of our own productions, he was one of our favourite producers at that time. We’d always wanted to somehow get him onto the label and we played at his night a few times in Vienna, so spent some time with him, went for a few meals and eventually got Thinner Edge as a 12”. Again, Thinner Edge is one of our all-time favourites from the catalogue, it’s something we still play now and it’s so full of emotion. We tried to get some remixes done but he’s lost the project unfortunately, which is such a shame.
Dkay: It was a smokey late night with a buddy who dropped by with some nice samples. It was basically one of those where we just had a quick session rolling it out, mixdown next day and then it was done. The easy ones are the best, you can really feel the flow.
MOHICAN SUN – DEAD SEA
Artificial Intelligence: It’s quite hard to talk about this one, but I’d say that once it was finished it was literally the biggest dancefloor track in our set. The Mohican Sun EP at that point had three deeper tracks on it so we wanted to try a different angle for the fourth and show a new side to the character. We were really, really happy with the other tracks, but we wanted a tune that would have a massive impact and bring back that whole jungle vibe, a simple roller that actually had a huge effect. It always gets a big reaction out live and a lot of DJs have been playing it, from Andy C and Chase and Status through to Lenzman or LSB. Even Bukem was playing it, so Dead Sea really was a crossover track that spanned different areas of the scene.
DAWN WALL – EMBER
Artificial Intelligence: Well, we obviously had loads of good Dawn Wall tracks, but it was one of those ones where we just thought it was a progression of the sound that we wanted to introduce at that particular time. It pushed the boundaries of where we wanted to go, it felt like the perfect track to put out that evolved the project from where it was at. We weren’t sure if it was a bit too out there and people weren’t going to like it, but it made a real mark that track, which was a nice sign for us.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – NOBODY
Artificial Intelligence: We’re doing stuff for Metalheadz at the moment and our recent Reprisal EP came out the month after Nobody, but at the same time we were writing a whole load of new tracks on that new, kind of future soul vibe. It was one of those tracks were the minute it was made, it just made sense to put it out on Integral and make a statement with it. That was the turning point in terms of finally getting our own releases as AI on Integral, based around this track which we thought was perfect for the vibe of where the label was going. Everyone around us was saying that we had to do it, including all the current artists on the label. But yeah, the idea was born off the back of Nobody, and after that the EP came together quite quickly.
Looking forward instead of back now…. what’s coming in 2018?
We’ve got absolutely loads coming, there’s the 10 Years of Integral album sampler and two weeks after that will be the album, so it’s all happening very quickly. There’s more from Dawn Wall, a follow-up Phil:osophy EP and another Mohican Sun EP as well. Satl is someone who we really want to push, he’s got a second EP on the way and is one of our favourite producers at the moment.
We’ve got the Timeline remix album coming out at the end of this year or January, including a remix of Take Me There by SCAR which is absolutely unbelievable, as well as another EP for Metalheadz.
Who’s on the album?
All the usual’s, so: Phil:osophy, us, Mohican Sun, Dawn Wall, Satl, Phil Tangent and our first ever collaboration with Lenzman which we’re really excited about.
It sounds like you guys are entering a really healthy period where there isn’t much pressure because there’s so much music you could put out?
Exactly yeah, it’s been a really nice period. Three or four years ago the whole music thing was at the back of our minds, we just weren’t feeling the vibe at all and it just felt like a chore. Whereas the last two years we’ve really enjoyed it, we definitely feel confident and it’s coming naturally again.
So, it’s almost been a return to the old D.O.P.E, Marcus Intalex days, where it felt organic and natural?
Yeah exactly, he was one of the few people who was very close to the whole Mohican Sun/Dawn Wall project, he was in the background, supporting it. It was all about the ethos of the old Soul:r, doing what we love and not trying to fit into anything. That’s the best way to get results, not trying to fit onto a label or fit onto a radio show, if things come naturally then people will buy into it – that’s when you’ve got something really special.
Head down to 10 Years of Integral at Fire in London this Friday to hear the Integral sound in action with guests Lenzman, SpectraSoul, Technimatic, LSB, Fabio, Anile, Patife, Redeyes, Phil:Osophy, Satl and more joining Artificial Intelligence.