Last month, SpectraSoul announced a new, exciting chapter in their thoroughly gripping decade-long career – they’ve started their own label.
It’s called Ish Chat Music and it’s very exciting news. Why? Well, Jack and Dave will explain in just a moment. But, as a spoiler, let’s just say it means we can expect more music from one of the most talented and respected production forces in the scene.
The duo’s discography, which spans some of the finest labels in the scene including Metalheadz, Critical, Exit, and of course Shogun Audio, will now also include music on an imprint which has been entirely hand-crafted by the Brighton boys themselves.
“The fact we have invested in ourselves and put our own money into this project gives us the drive and entrepreneurial edge required to make it work,” said Jack, one half of the duo. “There’s a lot at stake here and I don’t think we’ve felt this driven in a long time.”
A strong statement indeed. If that didn’t get you excited for what’s to come from SpectraSoul’s new project, this might…
Hi lads, what have you been up to lately?
Jack: Label stuff, mainly. Over the past few weeks we’ve been getting Ish Chat up and running, which has basically been a case of learning on the job. It’s been quite interesting and fun, and also quite liberating making all of our own decisions. We’re trying to make sure we get things absolutely right.
Here’s an easy one; where did the name come from?
Jack: Ish Chat is a tune on Delay No More, our first album. We were going to go with Memento, another tune on that album, but discovered that it was already taken, so we settled on Ish Chat. It’s one of our favourite tunes from that album and probably from our whole discography.
Here’s a slightly tricker one; why have you decided to leave the ‘comfort’ of Shogun and leap into the unknown?
Dave: We see this as a new challenge, we wanted to try something a bit different. We’ve been so used to being signed to labels, we just wanted to change it up a bit and have more control with what we release. We’ve never been creatively out of control when we’ve been signed, to any label, but we have been out of control in terms of when we could release music. When you’re signed to a label there are formats and schedules to stick to, but now we’re ‘free’, we don’t have those constraints.
Jack: With this label, we’re now in control of everything we do, and we can also try some weirder things that we maybe wouldn’t have been able to do elsewhere. Our music has always been quite broad in terms of its scope but I think we’ve always been keen on the artistic, visual side of things, and we can now work towards something that incorporates that side of things; something a bit different to other labels around. We feel that there are several marketing approaches that haven’t been tried yet; certain ways of reaching fans that haven’t been explored, so we can now try them out on our own platform. It’s going to be exciting.
You touched upon your admiration of design and the art there. Do you see this becoming more than just a music label?
Jack: That’s not the initial plan but that isn’t to say it won’t happen in the future. There are lots of things that start out doing one thing and develop into something else, it just depends on how people react. If people find the artwork for our releases and the Ish Chat logo appealing, then who knows what it might become? If things go well, we wouldn’t write off doing merchandise but our day-to-day thing is still music and always will be. We’re already doing t-shirts, which are available on our Bandcamp site.
So, in short, what does it mean for your fans, who have become so used to you releasing music on Shogun?
Jack: I’d say it’s pretty good news, they can certainly expect music more frequently from us from now on. We can release on Ish Chat pretty much whenever we want. We can also still work with other record labels that we’re familiar with and respect. We’ve obviously got an EP coming in a few days and we’re planning to release one in September too, as that will mark ten years since our first release… I can’t work out whether that’s depressing or an exciting milestone – probably a bit of both.
Speaking of that impending EP – the Ish Chat debut – what can people expect?
Dave: There’s a pretty broad range of styles on the EP. We’ve been experimental within a drum & bass tempo. In the ten or so years that we’ve been writing drum & bass, we’ve always had quite a diverse variety of music within the drum & bass spectrum from vocal tracks to harder, more experimental stuff. This first EP is quite a good example of the variety of drum & bass we’ve written over the years. They’re all different sounding tunes and we hope there’s something on there that everyone will like.
Jack: I don’t think there are any tracks on the EP that are comparable to things we’ve done before. 4URGH, the first tune to be released from it, is certainly unlike anything we’ve done before. It’s the result of new drum packs and synths. Nobody can pronounce it either, even us, which I quite like. There’s another track on there which I guess is ‘classic SpectraSoul’ – piano driven, funky drums and filtered synths. I’m also singing on it, which is the first time my vocals have ever been on a track.
Jack: Our focus was to reconnect with the club world on a few of the tracks whilst trying to keep it broad and varied. We found that, over the past few years, there aren’t many tracks we’ve made that could easily be rolled into a mix; we really have to think about how we mix them because they’re heavily vocal focussed.
You’ve been exclusively signed to Shogun for a while, it must be weird now that you’re not?
Dave: Not really, to be honest. A lot of people don’t realise that we’re all really good friends with all the Shogun guys and our studio is actually above the Shogun office. We both moved back to Brighton from London recently and we’re back in our old studio. Even though we’ve cut ties in a business sense with Shogun, we’ve still got the ties there in a personal sense, so it doesn’t feel that weird.
Jack: It’s a totally natural progression for us. They understood that given the length of time we’ve been doing our thing, it was time for us to take control of our own destiny. There’s nothing to say that in the future we won’t make appearances on Shogun and we’re still going to play at Shogun nights, but for now we’re just focussing on ourselves. When it came to thinking about making new music after the release of The Mistress, we weighed up our options and decided that doing our own thing made total sense. It’s nothing to do with something that has gone wrong, it’s more that we wanted to take a chance to invest in ourselves.
I’ve always imagined it’s quite a lengthy process getting a label up and running – correct?
Jack: No it came together pretty quickly, to be honest. We had loads of music ready to go and just thought “why don’t we just form our own label?” So we cobbled everything together quite quickly in terms of the infrastructure to release music and the artwork. The music wasn’t cobbled together quickly, of course…
Dave: We originally started it up just so that it could be a vehicle for our music, but then we realised that if things evolve and develop in the long run, it would make sense to have something with a strong name and identity around it, so we came up with the artwork and other things like that – things to give it a recognisable identity.
Have you gone to other label bosses for cheeky tips on how one should be run?
Dave: We’ve certainly done our research and have asked managers for advice and what they recommend we should do. I’ve got experience in running a label about six years ago but things have changed a lot since then things like scheduling and the digital side of things need to be taken into account far more.
The way in which music is consumed has changed massively since you started. Will you consider this with releases on Ish Chat?
Jack: I think it’s a little bit sad that people don’t seem to like the album format anymore, I’ve always loved it, and it’s the way I’ve always consumed music. However, being positive about the new opportunities that are presented by the modern music sphere is the way forward, and the way we like to go about things.
And finally, what’s your immediate focus?
Dave: For the meantime, our focus is writing interesting, exciting drum & bass and seeing where we go, but there’s nothing to say we won’t experiment with other genres. Having the freedom to do that is one of the big benefits of having our own label. In our albums we’ve always delved into other tempos and genres which can be a little bit frustrating at times because it doesn’t always connect in the right way.
Jack: We want to make tracks that don’t necessarily sound like ‘traditional drum & bass’.