Rooted Recordings is a drum & bass label which has been gathering momentum recently. Based in London, the label is organised by the Wales-born producer and DJ known as Chemical Ally. We caught up with Chemical Ally recently for a chat about Drum & Bass past and present, and the future of the Rooted Recordings label. We strongly encourage you to check the label out!
IA: I understand you’ve been around the UK rave scene for quite a long time and that you actually immersed yourself in various strains of early 90’s techno initially. Do you have any particular favourites from that era? And what is it that drew you to techno in the beginning?
CA: In 1990 it wasn’t so clearly categorised as it is today, for me it was just ‘rave music’. By ‘93 there was more definition of these sub genres. I’m 34 now, and at the age of 12 I got a set of decks. To pinpoint what it was that drew me towards one particular sound is difficult, maybe teenage angst combined with a surge of testosterone. With regards to particular favourites, labels such as ‘Industrial Strength’ and ‘Rising High’ really had an influence on me.
IA: It’s easy to see how someone might develop an interest in the techier side of Drum & Bass having come from that kind of background. I can hear the influence of techno quite clearly in this side of Drum & Bass – it is thematically very similar. Is it fair to say your movement into Drum & Bass was a natural extension of that original interest?
CA: Definitely. Drum & Bass really appealed to me when the beats tightened up and the sounds were more stripped back, and this is where I feel it’s similarity with Techno lies.
IA: As the 00’s went on we witnessed a lot of experimentation with older forms in bass music. Of note was a resurgence of the “tech/neuro” sound in Drum & Bass (which also palpably influenced a definite strain of dubstep from the latter part of the last decade). For you, who were the biggest innovators in the early days of this sound?
CA: The producers who stood out for me would be Ed Rush and Optical, Ram Trilogy, Stakka and Skynet, to name but a few. The production skills demonstrated by the artists I’ve named where what really pushed the sound to a new level.
IA: Alright let’s talk a little bit about your label, Rooted Recordings. Do you have any particular vision for the label?
CA: For me having a record label is similar to being a DJ. As a DJ you have an artistic licence to take people on a journey. I see Rooted as an extension of this ability to express my musical interests. This then makes it difficult to have a set vision for the label, as my musical interests are constantly evolving. Quality not quantity is what I’m really looking to achieve.
IA: With the proliferation of communications tech it’s become a lot easier for people to participate in music in a lot of ways, from getting your beats out there through to creating a label or radio show/station – how do you make a label stand out against such a noisy background?
CA: Standing out isn’t really my objective. Staying true to the sounds I believe in, and those that appeal to me are far more important. I suppose some level of consistency is needed, if people can rely on you to put out good music at a certain standard over time the reputation of the label will build.
IA: So how did the Total Science remix come about? Was it a request or simply a track they were feeling?
CA: I asked them if they could remix ‘Cargo Dub’. I had two objectives here, firstly to have Total Science and their years of talent add another twist to what I feel is an absolutely blinding track by Ed:it. Secondly, raising the profile of Rooted by employing such industry heavy weights. On receiving ‘Cargo Dub’, I was happy to learn that they really liked the tune, as was Ed:it.
IA: How do you go about searching for tracks for the label? Do you listen on the go throughout the week, or clear some time in the diary and have a good session with it?
CA: This part of the process is completely random. I tend to listen to tracks when I’m at my computer, and then if there’s something that stands out I’ll listen to them in the car over the course of a week. It’s important to really get a feel for a track, something that isn’t fully understood by some aspiring artists. The internet has created a very fast form of communication for us all, but it in some it has created a need for an instant response.
IA: And the final stretch! Any plans for 2013 you can share?
CA: Not really….I’m just aiming to keep some momentum and put out good sounds.
IA: First rave/gig?
CA: In 1992 I played at a free party in west Wales to around 100 people, proper early days car crash set!
IA: First album?
CA: Probably ‘Mixed Up’ by The Cure.
IA: Guiltiest pleasure in music? (Something you like but know you shouldn’t)
CA: I don’t believe in a “guilty pleasure” when it comes to music. One persons “guilty pleasure” is another person absolute obsession. I don’t feel any guilt for music that appeals to me.
We wanna extend a big thanks to Chemical Ally for speaking with us today. As I said earlier, we seriously recommend heading over to soundcloud and having a listen to the label previews. We’re confident you’ll find a gem or two for your bag or USB. We should also mention that you can follow Rooted Recordings on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest.