Record labels seem to be springing up at an alarming rate over the past few years, and with electronic dance music being so ruddy diverse in its current forms, perhaps it’ll always be so. With so many labels pushing out so many tunes over so little time though, how does one keep up, or indeed sort the future classics from the heat of the moment experiments in bedroom production?
Graham from Granholme Records spends a lot of his time filtering out quality from the endless billowing clouds of average music, and has made it is primary mission to take hold of shining new talents with both hands, and drag them into the light. Working with Martyn and Erosie on the 3024 label too, he’s also a vinyl fanatic, a bit of a risk-taker and likes a pint of cider, and he’s just back from his holidays ready to talk bass music.
Hi Graham. How are you? How's business?
Good thanks – I’ve just got back from Morocco without any electronic music for a week so my ears feel nicely rested! Business seems solid so far but I reckon it pays to be cautious when you’re an unknown label putting out new artists.
It says on your website: "GRANHOLME WAS ESTABLISHED IN EARLY 2011 AFTER RECEIVING THE SORT OF DEMO THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO START A RECORD LABEL." - That's quite a statement. Was this the "Wiping The Eye" EP, or something we're yet to be acquainted with?
Yeah, that was “Wiping The Eye’ - I love all three tracks on that EP but the title track was the one that made me think I'd really regret it if someone else released it!
Finding something as polished as "Wiping The Eye" by a producer who had formerly been quite involved with atmospheric-sounding bass music must have been quite a thrill - how did you come about getting hold of it (and eventually releasing it - surely there was some competition from more established labels)?
I heard it as a demo submission at 3024 where it stood out a mile. Martyn's very much in control of their A&R and already had a full schedule, but he was a huge help getting Granholme up and running. I think there was definitely interest from other labels but I'd had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted Granholme to be for a while, and hopefully that helped seal things.
Zoltan - "You Don't Know" was more of this fresh, clean house sound - is this the sound of Granholme? Or for the next few releases are you stepping in a bit of a different direction?
I love that track and I was gutted it wasn't on the vinyl but I was really cautious about the repercussions of having it on a physical product and the wrong people hearing it. I don't really approach things from a 'Granholme Sound' perspective when I'm thinking about releases, it's more down to the feelings or memories a tune sparks. “Wiping The Eye” was a reminder of that down-the-rabbit-hole feeling from warehouse parties I'd been to, when things feel like they're about to get completely out of control, and the sound system is as high as it can go. The “Pluton” EP made perfect sense to me as the kind of thing me and my mates would go mental over somewhere small and sweaty with a low ceiling. Those are some of my favourite memories from the last few years, so anything that captured that feeling was always gonna be a shoe-in. The next record by Kloke [‘Circuit Theory’] strikes me as something separate, and a bit open ended. The title track especially is maybe less single minded than what's come before - I hope it'll go down well in a club environment, but really it makes me think of big skies and road trips. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I'm keen to not get the label pigeonholed as having ‘A Sound’ - there's way too much amazing stuff being made all over the place, and the label’s far too young to have its wings clipped in that fashion. I'd like to think there'll be records down the line that a few people will be obsessed by, and might alienate some too. Churning out production line ‘FutureHouseStep’ would bore the shit out of me so there'll definitely be a few curve balls in the future.
Circuit Theory's been waiting for a release for some time now, and if you don't mind me saying, it's a bit more bouncy, brighter and generally more fun than 001 + 002 - how did you get hold of it?
Ha! It’s a bit of a long story... Martyn had been out in Australia on a Red Bull Tour in 2010 (I think) and had met Andy (Kloke) over there (Andy lives in Melbourne). Anyway, when he came back the label plans were taking shape a bit more and he suggested I speak to him. We got chatting and “Circuit Theory” was the first thing I heard. I instantly felt the need to sign it. Of course it turned out that another label was interested in it who are quite a bit bigger and more established. It all worked out in the end though (big up Alex and Tom!) and we agreed to a two track 12” around spring last year. Things were dragging a bit in terms of the label getting off the ground and he sent me some more tracks which were also great, so the two track 12” is now a four track EP.
Are there any more future releases you'd like to talk about, or is it still early days/top secret?
I'm pretty wary of talking about anything until I've got signed paperwork but there's releases verbally agreed up to and including GHM-006 from some people I'm really excited about. Assuming that all comes to pass it should be a pretty good year!
Your artwork is really striking - how did you come to work with Maarten [Mieras]? Do you collaborate on the design? Was having a strong image a big part of what drives this crisp artistic direction, or do you just let him get on with it?
I met Mieras via Mickey from [nakedlunch] at a festival in Holland a couple of years ago - I knew he was a designer (he's responsible for the [nakedlunch] artwork, amongst other things) but mainly remembered him on account of me drunkenly congratulating him on a t-shirt he was wearing. He took the half arsed themes I'd tried to explain and turned it into something properly fleshed out and fully realized. He seems to have an uncanny knack for nailing the sort of look I have in mind based on the sketchiest of explanations or concepts I provide, and I'm incredibly lucky to work with him. I also have to mention www.northbynorth.co.uk who's done an amazing job of translating each release’s aesthetic into animation (on a budget of 20 Marlboro Silver and 5 pints of Stowford Press).
Will Granholme always be mainly concerned with finding new and under-appreciated talents, or are you planning some bigger-named releases/collabs/remixes in the near future?
Pretty much - early on I'd been thinking about a remix EP of higher profile names remixing the first few releases, but then logistical and economical realities sunk in and that idea got binned off quick! To be honest, I'd rather the label made its own names, but if someone decent was into a certain tune and wanted to remix it... well, you never know.
Will vinyl always be your main priority? I've spoken to a fair few labels recently who are adamant digital is the only way to break even these days - how true do you think this is?
I don't see digital as being any sort of replacement for vinyl, either in terms of income or ideologically. Maybe it's different for people who grew up with broadband and torrents, but I like owning objects - I'm not sure I've ever paid to download music in my life. I don't have that audiophile fundamentalist approach to sound quality, but it doesn't take a genius to hear the difference between a digital file and well cut vinyl – plus, anyone can throw a file up on a server and charge 79p for it. Subconsciously or not I tend to be more receptive to stuff someone's committed to manufacturing - that doesn't mean music on digital labels is any less valid, and I've heard some great tracks on them, but to me making vinyl is a bit of a statement. It says: 'I believe in this music enough to commit money to it in such a way that the best case scenario is I break even'...which on balance is a pretty dumb statement, but I try not to dwell on that! It's a pretty emotive subject but you can't call yourself a record label if you don't release records can you?
Go and find Granholme on facebook: facebook.com/granholme as Graham’s promised to giveaway a track after “some totally arbitrary number of likes”.
Check the promo videos for "Wiping The Eye" and "Pluton" on the Granholme YouTube channel: Youtube.com/granholme
Graham would also like to shout out to the 3024 family, the Earnest Endeavours crew, Sonic Router and to anybody else who’s helped out with the label so far. Bigups and that!