Monday, 15 July 2013

Various Artists - Modernists 4 (and an interview with Tony from Modern Urban Jazz).

VariousArtists - Modernists 4 (Modern Urban Jazz)
This time I am reviewing a cassette tape that I was sent by Tony from Modern Urban Jazz who also agreed to answer some questions for me so I would like to thank him for both sending the tape and also for answering the questions. Here are the questions that I asked and the answers:

Can you tell me a bit about your label; things like how long have you been doing a record label and why did you start it? Why did you call it Modern Urban Jazz? Do you sell much or do you have to have another job as well?

I first started the record label back in 1995, so a fair few years ago now. I started it initially as somewhere that myself and other artists I was working with could release some of the more challenging or experimental drum and bass that we were making at the time, and it also let me have control of what I was releasing and how or when I wanted to release it. I called it Modern Urban Jazz because I felt the music that we were making was akin to jazz in its non-conformist and no rules approach. I like jazz and had always been influenced by it so it felt right to use the jazz name. The modern bit was all about bringing our own futuristic take on jazz, making it modern and the urban because well it's the music of the cities and towns it was being made in and listened to in. It just seemed to fit together as a name and summed up what the music was about. The releases we do on the label in the physical forms, the records, tapes, cd's etc are always in a limited amount and we release digitally as well. The label does make some money which we usually invest back into the next projects. I work in education as well and do mentoring and teaching with 11-16 year olds.

I have reviewed a few tapes recently and enjoyed them very much, why did you decide to release this on tape as well as CD and do you listen to tapes at home - if so can you tell me about them?
When you have a label, you find yourself in a position where you are able to release music that you like and you can release it in lots of different formats. Tapes really seem to be making a comeback at the moment and this really appeals to me because as a kid I used to have loads of tapes with different music on. A lot of it was hip hop and then house and the developing rave scene. I used to walk round taping stuff when i was young so I have always had a love of tape, and wanted to put one out. I still have many of those same tapes at home and lately I have been listening to a hip hop mix tape by DJ Premier from New York from the mid 90's , a tape by Bobby Womack and the Valentinos and another tape we did in collaboration with Rawtrachs, called Jump and accept the power, which we put out a while back.

Modernists 4 is a compilation with lots of different people on it, how did you find the people to go on it?  

When I put something together a project or an LP, things often happen quite organically or naturally. This LP is the 4th in the Modernists series and I wanted it to be more varied and different musically from the others we had released in the past. Rawtrachs has a track on there and I met him because he interviewed me for his fanzine, I found out he also did music so got him to do a track. I met Burlish as he had also been interviewed for the same fanzine and I also DJ-ed at his night in Birmingham and I liked the tracks he sent me. Critical resistance I met via twitter and soundcloud via the internet which is a really useful tool for artists getting in contact or being able to network with different people. We have people who we work with regularly like Jason oS from Canada, so it’s a nice blend of people we have stumbled across, established artists and my own work or collaborations like Just in from Michigan with Metro.

I'm a Londoner and like living in London because there's plenty of things to see and do so I never get bored. Where are you from and do you like it and if so why? 

I am from Luton, which is not far from you, and yes I don’t mind it, it’s my hometown and base. I don’t really get bored as I have a wife and two boys who keep me entertained in between doing music and running the label. But if I want to I can hop on a train or drive and be in London in about half an hour which is good because we do the mastering for our music in London, plus I like London as well so enjoy a visit to different record shops or pubs, to get some food or have a look about, I never get bored there either.

           I thought that was all very interesting because it is interesting to learn a little bit about how record labels work and I was surprised to learn that running a record label doesn't make you enough to live on. I think it's a shame that Tony doesn't make a living out of it but being a teacher is a good job to have, education is very important because if there were no teachers then children wouldn't be able to learn anything. I also thought it was interesting that Tony comes from Luton - I went to Luton once when I lived in Leavesden Hospital and we had a day trip to go all round the town and to the cinema where we saw Basic Instinct and I thought it was a very nice place and the people there were very friendly people.
            Another thing that I thought was interesting was how Tony talked about getting the different artists together to put on the tape. I've got a few compilations at home but they are mostly 50's and 60's rock and roll ones and not electronic music like this is, I think compilations are a good thing to have because they have a lot of different people on them and it is good to listen to different people.
             The person who starts off side one of the tape is the Burlish person that Tony talked about in his answers and his song starts off with electronic drums which sound a bit like fast marching drums and then over the top comes synthesiser bits which sound like long echoes in a tunnel and then there are bits which sound like a big bell being hit softly - I thought this was quite a relaxing tune even though the drums are quite fast and I thought it was a nice way to start the tape.
             After the Burlish tune is a tune by Icons called Time Undefined and this is another quite relaxing tune which I thought was perfect for a sunny day like today and would be nice to listen to in your garden having a drink and a sandwich and just taking it easy. I'm not in my garden though because I'm at The Gate doing record reviews but I don't mind being in here because I like doing the reviews.
              The next song on the tape Betamax Heard which is a funny name because I've not heard the word Betamax for ages because I don't think you can buy Betamax's anymore because they are out of date so I thought it was interesting that a person has called themselves after them. The music doesn't sound out of date though because it is electronic party music and it sounds modern to me because electronic music is quite new - when I was young the music at parties always used to be rock and roll because electronic music wasn't invented then. I like this song very much, it seems quite a happy and cheerful song  which I thought was another one which is perfect for the summer weather.
             Next up is a song by somebody called Rawtrachs which is another party tune with drums in it which reminded me of marching drummers and I thought of them parading down the street. I didn't think this one was as summery as the last two because  it's not as happy sounding but I still liked it a lot.
               After that tune is a song by Deep Blue and Justice and I liked this a lot too. Justice is the name that Tony who sent the tape uses when he's making music - I think he is very good at making music and have heard his music before when I reviewed a record of his before that I liked very much, this song is another one which sounds quite relaxed even though the drums are quite fast on it.
                The next song is called Cope by somebody called fume and this one I thought was great, it has a big, jazzy drumbeat and keyboard space sounds and I thought it sounded a bit like it could be the music for a space film about astronauts who go into orbit and come back and go to a jazz club; I think this would be a very good film indeed.
                 On the B-side of the tape it begins with a song by Milestone and it starts off with a lovely piano bit which goes over and over and then the drums come in and it gets very funky and different piano bits come in - I thought this was another nice relaxing tune which would be good to chill out too.
                  The next song has piano in it too but it is faster piano because this is a faster type of song. I liked this one because it had that nice Jazz singing in that just goes "ba ba baba ba" instead of having words.
                   After that song is a song by Consumer which is another one that made me think of space. It is quite a noisy one with metal clanking sounds for drums that made me think of the robot dancing that you used to see on the telly in the eighties. I used to enjoy seeing the robot dancing because it was a very different way of dancing and I also thought it was a bit funny so it was good to be reminded of it.
                  Next up is another one by Betamax heard and like his other one it another tune that would be good for a summer party maybe on a beach somewhere like Brighton or Southend - I'm going Southend this weekend but I don't think there will be any music there because I'm not going to a party there.
                 Then there is another song by Tony but this time with somebody called Metro which I thought was very good and quite spacey again and after that is the final song which is really nice because it is very mellow with a drumbeat that sounds a bit like a heartbeat and I thought this was a very nice way of ending the tape.
                    Overall I would say I enjoyed this tape a lot and I definitely think it is a good tape for the summer especially if you were going to have a party in your garden. Another reason that i liked it was because there are lots of different things to listen to on it and they are all very interesting and nice to listen to. I would give this tape 10 out of 10.

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