How the Glaswegian music producers and label helped define the sound of bass music
Glaswegian music producers Hudson Mohawke and Rustie have been key figures in the British electronic music landscape for the last couple of years. The former (real name Ross Birchard) has ended up in the studio with Kanye West and Chris Brown, while the latter (aka Russell Whyte) won 2012’s Guardian First Album Award for Glass Swords and had his track ‘After Light’ used by Adidas during the London Olympics.
The pair are now signed to seminal electronic label Warp, but two of the most respected young labels in Scotland have their roots in the highly regarded club nights from which they emerged. One of these, LuckyMe, actually started as a hip hop night in 2002. The other, Numbers, began the following year and went on to define the sound of the city in the last half-decade, placing it at the forefront of a new generation of bass music creators.
Richard Chater founded the Numbers collective with Calum Morton (who DJs as Spencer), Jack Revill (Jackmaster), Neil Norton, Adam Rogers (Goodhand) and Rob Mordue. Although ‘HudMo’ and Rustie were never officially members, their early reputations were integrally bound to the club night.
‘The important thing is, we’re all still good friends with one another,’ says Chater, whose label has its origins in Rubadub, the Glasgow record store where most of the Numbers team still work.
He says Numbers’ local profile rose after it booked big-name guests such as Autechre and Ghostface Killah. This was possible once they’d graduated to the renowned Sub Club from smaller venues Adlib and the Brunswick Hotel basement.
They stregthened the brand further by merging the members’ hobby labels, including Wireblock, Stuffrecords and Dress 2 Sweat, into the NMBRS imprint. ‘Our first release was Deadboy’s ‘If U Want Me’ in 2010,’ he says. ‘Since then, we’ve released records by artists like Mosca [‘Done Me Wrong/Bax’] and Jamie xx.’
The latter’s ‘Far Nearer’ was The xx member’s first solo release.
The LuckyMe collective credit Numbers for being a big influence and a great help in showing them how to run a label. Formed in Glasgow, they are currently widely spread: day-to-day heads Dominic Flannigan and Martin Flyn are based in London and Edinburgh respectively, while creative consultants Ross ‘Hudson Mohawke’ Birchard and Mike Slott are in London and New York.
They have released work by Machinedrum, The Blessings and American Men, and recently joined with Warp to co-release the album by Hudson Mohawke and Lunice as TNGHT. Their showcase events include parties during the Edinburgh Fringe and at Sonar in Barcelona, and they also maintain a second specialism as a design agency.
‘At the time it seemed like there was no one else doing this in Scotland,’ says Flannigan, ‘but when we started, we realised everything was there for us to turn this into a full-time job. It was an exciting time for electronic music in Glasgow.’
‘I was at art school at the time, so design’s always been a part of what we do,’ says Flannigan. ‘All our sleeves have been a collaborative effort. The fact we advertised our design background led to us doing art direction and website work for other labels and fashion brands.’
He suggests that social networking and online interaction have become key to running a 21st-century label. ‘Day to day, we write a lot of emails,’ he says. ‘The majority of this business is communication, whether that’s overseeing the production of the records, having collective input on how to market them or staying in touch with our artists.’
Location also makes a big difference, says Chater: ‘Glasgow’s got a good infrastructure. Rubadub handles distribution for Numbers and LuckyMe, and there’s a lot for people who love music including some very good club nights. Not just average clubs - great ones.’