Saturday, 23 January 2016

deepArtSounds: Part Two

FROM wide-eyed teenage clubber to serious record collector to DJ to producer and eventually label boss is not such an uncommon journey these days. Few, however, can have made it so seamlessly or with such grace and style as George Boutopoulos.

For Boutopoulos is one third of the serious and seriously-stylish Zurich-based label deepArtSounds, which burst onto the underground only three years ago but has made such an impact amongst the faithful on the back of a series of quality releases from what reads like a who’s who of deep house: Above Smoke, Anthony Nicholson, Dubbyman, Ernie, Jenifa Mayanja. Oh, and a certain Ron Trent.

Here in part two of three [you can read part one here], Boutopoulos tells bringdownthewalls about his first foray into running a record label, the two sides to his production work and the Asian connection that woke Moto Music out of hibernation.

Tell me more about your first label Moto Music.
After years of running our very first house label, No Acting Vibes, not very successfully, it was time to change something. The idea behind Moto Music was to set up a label dedicated more to techno and ambient. This was around 1996.

We wanted to create a cool underground brand. ‘Modern Music that sounds like technology’ was our new motto. We called it simply Moto Music. The philosophy was simple and that was to just release soulful and contemporary techno music related more closely to our idols from Detroit, who we had always kept an eye on.

At that time there was no internet and no label scene or community in Switzerland. We felt a little lost at the beginning, but together with our German distributor Formic we were able to build a really good set up. We sold more than 1000 copies of Moto Music 001, The Shine EP. We also had really nice support from international magazines, which put this record in their charts. The first four releases were my own productions [as Dan Piu], which brought international recognition. After this, we decided to sign Marco Repetto, better known under different aliases. He is probably the most respected techno act in Switzerland and he used to be the drummer of the legendary electronic punk band Grauzone [check 'em here].

There were seven releases in those first six years, the last in 2003 featuring Charles Noel from New York. That is probably the most requested record that we have ever released. In 2003, I decided to close the label. It was obvious to us that the analogue sound of Moto Music and its characteristic live arrangements were no longer in tune with the new digital world which had arrived by then.

So why then the sudden decision to resurrect the label again this year after such a lengthy hiatus?
To be honest, we were pushed a little by many people to re-awaken our old label. We made a link on Discogs between deepArtSounds and Moto Music and this was the reaction.

In 2014 I went to Japan to visit our distributors there and when I told them that we used to run Moto Music many years before they just said: “Wow! You are the guy behind this?”. They were surprised and they suggested why not re-launch this nice label. They said techno was in and that we could count on their support. This got me thinking during my long Asia trip. Later in Sri Lanka, I met my label partner Roberto [Pistolese] and while eating a nice Indian curry we both decided to re-open Moto Music.

It is our friend Todd Sines from New York [Planet E/Peacefrog] who has brought Moto Music back to life with his alias Enhanced on the Core EP, featuring four rough, groovy techno tracks and mastered by Above Smoke.

We want to keep Moto Music underground as it always used to be. No webpage, no Facebook. We will have a maximum of two releases a year.

Going back to your work George, you produce under the aliases Allstarr Motomusic and Dan Piu. Tell me about those two and what you have coming up from each?
My alias Dan Piu goes back to the time of Moto Music in the ’90s. The tracks are lush and groovy, analogue sounding and made for the dance-floor. They are very fluid and have been arranged mostly live with my 24-band analogue mixer. It’s kind of a manifesto to bring all machines together and let them speak. It’s definitely an improvised and spontaneous thing.

Allstarr Motomusic could be described as the opposite of my alias Dan Piu. The songs are structured completely differently. I use a Logic 9 sequencer and the songs sound more thoughtful and refined. I write the songs in my bedroom or in my living room or even while traveling. Then I go to my studio to finish and replace some digital sounds with real analoque synth sounds to give the songs the necessary essence and body. The last step is to mix my songs together with my mentor and close friend Eisentanz [] in his professional studio.

I don’t like to categorise my music but Allstarr Motomusic focuses more on the deeper and softer side of things. I’ve been making house music since 1992, but apart from my earlier No Acting Vibes releases, honestly, I never felt comfortable enough to release them or to show them to any label head.

What changed that then?
It was Dubbyman [Deep Explorer] himself during his Switzerland and Austria tour who discovered my music by pure coincidence. He was at my house and he saw a keyboard near my window, so it was obvious to ask me to show him something. His reaction was very positive and kind of surprising. A few months later, Ernie picked a track from my song library [Little Trinidadian Girl] for the Between Earth And Space various artists EP on his label Minuendo. It was followed by an original four-tracker EP [Beauty & Simplicity Vol. 1] on Dubby’s own world-class label.

Regarding releases, there is the forthcoming Beauty & Simplicity Vol. 2 on Deep Explorer and Open The Skymy contribution track on Codes Of Sacrifice, the current various artists EP on deepArtSounds.

I can also now reveal future projects. My track Get Da will appear on the forthcoming Big & Tall various artists EP on the Belgrade-based Soul Print Recordings. I played there [Belgrade] recently and have an excellent relationship with the Soul Print crew. There will be a really good collaboration in the near future.

Also pencilled in is an EP on Minuendo later this year, plus I have music signed to a Japanese label whcih will be coming out this year too.

Then I'm still working on my album, which will be a summary of my work during all the years behind the machines. Release date this year sometime.

Another project that I can also reveal is together with my girlfriend Sarignia BonfĂ  [the voice on Jesus Gonsev’s sublime Kiss My Eye]. We are currently working on some tracks together. Her voice is fantastic and we already have superb feedback including from well-known producers [Check out their track Light Of The Soul right here].

I’m also working on another project together with Malcolm Moore and his wife Debra Jones-Davis of Altered Moods. There will also be a few more vinyl releases in the near future on nice labels. However, I tend not to release too much and only for selected labels I can stand behind. For me this is important and I would also urge every producer not to release too much and not release every track they’ve produced on any label. You should always stand behind what you release. I don’t want to regret a release one day.

Regarding forthcoming releases under the pseudonym Dan Piu, there is nothing planned yet but I guess it’s obvious to release again on Moto Music one day.

Check out:
the deepArtSounds family here
Motion Fhere

Coming soon…DeepArtSounds: Part Three…Ernie, the Madrid connection and the way ahead.

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