Ahead of the “10 Years of Tectonic” anniversary celebrations in Tresor Club September 18th, 2015, we asked label manager Pinch some questions about the seminal imprint’s past, present and future.
Tresor: When did you start Tectonic? What were the circumstances?
Pinch: Plans for Tectonic started in 2004 with the first release dropping in early Spring 2005. At that time dubstep was a fresh, progressive force in underground UK music with a very small following and community. There was only a handful of dubstep labels releasing music at the time, all just at the beginning of their catalogues and dubstep felt like a well kept secret for it’s few but loyal followers. The sonic was predominantly stark, highly percussive, cinematic and minimal. And changing, month by month.
T: What was the impetus behind the label?
P: To begin with it was really, really simple: to release dubstep music! As it grew in popularity, the name ‘dubstep’ came to signify big wobbly half-step bangers but in 2005, ‘dubstep’ meant something quite different. There is something empowering about having a simplified vision of sonic ambition and that was what initially drove the direction and pursuit of Tectonic.
T: Where was bass music at, in general but also for you personally, at that particular point in time? Where did you see Tectonic’s place in this landscape?
P: No one was really talking about ‘bass music’ as this catch-all term around that time. ‘Bass Music’ was a term that came later and is something that I associate more with the likes of Ministry Of Sound, looking to use the term to sell compilation CDs that bundled dubstep alongside grime, D&B and UK-Funky offshoots. I always saw the early years of Tectonic in the context of dubstep as it was developing at the time: deep, heavy and involving sounds. My own background interests were predominantly jungle & D&B, hard techno and later more dub influenced techno, UK garage and grime. At the time I discovered dubstep, around 2003, I was mixing Basic Channel style techno with UK garage and grime records. Dubstep fitted perfectly for me and it swing me into full focus.
T: How does your work for Tectonic compare to the other labels you have been involved in?
P: It’s hard to think of an obvious distinction here but I’d say that I try to keep certain Pinch tracks for Tectonic – ones that perhaps have a more personal meaning to me. Sometimes I might release tracks on a friend’s label if I felt the track fitted the sonic of their imprint better – more likely, it may just be down to when I get asked and what I might have available at the time. In other situations, such as collaborations with Shackleton or Adrian Sherwood, where we both run labels – we’ve gone for a neutral imprint we both respect, such as Honest Jons or Warp.
T: What is special about Tectonic?
P: Nothing is special. Tectonic is unique, like everything should be.
T: Your personal favorites on the label? Your high points in 10 years Tectonic?
P: So many to mention… It sounds contrived to say this but I really treasure every release on the label – there’s nothing I regret releasing and every release has something about it that feels meaningful to me. Some label highlights would include plates from Loefah & Skream, Cyrus, 2562, Peverelist, RSD, Joker, Distance, Kryptic Minds; LPs such as Scientist Launches Dubstep Into Outer Space – compilation tracks from Shed, Flying Lotus, Martyn, Benga, Digital Mystikz and so on! In more recent times the preferred tempo of the label has dropped to around 128bpm and there’s been some ground breaking releases from Mumdance & Logos, Wen, Walton, Acre and Ipman. Over the 10 year period we’ve clocked up 20 albums and over 80 singles and EPs – so there’s a lot to choose from!
T: You recently announced a special release to commemorate 10 years of Tectonic, a collection of lost dubs, versions and collaborations, in an edition of 10 copies. Is this going to happen? And if so, can you tell us a little more about it?
P: That’s one part of the release… The plan is there will be 10x Tectonic branded Subpacs with engraved USB sticks containing the entire Tectonic catalogue – as well as some lost dubs, unreleased collaborations and even some forthcoming releases, ahead of official release dates. There’s some real gold in there! As well as the 10 Subpac versions, there will be 100 limited edition engraved USB sticks featuring the catalogue, 10 of which will also have the secret bonus tracks included!
T: What made you pick Tresor as the host of Tectonic’s anniversary party? It’s not your typical UK bass, let alone dubstep club. Is this a tribute to the more technoid direction Tectonic has taken in later years?
P: It’s just such a great club with a raw and honest energy. No frills, no bullshit. I love the main caged dancefloor space – I love how the whole club feels purely designed and focussed around the raver and that experience. You do feel that that energy, that mood from the moment you walk into Tresor. I played there last year for the first time and instantly decided that Tresor was one of my favourite places I had played in Berlin. It’s a space for dancing rather than posing in. Not to mention Tresor’s lineage in releasing upfront quality techno for so many years! Thank you for hosting us – I’m really looking forward to playing!
What can we expect from your set? I like to draw for moody, gritty tracks with alien percussion, sci-fi dub influences and earthquake inducing baselines. It’s dance music, but it might make you dance differently.