For the newest addition to our interview series, it was a pleasure to head to Sync 24’s studio for a chat about his label, club night and personal projects. This edition is a double whammy, coming with his curation of the 110th edition of our Mix Series as well!
AUDIO VERSION OF INTERVIEW:
LOOSE LIPS MIX SERIES #110:
We’re here with Phil Bolland, aka Sync 24, thanks for inviting us to your studio!
I was lucky to be introduced to you by Billy Nasty at The Silver Bullet, unfortunately that venue isn’t around anymore! Firstly, can you introduce yourself for anyone who doesn’t know about yourself and Sync 24?
I run Cultivated Electronics, which is now celebrating its 10th year in a couple of week’s time. We have a 12” coming out to celebrate that. I started writing music about 15 or 16 years ago on a label called Touchin’ Bass, initially with Rob Smith, who’s still one of my best mates today. We did a 12” as Cultek, and I did no.6 and no.7 on Touchin’ Bass as coincided EP’s - the Cultek EP and the Sync 24 EP which was called Darker Senses. We also started the Scand club night together about 15 years ago; I’ve been doing the night quite sporadically over that time with some long breaks at moments in between.
What was your inspiration to get into music? And then moving towards production?
I started mixing records at like 13 or 14 with mates, my initial love was drum and bass and that kind of stuff. I got technics when I was about 15, I was just mixing on direct drive turntables with mates up until then. We used to play… d’n’b, hip hop, ninja tune stuff, some LTJ Bukem etc….We met some new guys at college who introduced us to the music of Aphex Twin, Drexcyia, Carl Finow etc … I remember getting lent a cassette tape that was given to Rob, which just had all these wicked tracks, like wave jumper, voice stealer and that kind of stuff. That was a moment where I was like wow! I hadn’t heard this type of music before. Through mixing I got into the idea that I wanted to produce...this was when I was 18; it was more of an idea at that time. I came into a small amount of money and started building a studio; that was like the real turning point - I got a mixing desk, a computer and a couple of basic synths. At that time I had dropped out of college, and then I decided to start doing a music technology degree, went back to college and just got my head down.
What was it about that new sound you discovered– Carl Finlow/Aphex Twin etc - what grabbed you with that?
I dunno, It was a sound I liked, I just liked it and that was that really.
You have always stayed true to that Electro sound… you’ve been involved in electro for many years and especially with Cultivated Electronics, why does Electro dominate?
I like other music but I’m quite linear – especially with the music I buy and the records I play and the music I put out.
The initial idea for Cultivated Electronics was a core of artists who all chipped in some money… Matt Whitehead, Chris (Point 7 from Toytronic), Rob…and a few other guys. We put out a collab, and as things moved forward, it went on as just me running the label.
When I moved to London at age 19 I hooked up with ADJ, Junq and Steve Faulkner – these guys were a bit older than me and they exposed me to a lot of new sounds, they had the knowledge and the records. I was quite lucky to hang out with those guys who were really into the kind of music I liked, and a friend called Dave hooked me up with Andy (ADJ) who played at the first Scand night.
What’s coming up at the moment on the label?
So there’s the 10th Anniversary (the 20th release) which is now out. I have always been into the ‘various artists’ style of releases, to put different angles on one bit of content. There’s been a lot of different series’ over the last ten years. The last series was a ‘collab series’ of 5 EPs that were all collabs where I worked with other artists. So, there was joint work with The Exaltics, Morphology, Ed DMX (MMT-8), Silicon Scally, then the most recent 10th anniversary release was collabs with Truss, Radioactive Man, Jensen Interceptor and Steve Allman (a resident at Scand). I always had a 5 EP collab idea for the series that ended at no.20 with this v/a…now we’re there!!
Any more plans for the future?
Moving forward, I have hooked up with Privacy, he’s one of my favourite artists of the newer guys producing electro, I really like his stuff on Lobster Theramin and Klasse Wrecks – he’s really good. I’m making two tracks with him, the next EP will be a split EP: DeFeKT and then a collaborative track with me and Privacy. Then, I’ve got Resonance Committee for the 22nd release, that’s a new group made up of Phil Klein (Bass Junkie), Radioactive Man, Matt Whitehead and The Dexorcist. They wrote the tracks at The Curve Pusher studio in Hackney, it’s an analogue studio with really nice classic old nice gear, the sound is really nice! After that, there’s a couple of other EPs that I may keep under wraps for now because they’re not totally sorted yet!
Then I have a new series which is starting called From the Dark, a series of all very dark stripped back electro tracks. With artists like Delta Funktionen, Umwelt, Privacy, Stratowerx, Rico, Morphology, Adapta, Ekman and some others. This will all be over the next couple of years.
So much talk of collaborations, is there a particular way that you prefer to work with other musicians?
How I collaborate depends really. With Keith and Ed we’d be in the same room….but then with other artists we’d swap Ableton projects, swapping stems, swapping bits between people. It’s just totally dependent on the circumstances, whatever works. I think the best way is to both sit in a room and jam, but when it gets down to the finer details, the editing, sometimes it’s best left to one person at a time.
You mentioned the analogue studio and the analogue set-up Radioactive Man has. Have you had a preference with analogue/digital over the years?
When I first started out it was just all MIDI for me…through my mixing desk down do my DAT machine. From that point, I started getting into audio. It was when I worked with Matt Whitehead that things changed – he was a massive influence on me - we started an alias called Signal Type, I worked at his studio, and he totally opened my eyes up to production techniques - his whole drum and bass background, working with audio and the different things you can do with audio. I learnt different tips and techniques. For a good period then on, like 4 or 5 years, I was just working within the computer. Then another friend, alpha 606, came over from Miami to stay with me, and brought over all his analogue gear, his SH101, his 606… and we did an EP together and I loved the organic sound…and that was it really, since then I haven’t looked back. I still use digital machines but it depends on the sound pallet you want to create…the core sounds for me now are analogue.
Okay, onto this wonderful and awful city we both live in….
I moved to London 16 years ago. I think I did my first night when I was 20, at Fortress Studios, with artists like Mike Dred and ADJ..I forget other people as it was long ago! That was a really good party, the club was rammed. Being young I took it all for granted.
How do you track the development to now?
For putting on electro parties, it’s pretty tough. I’m not sure there’s a huge following present anymore. Some parties have been busy but from an underground electro perspective, it’s an uphill struggle. Cities like Berlin at the moment seem to have a good following though. I played at a good night at Griessmühle recently where there were 600 people at 8am still going… there it seems pretty positive from what I can tell.
Still I’ve got this party coming up next weekend....
Electro keeps going on though…the core stays strong with people like yourself…
For sure, it’s funny how things work in cycles though… a couple of years ago you had that Boddika and Addison Groove movement - all these kids checking out Electro, calling it post-dubstep and stuff… people were going ‘wow! what’s this new music?’ But this has always been going on.
The Electro groove is more of an acquired taste but it’s never really gone away.