Samurai Horo ‘Scope’ interview
On the eve of the launch night, I spoke to Samurai about the immense new compilation on Horo called Scope, specifically abut the tapestry of artists here, and what was the overall statement being made?
S: It’s the Horo sound basically.
It’s to lay out an audio description of what we believe the sound of the label to be. We always wanted to steer our sound towards the edges, music that makes you want to just own it instead of worrying what genre it is or where it fits, and it all ended up happening very organically.
I nowadays think I can hear a ‘Horo’ tune now when I get sent it and that was always the goal.
DB: What are main inspirations?
S: The inspiration for Horo, the sound, the presentation, branding everything comes from living in Berlin and being amongst the thriving techno community here. Their approach to releasing records, every facet of it has been constantly inspiring for the label and is now carrying on into the other two labels. We want to take what we love from the house and techno scene and apply it to a 170 / D&B approach.
If there’s any other labels we have a kinship and respect for in 170 music right now, one would be ASC’s Auxilliary label, and there has been times when ASC has been sent a tune and said ‘this sounds like a Horo’, which for us is a great compliment.
One example of this is Es.tereo & Marlyn ‘Cutting You Loose’ on Scope. That is a perfect Horo tune! Also Felix K’s Hidden Hawaii label is another example of the kind of approach we have a lot of respect for. Incredible unique music on every release with no stylistic borders, and lots of care put into presentation and mood.
DB: The tunes here are very interesting and broad, so what are some in partic you’d discuss?
S: That’s like picking your favourite friend! Both the Fis tracks on the album are completely unique of course like everything he makes, but ‘Celiac Tingle’ in particular, when he sent me that I didn’t get it until a few days later and then I really got it. ‘Dragnet’ yelled Horo as soon as I heard it and it’s great because ASC and his music were part of the inspiration for starting the label.
Ena ‘Dipteran’ took my head off and was a great introduction to an amazing musician. He really is out there on his own like many of the people on this compilation. The Kiyoko tune was one of the last that came in and when I first listened I was over run with emotion, they really have the power to dig right inside your deepest thoughts and move them around. I wasn’t expecting the Klute tune at all, but when it came in, it really re-affirmed what a gifted guy Tom is; he can make very beautiful music consistently in any style.
Sorry guys, I could write a novel about the LP here. Thank you to every person on this, I’m very lucky to have you all working with me.
DB: How do you find the vinyl selling? Seems to me like it just sels as ‘normal’ with Samurai; it sells simply because it’s great.
S: Yeah it’s been quite steady for us despite all the controversy etc. I think if you put care into your package and release great music, people will want to own it on vinyl. I don’t think straight dance floor music is a workable medium long term on vinyl for obvious reasons.
DB: When did you draw the line on this? To state ‘That’s it, I have the compilation now’?
S: There was a definite line, I felt it happen. I did go way overboard and signed a lot more than I planned to but it all felt right so I kept going.
DB: You mention Berlin, is it a hotbed for D&B/beats as such?
S: Yes, I think Germany, in particular Berlin is a hub. That’s why I moved here and I feel my desires to be living in a city where music is part of the very fabric of the city have been adequately quenched. Berlin created Horo essentially, it made me realise it and have a clear vision of what it would be.
DB: Tell us about the artwork and visual aesthetic?
S: The kanji for the art of Scope was hand drawn by a friend of Ena’s in Tokyo. Her name is Yumiko Murai, and we are very happy with the job she did for us and will be working with her more in the future. Big thanks to her! We have always tried to take a unique and respectful approach to the use of Kanji in our designs. Japanese art and culture has always been a very big source of inspiration for samurai obviously, so blending that in with a techno aesthetic has helped define our look. We did a clear vinyl, hand numbered edition of 40, which again was inspired by some of our favourite techno records. I buy a lot of them and I’m so fascinated by the combination of colours, and non colours to create an aesthetic that matches the mood of the music. There is also a marbled vinyl edition. Techno here was again an influence.
DB: Tell us about live pressha!
S: We’ll be launching Scope officially in Frankfurt on 27.09 with myself and Clarity and Berlin on 26.10 with Sam KDC, Felix K, Clarity, Es.tereo and myself and maybe a special guest or two. The Berlin launch will be our first official Samurai Music party in our new adopted hometown. I will also be in Bratislava, Slovakia on 11.10 for an official Samurai Music night with Tokyo Prose who is also doing an album for Samurai Redseal in 2014.