Platipus Records are a label with a rich musical history stretching back to the mid-90s halcyon days of progressive house and trance. From Robert Miles ‘Children’, to Union Jack ‘Two Full Moons & A Trout’ they were (and still are) one of the go-to labels for melodic, trance-inspired progressive house and techno. This year will see the label ramp up its output, with a new single just released from label head Simon Berry, who features in our latest Inflyte Label Mates.
Congratulations on your latest track Black Rainbow which came out last week and is also your label Platipus’ 100th release, that’s a huge milestone… what can we expect for the up-coming year from you guys at Platipus?
I’m looking to step the label up another gear this year. I recently received a demo from Berlin-based sound-designer Torsten Fassbender. I liked the two tracks Skuchayu and Luna so much that we communicated a lot about how to make them even better and that will be the next EP out on 18th Feb. In March Platipus will release the sixth single by myself and Luke Brancaccio, a track called ‘Believe’ which will be the follow up from ‘I Hear This’ which came out on Bedrock in December last year. I hope the quality of the past few releases will encourage more people to send in some decent demos as I enjoy developing new artists.
If you could, how would you describe Platipus 2019 in 3 words?
Hypnotic. Melodic. Organic.
Your new track Black Rainbow, as mentioned, was your 100th release on Platipus, can you give us some info on how the track came about and any inspirations or ideas you drew from?
I often spend a couple of weeks at a time sourcing and programming sounds and recording short sequences which I’ll archive for ideas to be used for tracks down the line. Black Rainbow started when I was tweaking a very harmonic sound I made on an Oberheim synth which transitioned between two chords via an unusual pitch-slide effect and I just thought, ok that has the potential to be a whole track right there…so I borrowed some electro-style percussion I remembered hearing on someone’s car stereo in Tel Aviv the week before, as well as some syncopated gated vocal vowels, and sewed it together with a few more syncopated sounds and effects and the dark rainbow emerged from the light.
Black Rainbow is your first track flying solo since releasing under Art of Trance, how does it compare to working with others?
I’ve worked solo as Art Of Trance over the years and that suits me well as I switch on the gear whenever the mood takes me and see what emerges. More recently I’ve been collaborating with Luke Brancaccio… we’ve done about 7 tracks together now and that’s worked out really well. It’s great for focussing ideas and of course double brain power…for what it’s worth (no offence Luke!)
There’s a great remix on the release of Black Rainbow from Berlin based producer Wes Wieland which is also a belter of a track, how did Wes come about to do the remix?
I think that was a suggestion of Luke’s actually. Wes had recently done a remix of Booka Shade’s ‘Black Crystal’, plus a few other things we both liked, Luke had been in touch with Wes previously so he hooked us up. Fortunately Wes was bang up for it and delivered a killer remix with a breakdown from hell.
Apart from house music are there any other genres that inspire your production and current sound?
For sure, inspiration can come from anything from film music to ethnic or classical music to natural sounds outdoors or anything really. It could be a sound effect, a quirky chord progression, a spoken phrase, some natural ambience, or something unintentionally giving off a machine-like rhythm. It’s not really genre-specific based inspiration necessarily. If I hear and feel moved by whatever it is, I try to find out what it is that gives off that special essence of whatever drew me to it in the first place. My ears have constantly got a beacon engaged to zone in on possible sounds to assist with the inspiration for future productions.
For anyone thinking of a starting label and wanting to see success like Platipus, can you give us a quick low down on the pros and cons of running a label?
I guess the biggest pro of running a label is full control over the output of the label and not being reliant on other labels. Another big plus for myself is working with a lot of other artists over the years… some of which have been the very artists that inspired me many years before eg releasing downtempo compilations compiled by artists such as The Orb, System 7 and Future Sound Of London. Probably the biggest downside for me running the label, is the time away from making music. At times when the label was at it’s busiest, I could go through months of dealing with business end and being away from the keyboards. But all in all I have no regrets starting a label and recommend anyone considering it to give it a shot.
Platipus first relates way back to the 90’s. How have things changed for yourself and the label since your first release?
The label’s gone through many key stages of development since the first release in ’93. Initially the label was set up as a vehicle for my own solo and collaborative productions. From the third release this developed into releasing music by friends and artists I’d met through the label’s initial releases. This grew into a proper label that was gaining a presence and unique identity. A couple of years later I signed the 18th release which was a track called ‘Children’ by a relatively unknown Italian producer called Robert Miles. That was when things really started to take off and I moved out of the all-in-one bedroom/studio/office in East London to a proper office with staff in SW London. It was exciting times and the roster was growing to the extent we could cherry pick (within reason) who we wanted to remix releases etc, working with artists such as Oliver Lieb, Humate, BT, Ferry Corsten, Armin etc. Then in the 2000’s the label moved towards developing a series of compilation concepts which worked well. In 2011, our distributer went bust and took the label down with it…same happened to lots of labels leading up to those times. 2 Years later Platipus Music was set to re-release most of the old catalogue and continue as a vehicle to release my own productions and collaborations like the 2nd Union Jack album. It’s a lot easier now not having to deal with the physical product side of things so more time to make music which suits me just fine. Now the label is fine tuning it’s output, with the sole intention of releasing innovative, intricate, deep, progressive house and techno of the highest quality.
As a key player in the progressive house scene, where do you see the sound going and do you have any tips for any up and coming artists to watch out for this year?
The progressive house scene seems to be getting more and more interesting, with fresh sounds, original production techniques continuously emerging as well as an open-ended palette of possibilities which from a genre perspective keeps the whole thing fresh, current and exciting.
As far as up and coming artists, for me, Torsten Fassbender will be one to watch for sure. As a sound designer for Native Instruments and Waves Audio, and relatively successful musician in the past under various guises, he’s been fine tuning his sound very recently into something really fresh and accomplished and with his follow-up single pretty much in the bag, I’m proud to have in the Platipus stable.