At the tail end of last year, on a cold Monday evening in the heart of Central London, we were passed a cheeky white label of deep electronic jazz sounds while sipping a cappucino (or was it a Camden Hells?) in a small cafe just east of Oxford Street. Certainly not a grandiose (or even out of the ordinary) occurrence by any means, but it was one that effectively shuffled the embryonic On The Corner Records (OTC) into our collective conscience. For a 12 inch with such an unassuming appearance, the music on it certainly had some big ideas, pairing as it did the imitable talents of both RocketNumberNine and Earl Zinger (William Adamson, 2BO4) on the deep jazz house influenced ‘Over’, while on the flip, an intense and slightly moody track by the name of ‘Instead’ was debuted, albeit in remixed form. Both compositions involved British drummer Emanative, the first as producer and the second as remixer for Tamar Osborn’s new project, Collocutor, and both picked up considerable support in those opening weeks with Gilles Peterson, Patrick Forge, Dom Servini and a host of other forward-thinking DJs including the tunes in their sets.
With that tricky first release now in the bag (or rather other peoples’), you’d think the next step would be easy. Well we managed to ask one half of the OTC crew exactly how easy it has been, as Pystol Pete stepped into the Soul-Identity booth to drop some knowledge on the workings of the label, what’s coming up and in our first guest mix of 2014, share some of his picks for the New Year. Read on to learn a little bit more about one of London’s newest, left of centre labels…
Q. Pete, tell us a little about how you got started in the record business ?
The label came into being just a couple of months ago. I’d been hanging on to Nick (Emanative) Woodmansey’s coat tails while he went about directing a rather epic album project for the Steve Reid Foundation (SRF). We only properly met at William Adamson’s (Rob Gallagher AKA Earl Zinger) album launch less than a year ago and now we are collaborating to take the label project forward. I’m the label curator and sponsor and Nick’s the creator and talent.
Our (actual) first meeting was without incident at the appropriately named Jazz Meet where Nick had been the evening’s guest selector. I’d been blown away by his Burial vs Blakey bootleg and his fucking brilliant reworking of Lions of Judah was set to come out on Brownswood for the SRF so I was a bit in awe. Over the following twelve months I continually hassled Nick for exclusives for an Aussie web radio programme I was doing after returning from some beat ambling in Africa.
Q. So musically you were kind of on the same wavelength?
Yes, I ran a ludicrous, Sun Ra inspired video idea past him during a well lubricated chat that then led to going on to capture some rushes for the SRF project. I remember pulling out some records over an ale and vinyl session (Roy Ayers “He’s a Superstar”, Donald Byrd, the Pharaoh (Sanders), Theo Parrish and of course “On The Corner” by Miles) and they were favourites for us both. I think from that we decided to put on a Monday evening session at a café just around the corner.
Q. And there started the partnership right? How did you go about picking the first tracks for the project?
During a few balmy summer sessions last year I felt the eclectic and rather special pieces of art that Nick was modestly working on should be put on a platform and heard. After a couple of conversations with people in the know (I’m indebted to the support, wisdom and example that all at Wah Wah 45s have provided), Neal Birnie from Sounds of the Universe pointed out what was glaringly obvious “You put it out!”. I think I suggested Emanative’s Fela edit as a 7″ and whilst looking into the practicalities we decided against that release, and to instead unleash some fresh original material on your ears in the form of “OVER”.
Q. So tell us what’s next on the horizon. Can we expect to hear some more new music this year?
It’s amazing to have Nick as the label’s in-house producer and we have plans to put out Tamar Osborn’s Collocutor project that Nick recommended to me. The work is substantial and gloriously beautiful, I’m honoured to be handling a piece of music this rich, evocative and stands strongly to the canon from which it was inspired. The Collocutor album will be out on wax in the summer and we have a raft of ridiculously tasty producers to come in for a remix edition later in the year.
Q. Sounds like a heavy album. So is this destined to stay a two-man band or have you got other people you’re linking with in the background?
An old friend and fellow journeyman, Antoine Abayomi, I met on my wanderings in Africa is also playing around with a few edits, productions and remixes for OTC whilst he is in Paris. The combination of art worked sleeves and exploratory sound is inspired by the great job that Firecracker are doing up in Edinburgh. Our in-house design is also created up there by the patient and talented, Dr Jimmy Lister Sinfield, me and Nick share the labours of screen-printing, stamping and numbering each and every copy. The Emanative artwork is made by the inimitable hand of Gene Pendon, check out Emanative’s “Love in Outer Space” video for a shining example of Gene’s work – make sure you have your safety belt on though.
Q. So what’s next for the label?
We hope OTC can balance the deeper side of our Sun Ra leanings whilst sating the itch for grubby basement electronics. The Sun Ra vid may happen yet!
Tomorrow the Rain Will Fall Upwards – Thus They Sang in the Golden Age (How Great A Fame Has Departed LP, Blackest Ever Black)
Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program – All Is Well (Back On The Planet LP, Brainfeeder Records)
Buddy Peace – Ten Horn Core Part 4 (Sons Of Bitches LP, Bandcamp)
Débruit & Alsarah – Khartoum (AlJawal LP, Soundway Records Records)
DJ iZem – Hajja (Unreleased)
Wildheart – Feel Loved (12″, Wildheart)
OS Kings – Minino Na Tchora (Sound of Cape Verde EP, Sofrito)
Unknown – New York Edits 4 (12″, NY Edits)
Zara McFarlane – Angie La La (Yoruba Soul Remix) (12″, Brownswood Recordings)
Truby & Marlow – Peace Part 1 (Peace EP, Fifty Fathoms Deep)
Turtle – Opposite of Low (Who Knows EP, Beatnik)
Scrimshire feat Stac – Emperor (Stubborn Heart Remix) (Emperor EP, Wah Wah 45s)
Romanthony – Trust 2014 Part 2 (12″, Motor City Drum Ensemble Instrumental Dub) (Glasgow Underground)
Steve Reid – Long Time Black (Emanative Edit) (CDR, On The Corner Records)
Al Dobson Jr – Mr Mellow (22a)
Ibibio Sound Machine – Got to Move, Got to Get Out! (Ibibio Sound Machine LP, Soundway Records)
Collocutor – Archaic Morning (CDR, On The Corner Records)
Let Us Worship – Untitled Live (Unreleased)