Starting as a subsidiary of former industry big dicks Virgin Records till in 1998 Mike decided to go it alone as Planet Mu. Since then they’ve become home to some of the UK’s most successful electronic artists such as Benga, FaltyDL, Floating Points and Subeena.
Seeking brave new frontiers of electronic music, Planet Mu recently released a compilation, Bangs & Works Vol. 1, of tracks from the ever burgeoning footwork scene in Chicago. With releases from central players such as DJ Nate, DJ Roc and DJ Rashed, and a second compilation in the works, we spoke to Mike Paradinas about this footwork obsession.
When and how did you first come across footwork?
It was 2008 on YouTube, via my friend Marcus Scott (Planet Mu Press). I was really into DJ Nate’s stuff at first. He seemed to have a production style that would resonate well with a European audience.
How did you find and contact artists you wanted to sign, for example DJ Nate?
First of all I tried his, numerous, Myspaces but he never read the messages and we received no replies. So we gave up for a bit, and started the Terror Danjah Gremlinz project to fill that release slot.
Then the next year after another potential release fell through, I tried contacting him again, but to no reply. After a while Thomas (at the label) found a “Bakasworld” website and we emailed him there and we received a reply from Mbiganyi Lashani, a high school teacher, who built Nate’s website and was acting as his manager at the time. Eventually we got hold of Nate, and got some tracks off him.
What kind of reactions have you had in the Chicago scene to signing up artists?
It’s a bit hard to tell. A lot of the DJs (producers) seem to want to be involved – once DJ Roc’s album came out I did get a lot of “What’s up, do u want to release my tracks?” messages, but there are literally hundreds of footwork producers and I have to be very selective. For example, every producer on Bangs & Works keeps hassling me for their own release but it’s cool, I would do the same in their position. Plus Rashad and Spinn and Traxman have their own Ghettophiles label and I’m sure more digital labels will spring up soon. We do have many more Footwork releases planned of course, but i cannot announce any yet.
It must have been difficult to create a compilation to best represent the scene? How did you choose the tracks for the compilation?
Yes, it was difficult. There were several different routes I could have taken, for example the history route – choosing particular tracks that changed the scene or the sound e.g. DJ PJ, DJ Chip, DJ Slugo, “Baby Come On” by RP Boo – in fact I could have had a whole compilation of different producers’ versions of “Baby Come On”!
But for me, I thought the most honest thing to do would be to chart the musical route that I had found myself on, in the last two years of discovering this music. So I chose the tracks which had most affected me personally and emotionally. It was often very hard to find who the track was written by, just from a Youtube clip or an mp3 or whatever but I got there eventually. There were still quite a few tracks which I haven’t identified – and some which I just could get a reply from the producer (e.g. DJ Solo)
Why did you settle on ‘Bangs & Works’ as the title?
Well, it’s a phrase which you hear a lot in relation to footwork. “Let me see your bangs, let me see yo works” there must be about twenty tracks with that sample in.
There are the beginnings of a crossover in the UK with artists like Addison Groove taking influence from the scene. Do you think that the UK electronic music scene might be the genre’s best hope for wider exposure?
I don’t know. Stuff like Ramadanman’s “Work them” and Addison Groove’s “Footcrab” are their own thing, a new cool UK thing, and if they are successful it’s on their own terms. They do not sound much like real footwork to me, but that’s like it should be. There are a lot of UK/EU/US producers making footwork influenced music though – Salem, Machinedrum, Chrissy Murderbot, Andrea (Andy Stott), Untold, Boxcutter, 4D (from Newcastle UK). Producers like FaltyDL have been having a go at footwork influenced tracks in their own style too.
Finally, what upcoming Planet Mu releases are you particular excited about putting out?
Well I have been working on Bangs and Works Vol. 2 for a while now; I hope to release that in June 2011. (It took about a year to get all the tracks from Vol. 1 so I thought I would start early!)
We also have an EP from DJ Spinn called Man I Do It which is next level footwork really. An EP and an album from Chrissy Murderbot – which is footwork/juke/b-more/party pop influenced grooves, with a lot of vocals – very cool stuff.
That’s all I can say for the moment.