Here at BnB we’re huge fans of anything that Andy Butler turns his hand to, so we jumped at the chance to speak to the man behind Hercules & Love Affair about his new ‘classic house’ label, MR.INTL, which is all about capturing the vibe of house music that sounds like it was made between 1985 and 1994. Check out his feelings on his new label, plus the influence that industrial music plays on his new output…
What’s the main reasoning behind you launching MR.INTL?
It’s an opportunity for me to share or create an outlet for other artists who are interested in classic house and house & techno from a very specific era. The kind of artists who understand the roots of the music… Kim Ann (Foxman, also a vocalist for Hercules & Love Affair) is a good example of this; she’s someone who’s been on the scene for a very long time, she’s someone who can tell you what tune was played when, going back to the 80s. There is a depth, a substance and a sophistication to that era of house music that we call the ‘Golden Days’, up to say ’94, that a lot of current DJs, a lot of house music… well, what they call ‘house music’ today, lacks. It’s just a lot more elegant.
Are referring to the minimal-tech scene there?
I do mean the minimal-tech scene, but I also mean people like Bob Sinclar as well.
So can we talk about the roots of your own love affair with house music?
Well, I grew up liking industrial music, being from the Midwest, you tended to be into industrial music… people like Meat Beat Manifesto (MBM), bands like that. I started buying vinyl at 16 and Helter Skelter/Radio Babylon (by MBM) was one of the first records I ever got. So early on I started listening to mix-tapes from DJs and I was lucky enough to be around a lot of very schooled, smart DJs at a young age, who welcomed me into a group that was very influential to me.
The first time I heard an all-disco set, now that was when I was 17 – so that was back in the late 90s – it was four hours of disco music… but we’re not talking about the Bee Gees here, obviously, it was a lot deeper than that and that really turned me on to a lot of new sounds, I was turned onto that kind of disco shortly after I got turned on to classic house.
I was already a big fan of house at the time they were making the Wild Pitch stuff, the New York and Chicago stuff, Felix (Da Housecat)’s early stuff, the Detroit techno stuff, some of the Belgian New Beat; but that was from my industrial days… from listening to industrial music I was a fan of a couple of New Beat tracks…
So would you say that industrial music came before house for you?
Yeah, yeah, I was into industrial early on… but industrial and house are not mutually exclusive sounds. A lot of the early house DJs played industrial music, seriously pivotal guys… I mean Derrick Carter and Mark Farina played industrial tunes, even first generation guys did. Ron Hardy, he played industrial music, for sure.
I’m glad we touched on that, because we’re here to talk about the new release on MR.INTL by Mark Pistel (formerly of industrial band Consolidated and now with Hercules & Love Affair) and Jack Dangers (the lynchpin of MBM). You’ve said that you think the track shows off their industrial roots… so what it’s like working with these guys, who you’ve been a fan of for years?
Oh, it’s been really interesting. When Mark first said he’d like to do a couple of tracks for the label, I was interested immediately. And when I first heard the slap-bass on That’s What I Want, I immediately heard, well, I know he loves Adrian Sherwood and (dub supergroup) Tackhead, so there’s that influence right there. So for me it felt like a kind of modernised kind of Adrian Sherwood punk / house / industrial thing… I liked it, though.
For the other track, the DHS one, Solus with Ben (Stokes, who was behind the legendary classic house track House Of God as DHS), I was a little bit pickier… I liked them both though; both have sort of darkness to them. They are funkier, though, than more straight-forward industrial music… to call them ’industrial’, that would definitely be misleading. But you know there’s a signature bell from the Meat Beat Manifesto tracks dropping in, and it’s a signature of Jack Dangerous’ work. And the three of them used that in the tune. I mean, I was listening to all their music at 15 or 16, now they’re putting out a track on my label! I was a fan of Consolidated, I was a huge fan of Meat Beat Manifesto and I was a fan of DHS…
But you know, DHS is actually another good example of the house / industrial crossover, as his big track, House Of God, that was MONSTOROUS… and when you drop it, people still take notice. This is the first time we’ve had people from that kind of era, you know? Before we’ve had people who knew about and appreciated that era…
People like Kim Ann?
Yeah, she’s a good example…. But we’ve not had anyone as pioneering as Mark, Jack and Ben, thus far. No one as legendary, no one of the era; there are plenty who know a thing of two about the era, but this is the first time it’s the actual people who are doing something for us.
And if we can talk about the next release on MR. INTL, Recession Session by Wolfram & Constantin?
With Wolfie, well, he seems to have really distilled European house music, I just think he really understands it and appreciates it in all its tackiness and weirdness. It felt like the KLF on steroids, the first time I heard it…
That’s a great soundbite…
(laughs) When I first heard it, I started dancing in the studio and I said, “I want it, give me that track!”
And finally, if we can go back to disco as we finish off, I think it would be remiss not to mention London’s favourite disco club, the mighty Horse Meat Disco.. ?
Man, they were the first guys I met in London and they kind of took me under their wing. Four or five years before my first record, they had me DJing at Horse Meat. I mean James (Hillard) and Jim (Stanton)…. Well, I met them through Daniel Wang, I was at the first official Horse Meat Disco party that they did. James even let me stay at his place for three weeks! Then I realised that I had a friend I could speak to about disco, italo…. And while they have stayed quite purist to their disco roots, I think they are incorporating more and more house music…
Sadly Andy has to take another call here, so we ended things. He offers to come back to us, but we’re done – thus is the lot of an international star….
Thanks to Andy Butler for answering our questions!
Check the new release on MR.INTL, Solus / That’s What I Like, on Beatport.