Filed under: Interview
Look down any dark alley in any city and you’ll see them, rubbing their greasy hands together as another soul is changed forever. Pushing electronic music to poor unsuspecting indie kids is Warp’s modus operandi and they have been doing it better than the rest for over a decade. And with an arsenal including Squarepusher, LFO, Autechre and Aphex Twin, resistance is futile for even the most stubborn techno-phobes.
The roster at Warp is continuingly strengthened with, uncharacteristically for a record label, the original artists still supplying quality releases despite the growing competition. This runaway freight train of a label continues to gain momentum with names like Jamie Liddell and Maximo Park acting as new coal that fuels the fire. Over the years, extra carriages have been added, Warp Films is the dining car where the chef serves up contemporary visual delights, and Bleep.com is the caboose complete with an anti-DRM stance that gives the finger to the stationmaster as the train powers through the station.
With the constant influx of exciting new artists, the sub labels, and the side-projects, one thing about Warp has remained constant; this powerhouse label has always been synonymous with intelligent dance music. The cerebral sect of the electronic music civilization have always been able to look to Warp for their aural intellectualism despite longtime label boss Steve Beckett being surprising defiance.
“There is no such thing as IDM!”
After a long absence, the Warp Empire finally rolls back into the little town of Tokyo for i-Warp, an event that is sure to gratify your every sense. LFO, Plaid and Luke Vibert are set to bring our lucky city the sounds (and sights) needed to whip up a “slimey electronic rave fest”.
Interview & Introduction by Nick Lawrence (HigherFrequency)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Warp Records is often synonymous with intelligent dance music, was this a conscious decision on your part? Also, how do you actually define IDM?
Steve Beckett : Hi! There is no such thing as IDM! I don’t associate with that term. Music is the rhythm of life, but has no actual intelligence… it’s music!
HRFQ : Few record labels last more than a couple of years, so how has WARP managed to remain successful for over a decade?
Steve Beckett : By working with incredible artists with longevity and depth. By reinventing ourselves. Too many hot labels disappear after a few years, it’s tragic. We build long term artists, not short stay genres that die.
HRFQ : How do you constantly manage to seek out talent like Richie Hawtin, Aphex Twin, Nightmares on Wax and Boards of Canada?
Steve Beckett : Thru a network of artists friends and contacts by talking and listening to people!
HRFQ : Can you tell us who you believe the most exciting artist to ever release from Warp is?
Steve Beckett : The one, the only, the legend: Squarepusher.
HRFQ : In 2004 a collection of Warp music clips was released on DVD, you run a subsidiary company called Warp Film and have also had multiple releases by actor Vincent Gallo. How important is the link between the mediums of film and music?
Steve Beckett : There has always been a strong link between music and the visual possibilities. We found ourselves surrounded by incredible directors like Chris Cunningham, Lynne Ramsay, Vincent Gallo, Chris Morris, whose work is so strong it must be produced. It’s natural to link music to videos, and films to music.
HRFQ : Bleep.com is an MP3 store run by your label that refuses to use DRM despite a lot of pressure in the industry from big labels and artists. What are the reasons behind this decision?
Steve Beckett : We believe in treating people like customers not criminals. Your music is yours to do with what you wish, and bleep has been very successful because of this belief. Our relationship with fans and followers is too important to us to violate by imposing DRM restrictions.
HRFQ : It’s been a while since we have seen the Warp name on an event poster in Japan, is there any significance of the timing of the i-Warp party in May?
Steve Beckett : Well, exactly because of that. It’s been far too long since the last Warp parties in Japan, so Beat records and ourselves thought it was about time. Also great to celebrate the brilliant albums of Plaid, Jimmy Edgar and Jackson. (Luke Vibert soon too!)
HRFQ : In the early days Warp was a label that predominantly released electronic dance music but now there is a rock element creeping in like Maximo Park. Will this be reflected in the music at i-Warp and what other concepts are there behind the party?
Steve Beckett : I don’t think there will be any Maximo tunes in my DJ bag. Unless I can get some insane remix at the last minute. No this will be slimey electronic rave fest only. You can expect a screening of some of our recent videos and Warp films work too.
End of the interview
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