It’s hard to imagine that before 2009 Australian readers had the choice of Resident Advisor & Little White Earbuds as their main sources for electronic music; actually before any fans of Dirty South, Stafford Brothers or ‘Get A Nightlife’ photographers complain I should mention ‘In the Mix’ has been around since 2000, but i digress. Eventually a few trustworthy sources for interviews, podcasts & releases in the realm of house, disco & edits started to appear;
Sleazy Beats (’09), Feel My Bicep (’08), In the Deep End (’09) and Melbourne Deepcast – the brain child of Myles Mac & Andy Hart which started back in that golden era of 2009.
What started off as a simple concept; a downloadable podcast & interview, has now evolved into a well respected record label & arguably Australia’s best source for underground electronic music.
Myles & Andy have managed to find a delicate balance between supporting local producers, underground label bosses & international heavy hitters. Currently on their seventh release, their record label boasts an impressive local roster; Lewie Day, Max Graef, Fantastic Man & Francis Inferno Orchestra among others. Combining that with their monthly parties at New Guernica, you can quickly see how things have gained momentum since that simple concept in 2009.
In the first of this two part interview, Myles Mac joins us to give us some insight on getting that first big break, the vinyl community & the art of interviewing.
BYTHEINCH: How did this all start for the two of you?
MYLES MAC: Andy went to school with some uni friends of mine, we were sort of the only two guys DJing & into similar styles of music. I think Andy was using a Sony Acid Pro to make some bootlegs. We would come up with ideas for mixing a shitty acappella over some cheesy electro track, then calling it the Myles & Andy bootleg or something like that. I guess you gotta start somewhere (laughs). I can’t remember exactly how it happened but we just started getting gigs together, then in 2009 we started the podcast & the label launched a year later.
Was starting a record label included in the initial concept of Melbourne Deepcast?
To be honest at the start it was always just going to be a podcast, we didn’t really have any grand ideas of where it was going to develop. It was only when we saw enough support behind it that we thought of launching a label. It all happened naturally which was nice.
Take us through the initial couple of podcasts.
The very first one Andy & I did half each over two hours. Christian Vance did the first official one, Lewie Day was number five, we also had Craig McWhinney, Simon Flower from NZ & Ripperton from Swizterland. The artist that basically launched the podcast properly was Quarion from Retreat who did number eight. That was one that got the name out there & eventually led us to obtain mixes & interviews from other international artists.
How did you approach Quarion to partake in the podcast? Was there a battle to get the first big artist on board?
We were pretty lucky to have a few solid contacts. Christian Vance really helped us out & put us in touch with Quarion. It helped that he (Vance) had already done a podcast for us which made the process easier. Keeping in mind podcasts weren’t a common practise back in 2009, especially in Australia, so we were fortunate with the timing as well.
Was there any intention to use this as a platform for local producers with minimal international input?
We’ve tried to maintain a balance between up & coming locals, underground producers & bigger name internationals. Like one week we had our friend Micka (MK5) from Melbourne then Lovebirds followed by Smallpeople. It’s a nice cross section of the music we like to hear.
Recently you had Hunee for the 100th podcast. Congrats on the reaching a well deserved century, was there much deliberation on who you wanted to choose for that special podcast?
Andy & I discussed for a while that we wanted to do someone who was a special artist & also one of our favourite artists too. I think that was always going to be the case & then it didn’t take us too long to decide on Hunee. We actually contacted Hunee over a year ago, maybe even two years ago & unfortunately he wasn’t able to do a podcast at the time. We managed to stay in touch since then & we even did a little interview with him before he played at the Animals Dancing gig.
Around the time we were approaching number 90 we contacted him to see if he was interested in recording number 100. We gave him enough notice just to be sure (laughs).
In the interview he says he doesn’t like to commit to many podcasts so that when he does record one they are special which was the perfect scenario for us, being number 100.
Do you have a similar philosophy on releasing podcasts?
Yeah definitely, it’s the same with releasing records as well. The quality over quantity attitude always take precedence and artists like Sound Stream & Tornado Wallace are good examples of that. If you’re putting out a podcast every month on a range of blogs & websites you can easily become overexposed & the special aspect to your music may get lost.
Are there set roles for running Melbourne Deepcast or do you both come up with questions & work on the label together?
Basically I manage the podcasts & Andy manages the label. Obviously there’s some discussion between us on how we want things to go in the long term. In relation to interviews it comes down to which artist it is.
How do you prepare for your interviews?
When an artist that is being interviewed all the time or has had an articled featured recently, it’s harder to come up with a different approach to get interesting content. If you’re not careful you’ll end up receiving rehashed answers. Doing research is the most important part of the interview, If you’re just asking the same questions that they expect to hear, you’re just going to get a stock standard two sentence response.
Do you speak to the artist about what style of podcast you’re aiming for?
Not really. It’s about giving the artist as much freedom as possible & a good example of that is Kid Sublime. Even though his mix hasn’t had the most listens on Soundcloud or received huge exposure online, it’s the favourite podcast of Andy & myself because it is so unique. We never say to someone “I want this style of music” or “I don’t want this”. Choosing the right artists is also important, you trust that what they record will be quality, even if it’s not what you’re expecting. The right artist will always produce quality stuff which means you don’t really need to suggest a direction for them to go in. I can’t imagine Hunee doing a mix that I didn’t like regardless of what genres it included.
Have you had the chance to do interviews outside of Melbourne Deepcast?
Not so much. A couple of years ago we started to write more feature articles as well as doing the podcasts. I guess that fell by the way side, it was a bit too time consuming to compete with the likes of your RA’s. It was hard to get something that was interesting & that hadn’t already been covered. Even though we were happy with the articles that we did cover, especially the feature on Uzuri label boss Lakuti which went down really well, we just didn’t have the time.
There was also talk of getting a close friend, Tom Lally involved to do some more on camera stuff. He has the charisma & wit that is needed for the camera, as I couldn’t see Andy or myself hosting it to be honest (laughs) but again time proved to be a factor.
Does Melbourne’s underground music scene jump from genre to genre & in saying that is vinyl apart of the flavour of the month?
In relation to Melbourne’s music taste to some extent I would say yes. Deep house has become the latest cool thing & more people are into what Beatport considers “Deep House”, however it doesn’t necessarily mean that more people are into good music. It’s just that the specific term has become more popular & people have taken the bait. It also means there’s a lot more rubbish out there & you need to spend more time sifting through to find quality releases. Having said that i’ve definitely noticed younger crews with their own unique style popping up around Melbourne & throwing small, cool parties. I think people don’t necessarily want to lay down $25-$30 dollars every weekend on entry to a big party, so these smaller events over time have received more of a following. Crews like Rhythm City & A Colourful Storm are great examples of local parties with quality music.
In terms of vinyl, i think it goes back further than the past eighteen months. We started buying vinyl back in 2007 & whilst there were a few people getting back into it then, there were some older vinyl DJs transferring to digital at the same time. Around 2009 is when I noticed a few of my DJ mates getting back into vinyl & I think around that time the whole edit scene was becoming pretty popular. A few labels like Super Value, Sleazy Beats & the early Cottam records were floating around & I really noticed that vinyl was becoming a thing again. Since then it’s only gained momentum with more & more “vinyl-only” labels popping up every month.
I like that vinyl fairs are happening more frequently too. They are a good way of creating a community of vinyl lovers who enjoy chatting about music. I can’t imagine people meeting up & trading digital files with USB’s at a trendy pop up wine bar (laughs). Sometimes even local producers when they put out a record you can buy it off them personally or if they have a launch party, you’re able to buy it off them at the venue.
I’ve also noticed a small resurgence in cassettes, with some cassette labels popping up, Opal Tapes for example & artists releasing mixes on cassette. I think having a collection of cassettes is going to be the next trendy thing for people to get into. We released a special edition limited copy of Max Graef’s ‘The Love Tapes’ on cassette for a bit of fun and have been pretty surprised at the overwhelming demand for it.
At the end of the day good music is good music no matter which format it’s on. However there’s something great about owning a piece of music, being able to hold it in your hands & keep it in your living room like a musical library. I think that tangible aspect of vinyl is what has grown its appeal of late, more so than the ‘superior audio quality’ argument which is a bit of a wank if you ask me.
Tell us about your monthly parties at New Guernica, what’s the concept & who plays there?
Yeah our Melbourne Deepcast Monthly parties at New Guernica have been great so far, we started doing a monthly Saturday night there when they relaunched their Saturdays under the new District banner. District on a whole has been a cool new alternative for people on a Saturday night, its not expensive, the staff are friendly and regardless of who the headliners are, you know you’re going to hear quality house and disco being played every weekend. We’ve had Max Graef, Otologic, Norm De Plume, The Carter Bros, Fantastic Man, Andras Fox and The Tortoise as guests so far, with some more internationals locked in for early this year!
How much does the crowds response affect your set?
I find it’s always a juggling act between pushing new or untried material and playing records that you know are sure things, tried and tested etc. There’s some parties you know you can get away with anything and some that you can’t. If you manage to strike the right balance from the start the crowd will generally go along for the ride with you. It also usually depends how busy the venue is, as to what you can get away with. People in Melbourne are more impatient when a party doesn’t get the numbers or the dance floor isn’t packed, you can be hung out to dry on one or two tracks they might not like.
Part two of this interview concludes with production chat from Andy Hart & how the Melbourne Deepcast label began.