Within the last 12 months Alignment Records have racked up a solid series of consistently deadly 12"s. Now reaching the milestone of release number 10, we find out more.
Alignment Records is a name that has found it's way into many DJs record boxes in the last 12 months. With support from some of the scene's key taste makers, delivering some of drum & bass' most gutsy new skool artists, and taking risks in the name of good music. Here at Organic, we believe that when some one makes those kind of sounds we have to find out more. He catch up with the architect behind Alignment Records, Mat Alignment...
Since late October of 2011, you have fired through a series of releases showcasing true new skool artists like Dub Phizix, Octane & DLR, Pessimist, Judda, Gerra & Stone, Ruffhouse and Overlook. Fast approaching your 10th release, what resides at the core of Alignment Records? What is the ethos behind the imprint?
Really its quite simple. To put out the music I am really feeling and I feel deserves to be heard. When I started the label I knew of a lot of people that were finding it very difficult to get their sound heard, there were a lot of labels out there with a very shut door policy. I felt that there was a gap to be filled in the market so I set about doing what I wanted to do with the label.
The core of the label began with a lot of people local to me, Judda, Overlook and Gerra & Stone but as time has gone on things have naturally moved to a broader pool of artists, and I am very happy with the direction it's taken with the artists and the sound the label is becoming known for.
The label entered the market place in 2011, an unsure time for vinyl as a format, especially when you consider the recent demise of distributor Nu Urban. What is it that makes vinyl special to you as a consumer yourself and what do you feel is needed to allow the format to continue to be viable long term?
In the beginning I toyed with the idea of it being a digital label but after sitting back and really thinking about the direction I wanted to take things in I decided naturally the releases had to be pressed to vinyl. The main reason being that at heart I am a vinyl head. I first started buying vinyl in my mid teens and I still buy it now. When I first started going out, the DJs I admired were playing vinyl, so I mixed vinyl. I love it, the way it feels to hold a malleable slice of wax in your hand, slam it onto a turntable and the way it sounds when it plays out.
More to the point of the question, its sad that a major distributor has finally had to close its doors especially when they housed so many labels seminal to the scene we all know and love, but I guess it is a reflection of how things are these days with more and more people turning to digital DJing and as the younger generation get introduced to the scene its inevitable that they will purchase in the digital format because the DJs that they get to go out and see are DJing digitally now. Partly I do feel however that if a club were to maintain their turntables properly then more DJs would feel comfortable taking vinyl out to play.
I think the format will be able to remain viable though as there is now a core market for vinyl which in the most part are collectors, a lot of these want a really nice product that they can cherish and keep in good condition. It is difficult for a label to justify pressing vinyl and putting it out in a nice package because its expensive to do and the costs of this are getting higher but if the hardcore fans still generate a demand for it then i'm sure the labels will duly oblige.
You recently released tracks from one of the most talked about new production outfits Ruffhouse... How did you originally come across the guys and what is is about their music that you find so attractive from an A&R perspective?
I had been a fan of Kris (Pessimist's) music for quite a while and was very happy releasing his and Arma's track 'Cobalt' as part of the first release, I then started talking to Nick (Vega) a bit earlier this year and he started sending me the tracks from theirs and Coopers collaborative project Ruffhouse. The second I received 'Classified' I knew something special was in the offering here. The tracks they are making are reminiscent of the late 90's and early 00's sound that is right up my street and that I really love, they have brought the sound right up to date but it hasn't lost the vibe or the rawness. What they are doing as a collective reminds me (as it does others) of the Horsemen, Bad company and the Full Cycle Bristol guys. For me all these elements made it a really easy decision to want to release a 12" with them and here we are with a superb slice of tough contemporary drum & bass in the form of "Pellet" and "Classified".
As well as running Alignment Records you also work with ST Holdings so will be exposed to the further process of a record reaching the final consumer, how does this inform how you run the imprint? Growing up, what were the labels that you looked up to?
It's certainly been helpful in the process of starting the label and growing it to where it is now and will continue to do so as I continue working on the project. Since working there I have learned an awful lot about the processes that go into releasing a record, its also shown me what mistakes can be made and which roads are definitely worth avoiding. But on the whole its my project and the mistakes that I make are ones that I will have to learn from but it has certainly been great seeing the whole process on a day to day basis.
There have definitely been a number of labels that have really influenced my taste in drum & bass over the years, Metalheadz, Hardware, Full Cycle, Prototype, I could go on but that gives you a good idea of where i'm coming from.
What have been the highlights for you personally in the last 12 months since ALIGN001, And what should we expect in the future?
The whole year has been a highlight for me to be honest but one of the best bits was taking the first test press down to our local club with Harry (Judda) before it opened and testing it out on the Funktion 1 system. That was pretty cool for me.
Well as you mentioned we currently have the Joakim 12" followed by Ruffhouse, which are both available in all good stores now!
Next we have Billion featuring MC Sense & Codebreaker MC's 'Defence' with a Skeptical remix on the flip and following that there will be the fresh talents of Quartz who are a duo from Cardiff who are making some exceptional noises at the moment.... Watch this space... Peace.