While genres such as techno and grime flourish in the UK’s current underground musical climate, London producer Medlar continues to fly the flag for UK house. Releases of consistent quality on WOLF Music have cemented him as an in-demand selector, fusing his characteristic euphoric, synth-heavy house with a vast knowledge of disco for maximum hip movement. Alongside his own material, Medlar has tinkered with many tracks, turning out remixes for everyone from Disclosure to Steffi.
Ahead of his upcoming appearance at Farr Festival, we caught up with the man himself to talk gear, gigs and gossip. We also bring you an exclusive mix, recorded to capture the energy of one of his shows. Tracklist at the bottom.
Hi Medlar, good to talk to you. How has 2015 treated you so far?
Hey! I’m enjoying writing music again after a weird year which I won’t go into here, but I’m really looking forward to having some new music out, it’s a bit overdue..
We’re loving Walk EP, your new collaboration with Dan Shake. How did this collaboration come about and how did you split the work putting together the EP?
I think we were swapping some music online and the idea of a collab came up. I’d tried remote collabs a few times quite a while back but it rarely worked out so well, partly as I think people usually send stuff they don’t like enough to finish themselves. It was a pretty even split in terms of who did what. We hadn’t actually met by the time we finished both tracks, but have since had a great gig together at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh (one of my absolute favourite clubs, shouts to Nick!) and would love to do some more.
The woozy, rhodes keys are the focal point of the title track. Do you have a favourite bit of go-to gear when producing your own stuff?
I have a studio with some synths and stuff but I’ve recently been writing loads at home on a little broken Acer netbook thing. The battery doesn’t work, the screen’s cracked, there’s no internet and it thinks it’s 2073 but Ableton still runs. I do love my RE-201, even though it needs a new motor. That’s my favourite bit of gear for sure. The rhodes in ‘Walk’ is out of a fairly well known disco track that I chopped and pitched around a bit, a couple of people have already spotted it, 10 points if you can!
Alongside your own productions, you’re well known for your midas touch when it comes to remixes. How do you approach the remix process and what do you think makes a successful remix?
I decided a while back to try and keep some coherence with my original tracks but allow remixes to be more varied. I think the original can dictate how a remix will turn out to an extent. I’ve just finished two mixes of an afrobeat artist, which might be my favourites so far. I can’t wait to get those out there.
It’s nice to see your Facebook page populated by a regular steam of tracks you’re into, rather than just a billboard for your upcoming dates. What’s your thinking behind starting and maintaining that so diligently?
I was chatting to my manager Simon about keeping some kind of regular activity online and posting records seemed the best idea. I’m always discovering new music I love so there’s no shortage. It beats endlessly promoting myself, which gets boring for everyone and it gives an idea of what my DJ sets might include. It’s nice at gigs sometimes to hear people have discovered a song or artist from the Medlar Instagram. (Little plug, I post the most music links on Instagram and Twitter).
You regularly play b2b with Leon Vynehall, how did you both meet and what do you enjoy about sharing the decks with him?
Haha our meeting was pretty funny, we watched England lose a penalty shootout from a beach whilst in a bit of a state. Say no more. I think our tastes cross over pretty well so it’s been fun whenever we’ve played together, Not So Silent was a highlight (shouts Belch and Callum!). Thom’s a super nice guy and very talented so it’s really great to see things going so well for him!
We enjoyed having you play our party in a Bristol Working Men’s Club last year (hope you did too!). Are there any other unusual venues you’ve played, that stand out?
Yes it was great! The two times I played in Denmark have been quite mad; an old slaughterhouse/military building/porno film studio in Aarhus and an empty silo at the carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, they were both great parties! (Shout to Cristoffer and Danni!). Expectations play such a big role in music in so many ways and having a party in somewhere you wouldn’t expect can have a massive effect on a night – the weirder the better!
You’re playing a number of festivals this summer, including Farr Festival next month. What makes a good festival in your eyes?
As a punter I think mainly a good variety of music, a nice location helps too. Festival bookings are great as I get to see/hear loads of good music for free.
What are you expectations for Farr this year, and who are you looking forward to seeing?
It’ll be hard to leave the Trouble Vision stage as everyone playing there are great selectors and a great bunch too so I’m sure will be lots of fun. The NTS stage will no doubt will be great and I’ll have to catch Magnier partly cos I owe him £20.
WOLF Music seem to be a pretty solid musical family to be a part of, and your own growth has gone hand in hand with theirs. How did you first come on board with them, and what’s made you stay so connected all these years?
It was all just very easy as they were the people I knew releasing house music when I started making some, so it came about very naturally. It’s hard to believe I’ve been with them nearly five years. Since I’ve gone full time with music I will be releasing on some other labels, but still on Wolf of course. They’ve helped me a lot and everyone gets on really well. The label parties are always brilliant too.
What been dominating your headphones / speakers recently?
A lot of kinda weirder jazz, and I’ve also discovered some nice jungle tunes recently, which are annoyingly expensive. Obviously a lot of house and disco that I look for. I think mainly reissues as there are now so many labels unearthing amazing music. There was a Letta Mbulu LP reissued recently which I never thought I’d own, I recommend everyone go and find ‘Nomalizo‘ on Youtube right now.
Are you into any types of music that’s might surprise us? Trash Metal or Chas & Dave maybe?
Honestly a bit of everything! Chas & Dave played on some pretty cool stuff, notably Labbi Siffre – I Got The. So I guess I like them. And yeah I like some metal too!
Are there any upcoming releases you’re particularly looking forward to?
I can’t think of anything forthcoming, I’m sure there are some pre-orders I’ve forgotten about that will turn up sooner or later! In terms of my own music I’m just finalising an EP for Wolf at the moment and I’m looking forward to that coming out.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve put together for us?
I had a while to think about it so I pooled some records together over a couple of months. It’s all pretty accessible music that works a lot better in the summer. The first half is more planned and the 2nd half less so, just pulling out house records in a way I might do at a gig.
What dyou think you’d be up to if music wasn’t in your life?
Finally, what’s in store for the rest of 2015? Are there any more releases or remixes in the pipeline?
There’s a new collaborative project with which will be focussing on very club-focussed stuff (more info soon!), the Wolf EP I mentioned, some remixes which I’ve just submitted and perhaps a track or two from my recent solid steel mix.
1. Marcos Valle – 1985 (SS Interpretation by Theo Parrish)
2. Benny Golson – I’m Always Dancing To The Music
3. Francis The Great – Look Up To The Sky
4. Sun Ra and his Arkestra – Space Is The Place
5. Slum Village – Forth And Back
6. King Tubby Meets The Upsetter – 300 Years At The Grass Roots
7. Universal Robot Band – Dance And Shake Your Tambourine
8. DJ Sotofett & Jaakko Eino Kalevi – Main Bar Mix
9. Cultural Vibe – Ma Foom Bey (Love Chant Mix)
10. Boyd Jarvis – Stomp
11. Utopus – Charmer
12. Men From The Nile feat. Peven Everett – Watch Them Come (Roy’s Original)
13. Little Louie Vega – Elements Of Life (Quintero Beats)
14. Azymuth – Melo Dos Dois Bicudos
15. Blaze – Seasons Of Love (Afrobeat Instrumental)
16. T Esselle – Until She Spoke
17. Merle – 2000 (And We’re Still Here)
18. John Swing – Run Out Jam
19. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (Skinnerbox Rework)
20. Sleep D – Bud Dub
21. Osunlade – Obatala Y Oduduwa (Yoruba Soul Mix)
22. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity – Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In)