Premiere: Medlar & Ishmael – B2 or not B2

As one of the institutions heading up Peckham’s recent cultural ascendancy – see our feature on the area’s first walk-in dubplate cutting service for further evidence – Rye Wax has established itself as a major focal point on London’s musical landscape in under three years. With humble beginnings offering “books, comics and coffee”, alongside their expertly selected stock of records, the shop has since expanded into a multi-purpose space and community hub with an almost nightly event schedule and steady stream of quality music from behind the counter.

Given the raw materials present, the recent announcement of a new label run out of the basement, West Friends, will come as no surprise. On listening to their inaugural release from Ishmael and Medlar, the name immediately makes sense. ‘B2 Or Not B2’, in keeping with the rest of the release, is a frenetic drum track that feels like it took a wrong left turn on its way to late 80s Chicago, and is markedly removed from many previous collaborative and solo efforts from the pair. Manic 808 hits lock into an unsettling groove around toy-town woodblocks, before unfolding into the kind of staccato, off-kilter acid bassline that keeps you on your feet late at night when things have got a little hazy.

The creative community centred around Rye Wax is diverse while retaining a distinctive sound that is hard to define. The similarly paradoxical feel of this release, showcasing forward looking dance tracks with a historical sense and an irreverent weirdness, is a bold and fitting first step for these West Friends.

Bell Everywhere EP is out 6th Feb on West Friends – pre-order from Juno.

Interview with West Friends

Would you say there’s a mission statement or philosophy to the label?

We want to release our mates’ music and we want to give a little platform for music that comes out of Rye Wax in general. It’s usually gonna be a little bit west and it’s usually gonna be for the DJ.

Rye Wax seems to be a bit of a focul point for the label’s origins. How big an influence has the venue and record store been in the label’s inception and music direction? 

Myself, Tom & Watson all helped put Rye Wax together a couple of years ago with some generous help from the CLF Art Cafe (Bussey Building). Peddling records for a few years now and it seemed a logical progression to start our own label. Most the releases have come about through interaction in the shop and some of the very talented people we work with so Rye Wax is definitely the foundation. 

Interesting visuals, esp. the logo. Could you give us a little insight into that and your thinking behind it?

Alans Computer Drawings made the logo for us and will be working on the art for all our forthcoming releases.

Could you talk us through your first release a bit? How did it come together and why did you think it was a suitable debut on the label?

Ned (Medlar) & Pete (Ishmael) have been good pals of ours for a while and also happen to be childhood friends growing up in the West Country together. Both, usually known for soaring melodies – they had a str8 up MPC tussle one day and we fucking buzzed off the tunes. They were the catalyst for getting things with West Friends up and going. 

To borrow a phrase you recently used on your FB page, what’s been your most fruitful pairing of 2017 so far?

Medlar b2b McGregor before DJ Storm played a classic set at Rye Wax has gotta take it so far.

And what’s been the most west thing you encountered since we’ve welcomed in the new year?

Not quite the New Year but this line for 30p sausages post-Christmas is pretty west.

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What were some of the labels your admired in 2016 and why? 

Firecracker put out absolutely beautiful records non-stop. Levon’s latest bits are as elegant as always. Bokeh Versions goes from strength to strength, Ruf Kuts put out some of their best. Rhythm Section & Church smashed it, Nous & Born Free are as compelling as ever, the list goes on!

And which labels do you think are set for a big 2017?

Bannoffe Pies’ ever expanding arsenal is set to get even bigger and we are pretty excited to see what they put out there. Our pals at No Bad Days also have some exciting stuff popping up that worth checking out. Don’t sleep on Cotch International either – the stuff they have lined up is gonna knock you away. 

And finally, what plans can you disclose for the year ahead on West Friends? 

Next up is FYI Chris’s Spirit Animal EP, a three-track 12″ that you may have heard if you’ve seen them play recently. After that we got a percy from Tom Blip that’s certified rougher than ur dad’s accent. Listen out to the various Rye Wax affiliates on Balamii for sneak previews. We’re gonna be putting on a few parties in Rye Wax and a few a little more unusual spots. 

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