Label Spotlight: Hudd Traxx (mixed by Eddie Leader)

Founded in 2005 by Eddie Leader, Danny White & Rucky, Hudd Traxx are a UK house stalwart, committed to the vinyl format since the very beginning with a focus on the true essence of deep house; the kind that filled backrooms and basements before the Top 40 knew what to do with it. Longevity hasn’t been achieved by accident though. Strong A&Ring and quality control has been paramount throughout the decade, with respected name like DJ Sneak, Rolando, Rick Wade and Phil Weeks contributing to their catalogue. 2015 see Hudd Traxx celebrate 10 years in the business and, to mark the occasion, we caught up with Eddie Leader to discuss the history and future of the label. He’s also contributed an hour long mix to sum up the label through his own record collection.

What’s the story behind the origins of Hudd Traxx? What prompted you to start all those years ago, does the name have any significancy, who’s involved and what different roles to you play?

Firstly thanks for asking. I was part of a production team called Slum Science and we wanted an outlet for our own music. We already had a few releases under our belt and Danny and Rucky wanted to start a label, I wasn’t really up for it as I didn’t think we were ready for it but went along with it anyway. The name came about due to the fact we’re from Huddersfield, again I wasn’t really up for it and suggested Hood Traxx as a compromise. I was outvoted and the name stuck. We never really had set roles so to speak but I did a lot of the day to day stuff and the lads helped out with A&R. They left last year due to family commitments so I’m running it on my own now

10 years is nothing to scoff at, congrats for making it this far! What would you attribute to the longevity of the label?

Thanks again. I guess the main reason for me has been releasing music that I like and not selling out to any trends that have come and gone over the years. I’ve been DJing for 18 years now so have got a wide variety of musical tastes. I usually work on the rule that if you don’t instantly hear the music and think it’s amazing then it’s not worth releasing. I think you have to be 100% into what you release and hopefully that shines through to the person buying the music and the dancefloor. That, and a lot of hours and hard work.

Outside yourself, Danny and Rucky has there been anyone else involved who’s been pivotal to the label’s success?

Going back to the beginning the first person who gave us a break was Tony Hewitt from Tango Recordings so I have to say a massive thanks to him. Without him the label may not have got off the ground. We were knocked back by a good few distributors but he believed in us and the label and gave us a P&D deal. Also a few artists that have been instrumental with multiple releases: JT Donaldson, Agnès, Mihai Popoviciu, Hector Moralez, Iron Curtis, Rio Padice, actually there’s loads so I better stop now ☺ Also one of my best friends Richie who I usually send music to get his opinion has been a big factor.

Could you put your finger on the Hudd Traxx ‘sound’, and do you think that’s changed since the 2005?

When people ask me I usually say ‘House’. I find it difficult putting sounds into sub genres but I know that we are definitely a House label. I suppose you could say some of the early stuff we released was ‘Jackin’ House’ and our sound has evolved somewhat since then. I was pretty young when I started the label so I would say the label’s sound has matured as I have really. I still like the music we released back in 2005, although the production value of the stuff I was personally making has drastically improved (I hope). I suppose most people would put us in the ‘Deep House’ category these days.

What tracks / EPs are you most proud of signing?

There’s a good few of them, here goes. Firstly Iz & Diz ‘Happy’ which is still one of my favourite tracks we’ve released as it still sounds ace and I was and still am a huge fan of their work. JT Donaldson ‘Just Bounce’ – again I’m a huge fan of JT, I heard this on Mark Farina’s Essential Mix when I got back from the Miami Music Conference, then the next day JT sends me the same track so I signed it instantly. Without ranting on every track here’s the rest of them:

Rhythm Plate – Robbin Hudd EP
Brett Johnson – ‘Mr Smarty Pants’
Iron Curtis – Stansfield and Care EPs
Agnès – Got That Music In My Mind EP
Accatone – ‘A Reason Not To Try (Matthew Herbert Remix)’
Tomson, Eddie Leader & Chez Damier – ‘I Am With You’

Have there been any that got away?

Yeah definitely. Sneak sent me something around 2007 with Roland Clark’s vocals on it. It was called ‘Smells Like House’ and that was definitely a big record if we released it, but Roland wanted the vocals for his album. That was a big shame as that could’ve been huge.
I came across an email from Sascha Dive from like 2006 or something like that asking if he could send a demo in the post. At the time I was living at my Mum’s so he would have sent it there but I can’t remember getting it, probably didn’t listen, no doubt it was good. Anyway he did a remix for us some years later. I can’t remember all of them but I know I’ve missed out on various releases from being too busy to listen or not quick enough to respond. Not sure I learnt my lesson though as it happened to me again recently!

Outside the Hudd Traxx catalogue, what have been some of your most seminal records from the last 10 years?

Good question. To answer properly I’d need to look through my records but as I’m up at 5AM tomorrow I’ll go from memory:

Laid – ‘Punch Up‘ (Symple Sound)
Abe Duque – ‘Disco Nights‘ (Abe Duque Records)
Henrik Schwarz – ‘Leave My Head Alone Brain (Luke Solomon Remix)‘ (Sunday Music)
Alix Alvarez – ‘Fayall‘ (Rebirth)
Bernard Badie – ‘Now‘ (Cajual)

With vinyl being an important part of the label since the beginning, how has the changing nature of digital and physical music consumption affected the way you’ve run Hudd Traxx?

We were a vinyl only label until 2008 so the best part of three years. I wanted to keep it that way until a load of distributors went bust it became apparent this wasn’t possible anymore. I gave into the digital machine as they say if you don’t move with the times you’ll get left behind. As it happens digital sales play a big part these days so it’s probably a good job we did go digital. I still always release the vinyl at least a month before the digital release to give the vinyl chance to sell and those who are supporting vinyl first dibs on the music but I’m not sure how much difference it makes as people who play vinyl play vinyl, and those who play digital play digital. I’m not sure how much it’s affected the way I run the label but it’s definitely been a big part of it.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a label?

Probably staying in business when a lot of distributors went out of business. Most labels that started when we did or ones that were already established went under so I guess we were one of the lucky ones.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I think I’m pretty proud we’ve lasted this long actually. That and releasing 50 records. Also I like the fact we’ve never sold out and have done everything on our own. I’ve never rubbed shoulders with ‘the right people’ because I thought I could get somewhere or something out of them and there’s a lot of that in this Industry. Also proud of the releases and artists we have on the label, in particularly a proud moment was getting one of my heroes Matthew Herbert to remix Hudd 043.

Tell us a bit about the Hudd Traxx four-part 10 Years of Hudd Traxx comps, you’ve put out this year. What was the idea behind it and what would you like people to take away from it as they make their way through them.

Basically I wanted to show people where we were five to ten years ago and where we are at now. I like the idea of putting old and new music together to celebrate a period of time. Hopefully people will like the old music as much as the new or vice versa.

How was the 10th birthday touring been going? Any highlight parties?

Really good actually. I got the chance to play at Back II Basics which is where I grew up clubbing so that was an awesome experience. fabric was amazing as you would expect, and we just had a great gig in Berlin with the Beste Modus crew. This Saturday is the Manchester leg with Agnès, Iron Curtis, Tomson and myself at The Whiskey Jar so I’m looking forward to that as I live there. We have one more European date at Radion in Amsterdam in a few weeks then we head to South America in December and January to play in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and hopefully Argentina. I‘ve done that a few times now so can’t wait to get back.

Outside Hudd Traxx, are there any labels that particularly impressing you at the moment?

Local Talk do a lot of stuff I’m in to. The Rhythm Plate boys have a newish label called Pressed For Time that’s putting out good stuff. Apart from that Fear Of Flying, Classic and Quintessentials.

And are there any young producers you think we should look out for in the coming years?

Got to give a shout to my man Nachtbraker, he’s doing some really cool stuff at the moment. Professional Gigolo is one to watch for the future aswell. I think Palms Trax is fairly young. Also my friend Tomas Garcia is definitely a name to listen out for.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you made for us?

Firstly I have to give a shout out to my main man Hector Moralez for the vocals on the opening track. I rarely play my own tracks to be honest but wanted to give that a showcase of sorts as it’s the only original track I’ve made this year and is also on the Hudd Traxx 10 Year Compliation. There’s a track on there from Outboxx who are two of my favourite producers in the last few years. Really into that track from Juliet Sikora also fair play to her for that and lastly to Chez Damier for his track which is also on the Hudd 10 Year comp. With regards to the idea behind it I didn’t think too much about it but wanted to give a representation of the music I like and play. I don’t think most DJs ever play how they play in a club on a studio mix, I certainly don’t so I guess you’d have to come and see me play for that.

Beyond the 10th birthday celebrations, what’s next on the horizon for Hudd Traxx?

To be honest next year is going to be a lot more of a chilled one. As enjoyable as this one has been it’s been hectic so the release schedule will calm down a bit next year. I have a few things planned, like the remixes of ‘I Am With You’ I did with Tomson & Chez Damier. Outboxx have remixed that and Agnès & Iron Curtis are currently working on mixes so that will be up first. Then a various from Manooz, Little Fritter and Professional Gigolo followed by an EP from JT Donaldson. Looks like Iron Curtis will also be doing a new EP which I’m happy about.

And finally, where would you like Hudd Traxx to be in the next ten years?

I’ve thought about this a bit recently actually but haven’t had time to think about it properly. I have no plans to stop anytime soon and I still think there is loads I can do with the label so hopefully we will still be putting out music as I’m still a spring chicken 😉

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