Diggers Directory: Yushh

The Bristol sound has been a formative influence for many producers and DJs over the years — that’s certainly been the case for Jen Hartley, who feeds these inspirations into her own musical activities as Yushh.

Those pursuits have really started gathering steam over the last two years; as well as contributing several productions over the last few years to Be Told Lies, Haŵs and Sci-Fact Records, in 2019 she launched Pressure Dome, an imprint which has spotlighted many Bristol-based artists — the likes of Syz, Mish, Delay Grounds and Joe Craven.

And it’s this Bristol connection that she chooses to channel through her Diggers Directory mix. Weaving together music from labels like Livity Sound, Timedance and Idle Hands with tracks from artists who call, or have called, Bristol home —Syz, Human Resources, Hodge, Giant Swan— she paints a picture of the sounds that have helped define the city in recent years.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about why we’ve joined Select.

DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?

First, I’d just like to thank you for asking me to be part of this series and I hope you enjoy the mix!

I think there was some level of education from the music we listened to as a family. It was a pretty varied selection but there was a lot of Jazz. Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, George Shearing were some favourites and led me to learn jazz piano while I was growing up — my parents always encouraged me with music. I started collecting tapes for my Walkman from quite a young age, then collecting and burning my own CDs. I loved the independence it gave me, discovering my own taste in the process, so I think a lot of my education has been self-driven.

In terms of the records I listened to with my parents that were pivotal, Take 5 by Dave Brubeck definitely stands out. Straying from traditional rules and achieving something so coherent really amazed me at the time, and I think this has definitely fed into the music I seek out.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

I don’t know if I’d really call myself a traditional digger. I learned the basics of mixing vinyl while I was at university and really wanted to get my own setup, but I’d been moving around a lot and didn’t have the space until about five years ago. It was only then I started building my own collection. There is something so satisfying about mixing vinyl that definitely motivates me. It pushes you to know your tracks inside out and it makes you think a little more outside the box with how you can get tracks to work together.

New music is being released all the time and there are new labels cropping up and pushing some really exciting new sounds so I’m always on the lookout.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I have the classic kallax setup at home and periodically rearrange my records by genre / vibe / energy, but it quickly descends into chaos after a long late-night blend. I’ll take photos of combos that work so when I do come to record a mix, I’m not completely winging it.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

I always check my local, Idle Hands. It has a great selection and supports local artists. Chris knows what sort of stuff I’m into so always picks out a few choice bits I might have overlooked. I think one of the nicest things about it though was it felt like a meeting place pre-pandemic. It was pretty common to run into someone I know and end up in The Bell for a few pints, chatting about the records we’d picked up. I miss it.

Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?

Shouts to the guy at Space Hall in Berlin who kept bringing me over weird wonky bits when he saw the pile of records I’d picked out the last time I was there. Ended up spending a lot more than I should have that day :S

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be elusive over the years?

There are loads of records I’d love to own. I wish I’d started collecting when I was at university and got my hands on some of the earlier DMZ and Deep Medi records but I try not to get caught up with inflated Discogs prices as there is so much new, exciting music coming through all the time. I prefer to grab records direct from labels through Bandcamp or locally where I can as it’s nice supporting the community and scene that way.

Working in label management and running my own label, I understand the importance of platforms like Bandcamp. Not only does more money go back to the labels and artists, but they provide a platform where you can engage with your following and build an online community. They also now provide a production service for vinyl using a pledge model which means pressing music to vinyl is now a lot more accessible and lower risk. With the growing popularity of the self-release, it’s great to see more people will be able to take control over their music and press it to wax!

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

It’s always fun when you go with mates because you might listen to something that’s not for you but you know they’ll like and vice versa, so it can be a good way of finding stuff you maybe wouldn’t have picked up yourself. Josh (Tramma) probably knows my taste better than anyone and has such a great record collection himself, so he’d be a top pick to dig with.

Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone-in on what you’re after?

As most of the stuff I’m picking up is pretty recent, there are usually clips online so often I’ll do a pre-listen before I get to the shop, so I’ve already got an idea of what I want to pick up, then just have a quick listen to make sure the pressing is good. This also helps avoid any stress of having to rush and listen to records in a packed out shop.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

When you’re looking through a big list of releases on a website it helps you identify labels if they have a strong visual identity so it can make picking stuff out a bit quicker. Generally though, I try not to let the artwork distract me too much from the music inside. Some releases have some mad designs and it’s a nice bonus when you get amazing music alongside something that is a piece of visual art but I’m happy with a plain sleeve is the music is on point.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

I spent a lot of time going through my records and trying to think of a suitable theme and settled on Bristol. It’s been such an important part of my musical education, way before I moved here so, all the tracks inside have a Bristol connection for me. Idle Hands, Livity Sound, Timedance, Polity, Lava Lava, Hotline and Pressure Dome are all based here. Syz, Human Resources, Hodge, Giant Swan have all lived or live here. Some more personally, for example artists I’ve booked to play in Bristol or tracks that just remind me of gigs I’ve played in the city. Hopefully it shows the diversity in the electronic music scene we have and why I love it here!

Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?

When I first heard the E-Unity release on Oscilla Sound a few years ago I was just super excited by its originality. Since that release I’ve got everything he’s put out on wax. I think that’s the only artist I can say that about.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

Moxie’s Dubstep mix in December was full of all the stuff I was listening to back in the day. Was such a good throw back. Her NTS show is always a vibe as well. So many I could mention but some of my favourite local diggers are Owain K (Innate Records), Jackin’ Patz (Dirtytalk) and Andy Payback (Under Heavy Manners) – his mix last year for the Air Mix series was such a jam! Obviously should mention Chris Farrell (Idle Hands) too, but he owns his own record shop, so maybe that’s cheating. All play totally different styles to the sort of stuff I play but a vibe is a vibe.

Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

Kayne the Hermit has just started his show back up on Noods. He’s got such vibey selections so it’s great to have him back on the DAB.

Anything on the horizon you’re excited about?

I’ve just signed up the next couple of vinyl EPs for my label Pressure Dome and I’m excited to get them into production and share them with the world. I’ve also been putting together the next digital compilation featuring some label regulars and a host of new talent. The compilations have been really fun projects. It’s great to be able to provide a platform for artists while raising some money for charity. There are a few other solo projects I’m tying up so should be able to share some new music soon too which is exciting.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud Select. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download the mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about why we’ve joined Select.

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