Frazer Campbell picks out 6 records that he loves (and you should know about)
Frazer Campbell is one of those people who never fails to make lasting impression – his passion for electronic music was cast back in the early 90’s where he developed a love for Drum & Bass and classic house.
A raver first and foremost, he is self-professed floater through many genres. He first honed in on his preference for ‘thoughtfully inspired house’ in the late 90’s after being drawn to the epic sounds laid out by the likes of superstar DJs Dave Seaman and Hernan Cattaneo, when progressive beats had reached their peak across the UK.
Firmly rooted in London’s underground, Frazer has been DJ’ing for over 20 years now. In the last 6 to 7 years, he’s has continued to push himself to develop both as a DJ and as an artist and stepped up his releases and back in early 2016, launching Open Recordings where he lead on the first two EPs: inviting Steve O Sullivan and Onirik to help on remix duties.
With the label going from strength to strength, we caught up to find out a little more about his background and share some music with us:
Which parties did you go to as you were getting in to raving then?
“My first experience with rave culture was Labyrinth in Dalston. This was back in 1995… A friend from school said he had been to this crazy place with great music, dark rooms and the maddest atmosphere. That sold it for me, I was already really into my Jungle at that point and a night in that place just brought it all together. I fell instantly in love with everything about it, being so detached from normality. From that point on, I frequently went to Dream FM raves, Helter Skelter and World Dance. These events were huge, mind blowing to be honest! Dream Fm used to do parties at the infamous Bagleys, and this is where my musical flavour began to slow down and I really got into the back room sounds where deep house and early garage were starting to infiltrate. These rooms were always kind of more chilled out, with the exception of older people who were still loosing their shit to slower grooves.”
What turned you on to house music?
“Believe it or not, around the time when progressive house was prominent, artists such as Dave Seaman and Hernan Cattaneo would provide the most epic journeys of music at The Cross for Renaissance. I can’t even put into words the intricate stories that passed out through that sound system. It fuelled my fascination with the deeper end of house music. I suppose when I think about anything with a deeper meaning, it stirs certain emotions, thinking or hearing about deeper subjects will always make the mind go in a different direction. From that, you gain a connection that is special.”
You decided to take time out in the early 2000s… how come?
“I was playing a lot at the time in Turnmills and the Cross, as well as a residency at Inigo in south London. I got very overloaded with love for different types of house music but in all honest,y I didn’t have the skill to incorporate it all, to express what I wanted. I began to find it all a bit too much and promoters were getting on my nerves, I began to see the awful side of the industry and thought F**k this, I don’t need this in my life! During the same period, I had a bad accident too, which was the final nail in the coffin. I fractured my skull due to being attacked. From that, I lost hearing in one of my ears partially. I say to most people, I wish I could blame it all on the accident but in fact I was at the end of my patience anyway, so that just firmed it up for me.”
And vice versa, what made you choose to start up again?
“It’s funny how the things you love never leave you, they can take a back step to the vaults in your mind but they’re only a gentle invite away from returning. My brother said one day ‘would you ever think about doing it again?’… Hmm, well I sure did.”
Was there anything in particular that made you decide to build a studio and then start a label?
“I used to try and make music in the early 2000’s and used Ableton back then. I always had it on my laptop and during my return period I just started to get an urge to do it, which I never really had before. From there, it kind of took over my life. I became so interested in machines and equipment. It unleashed this other creative path that I didn’t really think I had in me, but I kept at it and keep trying to strive forward. I really love making music now, I find it so satisfying and love that it allows me to express myself in a different way (as opposed to Dj’ing). The Foundations are the same but the 2 jobs have different paths leading from them. I always say that I’m addicted to electronic music and being able to work in my studio gives me more highs to find. The party I ran with my brother OPEN was the backbone for starting OPEN recordings, and a platform to start releasing my music on wax. I had already released about 20 or so tracks digitally but wanted to get back to where I started. I launched .elliot.project. records too in the same year as I wanted something different that wasn’t associated to anything else. I wrote a track called ‘Araline’, which was a track that I really wanted to be on this new imprint. Now I am 6 releases in and am so happy to be doing it.”
Do you have any favourite spots for record shopping these days?
“In honesty, I’m an on line digger. I think music is quite a personal thing therefore I like to do it on my own, which a shop doesn’t really allow. I can find so much stuff quickly and take huge diverse directions.It can get a bit much too especially when you have a quick peek at Discogs before you go to bed. Not a great idea… Top tip… Don’t do that!”
What do you think makes a great record?
“I find this answer easy – when a track makes you stop, makes time stop and makes you move your body. It’s about taking you away from normality. When time stands still, your emotions are heightened and that for me is just perfect. There are many ingredients of course: groove, swing, what the artist was thinking at that point in time…”
With that in mind, care to pick us some music?
“As you’ve asked so nicely… here are some tracks that need to be heard a little more often.”
Two Armadillos – Warriors – Secret Sundaze
“First up is something from the Secret Sundaze camp – Two Armadillos. A track called Warriors, not to be confused with a later release called Warriors Return. Two Armadillos was a collaboration of 2 well known artists, namely Giles Smith and Martin Dawson. This track was their second collaboration in 2007 and was inspired by their shared interest in Los Hermanos styled Detroit techno. Martin sadly died in November 2012 but left behind a back catalogue of influential minimal house that is as fresh today as it was back then. Giles Smith continued to work on various projects and of course is one of the heads of Secret Sundaze. ‘Warriors’ for me is text book example of how important a hook can be. Released back in 2007, it has always stayed prominent in my mind. The hook etches onto you with a bouncy bassline and carries through the mix with a fresh and clean Arpeggio. It reminds me of my raving days and is always in my bag. It’s full of thought, delivers the rhythm and makes you feel darn good. RIP Martin. I played alongside him many years ago on a number of occasions – he was a top guy. This isn’t on Youtube so you’ll have to get digging!”
Stewart Walker – Shipwrecked – Curle Recordings
“When talking about proper minimal music, Stewart walker is one of the most prolific artists. In all honesty, I’ve only known about for the past 5 years or so. My brother actually pointed out this track to me after hearing it at a party in London. When I heard it, I was blown away. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to speak with Stewart a few times and his library of releases is quite exceptional . Of course, releases on Curle are always brilliant. ’Shipwrecked’ is a prime example of how something stripped back can still deliver a huge huge impact. Its tribal percussion hugs the classy off-kilter bells, and throws a lorry load of euphoria straight at the ear drums via the soul! Be warned – this one could make you have a moment!”
Anders Llar – Black Number – Narita records
“Like most record buyers, I probably spend too much time on discogs. I stumbled across Anders (Sweden) late last year. I miss the emotional euphoria in music now and ‘Black Number’ is a hybrid of subtle electro, squelchy acid and of course my favoured Arpeggio! This track is totally insane. I can imagine sitting in a studio having all of these components and thinking ‘this definitely will not work together!’ Not sure if Anders thought that by my gosh it does! Released in 2006, it sounds like we are still not ready for it! Way ahead of its time, Narita Records from the US has a collection of releases which are all unique and first class. Worth a dig through the label and of course check out Anders’ other bits too, they’re incredible.”
Anonym – Hart Plaza – Pariter Records
“Anonyn also works under the Alias of DLS and comes straight out of Detroit. Having a solid arsenal of top top releases on lables such as Sushitech, Bloop and Bass Culture to name a few, this track is on Pariter and hit stores back in 2009. This piece is soooo good. Fluttering double hats, tribal grooves with sexy high toms all swinging from the chandeliers. When talking about groove and swing, look no further. A 12 minute track of pure hypnotism and describes perfectly what house music is about. A sneaky, unexpected breakdown with a well known vocal and then its back to business. A firm rocket for any Bag. Pure class. Highly recommended. Real deal Detroit House Music!”
Process – Surface – Traum Schallplatten Records
“Process, otherwise known as Steve Gary Barnes is a producer who made cutting edge minimal and ambient back in the late 90’s early 2000’s. When I listen to this track, it makes me wish that today’s so called minimal could be like this. Surface is indeed solid but has a undertone of happiness which is something that the genre often excludes. The focus is not on heavy basslines and pure glitch, it mixes a smooth blend of delayed bass stabs, sharp processed claps, shuffling shakers, twisted pads and a grainy string which is so nice to hear in a piece of music. The groove is so infectious and there is no way that you can keep still to this! A solid slice of electronic music that sounds super current, even with its added magic from yesteryear.”
Metro Area – Miura – Environ Records
“I’ve strutted my stuff to this many a time in the past. Released in 2001 by Morgan Geist and Darshan Jesrani on the US label, all 3 tracks on the releases are fantastic. It basically makes you want to do just that. Big strings, real strings, bubbling delayed bassline, bongos and a peaky unforgettable vocal. This packages up every great emotion you have and gently rubs in back into your body. Every face on any dance floor will be smiling, a great piece to raise the hands to, dish out a few high fives and say hello to the person smiling at you across the dance floor. It’s music like this that made me fall in love with house. Not much more to say on this one.”