Rtch Kallan‘s Flash Point EP packs three tracks with warm, highly emotive, melodic keys and driving kicks. The Northern-England-based artist and label head isn’t in it alone and welcomes other UK-based talent on remix duties. Rtch Kallan talks about how organizing music events put him on the path to further his love for the electronic scene. However, it’s only 20 years later that he’s able to create his own opportunity with the accumulated knowledge. He also shares the shifts in the underground within the last two decades from pre-social media days to current times where the tiny mobile screen is king.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with 6AM, how are you doing and where have you been spending most of your time during the lockdown?
I’m really good thank you, I’ve been a follower of your site and listened to a lot of new music promoted by you over the years, so it’s a great pleasure. In answer to your question, the lockdown has played into my hands and been a disadvantage in equal measure. From a positive, creative point of view, I’ve used the free time to sit down in my home studio, learn, play and ultimately create new sounds for our new brand (The AudioBloc).
In a few words, how would you describe your sound?
Energy-driven and trance-inducing soundscapes to be enjoyed in dimly lit, large and dusty spaces.
When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career and more than just a hobby?
It’s never too late to change direction! Keeping that phrase in mind, my first encounters with music [was] some years ago now. I built a thirst for this in the early 2000s. I was involved in arranging local events that had some decent numbers, getting booked for sets across the UK and the odd one in Ibiza.
I wanted to pursue the creation of music, [but] back then there was very limited information on the subject and without the right connections [or[ education it was a challenge. I managed to build a network of contacts resulting in some moderate success, but not enough to push through the barrier. Life changes, right? So now, almost 20 years later from when I started, I have a new opportunity to invest my time and energy into The AudioBloc project. So you could say, in 2020.
I have had the privilege of experiencing the underground, free from lit mobile phones, Insta-photo opportunities and Shazam-able music as a clubber, producer, DJ, collector, and consumer of music.
Rtch Kallan shares his well-rounded experience with music
Living in a sleepy town like mine in the 90s, the question back then was “how do you find more of this music?” You couldn’t check online, it didn’t exist, you had to know someone, that knew someone that could tell you where to go to get the box-sets.
Rtch Kallan & The Art of Crate Digging
What are your thoughts on the current underground scene, is anything truly underground anymore?
This is an appealing question to me because in the 23 years, I have been a follower of underground music. I have had the privilege of experiencing the underground free from lit mobile phones, Insta-photo opportunities and Shazam-able music as a clubber, producer, DJ, collector, and consumer of music. I luckily remember back to a time in my teens when a friend would borrow an obscure DJ mix, copied to a TDK tape from a friend of a friend (or something like that).
We would play the 30 minutes of each side over and over like it was the Holy Grail and until you knew all MC lyrics verbatim. Living in a sleepy town like mine in the 90s, the question back then was “how do you find more of this music?” You couldn’t check online, it didn’t exist, you had to know someone, that knew someone that could tell you where to go to get the box-sets.
Fast forward to today, everyone and their mum has been to Ibiza. Ask an office colleague at the water dispenser what they listen to and 4 times out of 5 it will be something like “Martinez Brothers, seen them last year in Beefa, sick mate.” I don’t want to come off cynical here, as the current access to information has its benefits, and you can discover incredible music from all over the world. Building up a label with great music is much easier in that regard that was a very different story in my youth which I’m sure is relatable to many.
Back in the late 90s, early 00s, buying new music to play in my sets was an hour trip, including sometimes taxi and train. Not to mention the need to persuade the owner that you are at a level to get the under-counter “saved for pals and the established DJs” tests.
So in answer to your question, those days are gone for me–in terms of what I associate with the “underground.” I think it’s been replaced with a new meaning. It isn’t necessarily mainstream, but something that simply requires a little digging online.
What motivates your work as a musician?
My passion for the music’s rich history, respect, and love for the creative journey. My growing and consuming need to make some kind of mark on it, be it big or small.
Solid work on your newest single “Flash Point” and it even comes with two remixes. What or who inspired this record?
Thank you! Firstly, you mentioned the remixes. It’s a real privilege to go from consumer to working with people like Boxia and DREIAN. They are both exceptional talents in their own corners of the techno spectrum. I’ve already learned plenty and if you are one of only a few that haven’t heard of them, I wholeheartedly suggest you go and give them a Google.
In terms of Flash Point, I wanted to create something that still had a melodic structure at the heart of the track but is detached from the current “melodic techno” scene. Although I love the sound, I want my music to follow a different pattern.
Whether most know it or not, the majority will be familiar with the work of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (composers of the music for Stranger Things). When building Flash Point, the musical components such as the detuned swells and arpeggiation was loosely inspired by their work, due to it being in my head at the time of the project.
It’s on your imprint, right? How has it been like building a label from the ground up?
Yes, that’s right, our new label The AudioBloc. So far, minus the inevitable closed doors, is a real dream come true. I’ve been involved with other labels before this one, but my previous experiences have been vinyl-based within different genres. The opportunity to do something grassroots ground up, and a blank slate is an incredible entitlement and is with complete thanks to the team I have around me. It wouldn’t be possible, even to get to this point without them.
We have a lot planned for the brand and I want it to be built as a platform, a community for other creators, and not something for the team just to self-indulge in. This being only our second release, we, of course, are still early on in the process and thankful for the opportunity to share our project.
My humble advice is to stay relevant, but don’t imitate the big boys; just do what works for you. Also, you need a thick skin and lots of patients.
Rtch Kallan’s on What You Need as an Artist, Aside from Music
Any considerations other artists should take when thinking about setting up a label?
I genuinely believe that in this day and age it is possible to set up your record label. Information is abundant online [and] YouTube tutorials are plentiful. Our goal is long-term. We want to appeal to the DJs, so when the clubs open they can play our music. [However], we want to at least carve our niche.
So my humble advice is to stay relevant, but don’t imitate the big boys; just do what works for you. Also, you need a thick skin and lots of patients.
Tell us about AudioBloc, and when do you plan to open doors?
Just before the lockdown, my colleague bought a fantastic warehouse space in the north of the UK. We have a pre-application in with the local council to convert this to a music venue. A post lockdown transformation is taking place. Hurdles to jump through of course, but the plan is to open next year.
The general thesis of the site is the creation of a community space that will offer a platform for local and global guests to perform. I don’t want to be pigeonholed by only offering a sub-genre of a sub-genre, so we hope and plan to have the venue embedded in electronic music coupled with other creative pursuits.
The venue will also have space for a variety of different services. We have a medium size courtyard for outdoor summer events of all kinds plus space for studio use and live streaming. It’s a lot to do, but we hope we’ve given ourselves plenty of time to see it to fruition.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as an artist so far?
Can I give you two? Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t be too persuaded by trends as they come and go. In the past, I had to have everything my way. Still retaining focus, I’ve learned to relax and take things as they come.
Anything else you’d like to share with our audience?
Yes, please do consider following us on our social media. There is so much for us to share as we progress. In the mean-time, we would love to hear from techno artists looking to have their music heard. You can send demos using this link.