S – Artists
Connected marks a new creative endeavour from Stereo MC’s and Terranova’s Fetisch — and a new musical direction for the London duo. Collaborating with the Berlin-based producer who they first worked with on the seminal electronic cut ‘Rolling With Rai’ in 1989, Stereo MC’s have taken the
Connected marks a new creative endeavour from Stereo MC’s and Terranova’s Fetisch — and a new musical direction for the London duo. Collaborating with the Berlin-based producer who they first worked with on the seminal electronic cut ‘Rolling With Rai’ in 1989, Stereo MC’s have taken their work back underground, into a murky, gritty house and techno domain.
“We’re coming from that angle of a bit more of an underground club vibe for the dancefloor,” says the group’s vocalist and co-producer Rob Birch. “We really like what Terranova do. Our DJ sets have been more in that theatre of music. The way we started was in underground dance music back in the ’80s. We want to return to underground dance music in today’s model.”
Firm friends and confidantes since their days working at independent label Gee Street in the early ’90s, Fetisch and Stereo MC’s recently reignited their musical partnership with the Terranova single ‘Tell Me Why’ for Kompakt, a dark, strobing epic of Rob’s ghostly, mellifluous vocals, ominous synths and throbbing 4/4s, and realised there was acres of potential in their collaboration. Connected is the result.
It’s about combining minds, getting together, making use of the best equipment for the job; harnessing their creativity in a connected way. After cutting tracks with respected house cat Adam Port for Keinemusik, Stereo MC’s are focusing on a new chrome-plated, obsidian sound alongside their Berlin sparring partner.
“Fetisch came up with the idea,” says producer Nick Hallam. “The name Connected wasn’t really our idea, probably because we’ve lived with that track for so long! He saw it in a different way, Connected is a thing where we can do nice packaging, put other people’s records out, do nice merchandise. It’s a concept for how we always saw all the labels we’ve both been involved in. We just wanted to do something we had control over we could call our own, and try to take to a good place.”
Independence and musical freedom are the keys to the Connected game plan. Sick of dealing with the business skullduggery and snail’s pace of the major labels, it represents an opportunity to do it their own way — and correct the perception of the group, who’ve never had any truck with pigeonholes.
Though they’re most known for their huge album for Island Records ‘Connected’, itself an inspired mix of disco breaks, dynamic beats, Rob’s half-sung, half-rapped rhymes and lush melodies, their discography, running over 10 albums defies categorisation.
“To me it was electronic soul music, disco,” says Fetisch. “I hear that in Rob and Nick’s music. Man versus machine, sort of thing. Stereo MC’s had a heavy-duty disco feel to it. A four-to-the-floor feel to them and nobody else on that side of the story had it. That tradition has always been there. It’s like Rob always playing around with the disco breaks, from Salsoul, West End, Vince Montana.”
Stereo MC’s’ current path is a natural step, and Connected is their self-sufficient vision. Distributed by arch electronic label Kompakt, the focus of the label will be quality: vinyl releases as well as digital, distinctive artwork and a means of combining and cultivating the tastes that the three musicians share.
“You’re constantly feeding each other’s minds with what you’re into, what you think
￼about this, it helps shape what you are,” says Rob of Fetisch. “Just by rubbing shoulders with each other all the time. Even though you might not work in the studio together, you kind of get a vibe off each other, about what you’re thinking and vibing on.” Bouncing parts of tunes back and forth from their Brixton studio to Fetisch in Berlin, they’ve hit upon a way of working that mixes the grandest analogue equipment with the most basic digital kit to get the perfect result. While there are Space Echo delay boxes, 808s and synths set up in the Stereo MC’s’ HQ, Fetisch takes the audio to legendary producer Conny Plank’s studio (of Kraftwerk, David Bowie and Devo fame) to make use of the incredible old effects units there.
“Over the years we’ve had a similar taste or aesthetic, and if something can be achieved digitally, we do it digitally,” Fetisch accedes. “But if we need analogue to achieve it we’ll use that. We don’t have any rules that stop us. We’re not looking for the easy way, it’s all about getting something special.”
With massive remixes from Danny Daze (a spin for Maceo Plex among others) and Re.You, ‘Tell Me Why’ is about to be unleashed on Kompakt, heralding the launch of Connected in the last quarter of 2015. The label’s first release will be a new collabo between Fetisch and Stereo MC’s, and further down the line, an album — and tracks from like-minded artists.
“As the whole thing develops, it opens up other possibilities for other records we want to put out. Under that umbrella, there’s all those possibilities,” Nick says. “If people can get into the concept of the label, then everything becomes a collectable thing, that is part of it. I think there are still people around who want to do that, they want to get involved in music, they want something they can get their teeth into and really love.” And as for the musical manifesto?
“Uniting the classic with the future, like good science fiction movies,” concludes Fetisch. “The slick ones are always boring, but things like Blade Runner, that’s always the most exciting to me. We’re trying to create something that is unique. This is how we met, with an equality of how something should sound, this is what we wanna pick up on.”
The writing’s on the wall...