When Stee Downs got together with Trevor O’Shea a couple of years ago, their main ambition extended as far as getting a club night together to promote soul, jazz, funk, disco, dub, reggae and all the bits in the middle. They’ve come a long way and have recently launch their own label, Scribble Records..
With the release of Kormac’s ‘Scratch Marchin’‘ EP, it seemed a great time to catch a few words with Stee Downs as he was recovering after St. Patrick’s Day.
“Eclectic within a certain framework… Our music will draw on nu-jazz, funk, Afro, baile beats, reggae, ghettotech, house, hip hop or whatever, everything is amalgamating these days anyway.”
“Dublin is always mayhem on Patrick’s Weekend. It’s good fun though, lots of great gigs going on all around the city and a real party atmosphere. We had DJ Craze & MC Armanni on at Scribble and Global (another Bodytonic night) had Muleketu, a 20-piece samba reggae drum group. DJ Spinna and Jazzman Gerald were playing in Dublin as well, so lots of options.”
Of course, Jazzman Gerald has his own label, (don’t forget the next Jazzman CD, Sister Funk2 is out soon) and Stee says of having his own label, “it’s always been an ambition of mine to be able to release music I believe in. Over the last 10 years, I’ve built up a good relationship with various producers and artists I admire and now I have a platform to put their music out.”
And the music policy? “Eclectic within a certain framework. We’re not one style of music, whatever is doing it for us on a DJing level will be definitely influencing us on a production level. Our music will draw on nu-jazz, funk, Afro, baile beats, reggae, ghettotech, house, hip hop or whatever, everything is amalgamating these days anyway.”
The Kormac EP has some of this “amalgamating” going on. “I’ve known Kormac for a few years and was aware of a few of his productions,” he says. “When I came on board with Bodytonic Music to set-up Scribble Records, Kormac was one of the first names that was brought up in terms of possible releases. We met up straight away and he was delighted to get on board with us for his first release.”
And he’s not hanging about as the next release by Palov & Mishkin is coming out next month, “I loved these guys’ production on their G.A.M.M. release and thought that they would be perfect for the vibe at Scribble. So I just got in contact with them, told them what we were all about and our plans for Scribble. They bring so many different elements into their music and every track is so unique. There will be four tracks on their release and it’s due out 24th April”. Their G.A.M.M 12″ was a big favourite in Hectic’s box as it included a re-work of the Northern Soul classic, ‘The Snake’ so I’m particularly looking forward to hearing the new tracks.
And who else can we expect on Scribble? “After that, there’s a guy called Ishaq. The first thing I’d tell you is he’s a multi-talented, extremely gifted musician/producer. I’ve known him for about 10 years and he’s always been a great influence of mine. We shared a house when we lived in Amsterdam and we really started to work together in that time. We had a studio set-up in the house and we spent long nights collaborating on different stuff. He’s had a remix out lately on Inphusion of Princess, which was really nice and he did a supa remix for the Bugz In The Attic’s ‘Move Aside‘ which came 3rd in their competition but I thought it won hands down. He’s also done remixes of Rich Medina, D’Angelo, Glenn Lewis & Bilal which are all dope too.”
Blimey, that sounds like a Best Of remix CD already and he says, the direction of the label will be to emulate “labels that really pioneered a movement in music like JCR, 2000 Black, Stereo Deluxe, Bitasweet, Ubiquity, Sonar Kollectiv, Ninja Tune, G.A.M.M., Raw Fusion and Mad Decent.” While his personal musical heroes reflect this like, “Donny Hathaway, Letta Mbulu, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, A-trak, Diplo, D’Angelo, Fela Kuti, Junior Murvin… too many to mention.”
Getting back to the club night, “I started DJing about 12 years ago for Jazz FM in Dublin. I had been really into early soul, jazz and hip hop stuff at the time and I got my own show. From there I met Dan O’Keefe and began doing a night called ‘Funkessential’ for two years. Around that time I started really getting into the future soul and nu-jazz sounds and landed another residency with Dan & Ed Eustace. The production side of things really started to pick up and I did my first 12″ with Loose Ensemble on Foundation Records, London and then a 12″ with Ed Eustace on Vinyl Vibes”.
In fact, we’ve just missed a night at Scribble with Stee and it sounds like it was a great night out as “At the moment, it’s baile beats, gutterfunk, Baltimore, reggae versions, nu-jazz & hip hop. I treat my DJing the same way I think about the label, forget about genres, just quality tunes. A lot of new music coming out at the moment is mashing various styles together to form another. No rules…just beats.”
And there’s the Scribble radio show on 106.4FM (see links below for online details) with Mark Greene & Global. He says, “it’s a journey through jazz, soul, Brazilian beats, disco, funk and various new releases. Stuff like Melting Pot, Breakin’ Bread, Raw Fusion and Punchline are appearing regularly at the moment in their playlists”. Scribble radio will be going live on the new Bodytonicmusic.com website in June and not content with that, there’s the Bodytonic Music festivals in the summer.
“Electric Picnic is very important to Bodytonic Music and the success of the Arena at the festival has really put the organisation on the map.” Last year featured Crazy P and Spank Rock and this years’ full line up will be announced in the next few days (see below links) but we can reveal that there will definitely be a Scribble presence and Kormac will be doing his live show.
The other festival they organise is the smaller one-day Garden Party that, “is set in amazing surrounding in the countryside just outside Dublin. It’s a nice chilled out day based on great food, idyllic setting and amazing music… but still a big Party. Some of the guests coming this year include Switch and Charles Webster.”
The Bodytonic team are also on the bill at Lake of Stars festival this year while the next thing for Scribble, “is just to keep creating and finding quality music to release on the label and establish ourselves as purveyors of great music.”
Stee has plans for lots of releases in the next couple of years including an Ishfaq album (possibly next year) while working on his own 12″, which is possibly coming out with in the autumn 2007 and an album which will be ready early 2008. But to finish on, he says, “in the long term our goal is to just keep the label fresh and creative, make quality music and roll with the times.”
Make a note on your pads, Scribble Records has arrived.
www.electricpicnic.ie full line-up 2nd April 2007
Scribble — Stee Downes + Tom Beary + Kormac + Dan O’Keefe 23 March 2007 The Bernard Shaw, 11-12 Richmond Street, Portobello, Dublin 2
Scribble Radioshow : with Mark Greene plus guests include Michael Black and Steve Egri. every Tuesday from 9-10pm @ 106.4FM & ONLINE www.rnl106.com
www.stpatricksfestival.ie Official St. Patrick’s Festival 2007, 15th — 19th March Dublin