Last week saw the eagerly anticipated launch of Scotland’s newest record label, Jelly Roll Soul. The original output will be guided by the trio behind Stirling and Glasgow’s night of the same name and launched with the varied 3-track Tanz EP from Glaswegian Sirrahttam aka Matt Harris.
A real treat of a release that promises much more from both sides.
With firm roots in the electronic music scenes spawned from Detroit and Chicago, the label will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on for those who like their house and techno deep and dusty.
I managed to grab a few words with the man behind the first EP to find out more about his past, the EP and other productions, as well as tie him down for an hour long guest mix.
Urban Kultur Blog: For those who don’t know much about you, can you give us a little info about your musical background?
Sirrahttam: I don’t really have a musical background as such, but I got into the Global Underground mix CD series after one of my sister’s friends introduced me to DJs like Danny Tenagalia, John Digweed and Steve Lawler.
Off the back of that I started going to the Arches in Glasgow in about 2000/2001 to the Colours night to see DJs like those, and then about the same time I got a set of decks and started buying records. That’s where it started for me in terms of getting into music.
I got really into going to the Sub Club soon after and got hooked on the sound that was being played by Harri and Domenic and the guests they booked to play. I think that had a huge influence on my record buying.
UKB: And when did you start putting your own productions together?
S: I started experimenting about 4 years ago when I got and old battered Roland Groove box (which I still use today) for a Christmas present. Since then I’ve added a couple of other pieces of kit and just been experimenting with making music.
UKB: So, how did your relationship with Jelly Roll Soul begin? Had you any previous knowledge of the night before being asked to be on their maiden EP?
S: I went to the 1st Jelly Roll Soul night in Glasgow to see Kyle Hall play. That’s the only one of their nights I’ve made it along to so will be cool to play for them again 5 years later!
The JRS guys got in touch with me on Soundcloud after hearing some of the stuff I had been putting on there and they asked me if I’d like to be involved in their label which was in the planning stage – I bit their hand off!
“The Jelly Roll Soul guys got in touch after hearing some of my stuff…I bit their hand off!”
UKB: In the Jelly Roll Soul interview for The Skinny the guys mention your sound fits nicely with what is expected of a JRS night, but retains something unique. I actually found it quite hard to explain in words what it’s like, or who else it sounds like, and I like that! What’s the process behind your productions and how have you been working to develop your own sound?
S: Thanks for the compliment!
I try to make tracks that will stand out from other stuff, but at the end of the day all electronic music is borrowing on ideas from the past or being influenced by other sounds in my opinion anyway.
When I first started experimenting I had no way to sample so I was using sounds that were in my Roland Groovebox. That was fine though and as I said earlier I still use that today.
I got myself a Korg ESX a couple of years back which allowed me to add my own samples and that really helped me be much more creative.
I don’t think I have much of a process, I just start to jam with a few samples, mess with pitches and EQs and once I have something I’m happy with I’ll hit record then I’ll play the track in a “live” way.
I’m probably limiting myself by making tracks this way without a computer but I have more fun doing it this way.
UKB: You mention about making stuff that stands out – in the modern age of digital consumption it’s easier and easier for people to get music heard, but harder and harder to set yourself aside like you’ve done with this release. How do you go about it?
S: I think I just try and make tracks that have certain elements that are a bit different than other things out there. Even if the overall track is a house, techno or electro track.
Hunting for samples to use is the most important thing for me when trying to make a track that will stand out.
UKB: There’s often so much emphasis placed on gear, and not on what’s actually possible with it – in this case a great 3 track EP. The JRS guys mentioned that when they play out, they and most of their guests play vinyl. What does the medium mean to you, both when you DJ and in terms of your own release?
S: When I got into DJing I was buying vinyl and continue to do so today.
I just prefer buying records and having something physical to own and collect. I enjoy using records when I play out as opposed to using CDjs or anything like that.
The fact that JRS 1. wanted to put my music out, and 2. it was going to be on vinyl, was such a huge thing for me. It’s been a bit of a dream of mine since I got into making music I think as I’ve been buying records for so long and to have one with my name on it is so surreal but hugely satisfying.
UKB: Moving onto the Tanz EP then, can you tell me a little bit about it and how this body of work came together?
S: It was basically after Jamie at Jelly Roll Soul got in touch and said the guys wanted to put out my stuff.
I think we picked these tracks as they all have different rhythms and styles and I like that when I go to buy records. It’s nice when you have diverse EP.
These were the 3 tracks that we agreed to put on the EP from the label, so I feel really proud about being chosen for the first release.
“We picked these tracks as they all have different rhythms and styles and I like that when I go to buy records. It’s nice when you have diverse EP”
UKB: The EP is great I really enjoyed the variety too. Trees with it’s punchier bass and dusty sound laced with the vocal sample, the dreamier sound of Moving on Slowly, with it’s sort of xylophone-esque sound threaded by synth, and with a similar-ish sound to Trees, Linear Patterns with warbling synth and that kind of old Detroit kick sound. Can you talk me through each of the tracks and tell me a bit about each?
S: So Trees, was made using a sample from and old Maya Angelou vocal snippet and I just wanted to use the energy from that to create a more peaktime thing that could bounce along. Not much to it other than that.
Linear Patterns must have been made on a day when I was feeling making something really nuts! I can’t remember where I sampled from for the intro but it was a disco sample looped and pitched way down and reversed.
Moving on Slowly has a lot of melancholy and was influenced by the Detroit sounds. I won’t go into details but it’s about a relationship!
UKB: It’s really exciting to see your Soundcloud is full of unreleased productions, is there more to come by way of releases, either on the Jelly Roll Soul label or elsewhere? What’s your ambition for your productions?
S: Yeah, I’ve got about another 50 tracks in various states on completeness sitting on my boxes. We will need to see how the 1st release on JRS goes but we have discussed possibly doing another EP in 2016 at some point.
I plan to start sending out my stuff to other labels too at some point but will see how this one goes as I say.
UKB: Are there any other labels or artisits out there at the moment that you admire in particular?
S: Close to home there are a couple of guys I know who I’ve made contact with in the past year or so. Alexander Mcvey who runs his own Andertraxx Label is making some amazing tracks. He did a remix of one of my tracks that got a digital release earlier in 2015 on Cold City Cuts who are a label in Glasgow run by David Fleming.
I also got to know a guy through JRS called Malcolm Bennet. He is making some great stuff too. Very warped house that is right up my street.
Jamie Alexander from Jelly Roll Soul is making some really interesting stuff that I hope to see on their label soon.
If I had to pick 3 labels that I’m into I’d say FXHE, L.I.E.S and Apron.
UKB: Finally, how did your set go at La Cheetah, did your tracks get good support on their first outing?
S: Yeah! I never played my stuff but the residents played Trees as a last track, it was amazing. It was surreal!
Thanks to Sirrahttam for not only finding time to chat about his music, but also to find time to record an outstanding mix. Keep an eye on all his music on his Soundcloud, and also on Facebook. And chart the progress of Jelly Roll Soul on their new venture on Soundcloud and Facebook too.
1. Rhythm And Sound – Rise And Praise (Vainqueur Remix)
2. Lord Tusk – Natural Partnership (High Tower remix)
3. Marcellus Pittman – An Afternoons Delight
4. Omar S – Hot Ones Echo Thru the Ghetto
5. Benoit B – Cold Beauty
6. Vangelis Katsoulis – Enigma (Young Marco remix)
7. Minor Science – Glamour
8. Shanti Celeste – SSS (OG Cut)
9. Benoit B – 92 240
10. Rawaat – Caverns of Reflection
11. Steven Simpson – Chicagocid
12. Sirrahttam – Linear Patterns
13. Omar S – Skynet 2 B