Photo: George Davenport (Blue Hour)
The techno community usually values independence, but artist who go their way are hard to find. When Luke Standing launched his Blue Hour project and the label of the same name with the Flow State EP, that also meant taking a risk. Barely anyone knew who exactly the Berlin-based producer was, after all. About a dozen releases later, including a collaboration with A-JX under the Tracing Xircles moniker and a slew of remix packages featuring techno heavyweights like Ben Sims, Mark Broom or Steffi however, Standing managed to establish himself with a 90s-inspired techno sound that is instantly recognisable while maintaining his independence. Blue Hour’s contribution to our Groove podcast
Your music in both sound and aesthetics seems to draw on Detroit or UK techno and electronica from the early and mid 90s. Why does this particular period have such a strong influence on your work?
Although I wasn’t present in the clubs and part of the music scene during this time, there is something to be said for this period being of significant importance to the development and discovery of electronic music. Rave culture was exploding and people were exposed to new sounds and environments that lead to inspiring a generation of people and new ideas. Emotions were high and this reflected a lot in the music and merged with the combination of plenty of untrodden musical ground. There is of course a conscious nod to try and re-capture this energy and direction but it’s also about being open minded and onward looking to keep things relevant to what’s happening now. I think this is the biggest challenge with music in general today and this repetition of the past is also commonly heard in popular genres. Much of what has been made and what we hear has often already been done before. If I’m honest the new and very contemporary cutting edge music generally doesn’t tend to excite me in the same way that 90s-influenced music does. There is still such a wealth of great music to be discovered and this continues to motivate and inspire me.
After starting Blue Hour in 2013, you have releasing all of your solo releases on your own imprint. What are the advantages – and possibly disadvantages – of this DIY approach?
Having full control over your music makes things feel extremely personal but this also demands a lot of work. In addition to making music, I try and do as much as I can myself, especially when it comes to the design and aesthetic. I do think working with established labels can help get your music out there and connect with more people and broader audiences but it’s also nice to build that yourself at a steady pace. I’ve learnt a lot from doing this and now that the label is opening up to others I’m sure theres still much more to get to grips with. I’m interested to start working with other people more often now and to see how I can develop and curate the label into something larger platform.
With Dold’s Express Route, you’ve signed the first artist for a solo EP to your label. How did that come about and what does this mean for the future of the imprint?
I first met Patrik (Eriksson alias Dold) in Stockholm when he played together with Philippa Pacho at Under Bron. I was already familiar with his label Arsenik, but when I heard „Eva“ from his EP Mother that resonated with me a lot. That led to a dialogue about doing a record together and Patrik began working in a similar direction to „Eva“. It was a process that went on for a while, saw us sharing ideas etc., and then I invited him to Berlin to mix the tracks together in my studio. I’m really proud to release this record and it’s been a great pleasure getting to know Patrik on a personal level, too. I feel very much open to releasing music from others in the future and will dedicate more time to develop this. I’ve found I enjoy the curative experience a lot and it’s also great to support new talents.
This is not the first time however someone other than you has been involved in a Blue Hour release. Together with A-JX, you’ve debuted as Tracing Xircles on the label in early 2017 but have not released any more material since. What was – or is – the concept of TX?
We are just about to start releasing music again. Earlier this year we were invited by Steffi and Martyn to contribute towards Air Texture VI, a compilation they have curated together. Our track „Kaieteur Falls“ will be available on both the CD and 2LP, which I believe is out due for release any day now. We are really happy to be part of this along with so many great artists and work with people we admire. The concept for TX is still to be found and discovered and because of this working on this project has been quite liberating. We are open to where it can go but we often draw inspiration from jungle, techno and ambient music. Shortly after Gaia’s Requiem was released, Simon moved away from Berlin to live in Barcelona and it wasn’t until he returned to Berlin that we started working on music together again. Our process was very much driven by being in the studio together so working remotely wasn’t really an option for us. We are currently working on our follow-up record and hope to finalise this and start making release plans very soon.
Early on you have also invited others to remix your tracks, just recently producers like Ben Sims and Truncate were featured on the third installment of the Remixed series. How do you choose whom to invite for remixing your material, and how do you usually approach the original works when working as a remixer yourself?
Some of the artists I’ve invited are strangers, others I am more familiar with but the running line through everything has stemmed from people that have either inspired or heavily supported my music and I also wanted to showcase lesser known talent. The most important thing for me is that there is cohesion across all the remixes as a record. This has meant a lot of shuffling around at times and there’s still remixes waiting to come out because of this. I have actually been thinking about stopping this series or at least putting it on hold, mainly to concentrate on original EPs from other artists. Working on remixes myself is a process I find quite unpredictable, so I tend to choose projects fairly carefully. It should be a good fit that makes sense for me with the feeling I can add value to the original.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
I wanted to make something fast, diverse and colourful as well as showcase some recent and upcoming music from the label.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future, and what are your plans as a producer and label owner?
I’m playing at ://about:blank tonight with Ø [Phase] and Phillipa Pacho. I’ll also be doing a set with Simon as Tracing Xircles at another venue in Berlin directly before or after. Coming up soon are shows in Leipzig and Stockholm and I’ll also be spending some time out in Tblissi early next year. We have Dold’s Express Route EP coming up on the 5th of November, which is already receiving a lot of DJ support. We are planning to do something together again next year. I’m working on a new solo release as Blue Hour and Simon and myself are also finalising the next TX record. Our track „Kaietuer Falls“ for Steffi and Martyn is coming up on Air Texture. Besides that I’ll be dedicating a more time to working on records from new producers on the label and possibly the final edition in the Remixed series…
Stream: Blue Hour – Groove Podcast 179
01. DJ Bone – Music [Subject Detroit]
02. Blue Hour – Introspective II [Blue Hour]
03. Kuba Sojka – 1998 [Project Lab]
04. Dold – Memories [Blue Hour]
05. Highrise – Hope For Peace [Kanzleramt]
06. Voiski – Sick Parrots [Super 95]
07. Anetha – Miyuki & Patrizia [Blocaus]
08. Blue Hour – Radiance/Limelight [Blue Hour]
09. Alpha Tracks – Voyager Of The Seas [Morbid Records]
10. Cherrymoon Trax – Emulate [Bonzai Records]
11. Total Planet Refreshment – Birds Of Pressure [Kanzleramt]
12. Blue Hour – Introspective III (Operator Remix) [Blue Hour]
13. Olive Way – Lucky Dip (Barrow Boy remix) [EPM Music]
14. Cold Dust – Wolfman Jack [Red Seal]
15. Ø [Phase] – Suspended Animation (Stroke B) [Token Records]
16. Luke Slate – Bande Magnétique [Peacefrog Records]
17. Voiski – Megatrance 2 [Super 95]
18. Rush Plus – Quick Release [Valence Records]
19. Mike Parker – Inversion 7 [Geophone]
20. Jay Denham – Smokers Delight [Mechanisms Industries]
21. Blue Hour – Flow State (Ben Sims Remix) [Blue Hour]
22. Dold – Eva [Arsenik Records]
23. EQ – True Devotion [FX Records]
24. Basement Phil – Take Me Up (Unreleased Oldskool Remix) [Basement Records]
25. Q-Bass – Dancin’ People (E-Type Remix) [Suburban Base Records]
26. Dold – Horizon [Blue Hour]