Craig Morrison and Graeme Reedie’s quest for absolute soul alchemy will never cease. An unquenchable thirst for that perfect sweet spot between organic and electronic, synthetic and authentic; sounds that shroud yet pound, allure yet attack, innovate yet resonate, whisk away yet keep you rooted to the ground… It’s a dichotomy that’s driven, inspired and motivated them, keeping them together – and relevant – since Silicone Soul took life as two teenage pretenders in 1998.
Enrapturing you with blues one moment, damaging you with disco the next then blindsiding you with a deep tech tease – these are the dynamics that Craig and Graeme have made their signature in everything they do. Respected studio artists who’ve honed the dark art of hypnosis and immersion, in demand DJs who can spellbind ears in all capacities from Panorama Bar to T In The Park via two Radio 1 Essential Mixes and The Boiler Room; founders of influential independent label Darkroom Dubs: However, and wherever, you encounter Silicone Soul’s operations, their kaleidoscopic electronic ethos is unfailing.
Take their productions: four critically-applauded artist albums, countless singles, remixes and counting, their sound ranges from the glistening cosmic soul of ‘When The Devil Drives’ to the palpitating hypno-squeeze of ‘Help Will Come’ and everything in between… Including, of course, their famous underground string-driven crossover ‘Right On, Right On’ which they famously refused to perform on Top Of The Pops and their seminal 8-min remix odyssey of Shatrax’s ‘Mispent Youth’ that introduced their Darkroom Dub signature… A signature that’s become a by-word for authentic and original underground house music.
Entrenched in Soma schooling, Darkroom Dubs maintains Glasgow’s record label tradition for never compromising and encouraging the most honest records from all artists who work with them. From supporting early and breakthrough cuts from the likes of Sei A, Skinnerbox, The Spirals (aka Silver City), Dubspeeka, Of Norway and Dimitri Veimar to working with innovators of all generations such as Extrawelt, Alex Niggeman and Belgian new beat godfather Frank De Wulf. Over 14 years Darkroom Dubs has amassed a rich catalogue of unique and inspiring electronic music that has breadth, soul and the subtle sense of cosmic consistency… Just like Craig and Graeme’s productions. The fact they only ever sign music they truly believe in means every Darkroom Dubs release is worth checking and their sporadic-but-always-on- point Darkroom Dubs compilations are vital for any card-carrying house lover.
Amid another year of international touring from Buenos Aires to Beirut, Craig and Graeme are currently curating a fourth Darkroom Dubs compilation due before the end of 2017 and more of their own unique productions including their long-awaited fifth album. Gradually grafting a climatic build-up to their landmark 20th anniversary, Silicone Soul’s quest for absolute soul alchemy will never ever cease…
First of all please tell us where you guys are from? When you started DJing vs when you started producing?
Graeme and I both grew up in a small town called Milngavie, 10km outside Glasgow. I was still living at home when I bought my first turntables and I had them set up in my parent’s living room, so thinking back I must have been 17. They were belt-driven, so really difficult to beat match on but practice makes perfect they say! The production followed on shortly after as Graeme had an Amiga with MED tracker sequencing software on it.
The Glasgow scene has always held a unique vibe mostly for its crazy crowds who are very well educated with the
music. They know each and every tune and let the DJ really know when they are having a good time. Why is that? Why do they seem to really connect with the music and interact so much more than lots of other cities?
The reason lies probably way back in the 50’s. Glasgow was pretty grim for the working people living in a a backdrop of post-war industrial decline, so going to ‘the dancing’ was something most young people lived for. Then just add in the famous Scottish reputation for enjoying a good drink and a party. Also, Glasgow has always managed to attract world class acts to play from Jazz, Soul, Rock n’ Roll right through the decades to New Wave and Techno. All this combined is what’s given Glasgow its deserved reputation. It’s not the biggest city either, so there’s only a limited number of venues to support any scene so you have regulars going to the same club and listening to a similar type of music, resulting in the crowd being musically more educated and discerning.
How have you seen the Glasgow scene grow over the years? What have been some of the changes in the events, the local DJS and the sound?
The scene has grown considerably but I think the core influences still remain so musically it’s still quite underground house and techno based.
Slam for example, who were instrumental in bringing electronic music to Glasgow, continue to go from strength to strength with their massive Maximum Pressure party in a warehouse complex called SWG3. You have the guys who worked in Rub a Dub (the main record store) like Jackmaster and Denis Sulta who are now famous all over the globe. There’s Gary Beck, who started off on Soma and is probably the most famous techno DJ to come out of Glasgow in recent years. Optimo are going strong too, they celebrated their 20th anniversary this year. Venues like the Sub Club and The Berkeley Suite have fantastic music week in, week out and The Sub Club has one of longest running residents nights in the world, now called SubCulture with Harri, Domenic and Telford. It’s safe to say the scene in Glasgow is stronger than ever.
Talking about Sound. How about the Silicone Soul sound. How has that changed over the years? What was your first release? And how about your latest release?
I guess as you discover new technology your sound changes but hopefully it’s for the best as you refine certain aspects. I think the sounds and influences you loved when you started always remain the strongest, you just try to be more inventive. As the years pass you develop your own individuality that’s less derivative but it’s not like you are going to get tired of a great drum groove or latin percussion in full swing.
Our first release was on our own label, Depth Perception which we started with old school friends Chris and Peter back in ’96. It was a white label only release and the main track was called ‘Roy Is The Teacher’. We were all massive Roy Davis Jr. fans so it was a kinda homage. Our latest release is on our Darkroom Dubs label. It’s a remix of Dino Lenny’s ‘Chained To A Ladder’ and the 12” is out Jan 22nd.
Your first vinyl you bought was? Do you still have it?
I honestly can’t remember because I guess at the time it’s not particularly significant. Sifting through the cobwebs though I think it could have been Billy Idol ‘Mony Mony’ . Yes, I’m sure it’s in the attic at my Mum’s.
How many records do you thinks in your vinyl collection?
I’ve never actually counted them but they take up a pretty large wall in my house.
That one record that you will take to your grave is?
The Clash “Guns Of Brixton”
Silicone Soul’s current top 5 is:
1. Dino Lenny – Chained To A Ladder [Darkroom Dubs]
2. Justin Robertson’s Deadstock 33s – The Music Is Madness (To Those To Cannot Hear It) [Darkroom Dubs]
3. Eduardo De La Calle – Breatharian [Darkroom Dubs]
4. Justin Robertson’s Deadstock 33s – Dr. Spectro [Darkroom Dubs]
5. Eduardo De La Calle – Me… The Apple Knocker [Darkroom Dubs]
This is not your first time to Bali is it? When was the last time you were here?
I played here last April for the Babylon Beach Festival at Karma.
The scene and Bali electronic music industry as a whole has grown significantly since your last trip here.
What have you heard has been happening from over in sunny Scotland?
Yes I’ve heard that but it’s not surprising as it’s a great place to party. The Jenja Club in Kuta looks like a cool place to play, also I know Potato Head quite well, there’s aways a nice vibe. We actually tried to catch DJ Harvey last year but got stuck in traffic for hours.
While in Bali what else you intend to you in between your shows at Karma beach which include a NYE show and also their Burning Beach concept?
To be honest I’m looking forward to chilling out completely. It’s my third visit here DJing so this time I probably won’t leave the resort. It’s all about cocktails on the beach, swimming around, the great restaurants and listening to some Balearic vibes.
Back onto the subject of music. Your label Darkroom Dubs sounds very interesting. Would love to know some more history on the label. When it started?
Any new releases or albums we can listen to? Some new projects that we should be keeping a eye and ear out for in 2018?
We release our first 12” back in 2003, there was no digital then obviously. It was a Silicone Soul production under a different alias, more white-label style. We’d had our own label, Depth Perception, before we formed Silicone Soul and signed to Soma Records, so it was a situation I was keen to return to. It’s probably hard to imagine now in 2017, but at that point the whole dance music industry seemed over commercialised and so far removed from the original roots and ethos that inspired us to DJ and make music. So starting Darkroom Dubs was largely reactionary, allowing complete control and to support and nurture the music we loved.
We’ve just released our new mix label compilation “Darkroom Dubs Vol. IV” which is a collection of our favourites tracks on the label from the past few years. There’s a mixed and unmixed version. Really happy to finally get that out.
You can actually download the mixed version for free with this code (DDFREE001) from the Darkroom Dubs website.
You must of worked with some amazing artists in your time. If you had the choice to work with one dream vocalist and one dream producer who would it be and why?
Yes we have but I think if it was possible I’d like to go back in a time machine and sit in the booth on some classic sessions with legendary producers like Phil Spector, Norman Whitfield, Guy Stevens, Jimmy Miller and Sam Phillips.
When your performing what is your set up like? Are you just using decks? Any different shows like incorporating live elements at select shows?
It’s a simple set up: 2 x Technics SL1210s with an Allen & Heath X:ONE 92, Traktor Scratch Pro running on a MacBook Pro and an FX controller.
I think if the tracks are interesting enough you don’t need to mess about with them too much, it’s all about context and flow.
How about your studio set up? What are you using in the magic man cave? Any vintage equipment ? High tech new end interfaces?
Graeme and I have relatively similar home studios with Logic as the main DAW. We use UAD a lot for effects and signal processing. We still use Trillian (a virtual bass instrument by Spectrasonics) a lot too. We also use various Roland synths like the MC-202 & Juno 60 & 106. Live guitar and FX also play an important role in our production and I use a Nord Electro mainly as a midi control.
What else is happening for Silicone Soul in 2018?
We’ve the Dino Lenny remix coming in Jan on Darkroom Dubs, then a new single and album. We are celebrating 20 years of Silicone Soul in 2018 so I think it’s gonna be great year!
And finally is Silicone Soul were not touring the world and producing club rocking beats for a very long and established career what would you be doing?
it would be great to be sommelier in a large South Of France chateaux, using the nose instead of the ear.