Rob Booth's Electronic Explorations show began its life back in 2007. Designed to showcase the freshest and most forward thinking electronic beats on an online platform, it has become a revolutionary one stop shop for future music sounds, being responsible for breaking names that are now a part of everyday parlance in the industry. Five years' later and the show is fast becoming a well recognised brand, having just released a critically acclaimed compilation and with many more exciting projects in the pipeline. Pulse's Eddie Jux spoke to the man behind Electronic Explorations, Rob Booth, about the show's fascinating history, its inspirations and the path it continues to forge.
Pulse: For those who haven’t heard, can you tell us a bit about your podcasts? You’ve done so many! What’s the idea behind them and are there any boundaries at all as to what you play? Rob Booth: I started the radio show format back in 2007, playing the latest cutting edge electronica, while each show also includes a mix from an upcoming or established producer, there are no boundaries to the music I play, if I like it I’m gonna play it. I have no set agenda, no playlist, no one telling me what’s hot and what’s not, it’s just me and my microphone. As for the mixes, I seek out artists I think are exactly what’s right in pushing EE forward, all I ask is that the mix be at least 40-60 minutes in length to build the mix in any way shape or form, no restrictions, complete and utter artistic license, it’s your mix, so your responsible for your own concept.
In your podcasts, we often hear early work from artists who later go on to become well-known. Is this something you pride yourself on, spotting and exposing the talent early? Naming any names? Any to watch out for? I am extremely proud to have found Mount Kimbie after hearing one of their tracks on myspace, they had about 80 followers at the time, this was about a year before they released to Scuba’s Hotflush label, and we got chatting, went out for a few drinks where James Blake joined us. James was making some incredible bass heavy music, totally original, something I’d not heard before, he sent me about 15 tunes he was working on, none had signed, then he sent some with his voice, I was blown away, said he had to release it but he wasn’t sure of the direction he wanted to go. This is ages before anyone had heard of him.
I had to get him on the show. I’ve played a few of James tunes that have never seen the light of day, some of the stuff on my hard drive still sounds futureproof. Drew ‘FaltyDL’ and I go back a long long way, late 2007, we chatted on myspace a lot, incredible commitment to music and a work horse, same goes for Airhead, James Blake’s guitarist in their live set-up but also a very accomplished producer in his own right, His EE mix was my stand out mix from 2011. Others I’ve certainly helped along the way include Phaeleh, Kowton, Ramadanman, Marlow, Δkkord, Dadub, Anstam, Memotone and George Lanham. I love working alongside Emika, she is good to chat too, an exciting talent, then there are Manchester producers Indigo and Synkro who have signed up to R&S and Apollo.
Any to watch out for? Yes, Δkkord, Perc who makes industrial techno, Old Apparatus who started life on Mala’s Deep Medi label but have now gone on to form their own Sullen Tone imprint. Three artists I cannot get enough of right now are Bristol’s Anneka, her voice is so beautiful, warm and glowing, and then there are two artists in the meca for UK Bass music right now, Bristol, Al Tourettes and Kahn. Kahn has a very healthy future ahead of him, guaranteed.
The Electronic Explorations compilation is out on sale now. Tell us about the aim of the project. What sparked the idea? The project is simple; EE is under the strain of being self-financed for the best part of 5 years, with the influx of new listeners I was struggling to keep it afloat, coupled with an expensive re-design I decided to throw out a few ideas of how to make some money without sacrificing quality. I’m not a big fan of advertising on a website, but sometimes needs must. However, I thought about asking producers who had been on the show before and producers who support the show by downloading but have yet to be featured. Only 12 artists turned EE down, either due to their own commitments or not wanting to be part of it, the comp spiraled out of control and kept getting bigger and bigger, I was amazed by the sheer support I was receiving, humbled. Milanese has not released in years, to get him out of retirement has got to be one of my personal achievements in life, I’ve been told I can be quite persistent, but I miss his music, utterly original and full of power, only Vex’d come close to this kind of production.
Personally I wouldn’t spend £10 on a digital package, after all there is nothing to hold physically, and I wanted to keep the comp off the torrent sites as best as I could, so pricing it at £5 was decided. Few people said it was too cheap, but I was aiming this as a donation compilation, £5 is a good figure, and putting the comp on bandcamp allows the customer to pay more if they feel inclined, I’m averaging £7.50 per sale so I’m over the moon. I’ve now been able to repay all the mastering costs and I’m nearly able to pay for improvements in the performance and social experience I am trying to implement to the EE site.
How did compiling these sixty-odd tracks compare with selecting the material for your podcasts? Why such a large compilation? In order to gain enough donations for the site I had to think outside the box, digital music spreads like wildfire if it’s marketed right, if the product is good it should work. Having a product of this magnitude for the price of a beer (in London) I have a product that will be talked about, and thankfully it has. Resident Advisor, Spin Magazine, FACT, The Quietus, XLR8R, Little White Earbuds, Headphone Commute, Pulse Radio have all picked this up as they know its full of goodness. I am very lucky that so many amazing producers wanted to work on my project, if you asked me if this was possible 5 years ago as I was tinkering with the idea of a podcast I would have laughed, now I’m pinching myself!
Are there any tracks on here that you secretly feel could warrant it’s own release? I already have something in the pipeline for a few. Apollo, the sister label of R&S Records wanted one of the tunes real bad, that made me smile. Anneka’s Jaws of Day could easily work on hyperdub, same with quite a few others. Wisp will be releasing his tune on Aphex Twin’s own label Rephlex soon. I sent Mary Anne Hobbs three tunes hoping she may play one of them, she emailed back within five minutes each time, played all three, I could sense the smile on her face as she intro’s them all on her Xfm show. The baron of techno, Dave Clarke played two tunes on his White Noise show and quite a lot of artists have used tunes from the comp in their Glade sets last month. I really hope the artists get calls from various labels asking if they can put these tunes onto Wax, I’m all up for that, would be great to be part of it.
This is EE’s first release. Do you start as you mean to go on? Have you made any plans yet for EE as a label? I have and it’s already in motion, but that’s all I can reveal. Stealth marketing on this one I’m afraid haha !! Let’s just say a few select people I have mentioned this too were very excited by the project.
Where do you see the EE brand going from here? Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time? I’d love to see EE hosting one of the tents at Glade, Bloc or Bangface. They’re my type of festival; to curate an evening with 5 or 6 artists of my choosing would be utterly incredible. As for the brand, now I have some funding in place thanks to the listeners I’m able to kick start the label, print some tee-shirts and sort out silly merch that’s been asked of me for a long time now, such as mugs, iPhone cases, things like that.
But on a more serious note I want to get into gigs, just low-key 300 capacity venues, as long as the location has a good system and a bar that you can get served at quickly, pushing the artists that I play on the show with one main artist as the headliner. As long as it breaks even, everyone has a good time, informs their friends, that’s all I want.
1.) Biggest inspiration in your music career? two people, Mary Anne Hobbs and everyone’s father John Peel, because no one told them what music to play - one minute John was playing some 1920’s Charleston on the gramophone, next he is introducing ‘Mala’ and ‘The Bug’ to the world, before anyone else had heard of them. The variation in his shows and the passion he had for radio is second to none. You can say the same for Mary Anne Hobbs, championing dubstep and other forms of electronica when others worried about their own RAJAR figures. Genuine believers and utterly inspirational people, I owe them so much.
2.) First record you bought as a DJ? Underground Resistance – The Wolf, 1992 if I remember right, saved up for weeks to buy it.
3.) Favourite recent acquisition? Δkkord – EP’s 1 + 2, allready worth loads more than its face value, beautiful heavyweight white vinyl, never gonna leave my sight.
4.) The one set you’ve seen that has always stuck in your mind? Jeff Mills, ‘Big Love’ Otmoor Park September 1996. Best night of my life, Big Love replaced Tribal Gathering that year.
5.) 3 tunes to live your life by? Blimey, impossible! [laughs]
Phuture – Acid Track
Anything from Boards of Canada
Dave Clarke – Wisdom to the Wise (Robert Hood mix), “If you’ve got a lighter in your pocket, light it up!” are the best lyrics ever!
To subscibe to Electronic Explorations on iTunes, head here
Electronic Explorations Compilation is out now and available here
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