Phat as Phuck Records
The Phuture for House Music
It is a regular occurrence for me. I wake up some time in the afternoon, count my money and rush down to Fourth Wave Records in Huddersfield to catch the afternoons delivery of the latest underground releases to hit the dance music industry.
Both John Gilpin and Raz Shamshed manage operations in the shop, but as I found out there is more to their lives than just running a shop in the centre of Huddersfield. Using names such as Solitare Gee and D - Tek they spend their spare time making some of the best underground House music in the country. They also have plans to take the house movement forward into a promising and exciting future by setting up their new record label, Phat as Phuck Records.
It all started back when Raz, a student who dropped out of an accountancy degree, began work at Big Tree Records in Huddersfield. The big step came when he took over the shop, refurbishing it and naming it Fourth Wave Records. At this time John, a chef turned record salesman, came to work for Raz and the start of a great partnership was formed. Raz admits that he had always been buying and playing music, so by opening a shop he could keep up to date with music and make a living out of what he loved.
However John and Raz also loved to make their own music and by working in a record shop it gave them a chance to hear how others people made the music and kept them up to date with the scene. When they were offered a day in a recording studio free of charge, they came out with their first release, Exceller B.
"We still sold around 1,500 copies, which isn’t bad for our first release. We even did a few P.A.’s, but in a way it puts us off a bit. Standing in front of a keyboard doing nothing was so false."
At least their experiences with P.A.’s didn’t put them off making records, and after they had teamed up with Huddersfield’s duo Hotline, a second project called Jaco (pronounced Yaco) became the first release on Fourth Wave’s own label. It created a lot of interest in the hard house circles of Huddersfield and after Hotline had taken Jaco over to Warp Records in Sheffield. John and Raz received a phone call the same afternoon.
"They offered us a deal but we kept them hanging on. F.F.R.R. were interested as well but we knew that eventually we would go with Warp. We have a such a massive respect for them and they have been one of our favourite labels since they started."
So, Warp licensed the track and it sold 5,000 copies, reaching number 2 in the dance charts. However instead of working on a follow up to Jaco it seemed sensible to try a different project.
This is when John and Raz took their ideas to a studio in Wakefield where one of the countries top producers Richard Brown, was ready to engineer their next release. Raz played a bassline off the top of his head (although many critics believe it was copied from an old house track by the Backroom Boys called ‘Definition of a track’), and John helped to finish it off. The resulting demo tape was sent straight to Warp who signed yet another work of art. This was Solitare Gee’s debut single titled ‘Slumberland’, another Hard House track but with a trancey feel. It sold over 10,000 copies and after a massive club following reached number 81 in the national charts.
But this did not change the way they made music and they stress that even though their track may have become commercial in some respects, their primary objective when making it was to appeal to the underground. This is a trait they wish to keep.
The huge success of ‘Slumberland’ provoked interest from all types of labels, all over the country including one in particular - Positiva. They asked John and Raz to do a re-mix for the Wall of Sound which lead to even more work for them both.
"We mixed The Wall of Sound under the name Solitare Gee but at the same time we were working on our own stuff with Richard Brown and Nick Simpson from Rhythm Invention. So we sent Positiva a demo tape and they signed us up."
The result was D-Tek’s single ‘Drop The Rock’ which became number 1 in the dance charts and number 71 in the national charts. They have negotiated a two track deal with options for albums, so look out for more from D-Tek in the future.
Apart from working together as Solitare Gee, D-Tek and their latest single Black Mojo on Warp, John and Raz have started to work separately.
Raz, who’s tastes range from Indie to Kraftwerk, Chicago House and Detroit Techno has released a techno sounding track on Warp called Resoraz that often found its way into many of my sets last year. John, on the other hand, has stuck with the Hard House style by using the name Lex Loofah and last month released ‘Freaky Deaky’ on Warp, influenced by Kerri Chandler’s unique style.
"There is no intention of going to any other British labels now, but if it was export then we would consider. Even though we will be doing more D-Tek tunes and more releases on Warp, we’ll now try and concentrate on setting up our own label, bringing out hard hitting underground bass driven club tunes, appealing to the people on the street."
This is where Phat As Phuck Records comes in, owned by Raz and John as well as L Double who is highly qualified in both distribution and making music. Initially they will sell through small distributors but if the label takes off, then they will be looking at things on a bigger scale.
The first release, Kool Kutz Volume One will set the ball rolling and will be followed by the next Lex Loofah single.
"Kool Kutz Volume One is a nice underground house track. L Double played it to us first in the shop, and after getting together we decided it was perfect for our first release."
Phat As Phuck Records are looking to license all types of British and overseas acts in the future, they even plan to negotiate deals with DJ Duke and America’s Strictly Rhythm label.
If you think you have a solid House track for the label then please send in demo tapes to Phat As Phuck, 30 John William Street, Huddersfield HD1 1BG.
John, Raz and L Double would like to mention that the label will be as underground as possible and that the music that they write for their own label will be in the same quality as usual. So don’t think that they won’t be working as hard just because they’re not on Warp or Positiva.
Get insider tips, offers &
event news. Includes our "Top Ten Best Rave..." series of emails