On Record is a regular feature on FACT in which we ask an artist we admire to pick a record that means a lot to them, and use it as a jumping off point for a conversation.
In this edition we caught up with Pinch. An important figure in Bristol’s rise as dubstep’s second city, Pinch has run the Tectonic record label since 2005, not only housing his own records (including 2007’s fantastic Underwater Dancehall album) but releases from 2562, Pursuit Grooves, Cyrus and more. Last month Tectonic released the latest in its Tectonic Plates series of compilations, while Pinch has also branched out with a new label, Cold, and collaborated with dub legend Adrian Sherwood on an new single. He picked J Majik’s ‘Your Sound’ Remix, released in 1997 on Metalheadz sub-label Razor’s Edge.
You’ve said that with Cold, your new label, you want to recapture the feeling you got from listening to early Metalheadz tracks. Why did you pick this one in particular – what is it that still stands out about it?
For me, it’s more about the energy and how that was represented through the music at that time – a state of mind and a culture around it. At the time, Metalheadz represented a revolution in rave music. As hardcore separated, following various different pathways, the Metalheadz interpretation of jungle gave rave music a unique new home and context within which to exist. This is a ‘cold rush’ kind of place rather than the Ecstasy warmth of house – a darker energy founded on tension & release, rhythmical innovation – it makes you want to dance and dance hard without using any silly tricks – exploring strange new alien worlds.
It wasn’t just Metalheadz – it was Reinforced, Science, Full Cycle and many other imprints to varying degrees – but Metalheadz had all the big boys in one place: Dillinja, Doc Scott, Photek, Source Direct, Peshay and so on and so on. It was an institution that bred community. Honestly – I’ve no idea what Metalheadz does these days, what they’ve released in the last several years even. I don’t think you can keep a momentum of fresh energy running through just one style/tempo/strain of music for year upon year so it’s not meant as a diss, but the real power of that label came from the first two-three years of releases.
I’ve seen Ben UFO talk about Blue Note, and how he has a vision of the club despite never actually going there. Did you get a chance to experience it in the flesh, or was it a distant relationship for you too?
I never went to Blue Note, I was too young and lived too far away! I did see Goldie play live as part of the Timeless tour when I was 14/15 – accompanied by – if I remember rightly – Doc Scott and Peshay on the wheels of steel. It was a mind blowing night for me and had a huge influence on my musical tastes at the time and ever since. I think my jaw was scraping the floor most the night.
Has Metalheadz ever been topped as a label for you?
Horrible question! I think in some ways there are most certainly better labels out there but the institution of Metalheadz and the mood that it brought to UK rave music is one of the most significant moments in UK rave history, as far as I’m concerned anyway.
It gave powerful context to a spirit of constantly pushing the boundaries of the scene – but always doing so with purpose. I think this sense of ‘purposeful dread’; the dystopian/utoipian conflict present in the music – and the resulting sense of community it spawned – are all things I felt and connected with in the early days of dubstep, and now aim to seek out, in its next form.