We caught up with the head of one of instrumental Grime’s most impressive young labels for a chat and an exclusive premiere.
Debuting two years ago with Mella Dee’s rave-slaying bomb ‘Ctrl’, South London’s Coyote Records have kept to their ears to the ground ever since. Right at the forefront of instrumental Grime’s constantly shifting horizons, the label have set their sights squarely on the club space, whilst others in the scene drift off into an ether of cerebral abstraction. That’s not to discount Coyote’s commitment to experimentation though. Listen to the soon to be released second volume of their ‘Coyote Kings’ series and you’d struggle to find anything approaching the formulaic or complacent. From the main-room, turbo driven Eski of newcomer Sharp Veins’ ‘Pompelmo’, to the sullen sub-low of Chemist’s ‘Fall Back’ or the duelling bass and synths that make up Famous Eno’s ‘Puzzlebox Riddim’, each track is bursting with ideas. Some of the producers featured may be familiar – namely emerging star Yamaneko, hot off dropping his excellent ‘Pixel Wave Embrace’ LP for Local Action, although the focus is on the continually impressive flow of talent coming through.
Its one of those newcomers who we’ve premiered below, in the shape of Rejig’s ‘Ice Xungle’. Pristine pads and glistening synth leads dance wit melodic bass synths over a sparse rhythm thats part handclap part gunshot, for a track that’s both floor and headphone ready. Give it a listen and then read our quick chat with label founder (and sometime Hyponik contributor), Tomas Fraser.
Congratulations on the compilation. Where do you feel the sound you push on Coyote has gone over the 12 months since Coyote Kings Vol.1?
Thanks! I think volume two reflects a wider shift in Grime production styles – everything is evolving so quickly and you can hear the difference a year makes if you compare the two compilations. If I’m honest, the first was more an experiment, it was a chance to put out tracks that I felt warranted a release proper but there was little fluidity or synergy to it – it was a body of tracks that encompassed how varied instrumental Grime could sound in 2013. Volume 2 listens far better in terms of cohesion – the tracks, bar Eno’s ‘Puzzlebox Riddim’ which is absolutely nuts, all seem to share some sort of aesthetic, even with the composition styles so varied. That cohesion has been born out of me grasping a better understanding of the music I’d like to be releasing and the artists I want to be working with – it’s been a bit of a development year in that sense.
What were some of the best moments for you and the label this year?
There’s been quite a few – we’ve thrown some good parties with BPM, both in Manchester and London, played at Stealth in Nottingham for Detonate and put out two really solid debut records from Spare & Chemist. Getting four tracks from Coyote Kings Vol.1 aired on the second series of ‘Youngers’ on E4 was also a bit surreal.
With the first compilation you were trying to introduce people to the label. What was the aim behind this one?
To continue where the last one left off really. It’s a series that allows me to put out records I personally really like but the organic process of signing them (the track list was completed over a period of about 5 months) adds its own sense of personality to it I guess. I tended to sign one track and then another, without really thinking about how they’d fit together until I’d got a completed tracklist. It’s a pretty disorganised process in terms of how everything comes together, but I think that adds to what the finished product sounds like.
As label head how do you balance the need to stay fresh with developing a ‘trademark’ sound?
Not specifically. I think that sometimes being so varied in terms of output and new artists can hinder Coyote a bit, but I prefer that to pushing one sound or one aesthetic – music moves too quickly for that.
Some familiar faces on this volume, but also a lot of new ones. How did you come into contact with the likes of Nomis, Rejig, Sharp Veins, T_A_M, Underclass, Strict Face?
As with the first volume, the majority just sent tracks through on the off chance I might be interested in signing something. Nomis and Underclass have been sending me tracks for a while and, as with Notion on Vol.1, it was a case of just waiting for the right tracks. I’ve also been aware of T_A_M for a while and Sharp Veins has built an incredible sound palette in a really short space of time – I reckon he’ll be have a really good 2015. The surprise was Rejig – he sent me about five tracks and to be honest, I could have signed any to the compilation but ‘Ice Xungle’ just had a weird, icy hip-hop element to it that made it stand out as something completely unique and different.
Going on to this Rejig tune – the level of melody is very intricate here. Do you feel like this is something that has become the norm for instrumental Grime over the last few years?
Melody does tend to play a big part in some of the more contemporary stuff, as it did in some of Ruff Sqwad’s early productions, but I don’t necessarily think it’s the norm. What’s great about instrumental Grime at the moment is that there isn’t a norm – it’s an open source and for the most part, it’s non-judgemental and you can feel that sense of freedom in every track and at every rave.
What goals do you have for the label for 2015?
A lot of time has been spent this year focusing on getting things right – we’ve got four releases already prepped so it’s a case of making sure we execute everything in the right way and get the artists the exposure they deserve. I’d really like to push on as a brand too – that’ll involve me finally starting to play out a bit more and generally giving the label more of a physical, tangible presence.
Finally, what one tune that didn’t come out on Coyote this year would you love to have released on the label?
Ah there’s been so many but it’s got to be ‘Take Time’ by Mumdance & Novelist – Grime’s needed a track like that for a long time.
‘Coyote Kings Vol.2’ is out on Coyote 22nd December. Pre-order it here.