South London Ordnance Vs. Iron Galaxy

It’s not very often that we are completely captivated by an artist off the back of hearing just a single track, but this was certainly the case with Montreal-based producer Adam Hodgins (who makes house and techno under the Iron Galaxy guise). We heard ‘Attention Seeker’ on Soundcloud some moths ago now, instantly wooed by its plush analogue warmth and thoughtful structure. This piece of electronic music is neatly crafted into chapters of such quality, one feels guilty for mixing out of the track anytime short of it’s 8 minute length. A welcome breath of fresh air whilst trawling through the ocean of half finished tracks, from a host of new producers who need to be a little more patient and selective with their output.

After doing the rounds on the blogosphere, Amsterdam based Audio Culture have picked up the track to give it the full release it deserves, with a lazer-etched, one-sided 12″ vinyl release. Hodgins is by no means a one-trick pony, he also makes music under the Sabola alias and alongside David Shaw as Sex Life. Be sure to check the impressive Iron Galaxy remix of Sugardaddy (one half of Groove Armada), released this week on the 28th August via Late Night Tales.

You may of guessed by now that we’re partial to a bit of South London Ordnance. As previously mentioned, we feel his sound occupies some of the more unique and gripping space in the current house and techno resurgence. Via a measured and judicious approach to marketing his music to the world, S.L.O has found himself surging through the world of mongrel house music, with well received records on Well Rounded and 2nd Drop Records. The aforementioned Audio Culture are set to release the next installment of South London Ordnance in the form of the ‘Big Boss Theme’ EP in September. Considering S.L.O is relatively fresh to the production game, we are excited to see where his sound travels over the coming months.

Continuing our Vs. series of interviews, Iron Galaxy has quizzed the South London producer on controlling quality of media, beard envy and dogging in South London…

With the rise of YouTube, the power is seemingly back in the people’s hands. A kid with a $500 computer can start churning out cat videos and near cinema quality trampoline accidents. On one hand these new artists don’t have to work within the corporate structure of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, but has there been a loss of quality control? How do you track down the latest Chet Haze promos in a sea of lipdubs, “pranks” and “shit girls say” videos?

Yeah – I think there’s certainly something to be said for the internet facilitating a breakdown in the ‘quality control’ of media – I mean, I’m one of those guys who’se been sitting in his room making music on my laptop, where previously I’d have had to invest in all kinds of expensive kit. Having said that, I hate the ‘grumpy old man’ approach – ‘oh, everything’s easier these days,’ etc and so forth. Basic economics dictates that more operators in the market leads to healthier competition and greater choice of a greater product for the ‘consumer,’ – in our case the listener. The reality is, even though there are untold legions of people making music – or film, or whatever – the quality still shines through, and the rubbish still falls by the wayside in due course – in my experience anyway. With that in mind then, good promos will always shine through!

Speaking of kids and videos, how do you compete with all the babies making music and DJing these days?

Ha – I mean, I’m cool with it. Like I said – I’m all about a competitive market, it makes you work harder for what you want. Comfort allows people to rest on their laurels. If you put out a half decent record that’s usurped by the dubs some kid put on Soundcloud in terms of sonics, ideas and reception – or whatever, it should inspire you to sit down and think – how can I take it to the next level? People like Untold, Scuba et al have been doing that throughout their careers. That’s how you get to the stage they’re at.

You decided to visit Amsterdam and mix your EP in Red Bull Studios. What did you get out of that experience? How was it meeting our Audio Culture overlords? Did you get beard envy meeting Mike and Presk?

Yeh, that was so much fun – the kit they have out there is insane. It was a bit of a culture shock at first, in terms of the mixing process – going from my bedroom to a fully equipped studio with two engineers, but the techniques they taught me I’m still using now. In terms of the tracks, I feel like I made them at one of my most creative points i.e. I had no idea what I was doing so a lot of the sounds came by accident, I was just jamming and trying things out. The risk with releasing that stuff is that the finish could have been a bit weak, even after mastering, so going into the studio with Chad, Pieter and the AC guys was invaluable.

Was such a pleasure to meet Mike & Simon – they were the first people to offer me a release and they run such a tight gig at AC, it’s very exciting to be part of such a fresh new label to be honest!

R.e. beard envy – I really don’t want to talk about it. Those guys have real density to their facial hair. I felt woefully inadequate in their presence.

When I first moved to England the first place I stayed was in Camberwell Green. A girl who worked at the McDonald’s there asked me why I would come all the way over from Canada to live in South London. What would you say if she asked you the same question? Do you live close to SE5? If I was still there would it be easy for us to go for ice cream together?

HA – yeah I’m not hugely familiar with Camberwell. I usually drive through there on the way to Peckham and it’s always quite amusing to see the kind of out and out hipsters usually associated with East moping around that part of town. To be honest, a teacher at my old school once told me that South London is just the overspill from The City, and that there’s generally fuck all to see and/ or do. This is completely untrue. In terms of underground dance music, you’re in a hub of creative energy that has seen some of the most important development in the UK underground sound, certainly, over the last ten years or so. Culturally, it’s about as ‘vibrant’ as it gets in London, so really – if you can’t find something you’re into somewhere between Deptford and South Bank it’s your problem.

I’m in SW11 actually, there’s a park nearby – it’s mostly famous for being a dogging hotspot which isn’t really my gig, but there’s a serious Ice Cream vendor who operates during the day, so yeah – Ice Cream could be bought.

If I was in London today and I was skimming the FM dial what would I hear? Are pirates still going strong? Can you still get them to say funny things if you fuck with them via text message?

I’m not really sure if I’m honest – I only listened to Rinse FM when it was still a pirate, and obviously now it’s got the full licence. Truth be told, I’m actually not a huge radio fan. I have the same relationship with radio that I do with TV – if there’s something I really need to see or hear, I’ll lock in – otherwise I find all the peripheral shit like adverts etc a bit of a turn off.

R.e. saying funny things – listen back to Artwork on the Numbers Rinse show. That was funny, and I believe there was texting involved.

I read in another interview that you make other music that’s “pretty DJ unfriendly”. What does that sound like? Do you have any other secret projects that are actively releasing things?

Basically, when I’m between tunes and I want to get to grips with a new synth or try out some different sounds, I tend to slow the tempo down to round 85 – 100 bpm so there’s space, and essentially throw this mess of sound into the Logic interface. I record bits that I like, and then cut them up and sometimes I end up with a recognisable rhythm, sometimes it’s more of a drone. I guess it probably sounds like Beats kind of stuff – I’m not sure I’m ready to release it though, it’s more for my own pleasure.

I heard producing is relatively new to you compared to how long you’ve been DJing. What made you settle on making music with Logic? Have you ever thought about switching to something like Ableton? Since you’ve been meeting other producers, do most people seem to be using the same DAW or is it different for everyone?

Yeh, unfortunately it’s getting a bit late in the day to keep telling people I’ve only been producing for a year or less – as now it has actually been a bit longer. Having said that, I’ve been messing around on turntables since I was 13 or so, so in comparison, yeah – I’ve not been producing music for that long.

I didn’t really investigate different DAW’s – I just went for Logic because I have a Mac, and everyone I had sat down with to make beats previously used it! Everyone has their own ideas about what’s good for workflow and sound quality etc etc – at the end of the day, it’s just a tool though – nothing more, I can’t imagine it makes a huge different what you use to make music. If you got the ideas – you’ll find a way to articulate them.

Have you spent any time in North America? Any plans to get busy over here?

I haven’t actually, but I read an interview with you recently – I had no idea so many artists were based over there?! Maybe in a few years I’ll get the opportunity to head out.

What would you have been DJing 10 years ago? What about 5 years ago?

HA – 10 years ago… I mean, obviously I still have a lot of those records, even though I’ve tried to block them out of my mind… There’s some truly, truly awful shit there that probably owes a lot to Hard Techno – but not the trendy hand stamped stuff that people are always going on about now, proper rubbish. Ten years ago I was really just dipping into anything that sounded interesting, I was having my first record shop experiences, places like IS Records in South, picking up everything from Breaks to Hip Hop & R’n’B.

Five years ago… drum & bass to be honest. When I first started going out properly and engaging in all the peripheral activity that comes with those kind of raves, I got really into up front drum and bass – not the really provincial, throw away jump up, but people like Friction were the kind of DJ’s doing it for me – so it was definitely harder stuff. From there, I started getting into artists like Alix Perez, Data, Rockwell, D Bridge et al – dipping into Autonomic Podcasts and Loxy recordings, I found that stripped back sound really satisfying to mix – all the clicks would make these really intricate patterns in the mix.

If I was in London where would you insist that I eat? Would you attend to my chair and offer to pay at the end of our meal?

Man, I am terrible with that kind of stuff – food is fuel for me. I can appreciate a nice meal but I eat so fast it hardly touches the sides. When it comes to hospitality though, I’m that guy – so if that’s your gig I will happily attend your chair. We might have to go halves though right now because I’m a little bit strapped for cash.

Click here to read South London Ordnance Vs. Iron Galaxy: Part 2

Iron Galaxy ‘Attention Seeker’ is out now via Audio Culture