Digging deep with the Going Good label boss.
Brian Not Brian, real name Brian Morrison, is a consummate selector. Growing up in Northern Ireland he found his niche through music, swapping records with friends and exploring the Belfast club scene. The vinyl enthusiast, and now south London resident, has nurtured a characteristic freedom to his DJ sets, moulded by the many hours spent both behind the counter and rummaging through the crates of record shops.
His label Going Good, which he co-runs with good friend Sal, shares the open-minded attitude associated with his DJing, and has seen releases from an array of intriguing artists like Cloudface, Ewan Jansen, and Yoshinori Hayashi. Next month, French duo Nummer release their debut LP ‘Second Sight’ on the imprint.
Across an absorbing two hours of cross-genre music, Hyp mix 285 sees Brian Not Brian delve deep into his music library. Taking a winding course that covers all the bases, it offers a great insight into Brian’s rich encyclopaedic knowledge and DJing know-how. Stream it below and read on for an in-depth interview.
“Recorded on a Monday morning after a particularly heavy Berlin weekend. Still, it’s all live, recorded at Maghreban’s studio… a little rough round the edges, bit like myself!”
Thanks for recording the mix. How does your approach differ when recording a mix like this to DJing out?
No problem! It’s nice to be asked to do mixes. Usually, with ones like this, it’s a case of lots of things I’m listening to at home being selected. Stuff that’s maybe a bit more left of centre or not necessarily ‘dance-floor’ oriented. Also, I don’t have CDJ’s or any means to play digital stuff at my home so these mixes are usually 100% vinyl centred. I do really enjoy putting these together as I’ll add in some new records I’ve picked up, current favourites, always some personal ‘classics’ and some newly rediscovered digs from my shelves. Sometimes it’s the most fun going through what you have already, you forget what’s there! But this particular mix I recorded at Maghreban’s secret south London hideout using turntables and CDJ’s, so there’s some exclusive bits and unreleased stuff on there alongside my records, especially for you guys!
You’re a consummate record digger. What first pushed you to start playing and collecting records?
For me, it was just being lucky to have had seriously open-minded and musically driven social groups as a teenager. Lots of people who were really into all styles of music just turning me onto stuff left, right and centre, basically anything that wasn’t the standard happy hardcore shite that most people in Northern Ireland listened to at that time. We would swap compilation tapes on a weekly basis and would lend each other records as well as religiously going clubbing and DJing ourselves. There really was no boundaries or limitations on what we listened to. I mean, some of it I probably wouldn’t listen to today but I’m glad that open-mindedness towards music has stayed with me. As ever, big shouts to the shuck crew in Antrim and all my Belfast friends.
You grew up in Belfast, a city with an underrated, and often under-appreciated, music history. How did the city shape your musical journey?
I grew up just outside Belfast in a town called Antrim, but the city was definitely where I spent the majority of my ‘formative’ years and I did eventually end up moving there, it’s a part of me 100%. And I totally agree with you, it’s definitely underrated and under-appreciated. Aside from my friends there who were into records and tapes and clubbing, there were loads of other things that inspired me about the city. In general, I’d say people’s attitudes towards growing up in a very segregated, turbulent period of time was inspiring, people really went for it when they went out clubbing, they danced all night and made friends, the energy was just insane! It’s like, you’ve had a week of doing boring shit work, there’s been nothing but violence on the news 24/7, the general vibe surrounding you was pretty grim so people really savoured the escape, the music and the friendships that were built in the clubs. Also, we were pretty spoilt with music in Belfast in terms of the breadth of DJs passing through, and we had a wealth of local talent, you could literally go and see everyone from Kool Herc to Claude Young in one weekend and you’d see the same faces at both parties! It’s good to see such a healthy scene happening there today, too! Loads of parties and labels kicking off.
You’ve worked in a fair few record stores down the years. What do you make of the recent record store renaissance?
Yes, I’ve worked in a few, the mental scars still haven’t fully healed yet! I can only say positive things about there being more record stores opening! I mean, it’s great, isn’t it? If there’s enough of a buzz around vinyl and we are treated to some carefully chosen, top shelf new and second-hand records each and every day of the week, what’s not to like? I love it. I’d always much rather walk into a shop and buy some stuff and chat to some folks than do it all online, to be honest. You’ll never hear me complaining about more record stores opening, it’s massively positive. Massive shout out to all the shops that have stocked our output thus far… Cheers!
Your label, Going Good, has released records from a diverse range of artists, from LA to Italy. Would you draw a parallel between digging for records and finding music to put out on the label?
Most definitely. In fact, I’ve said before that having the label was like an extension of trying to find records or digging. We’ve been very lucky that loads of talented people from around the world have seen or heard what we’ve done and felt like they could approach us or consider us as a viable place for their music to live. That’s a cool feeling. On the other side of it all, once you yourself find an artist or discover a track or even a mixtape or something like that it’s pretty much the same as finding a record you’ve been after (or didn’t know you were after!) I love it. I’m always interested in hearing anything old or new, I just want to hear the best of everything that’s out there if I can, regardless of where or when it’s from.
The label has a distinctive freedom in regards to the sounds you push. Did you have that vision in mind when you started it up?
Yes. We (myself & Sal) have always said we’d only put out stuff we were fully into regardless of style, genre or anything else. Sometimes we ‘live’ with a record or a piece of music for a year or more before we go to press, it’ll only come out if we are fully invested in it and believe in it. I guess that mirrors our tastes as music lovers, literally we listen to so much different stuff that it didn’t make sense to us to limit the output of the label and be like ‘oh, we’re a techno label’ or whatever. We didn’t want to present things like that, we love techno as much as we love edits, ambient, afro-beat, dub and everything and anything else you can think of. It’s all one big thing to us, no separations. Freedom is key for us. Perhaps that’s why up until this point we’ve self-distributed our records ourselves and done everything in-house, direct sales and all that jazz. Obviously, things progress and the way GG operates may switch up a little going forward in the future (for the better!).
Finally, how is 2017 shaping up so far? Any major plans in the pipeline?
Fortunately, 2017 is looking great so far! Nummer’s debut LP ‘Second sight’ coming out in a few weeks, we’re still working on an EP from those shady XI dudes, we have an amazing mini-LP from Detroit’s Todd Modes and Blair French aka Cosmic Handshakes ready to go and we’ll be venturing into reissue territory with an unearthed mid to late 80s library record that is insanely rare and pretty ‘out there’… more info to come on all of those via the usual channels (and loads more to be honest!). As for myself, I am lucky to have some exciting DJ bookings lined up well into the year and there are loads going on on that front. I’ll also be in the studio quite a bit this year doing some projects with friends that may (or may not) see the light of day! Let’s see what happens. My girlfriend will be happy to hear that I intend on finishing reading The Great Gatsby at some stage this year, too!
Catch Brian Not Brian at Farr Festival at Bygrave Woods, Hertfordshire, 13-16 July. Tickets available here.
Words: Fred Le Fanu
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3.Degrees Of Motion – August Is An Angel
4.Sunsetz – An Antenna
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20.Dreesvn – First Voyage (DJ Sotofett’s Extended Mix)
21.808 State – Reaper Repo
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