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Donky Pitch has been wrecking the hip hop template for the past few years. If you've been exploring the warped electronic boom bap pioneered by producers like Flying Lotus, Slugabed or Hudson Mohawke then you may have come across one of the label's releases. If so, you'll know what kind of cosmic meltdown to expect. If not, let us lead you into space...
Born out of a Brighton club night thrown by two hip hop heads eager to promote the weird outer edges of the genre, Donky Pitch consistently champions off-kilter beats that stomp, splurge and spasm their way out of speaker boxes. Key label artists like Slugabed (above), Keyboard Kid, Ghost Mutt (below) and Boss Kite make it their aim to come with an unpredictable, downtempo swagger that could detonate violently or descend into stoned dreamscapes at any time.
Mixmag caught label founders Grinel and Pete (second below) to talk all things Donky Pitch and grab an exclusive mix of label tunes from Ghost Mutt. Enjoy...
GHOST MUTT'S DONKY PITCH MIX
The Range - No Lie
V.C. - Superfluid
Moscow - Belltones
Arp101 x Yorke - Elecric Lemonade
813 - Tinky Tonky (Slugabed remix)
Nino - Buio Omega (Offshore remix)
Ghost Mutt - Thoroughbred
Keyboard Kid 206 - The Transition
813 - Plumbeous Bubbles
Ghost Mutt - Dreams Of
Boss Kite - You So Bad
Slugabed - Donky Stomp
Ghost Mutt - Sweat Mode
Moscow - Mindshine
The Range - nothing left
Ghost Mutt - Figure You Out
How did Donky Pitch happen? What is the how, where, when and why of the label?
Grinel: We started the club night in Brighton back in 2009 because no one else was booking the music we wanted to hear; artists like Blue Daisy, Tokimonsta, Rekordah, Metske and Alex Nut all played in the first six months. After around 12 months we noticed a lot of online interest in what we were doing and had formed links with a bunch of talented folk so it made sense to start releasing the kind of music we promote. We kicked off with a split EP from Donky Pitch residents Slugabed and Ghost Mutt. And it was fun. So we set about finding more music. Why do we do it? Simple really, because we enjoy it. The fun factor is key. I mean, honestly, it's a hobby and hobbies should be fun.
The label is dedicated to electronic hip hop and Skweee. Why are those sounds important?
Pete: I guess there is a freedom in those sounds that allow for a really varied output and an encouragement to be different or experimental. For us it's at the edges of genres where the most interesting music gets made, people who have grown up on a wide range of influences blurring the boundaries and creating something that has a unique personality. I wouldn't consider us an electronic hip hop/skweee label... We look to push electronic music that stands out, where the artist has something different to say. It just so happens that we both really like hip hop as a template, but the label really just reflects the sounds that we are into at that time. If you listen to our radio show the remit is pretty broad and that carries across into the label and the parties we throw. We aren't looking to represent a scene or any particular genre, just do our own thing and continue to promote music we are passionate about.
Grinel: Like Pete says hip hop is where it all began for Donky Pitch, it's where our tastes met in the middle. Mike Slott, Fulgeance, Débruit etc... For me it was about the tempo these genres offered. Slow, yet still carrying the ability to knock you sideways. Challenging the dancefloor, not offering things to the crowd on a plate. I guess this was the remit for the early parties and releases but we're both so obsessive about music that we are always hunting for something new. These days I generally listen to a selection of albums and tracks constantly for a week or so and then move on, so my likes and dislikes are always changing. Saying that, it always somehow makes its way back to hip hop.
You guys are based in Brighton. How has the city had an effect on the label?
Pete: Well, we have released music by several producers that at some point have called Brighton their home and it's where we have been throwing parties for three years so the city and the kind of creative energy that exists here is important to us. We are very proud to be part of the musical landscape here and as a place it encourages you to be different, to take risks because there is an audience for new and fresh music. It's the kind of place where people want to get involved rather than simply spectate, whether as promoters, running labels, DJing or producing and this lends itself to a sometimes frustrating musical scene but ultimately one that is pretty unique and that really deserves to get more recognition outside of the city.
What's the best situation in which to listen to Donky Pitch releases?
Pete: I always enjoy listening while in the bath or in my headphones while walking around town so give those a go... Although they are a bit solitary, so invite some friends round maybe get some nice wine and cheese or, failing that, anywhere that you can have the volume up as much as you want.
Grinel: Under the sea. Surrounded by loads of colourful fish. I only have a small fish tank in my living room so I can't vouch for the being under the sea part. But when I look at my fish and listen to Donky Pitch music it's great, so I bet this would be pretty darn good.
What's next for Donky Pitch?
Grinel: 2012 is a big year for us. It began with a (free) three EP series from Brighton based producers, there's so much great music down here it made sense to shine a light on it. That's something I'd personally like to do again in the future. We've released a smashing 12" from Keyboard Kid. Super stoked to be working with him, he's made so much amazing music in the last 12 months. After that we've got a heavy heavy collab 12" from Arp101 & Yorke on the future funk tip and also Ghost Mutt's next 12". Ghost Mutt's contribution to the free EP series got a amazing response so I'm really excited about that too. Aside from records, my main focus is getting the team on tour. That's what really gets me excited at the moment, getting everyone together and playing shows in places I've never been to.
Pete: We have really started to switch the focus to the label this year, meaning that we are doing less regular parties in Brighton. In addition to the releases that Dave has already covered we are working with a producer called the Range, somebody whose output so far has really stood out to us and we couldn’t be happier that he will be putting something out on Donky Pitch. The guy is making so much great music that we are hoping to get a couple of releases out from him before the end of the year. During the first year of the label we were really finding our feet and learning as we went along... Now we are in a position where we are able to get some more exciting music out and spend some time developing artists which is where we want to be really.