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Looking for a label that epitomises the late night romance, strobe lit bliss and jackin' vibration of classic dance music? Well look no further than 100% Silk, the Los Angeles imprint that specialises in releasing hot cuts of acid, house, italo, space disco and woozy boogie.
The work of musician and dedicated dance music enthusiast Amanda Brown, 100% Silk unearths the impeccable sound of a wonderfully hedonistic night out, with releases from a burgeoning wave of producers that are slowly but surely making marks on dance floors across the world.
Brown, who started 100% Silk as an electronic offshoot from her already established Not Not Fun label (home to underground indie heroes like Peaking Lights and Pocahaunted), is busy assembling a roster of artists that includes the ferocious house stomp of Ital, the classic acid bounce of Pharaohs, the hands-in-the-air ecstasy of Octo Octa and the rolling, hypnotic grooves of Polonaise. Although seemingly plucked from the unknown, Amanda and her chosen 100% Silk producers are putting out some of the best, most vital and downright fun dance music going.
If you want a taste of the undeniable sound of Silk, grab one of its highly sought after releases (which come pressed to wax and housed in lush retro disco sleeves) or catch sight of Amanda and her crew taking a city near you by storm. Amanda's own LA Vampires project is about to embark on a U.S tour alongside Ital, Magic Touch, Octo Octa and Innergaze. They have also planned a set of dates for the UK and Europe early in 2012.
Most excitingly of all however, is the 100% Silk label showcase that takes place on Saturday October 15 at Unsound festival in Poland. Sex Worker, Dylan Ettinger, Maria Minerva and LA Vampires will all play, bringing the collective sound of Silk to Europe for the first time. The crew line-up alongside the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Kode 9 and Rustie, who all also perform at the festival.
Listen to the exclusive mix of 100% Silk material below and read an interview with the mistress of Silk herself, Amanda Brown. Plus there's a brilliant Polonaise download too. Check it!
An introduction to 100% Silk mixed by Sir Stephen
Maria Minerva - 'Hagasuxzzavol'
Pharaohs - 'Uhh Uhh'
Bobby Browser - 'No Appointments'
Magic Touch - 'Clubhouse'
Sir Stephen - 'By Design'
Innergaze - 'Hypnogogisco'
Polonaise - 'Thema'
Ital - 'Only For Tonight'
Octo Octa - 'I'm Trying'
Mixmagdoesn't normally ask this straight off, but as 100% Silk is a relatively new label, how did the it all begin?
The idea to start 100% Silk came to me one night while ranting to a friend that Not Not Fun never receives demos of dance music. No house music, no retro-futurist disco, no acid. And he told me straightforwardly, 'You don't release that kind of music, so why would you get that kind of demo?' He was right of course... If I wanted to put out incredible dance music, I was going to have to create another forum for it besides Not Not Fun, which is long running enough to have it's own aesthetic, trajectory, fanbase, etc.
I told a few musicians friends – Daniel Martin-McCormick (of Mi Ami, Sex Worker, Ital) being chief among them – and realised quickly that dance music was all around me in the underground, I just had to look to the right people.
How did you go from putting out weirdo psychedelic rock with Not Not Fun to releasing pumping house jams?
Growing up, the majority of music I listened to was dance related, everything from techno to r'n'b – those are just worlds I never thought to champion when Britt and I began Not Not Fun in 2004. At the time, the underground was bursting with the best of drone, noise, psych and ambient musics. Personal taste didn't always come to play when we were cultivating the label taste.
This time around I didn't want to diversify, I wanted to highlight one particular genre, in many of it's radiant forms, that I have an intimate relationship with. The change from wanting to produce/release music that makes people think to wanting to produce/release music that makes people want to move hit me really hard about two years ago. I just love making people dance, and if I make them think as well, then that's even better.
You've stuck to the DIY, vinyl focused ethos with 100% Silk. Why is that?
That's what I know. It's what I like. I'm here to make 12" records for DJs, for people to spin at parties and clubs. If anyone wants to listen on iPods or computers, there are of course digital versions of the records available. For everyone who loves the warmth and tradition of vinyl, I'm still DIY, and going strong.
The sound of 100% Silk is quite retro, covering acid, italo disco, classic electro and deep, rhythmic house. Do you kick it old skool intentionally? Is there an underlying reason why you cover those kinds of sounds?
These are the sounds I'm drawn to. The silkiest, most luxurious and sensual aspects of dance. Also, in that I'm not so interested in computers, it's natural that I just don't respond to overly digital sounding dance music, or deconstructed glitchy styles, not as a rule, but as a preference. I don't consider myself retro at all, but I am connected to the late eighties and nineties dance aesthetics, house being my favorite.
When I hear demos/masters that reference those sleek, acid, sexy, dancefloor-ready vibes, I'm immediately turned on. But it's not my desire to look only to the past, I wouldn't release a record by a DJ/Producer/Group that I thought was only a time thief. I need the artist to have their own take and touch. I'm a modern woman, who runs a contemporary record label.
Where do you find the producers that you put out? Each release seems to be from an underground artist capable of creating pure dance floor gold!
Is it crass to say I just know geniuses?! Or rather that geniuses reach out to know me? I'm blessed to be connected with such incredible, thoughtful, imaginative artists. It's that cross-pollinated experimental background, most of them not being purely, strictly dance producers. Some are friends, and have been for years; some are friends of friends I've never met; some write me cold emails, introducing themselves for the first time. I listen to every demo and respond to every email. I'm not closed off in anyway, and I believe that's part of the reason I'm able to release such gold.
How has LA had an effect on the label? What's the scene like out there right now?
LA doesn't really effect the label. LA just sort of effects me. I'm insanely happy here and that shows when I put out vibrant, exciting, body-moving music. The city's always exploding with art, but it's pretty fractured. There are a lot of little pockets that don't interact. There isn't necessarily a huge community around 100% Silk here.
100% Silk artists are making their way to the UK and Europe. Your first major European showcase is taking place at Unsound festival this October. How does it feel to be making it on the continent and what kind of reaction has the label had?
When you think dance, you think Chicago, Detroit, NYC, but you also think Manchester, Berlin, Ibiza. It's wildly important to play for UK/European audiences, and absolutely a must to be respected by them. I've only recently started getting demos from Brits and Europeans, and it's exhilarating. The energy, the vibe, the history, the (let's be honest) sex and sleaze they bring to the dance landscape is overwhelming. Often times they're more academic, more strict, but I love that intensity. UK/Euro audiences are unbelievably welcoming, warm and enthusiastic. After all, they're the one's who've kept great dance music alive, allowing Americans to become reinvigorated by it.
What's next for 100% Silk?
Releases by Pharaohs, Malvoeaux, SFV ACID, Bobby Browser, Polonaise. EPs by Strategy, Fort Romeau, Maria Minerva. The new Mi Ami full length. A Peaking Lights Remix record. The east coast/midwest 100% SILK tour in November with Ital, LA Vampires, Magic Touch, Innergaze, Octo Octa. And we're gearing up to tour UK/EU in the Spring of 2012. Not to mention as many dance nights, parties and after hours affairs as will have us.
BONUS ROUND: Download this awesome analogue house track from Polonaise now! It's taken from a forthcoming EP on 100% Silk.