Eglo Records boss Alexander Nut looks back over 10 years of Eglo Records. This weekend, Eglo are celebrating in style, bringing the whole crew down for a top secret, guaranteed good vibes all-nighter. In a dark and significant basement in Shoreditch 2009, Alexander Nut and Sam Shepherd met over shared tracks and a legendary sound system. The label they started together became home to the likes of Funkineven, Fatima, Floating Points, Byron Aquarius and a host of others – all collected together under a shared call to stand up for underground culture and music.
During the mid to late 00s, when London’s label scene was having something of a crisis of consciousness, Eglo looked to inject some character back into proceedings. They became the very funky backbone that a community of music lovers on the verge of dissipation could lean on together. As the incoming digital age began to round up the automatons, Eglo kicked back with groove and broken beat.
Alexander Nut talked to us about 10 years of Eglo Records, the early days and journey so far. Don’t miss out on celebrating Eglo’s 10th with him at Corsica Studios – 10 Years Of Eglo Records – Bank Holiday Special
10 years in with Eglo, congratulations! That feels like a huge achievement in a label’s history. How does it feel to be on this side of such an occasion?
It’s pretty crazy, 10 years is a milestone. When we started out we didn’t really have long term plans, we we’re just having fun with it, release by release and party to party. After a couple of years it grew into something substantial and now running the label is a daily operation, so I’m super happy and grateful to still be doing it 10 years later. This party feels like a real celebration and a chance to reflect on what has been achieved. From introducing the world to the likes of Floating Points, Fatima, Funkineven and playing a substantial role in the early careers of Henry Wu, K15, Byron The Aquarius etc. through to working with our musical hero’s such as Dego, Kaidi Tatham, Steve Spacek and Shafiq Husayn, it’s been a great journey.
Apart from the parties in London and Berlin, do you have any more plans to commemorate the past decade of Eglo?
Yes there’s going to be a Eglo Records Vol.2 compilation coming, which will follow suit from our previous one released back in 2013. It’ll pick up where Vol.1 ended, selecting keys track and releases from the back catalogue, right up till present day, along with some exclusive material, bonus tracks and some limited 12” vinyl. We also have two new albums on the horizon by new artists which I’m really looking forward to sharing with the world.
What was your inspiration in the early days starting out?
There’s so many to list, be it labels like Metalheadz, People, Metroplex, Main Squeeze, Stones Throw, Sound Signature, Def Jam, Reinforced, 2000Black, Tempa, DMZ, the list could go on and on.. then theres the club nights like FWD, Co-Op, Deviation, Kung-Fu, Nonsense and CDR… a lot of which we where going to regularly. Plastic People (R.I.P) played a bit part in the labels beginnings, its was our foundation. It was where we all first met, and where a lot of the early releases got played and tested for the first time.
Can you talk a little about London’s music scene at the time?
To be honest we started up as a result to things slowing down both in clubs and with record labels. We did what we did to fill a void, things where in free fall then. Some years before starting the label Londons nightlife, club culture, independent press, magazines and the record stores scene was thriving, it was incredible, but then it seemed to experience a big lull mid 2000. The digital age killed off a lot of records shops and magazines, and nightlife started to take a dive, tons of clubs closed down and independent record labels and distributors began to suffer. As a result the ‘underground’ and its associated musical communities began is dissipate. That’s why Eglo started, to continue on with the vibe that had inspired us for so many years. As a result I can say with confidence that what we have done has gone on to inspire a lot of what is going on today, be it with new artists, DJs, labels, festivals and radio stations.
What are your thoughts on its current health? How have you seen it change over Eglo’s course so far?
It’s building back up, I see some amazing new stuff happening, things like Touching Bass, BBZ, 6 Figures Gang, PDA, 4 To The Floor, Champange Funk etc. So yeah it’s definitely heading in the right direction with those guys. They all really inspire me. It can be difficult, everything moves so fast now, there’s so much hype involved, things often don’t get that incubation period and the focus can be on the wrong things. It’s become a numbers game, what with social media and PR playing a big part in music and club culture. Also, there’s a lot of interest from corporate bodies, sponsors and brands as well as others looking to capitalise on whats new and exciting, which can go either way. It can help empower, but it can also taint the essence and purity of things and steer them in a different direction. It’s something people should be mindful of.
You’ve got to be mindful of that power and energy you create. That whole process used to move a lot slower, so people, labels, artists, clubs etc used to have more time to experiment, have fun and find their feet. Ultimately thats what it all comes down to, creating open spaces where people feel free, can have fun and experiment. There’s also a lack of those places where these things can happen in the right way. Places with great sound systems, with management who respect the culture and the art forms they house. That’s why Corsica Studios is such an important space, and one of few places in London where I’m willing to put on nights. Corsica is my favourite club in London. So as long as you guys are around we’ll be ok!
What do you think led to so many institutions of London’s musical landscape to emerge from one small basement in Shoreditch [Plastic People]? Was there a defining sound of the time or a collective consciousness that lead to their rise?
Plastic People existed for all the right reasons, at a time when Londons nightlife was in a different place, pre social media, boiler room, camera phones and all that stuff. Its was about music and community, with no pretence or hype. It was a small dark room, you could barely see anything, with one of the best sound systems in the world. You experienced the music differently, the sound covered your body, you could feel it all over your skin. It’s hard to really put in to words, but at the same time I could talk about it forever, for me it was like church. I could go on any night of the week, no matter what the party or music policy, and experience something special. It was run by the people for the people kind of thing, the was support and room to experiment, it was an incubator…a hub of creativity. A lot of tunes were broke there, a lot of dubplates tested, everybody at the time wanted to know what their music sounded like on the plastic sound system. And people wanted to go there to experience that, away from the stress and strain of the outside world. It was like a portal to another world, and you got high off it!
Eglo has put out the first or some of the first releases from Floating Points, Fatima and Funkineven. Can you talk a little about those artists? How did you first meet them and how have they grown with the label?
We all met at Plastic People, we would frequent a number of the different nights there. Like FWD, Co-Op, Theo, CDR and Nonsense. At the time I also had a radio show on Rinse FM, back in its pirate days… this was before NTS etc. So I ended up playing a lot of the early demo’s on my show and inviting people on to play. I also used to run a music promo company doing Radio plugging and stuff, for independent labels. It all grew from there really. I wrote a foreword in the booklet of the Vol.1 compilation, you can get the full story there.
I’ve read elsewhere about spirituality being a large proponent of a lot of the music you collect and dig for. Is that spiritual essence spread across the Eglo roster in any way? If yes can you give some examples?
To a degree, I think so. We don’t put out music for the sake of it, it has to mean something, it has to come from the heart and soul, not the head. We didn’t start out as a commercial venture or to capitalise off someones art, or to try and get fame or anything like that. We do it all out of love. Love for the music, life, community and also the people who laid the foundations for us.
How do you go about structuring your sets when you play out? Do you have a ‘home genre’ or consistent theme that you look for in your selections? Is this something that has changed at all since the early days of Eglo?
I just trust my intuition and go with the flow. I’ve been DJ’ing for over 20 years now. I try to represent my experience and my journey through music. Where I’m from to where I’m at …to where we’re trying to go. I try to bring that UK perspective too, from house, 2step, garage, jungle, soul, broken beat, dub, jazz, hip hop and everything in between. I’ve been fortunate to live and experience a lot of magic moments in music, so I weave that into what I do and put my twist on it.
Garuanteed good vibes only, all night – 10 Years Of Eglo Records – Bank Holiday Special