Si Murray and Chris Barker don't quite make up an orchestra, nor are they from outer space, collectively though under their Deep Space Orchestra guise, they've lead the way for music of the deeper realms coming out of Manchester since experiencing a break out 2011.
Already showing their finesse as genre-benders, the DSO lads have thrown down techno monsters and disco influenced business plus a variety of deep house jams for household labels like Delusions Of Grandeur, Instruments Of Rapture and Quintessentials. A couple of years in and boasting a discography already resembling a career’s work, these lads are still having as much fun with it as they ever did, with no signs of them slowing down with a live show and debut album not far away.
We caught up for a banter fuelled chat with two great mates who have clearly enjoyed the ride so far, as well as the odd cake by the sounds…
You guys were spinning records and making tunes since the mid 2000’s, were you both trying to make a proper gig out of it then, or was it more just a fun thing to do on the weekend with your mate over a few beers? When did you know it was worth pursuing more seriously?
Si: Both Chris and I had been DJing regularly from the early 00s, myself in Glasgow and Chris in Birmingham, so had been around the block a bit before we were actually introduced to each other in 2005. I had done some work in the studio with The Revenge and Chris had been making stuff on his own for ages, and a mutual friend insisted that we should hook up. I don’t think either of us had any grand ambitions for it at all at the beginning and it probably remained like that, more of a fun thing, until the last couple of years. I suppose when people like Jimpster and Kirk Degiorgio want to sign your music, it does make you sit up and think, fucking hell, we can actually have a proper crack at this music lark.
We know you guys consider last year your break out year, in which you featured on more than ten records for the year, most of which you received worldwide props for. This year you’ve gotten involved in some quality remix work as well, plus some strong EP’s again.. How have you managed to put so much out in so little time, especially working as a duo?
Chris: I think it’s a combination of the fact that we do work pretty quickly – we’ve been doing music together for a long time now – and also that last year when things started to really pick up and more labels were asking us for tracks, we already had a backlog of finished stuff to send off to people. We generally work together one night a week and get through as much stuff as we can; the limited time makes us a bit more professional about it and less likely to sit there messing around and playing video games, which totally does still happen though. We don’t always get as much time to record as we want, as my day job takes up a lot of time and Si often struggles to fit things around his hectic schedule of spamming Facebook all day. He’ll probably do you a good deal on Viagra if you ask him though.
Your label Use Of Weapons has now reached the fourth release milestone, congrats on that! What plans do you have for the label in the future, and how do you think the label has helped you guys the most so far along the journey?
Si: Thanks! In terms of future plans, Use of Weapons 5 has just gone off to be mastered and has tracks from ourselves, Perseus Traxx, Ruf Dug, Stu Robinson (ex-Cosmic Boogie) and myself under my Other Worlds tag. Definitely more in the Chicago / Detroit vibe than the last one. We’re also sorting the final plan for UOW6 too and hope to get that out before the end of the year too. As far as the future goes, the ideal thing would be to release our debut album on UOW if at all possible. Having your own label is great in the sense that you can do whatever the hell you want with it, at your own speed. We set it up in the first place due to some of the epic amounts of faffing around that took place with some of our early releases, where we had little ability to speed up the process. Now it’s all in our own hands and we have total control of what comes out the far end.
Si, your Other Worlds project seems to have legs, with the first 12” dropping for Tusk Wax sub label Horn Wax. What can you tell us about that project, is it something you’ve just conjured up in your spare time when Chris isn’t around to pester you? Or is it something you’ve been planning for a while?
Si: Haha! I actually have my good lady wife to thank for properly nudging me into getting a studio set up at home for solo stuff. I’ve obviously worked with Chris for a long time and also The Revenge on our Cronk Family Enterprises stuff, and in both cases Chris and Graeme have had a lot more experience working in studios than I have. I suppose I just felt that I had accumulated enough experience to have a decent crack at making stuff that wouldn’t sound like utter dross (subjective opinion there, I know).
We know you guys, like most other house producers of today, obviously take influence from early house and techno in your production styles and sound. How would you describe your own record collections, and how do you strike a balance between the old and the new in your DJ sets?
Chris: Around half of my collection is made up of soul, disco and jazz – I’m a bad trainspotter for old stuff, especially when it comes to the jazz. I think we DJ in the same way as a lot of other people really – I’m always excited about playing new stuff that’s only just come out, but you always find there are older records that keep finding their way into your bag and others that somehow never seem to leave. There’s never that much of a conscious decision to strike a balance, I guess it’s always about finding the right thing to play at the right time, whatever it is. I’d love to play more disco when I’m playing out but it’s not always the right place or time to do it! Still haven’t found anywhere I can get away with playing jazz though… I don’t think we’d ever be booked again.
Si: Similarly to Chris, my record collection is pretty eclectic. I’ve been buying vinyl for 16 years now and my tastes have sort of meandered over that period. There’s obviously loads of house and techno but also lot of mid to late 90s drum n bass in there, some of which I now look at and think ‘what the fucking blazes was I doing buying that’. I know Chris feels the same about his ‘secret shame’ psy-trance collection (Chris: this is a total lie, Si’s just gutted that I keep outing his dodgy past as a smelly thrash metaller). What’s really good about having a collection that spans a decent number of years is going back and finding bangers that you bought years ago but have neglected and then when you play them out now alongside current tracks, you get a lot of reaction from younger djs and punters who were a bit too young to have heard it the first time around.
We know you guys are prepping your debut album and a live show at the moment, what is the story behind that and when and where might it be seeing its release? Is the plan to debut them together and work in a world tour?
Chris: It’s actually been on the cards for a while, we’ve just spent some time working out the logistics of it all. We didn’t want to just be two geeks and a computer – which is basically what we are in the studio, plus a few synths – but instead put more effort into keeping everything as live as possible. I’ve been bullying Si into getting a MIDI guitar for ages so that’ll definitely be part of the setup; I’ll probably be playing synths and manning an MPC. Some of it could change but that’s the vague direction we’re going in.
Once we’ve got the setup for the live show sorted out we’re going to record an album using all the same gear, so we’ll end up with a load of material that we can properly recreate live without resorting to triggering massive audio tracks, which is what we’d have to do for a lot of our existing tunes because they’ve all been very studio-based so far. To me that would slightly defeat the point of playing live – for a live show people should be able to see you do more than just trigger enormous samples and stare at a laptop. Lots of live shows out there are so boring, it’s like watching your dad play Minesweeper.
What can you tell us about this mix? How and where was it recorded, and who are some of the artists featuring? Any exclusives to look out for?
Chris: It was recorded at my house on two decks and an Allen & Heath mixer. I still haven’t invested in CDJs because the decks are in the living room and my mental cats would wreck them in seconds. I have to keep two sets of slipmats on the go because whenever I’m not in the cats run all over the decks and cover them in cat fluff. I need to move.
Because it’s 100% vinyl there aren’t really any exclusives, but there’s a nice spread of stuff from old to new. Standouts to look out for include a completely ludicrous Jason Grove track from his album on Skylax, insane lushness from Subway and analogue filth/beauty from local magician John Heckle. It’s all good though, but we would say that wouldn’t we?
What else do you have coming up for the rest of 2012 that we should know about?
Si: We’ve got a track on a forthcoming various artists ep on Drumpoet Community, which has been a long time coming but something we’re very much looking forward to. Obviously Use of Weapons 5 (and maybe 6) as previously mentioned. We’ve also got remixes coming out on Local Talk and Music With Content, which we’re both happy with. My first full Other Worlds ep should hopefully arrive before the end of the year on Perseus Traxx’s new label Boom Chik.
Chris: We’ve also got an EP based on a certain cult 80s John Carpenter film that’s about to drop as a limited one-off release… it’ll appear on our Soundcloud page soon so keep an eye out for it, it’s going to be good. I’d also like to find more time to spend properly doing my solo gear. I’ve done a couple of releases over the last year under the alias Haku – one on Use of Weapons, one on Boogie Originals – but have struggled to find the time to get stuff finished. My hard disk is strewn with shit that I could never make my mind up about, so I’d like to knuckle down and get a whole bunch of it finished off & out there. I also want to tackle the fat belly that has been getting worse ever since I turned 30. It’s fucking ridiculous, I wish someone had told me this was going to happen, maybe I’d have cut down on the cakes.
1. Mo Kolours – Mini Culcha (Beautiful Swimmers remix)
2. Fudge Fingers – Light in my life
3. Gene Hunt – May the funk be with you
4. Chez-N-Trent – The Choice (Witch Doctor mix)
5. Samaan – Circles (Vince Watson remix)
6. Subway – Journey
7. John Swing – Wear and tear
8. Italo Johnson 5
9. DJ Steaw – Sky Hunt
10. Jason Grove – Trippin’
11. Round One – I’m your brother (Chicago’s Twisted mix)
12. Cosmin TRG – Vertigo
13. John Heckle – Ancient Deep
14. Aubrey – Adult supervision
15. Charles B – Lack of love
16. Wyndell Long – Dinner is ready