Paul Cottam isn't your average jetsetting international DJ, the humble family man turned bedroom beat-maker made a name for himself with a string of soul and afrobeat cuts in 2009/10 on his own label, and has since been releasing for labels like Story, Use Of Weapons and most recently Will Saul's Aus Music.
Cottam’s music ranges from slow and hypnotic sample driven techno to deep spaced out acid house, but his DJing is where he cuts his teeth, and even he’s happy to admit that mixing records is his first love. We’re pretty stoked to have him put together the latest piece of the puzzle, coming in at an hour and forty minutes, expect to hear it all.
How’s the last few months treated you, I know you’ve had your hands full with the ‘wee’ one, but you’ve managed to be pretty productive in the studio as well by the sounds.. How do you find that balance?
Hahaha… Last few months have been nice thanks. I haven’t really been productive in the studio as I don’t have a studio hehehehe…. Everything I have, music wise, is in our front room. This includes all the youngest’s toys, the family TV and DVD player. I haven’t really been productive in the sense of making music, all recent releases have been older stuff made a few years ago, although I have made maybe 4 tracks in recent months. Most of my free time has been spent going back to my first love, just messing about on the decks spinning tunes.
There is no balance really, I have a window of maybe a couple of hours Monday to Friday between dropping my youngest off at nursery and picking him back up. It never works out really as there’s always the other stuff to do, shopping, laundry, tidying the toys away etc etc etc, and then by the time he’s in bed it’s 7-7.30pm and it’s time to make our food…. Oh, then there’s actually spending some time with my better half Sian and my 13 and 15 year old girls. I just jump on when I can and occasionally my mum will pick the wee man up from nursery so that gives me more time…..
Most of us got to know you through your first and hugely well received vinyl-only coloured series on your own label, which were also your first official productions if I can remember correctly. Do you feel like your sound has matured a lot since those early releases?
To be honest I still don’t really know what I’m doing, maybe I’ve learnt a few more bits but I don’t really feel my sound has progressed or “matured”. I guess I just try to use less samples, more of my own work/input. Hopefully when the wee lad starts proper school and I get more time I’ll learn more and hopefully my sound will progress.
Anyone that has listened to enough of your music would recognize the afrobeat influences and samples in much of your output. Where do you think this stems from and who are some of your favourite afrobeat artists / influences?
I have to be honest and tell you I know squat diddley about afrobeat, I love it to bits and listen to a fair bit but my powers of information retention are sadly lacking these days hahaha….. maybe it’s my age. My old school buddy and music guru Paul Watson turned me onto afro stuff, he’s got knowledge, I just listen to stuff and buy it if I like it.
I think the use of the samples stems from listening to it and just realising the rhythms are obviously what have influenced a lot of dance music over the years and that they are perfect for incorporating into dance type tracks. The horns, the vocals, the percussion, the guitars….. Perfect!
You released a couple of EP’s with Aus Music over the past year and a bit, both which boasted some outrageously good remixes from Vakula and Cosmin TRG. How did those come about and do you have any future plans for more releases with Aus?
Will Saul asked me to do the EPs, 2 tracks for each, and he wanted a remix on each one. For the first EP Will asked who I would like to do the remix. I drew up a shortlist, Vakula was at the top as I’d been into his stuff for quite a while and loved his sound, Will contacted him. Thats it really. For the second EP Will asked me if I knew of Cosmin as he was thinking of him for the remix, I did and had quite a few of his records. Will contacted him and that was that again. I really had not much involvement at all. I just made the tracks!
I hope to release with Aus again. Will has asked me and it was a pleasure working with him so we’ll see…. Depends if I can make anything new that he likes.
What have you come up with for us with this mix?
I don’t know really, I had a 2 and a bit hour gap between dropping the wee man off and picking him up from nursery. I just did a couple of quick jobs then hit record. Some stuff I’d mixed before, some I hadn’t as I’d just bought a few. Just an on the fly session of stuff really. Really enjoyed doing it, mind you I always enjoy having a spin.
Levels are a bit all over and the mixing ain’t as smooth as a babies bum but hey ho!
You’ve got a big party coming up this weekend right? What can you tell us about that?
It’s Hardlife’s 1st Birthday do at The Moustache Bar in London, a small venue apparently, which is nice. As well as it being their 1st birthday, me and Sian, my better half, are celebrating being together for 10 years. It’s not often we get to go out together, especially out of town, so I intend to make it special for us and the crowd.
Finally, what do you have dropping next that we should be keeping an ear out for?
I’ve got a couple of things. An EP for Mad Tech, just need to finish off 1 track for that one (nearly done). I’ve done another acid kinda thing that a label, who I can’t mention, has snapped up, need to do a couple more tracks for that to make the EP. A remix of a band called Haraket should be out in a month or two…… Loads of other bits that I’m working on when I get the time…. We’ll see!!