Junglist at heart.
For the past few years, Liverpool’s Stu Robinson aka ASOK has been dealing in ridged club weapons, regularly combining hazy meandering synths and chunky overridden drums to induce lo-fi euphoria on boss labels like M>O>S Recordings, Mistress and his own Scenery imprint. As luck would have it, our paths collide just as his debut album for the dutch giant Crème Organization hits the shelves worldwide – a brilliant cross section of the uncompromising deep, rugged and ambient techno we’ve all come to expect from the producer in recent times. As has been the case with much his music to date, Stu’s contribution to our series moves away from conventional four-four rhythms, finding itself deeply rooted in his enduring love for jungle, breakbeat and tripped out rave. This isn’t a Deepcast you’ve heard before.
Tell us about A Mind Forever Voyaging, your debut album that came out this week on the inimitable Crème Organization. Is this something you have been working towards for a while, and how would you describe the finished product?
Is it something I’ve been working towards? It’s a good question. My first instinct would be no. I don’t know how you would ever work towards an album on purpose unless you truly thought of yourself as a musician or were part of a band. Maybe I’m alone in that but I don’t really consider consciously working towards it. When I look back and think well I haven’t managed to shake off the dance music love affair since it started 20 years ago (nor even really tried), in that sense, yes. I’ve been working towards it all my adult life.
I would say yeah, I’m happy with the finished product. That’s it really. I’m happy I did it, I am happy with the music, I am happy with the experience, the label (Crème/ TLR), the mastering (Marco Spaventi), the promotion, the vibe, the artwork (Godspill), the track names…all of it really. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to do more, better, different or whatever, but the emotions are all positive. I managed to get out what is programmed into my brain with limited technical ability. That has to be something to satisfy.
We caught a preview from an upcoming EP of yours in the killer Lobster Theremin Boiler Room Upfront mix back in February, what can you tell us about those tracks, and how did you get to working with the label?
Well I have known Jimmy (LT owner) for some time now. He’s a very fine human being. We had talked about doing something together since the very first M>O>S e.p. a few years ago – and it was just a case of…OK. When the tracks come, they come. There’s a full EP for LT finished and on the way in Sept/Oct…and another for Mork the sister label not long after. It’s really good as its more label(s) that I play out, or at home (or whatever) on a regular basis. I always hoped I could just release on labels I actually really cared about – and it has so far been that way. All the labels I work with are ones I am a fan of first and an artist second.
You said around the time of its inception that your label Scenery’s primary focus was to showcase the music of friends and producers from your hometown of Liverpool.. Around four years and 10 releases in, where is the label at now, and where to next?
Next – Bantam Lions album. A true masterpiece and probably the most exciting producer I ever stumbled across. He was the reason I started the label, the man behind all the brilliant artwork, and a really good lad. It’s kind of fitting that the first album, the tenth release, will be his album – and might be the last we hear from Scenery for a while. Not forever, but for a while. The ethos still stands – there are some amazing people on that label – Circular Rhythms, Skyland Mountain, Mark Forshaw, Binny, Heckle…Deep Space Orchestra. All people I speak to regularly and look up to – but there comes a time that you need to focus on other things. For a while, I’m sure. Not for good.
Another label which we’ve been incredibly fond of for some time is Aroy Dee’s M>O>S Recordings, an imprint which you’ve now released two great EPs for in recent years. They have such a momentous back catalogue, I’m keen to know what might be some of your personal favourites, and can we expect any more ASOK 12s on there in future?
Yes I will will release on M>O>S again – or I hope so. It’s been asked, I just need to find the right moment to make that kind of vibe. Stephen (Aroy Dee) is another great guy and he has only ever pointed me in the right direction. He put stuff out when no one had any idea who I was (not that they do now really, but still, much more of a risk then) and he rolled with it and gave me the confidence to carry on. No doubt I will return to M>O>S as long as I can produce something worthy of the label.
The best things from M>O>S for me would be Ksoul & Muteoscillator and/or Chicago Skyway. Go find any of what they did for that label and you shall see what I mean.
What can you tell us about the idea behind this mix and some of the tracks that you’ve included?
Mix is straight up a collection of where I am right now – rave noises and breakbeat kind of vibe, lots of hi hats smacking around off each other, rollers, pitched down jungle. Pitched up house, bells, bleeps and a bit of the old tambourine. At heart I’m a Junglist still, I guess I always will be, and you can probably hear that tinted in the things I do even though it might not be 170bpm. There’s loads of new stuff in here, some old, some things off the album, something off the new Bantam Lions album…all the usual stuff. It’s dark in bits and not so dark in others. There’s no trance in it, which is a great shame.
What else is coming up?
ASOK’s A Mind Forever Voyaging is available now on vinyl via Juno and digitally over at Crème Organization.