Initiating an early summer buzz, Future Classic are set to release their debut compilation album this spring. Nathan McLay, one of the founders and DJs from the iconic label, chats about the flavour of the album and live production process in Berlin’s Beatport studio. As one of Sydney’s most recognised electro label and DJ outfits, there’s much anticipation after sharing the first track off the compilation as a free download via SoundCloud. This compilation should come with a warning, it’s slow jams and club beats will make you eager for beaches and summer.
First up, give us a bit of background on Future Classic. We all know what it is, but can you tell us how you founded the label with Chad and James?
I started up at Inertia records doing mixes. Now I’m working here [at Future Classic] full time, there’s six of us. James started about three years ago and brought lots of smiles and humour and we do a radio show together; James just keeps everyone in a good mood.
The debut compilation was released on September 10. What can we expect from the release?
Lots of different music. We’ve got a reputation for not following any one-particular sound. There’s some ambient stuff on there, more beat-based stuff. Flume’s got an exclusive track on there. There are 10 exclusive tracks in total that haven’t been released before from people all over the world, including the US, Europe and Australia. The other half of the tracks are from the back catalogue, so bit of disco, bass-music, house, a bit all over the place, as usual. We sort of had to put it all together and make it flow in 80 minutes.
The compilation is full of beach indie-surf tracks and club jams. How did you come up with the flavour of the album?
Well, we reached out to the 10 artists that did the exclusive tracks, some of them were originals, some of them were remixes, and chose some tracks from the back catalogue that fitted with those tracks. And then there’s some favourites, some of the ones we’ve been playing at the moment.
What was the production process like?
We recorded the mix live in Berlin, doing it in the Beatport office, as a single 80-minute mix. Lots of mineral water and one recording – it was over pretty quickly. We wanted to make sure it was organic and not too pre-produced. Even though we organised some of the songs and tracklist beforehand, the idea was to do the actual final mix live and have a bit more [of a] human feeling than some of mixes that you hear which are done on computers and are very pre-programmed. It gives the album an element of personality.
A lot of these tracks are exclusive, never heard before. How long has this been in the making?
We started commissioning the tracks about three or four months ago, some of them took longer than others. It all happened pretty quickly. We wanted to do something that existed outside of the rest of our releases of singles, EPs and albums. It was an opportunity for all the artists to do a one-off instead of a whole EP or album. For example, Flume has an album coming out soon, but the song he’s got on the compilation are only released on the compilation. He didn’t mind that we were doing a DJ mix. It’s got that flavour to it.
Rhabarbarum by Slow Hands has been released for free streaming and download. What’s the general response been like?
It’s been good. I think people appreciate things that aren’t just one sound the whole time. I think our audience tends to like being surprised. Rhabarabaum is an ambient track, it’s the first track and eases everyone into what we’re trying to do with the mix.
Was there a particular reason for releasing this track as the teaser?
We like to give away music, we get bored quickly. It’s the start of the mix, so if you want to hear more, you can jump online and hear the rest of it, see where it goes from there.
What spawned the compilation? Being in the Australian electro scene for 10 years now, did this album feel like the next step?
It was mostly because of our Soundcloud feedback. We were doing monthly mixes on Soundcloud, which got a great reception. The Soundcloud guys said we had the most influential Soundcloud page in Australia… or something. And people suggested that we do a mix or a compilation. It was a combination of that, and wanting to do some one-off tracks that weren’t connected to a bigger project, like an EP or album for an artist. So, a platform for one-off songs that can come out quite quickly and be a bit of fun.
The release coincides with Beatport’s new ‘mixes’ platform. How do we get our hands on the album prior to its release via Beatport?
You can go onto Beatport to get it pre-released because they were kind enough to offer us their studios to do the mix. So, we’ve got the original and a mix on their mixes page that you can download.
What’s your favourite track on the compilation?
My favourite track is the last track. Worst Friends’ remix of Gung Ho, originally by Twin Rays. An indie-jam sounds like a skateboard movie-credit-type song, the track is designed as an outro to the compilation, and it’s doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Future Classic is an internationally respected label, how do you expect the album to sit on the international stage?
Most of our audience is overseas, about 80 per cent. With the web, it’s nice to have people give feedback from abroad. I was lucky enough to work out of Europe for three months recently, out of Berlin and London. It seemed like people knew us more over there than here, which is surprising. Generally, we get a lot of support from Europe, the US and the UK.
What other projects are you working on?
We’re working on the Flume album, which will be out in November. It’s sounding amazing, it’s really exciting. It doesn’t sound like anything else that’s out there at the moment. It’s more chopped up beats and nice collaborations with different vocalists, some more arty tracks, and others, which are more chill.
We’ve got a mix album coming out next year, mixed by Ash Workman who produced the last Metronomy album. He also worked on the Summer Camp album. That’s really exciting.
There’s a new artist called Panama who we’ve got an EP for, and a new single. It has super nice remixes on it. So, there’s plenty of things actually, exciting times.
Future Classic’s compilation officially dropped September 10th. Cop it via Beatport or iTunes. For more news on Future Classic check their website, Twitter and Facebook pages and head to their Soundcloud for beats.