Former R&S Records manager Dan Foat has launched a new label called 1-800-Dinosaur with James Blake at the helm for the debut release.
The news arrives just as James Blake fever approaches boiling point, with the producer’s second album Overgrown on the cusp of release. The first 1-800-Dinosaur 12″ sees Blake lay down a dub version of “Voyeur” from that forthcoming album, and is backed with the all new Blake production “And Holy Ghost”, which Benji B aired on his Radio 1 show recently. A video for “Voyeur” has emerged and can be streamed below.
The label seems to have grown naturally out of the same 1-800-Dinosaur club night that Foat and Blake started last year along with Airhead’s Rob McAndrews and Klaus band member Ben Assister. Adopting an ‘anything goes’ music policy where Omar S can be played alongside vintage Photek or Roots Manuva, the infrequent Plastic People event has become a rare chance for a decent night of midweek music in the increasingly desolate nightlife vortex that is Shoreditch. The success of the event has also seen the 1-800-Dinosaur concept acquire Paris and Barcelona residencies in recent times.
Foat recently left his role at R&S Records having successfully established the seminal techno label to something akin to its former glory since its 2008 relaunch, focusing largely on helping cultivate a new breed of UK artists such as Pariah, Space Dimension Controller, Lone and of course James Blake. Speaking to us in an email interview earlier this week, Foat revealed that plans to expand 1-800-Dinosaur beyond a club night and into a fully fledged label had been on the cards for some time, as well as laying out what to expect over the coming months.
The 1-800-Dinosaur story began whilst you were touring with James and his band right?
Correct. The transient nature of being on the road has definitely inspired the development and identity of 1-800-Dinosaur. We (James, Rob, Ben and myself) have spent a lot of time travelling the globe over the past 2 years and the 1-800-Dinosaur gigs were initially after-parties for the live shows. During our first 2011 North American tour we threw parties in Toronto, Chicago, LA, New York, Portland and San Francisco and the ideas and musical direction (or lack thereof) grew from there. Back in London we added our friend Klaus as a resident and took up residence at Plastic People to attempt to replicate what happened on tour.
The club night began last year, but how long have plans been in place to expand it into a fully fledged label?
Plans have been in place for a long time now, although it’s been difficult to find the right moment. The past 6 months have been especially hectic, concentrating on delivering James’ new LP and preparing for another touring cycle, but the runway is nearly clear now so I’m looking forward to moving forwards with the label this year.
What’s the focus for 1-800-Dinosaur the label? Will it be strictly small run 12”s of club music to get the music out there or room for more expansive releases too?
There is no specific plan to be honest. The initial focus is to release forward thinking music, based around the people already involved with the label or our friends. We met Kendrick Lamar and his manager Dave at SXSW and hung out and discussed a potential collaboration with James. If that was to come off then it would be great to release it via 1-800-Dinosaur and their label Top Dawg Entertainment in the States. It’s pure conjecture at the moment though, as everyone is too busy with touring commitments. The TDE setup is inspiring and something I’d like to replicate with 1-800, they’re like a modern day Death Row. It’s a long ball game. I find the whole hand stamped ltd 12″ idea to be about as limited as beards, beanies and tattoos in East London so we won’t be going down that road.
There is a loose, anything goes ethos with the club night – will this extend into the label’s music policy too?
Yes, 100% loose, anything goes.
You left R&S Records a few months ago with the label in quite a healthy position, do you view 1-800-Dinosaur as the sort of challenge you needed after overseeing its successful relaunch?
Last year I felt like I had taken R&S as far as I could and my priorities and attention had always been with James as his manager, so 1-800-Dinosaur is a logical progression and an exciting challenge. Most of the key artists I signed to R&S have since left, so it’s a good time to explore new opportunities. The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change etc.
What do you feel proudest about your time with R&S Records?
My aim was to bring the label back to life with a more eclectic roster and a more esoteric outlook than the R&S of the nineties, and I suppose I’m proud of going someway to achieving that. It’s hard to tell from where I’m sitting but if you’re saying it was a success then I’ll go with that. Time will tell…
James Blake oversees the debut release – that’s quite a statement of intent. Does he view the label as a chance to indulge his more electronic side alongside his ongoing major label commitments?
James’ contract stipulates that he can continue to release 12″s and EPs on independent labels, so 1-800-Dinosaur will act as his home for non-album related material. Coincidentally “Voyeur” came about through James developing an interest in house music at our Plastic People events and it was originally intended for release solely on 1-800-Dinosaur. It’s a great track and we decided quite early that it was going on the LP, so we are releasing the Plastic People inspired dub version backed with “And Holy Ghost” later this month as the debut 12″.
You have an irregular production career of your own; will you be releasing any music through 1-800-Dinosaur?
“The Chain” pseudonym has been put to bed, but I’m hopefully going to find time to release some music again soon. I have a lot of ideas that are sitting awkwardly in Logic and more recently the OP-1, so it’s possible that I may return to record shop sales bins with an average / weird house 12″ in 2013. The OP-1 has given me new impetus to write tracks again. A mixture of limited concentration span and limited talent means I get really bored pushing blocks around a screen and the OP-1 is so immediate and full of innovative synthesis and sounds that I’ve become a big fan.
Can you divulge who else will be releasing music through 1-800-Dinosaur?
Not yet, that would spoil the surprise.
1-800-Dinosaur will release the Voyeur Dub/And Holy Ghost 12″ by James Blake on late April
A. Voyeur (Dub)
B. And Holy Ghost