Behind the Berlin imprint...

A bass culture citadel based in Berlin’s techno warren, a dance label famed for their album output the label has changed with the times but kept a singular identity. “What we want from the label is more a stamp of quality rather than signifying any particular stylistic tendency – it could be a house track, ambient, funk, techno…just the fact that it carries the Hotflush seal should mean a certain level of quality” insists label manager Jack Haighton. “I think if you look at the albums were put out this year and last year, it gives you an idea of the label's breadth and scope”.

Launched by Paul Rose (who records under the name Scuba) Hotflush has long stood close to the centre of the bass universe. Expanding in recent years, the producer took on board Haighton to oversee the day to day workings. As if that wasn’t enough, the imprint also have links to London and – improbably – Hawaii. “We’ve got one guy in London and then one guy who’s based in Hawaii of all places. I kind of want to get a plaque saying ‘Hotflush: Berlin, London, Hawaii’.”

Continuing, Haighton pins the reasons for this expansion as being primarily artistic. “Basically the last couple of years we’ve released big album projects from people like Mount Kimbie which have obviously propelled them into the limelight but also us as well” he states. “We’ve had to expand our resources to support that. We still maintain a healthy output of underground 12 inches but obviously we’re very keen to focus our efforts on album projects. There are in fact two labels that make up the whole. We have Hotflush releases proper and then Hotflush 2, which we concentrate on for the more dance, club-oriented 12 inches. They’ll be about two or three of those a month, and then three of four albums a year. We’ll normally test the water with a few album projects by releasing a EP and then go from there”.

Scuba - NE1BUTU

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The twin outlets means that Hotflush can keep pace with club styles, whilst still having the muscle to tackle largescale artistic endeavours. “It’s very easy for 12 inches to get lost amidst the mire of things that get released week-in, week-out, especially in the digital age. It can be throwaway, disposable music if not curated with the same time and care as we invest into HF2 releases,” he argues. “What we like about albums is that you let them seep, you listen to them over and over, it’s more representative of a period of time rather than the zeitgeist that particular week”.

The shift between 12 inch to album format often requires quite a bit of guidance from the label. “What we’re interested in doing here is investing in artists, we don’t just want them to come, drop their 12 inch and that's it. We want to invest in artists. We want to stick with these people and offer them all the guidance that we can” he explains. “It’s not a case of jumping on any bandwagons. We want these people to be with us for a long time – there are always going to be times when the work we do with artists lead to great opportunities for them, like Mount Kimbie recently signing for Warp, but as you can see there was a longstanding relationship there. We helped them grow as much as they helped us, it was a mutually beneficial relationship and that’s what we like from our artists”.

What underpins the label is a sense that each idea, each release has been heavily invested in – both emotionally and in time – lending it a cache that other labels perhaps lack. “I think when you sign to Hotflush there’s definitely a feeling that it’s going to be a long-lasting thing. The work Paul has done over the last 9 years to give the label the reputation it has means we're fortunate enough to get sent a lot of great material from a lot of already established artists” he said. “The kind of wider circle of artist friends is very strong and involves people with very forward thinking tastes, with their ears to the ground, and we’re very fortunate in that respect. It’s not too difficult to find something we all really want to put out”.
That said, the search for new music never ends. Hotflush may have a certain magnetism – and a clogged up Inbox – but the label are still engaged in the hunt for fresh beats. “We have a great network of people around us. We're also music nerds and spend time just trawling sites and blogs and reviews and of course a lot of time in clubs, seeing people we haven’t seen or heard of before. If things are exciting to us we’ll follow it up” he states. “Often that’s the most exciting way, it’s a more personal way as well. You know, in terms of the schedule just by doing that over the past six months we’re kind of full to the end of the year now. We’re still getting sent stuff, a lot of really, really good stuff which we sometimes have to turn away because we can’t offer anything until several months down the line”.

Locked Groove - Aller Simple

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Chatting about new styles, trends it becomes clear that Hotflush isn’t about fashion. It’s not about following in the path of others, it’s about breaking new ground and letting other imprints, other artists follow behind. “I think fashions come and go but style never really changes, and I think that’s kind of been the case with Hotflush” Haighton explains. “Especially over the last couple of years. The releases haven’t fitted into one pigeonhole whatsoever, if you stand them alongside one another you’ll go from an intensely deep dub-techno record like Sigha one month to euphoric, big-room sounds like "Adrenalin" the next. We want to keep doing that, we want to keep representing dance music as broadly as we can. But only what’s good about it. There’s quality to be found in absolutely every single part of the spectrum and that’s what we want to represent. We don’t want to be boxed in, or go down the route of a particular trend just because it’s popular and it’s what’s selling at the time. It’s all about maintaining quality, about keeping that as our focus”.

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