Label Focus: Banoffee Pies

"Give less fffffs and trust your gut every time..."

Growing from a Bristol party scene trading on strength in community and a rich musical diversity in the city, Ell Weston aka DJ Autumn founded the Banoffee Pies label in 2014. Listeners digging deep will find natural ties between the label’s output of left-of-centre broken beat, minimal, 2-step and techno through jazz, house, ambient and deeper areas of dance music. “It’s definitely based more on a feeling”, Ell says. “I never wanted to do something that was tied to genre, but I also wanted it to be accessible even if it was only the odd release that caught your attention. The label definitely makes more sense the longer it’s gone on, there’s enough there now for you to take your pick from any series.”

With such a broad scope across genres for potential artists, it was initially Ell’s local music community that formed the label’s first signings. “It was friends whose music I wanted to support and then, like all networks, things snowball over time. I now frequently find myself in endless wormholes of exploring music on Bandcamp or SoundCloud, which I’m a massive fan and supporter of”.

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Label Focus: Banoffee Pies

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In the early days, Ell found support with words of advice from others who run labels and similar projects as he got his head around juggling admin processes and hitting deadlines on the less glamorous aspects of running a label. Ell expands on this with “Reassurance is great, but in some cases some honest and truthful feedback really helps. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way but if you can reflect each time there’s always room for improvement. A quick nugget of wisdom though…give less fffffs and trust your gut every time”.

Running the project full time, his many headed role takes in A&R and general label operations and DJing as well as running events and festivals, radio takeovers, merchandise and more. He’s supported by an extended team: marketing from Jessica (founder of Lapse Records & Rhythm Sister), worldwide distributor KUDOS, mastering studio Optimum in Bristol, Chanel & Jennifer of Dawn Creative on PR and Jim for “contextualising so many inexplicable doodles for the label art in short periods of time”. Ell says he also wants to thank the many artists involved and “I also want to send a nod and thanks to everyone who appreciates the label's vision and variation for what it is. Knowing that the intentions for the project resonate with some people is all you can ask for.”

Following 110 days in self-isolation, Ell moved from Bristol, where he’s lived the past 10 years, to Berlin last summer. With the clubbing world silenced for most of 2020 and looking among the last areas to return to some level of normalcy, for Ell this past year has been all about keeping up momentum. “Not being able to DJ and go out has been a massive difference but to find positives I’ve had more time to concentrate on the label and planning the future. There’s still a demand for music and I’ve found people are still keen to physically support labels even through this time. We’re all going through a collective trauma and music has a positive effect on mental health.”

“This next year the schedule is looking great and I’m gassed for the next few projects. There’s a new white label series just live focusing on DnB/Jungle etc. With a collaboration between Tim Reaper and Comfort Zone on the first EP, the second in the reissue series is coming in two parts, more OG series solo EP’s from great people and a string of releases for the Sonder Series.”

Ell signs off with positive hopes for the future, tempered with the knowledge that things need to improve from before the pandemic. “Aside from wishing everyone can hold on and look after themselves through this time, I hope that we can all learn something. Regardless of the pandemic and health, I hope we can return to a normal that is more revised, thoughtful and reflective than before. I’m apprehensive about whether the music industry will change its social and political narrative any quicker than any other but let’s see. As for parties – let us pray for full swing in 2022. Quite happy drinking tea at home until the rave is a real one”.

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Label Focus: Banoffee Pies

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Five significant records from Banoffee Pie’s catalogue, chosen by Ell.

1. Gallegos – Sentiment Of Love (BP017)

I was really pleased to be working with Ollie again for his second solo EP on the label and to continue to support his musical journey. This record is a really special one. It feels old and new while giving a reflective nod to what now feels like distant times in a packed out club.

2. Limited Series 10 w/ Yushh, Kincaid, Tristan Arp, PinballSpider, Johnny Hunter (BPLS010)

This release marks a milestone in this series reaching the 10th compilation. Being able to invite some of my favourite local UK artists to contribute to one record that can sit in people’s bags for different occasions is always fun and a really nice way to compile these different styles. Top work all round here.

3. Soulstatejazz – Annwn (BPLP004)

This was a record where the idea was born on a sunny Sunday morning at Freerotation and later at my own festival Headroom back in 2019. It took just under a year to come together after a number of group sessions at the Malt Barn Studio in the Welsh countryside but the results are excellent. With Tom leading the charge and such a great bunch of musicians collaborating, it was great to bump heads and help evolve a number of live jams into an album.

Living room jams.

4. Cassius Select – Heavyweight (BP015)

For the 15th original series release it was great to welcome Lavurn on the label who I had been following closely for many years. He has a really exceptional and contemporary way of creating tracks with a really similar set of influences that underpin the label sound from styles of music that all use elements of broken beat and strange sampling which I’m all about. This one came out mid lockdown but it’s well overdue some dance floor action.

Eyes peeled for more exciting work with CS in future too.

5. Paradise 3001 – Low Sun Archives (BPRE01)

This release marked the start of the new re-issue series and it was really great to launch with some old 90’s archived productions from Aad who has been pumping out great music under many aliases for decades. It was nice to work closely with someone who had been making good club music for so long and in doing so pull together a collection that shows a few sides to the Paradise 3001 moniker.

In other news, the next re-issue will be announced in the coming month or so and it’s a special one!

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Stay in touch with Banoffee Pies HERE.

Words: Benjamin Graye

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