Interview: Hudd Traxx

Manchester-based label Hudd Traxx celebrate their tenth year in the business this weekend with an anniversary party at the Whiskey Jar in Manchester. Since 2005, the label has released music from the likes of Matthew Herbert, DJ Sneak, Rolando, Rick Wade, Iz & Diz, and JT Donaldson.

Ahead of the night, label boss, producer and DJ Eddie Leader reflects on a decade in the business and what the future holds for the imprint.

How did the label come about?
I used to produce under the name Slum Science with two of my friends from Huddersfield – Danny White and Rucky. After releasing around four or five records, the boys decided they wanted to give it a go.

You started Hudd Traxx with the ambition to breathe new life into the underground house scene, what did you feel needed to change?
That was just something we wrote as we needed to write something for our biography! However we did want to set high standards and release quality music. We wanted to release music from both established and up and coming artists along with it being an output for our music.

Do you feel you’ve achieved that over the last ten years?
I’m pretty proud of what we’ve achieved. When I had to pick tracks for the 10 Year compilation I listened back to every track we put out and I still really like everything we’ve released. Most of it hasn’t aged and sounds timeless to me. Granted, there are a few tracks that were obviously made in a certain era but that’s cool.

We put out a fair bit of our own music and I’ve put out a good chunk of my releases on the label. We’ve signed some of the best producers in the world and had music played by the best DJ’s in the world. We’ve also signed a good amount of new talent so, yeah, I guess you could say that I’m pretty happy with how things worked out.

How do you feel house music has progressed in the last ten years?
That’s a difficult question to answer to be honest, as a lot of the recent house music has been reminiscent of what was produced in the 90s. There’s some awesome music out and I’d say there’s a lot more out these days than there was in 2005. Although software was available then, it seems to have grown and spread to all corners of the globe. House music is definitely more popular now than it was ten years ago – if Disclosure had been making music in 2005, they wouldn’t have been in the charts. It’s a good thing that lots more people are aware of house and that people like it. It will be interesting to see where things are at in another ten years as music works in cycles so I would imagine the genre will go back underground in a few years’ time. 

What is the one track that epitomises the label?
Again, that’s a tough one, as we’ve released a lot of different stuff over the last ten years. I’m going to go for one that probably sits in the middle of what we do: Rhythm Plate ft. Astral T  – ‘Inside Me’.

As a label boss, DJ and producer, how do you divide your time?
I work as a freelancer in TV so that takes up most of my time, but any spare time at the moment is taken up by running the label and DJing. I haven’t had any time at all to produce this year apart from one original track and a remix. As I do everything myself it’s quite time consuming. I need to get an agent on board really to handle bookings so I can get back to spending time on producing, that’s the plan for 2016.

What is your approach to finding new artists for the label, has this process changed over the last ten years?
These days, I usually find new artists from checking out new music or receiving demos. I will listen to everything on Juno that comes out in the Vinyl section and sometimes I’ll come across someone ace – that’s how I got in touch with Iron Curtis, Rio Padice & Nachtbraker. I get sent a lot of demos on a daily basis so I sift through those and occasionally you’ll find a gem. Regrettably I haven’t had chance to do either of these recently due to the Ten Year schedule and work, but I’m hoping this will change next year as I have a lot of fun doing it.

Demos these days are usually sent via email with a SoundCloud link. Ten years ago, we would get people posting them. I think this is probably still the best way to get a label’s attention as an email is just another email, whereas if you get something in your hands through the post you’re more likely to listen to it.

Now and Then‘ is a four part release for the anniversary.  Tell us about the concept and the music on there.
I wanted to do something big for the ten year anniversary so I started thinking of ideas a few years ago. Originally I was going to get one new track from various producers and release that as one big compilation. Then I spoke to my distributor and they advised releasing in parts on vinyl as four vinyl compilations are expensive and not many people buy them these days. After spending a load of time trying to get new tracks from people I realised that there was probably a lot of people who hadn’t heard the music we released five or ten years ago so I wanted to bring that to their attention. So I combined the two ideas of ‘this is where we were at then’ and ‘this is where we’re at now and where we are going’. I really like the concept as it puts older tracks on the same release as new ones so it’s two or three periods in time but at the end of the day it’s all house which is the main thing.

You are committed to releasing on vinyl and the format has seen its ups and downs in the last ten years, what challenges have you faced releasing your music?
When we started, vinyl was still doing quite well, you could sell 1000 – 2000 records no problem. Then a few years later a load of big distributors went out of business: Syntax, Watts, Unique, etc. That hit the industry hard and sales went down. At that point we were still a vinyl only label. We kept it that way for a while but I realised that if we didn’t go digital it would probably be the end of us. Ironically, it was probably digital money that kept us in the vinyl business. Things have since picked up again in the last few years which is good. The revival of vinyl is great, only problem being that you have to wait three or four months to get a record out now and I hear it’s getting worse.

The label recently hosted Room 3 at Fabric. Do you have any more label parties planned moving into next year?
We are touring South America in December and January so there will be a few of those at the beginning of the year in Ecuador, Peru and hopefully Argentina. That tour starts in Colombia in December. I may do a few more at the Whiskey Jar, let’s see! The Manchester gig is our last Ten Year Party in the UK and the last one in Europe is at Radion in Amsterdam on November 27th.

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What can we expect from the label in 2016?
We have some cool stuff lined up. Firstly, the remixes of the track I did with Tomson and Chez Damier which come from Outboxx, Iron Curtis and Agnès. A various from Manooz, Little Fritter and Professional Gigolo. Then an EP from JT Donaldson, which I’m excited about as the first two tracks are ridiculously good.”

Hudd Traxx Tenth Birthday with Agnes, Iron Curtis, Tomson and Eddie Leader, Saturday 14th November @ the Whiskey Jar, Manchester.

Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/847176658665389/

Interview by James Castle

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