Mark: Extended Play has been releasing tracks for nearly ten years. What changes have you experienced over the years in terms of what’s coming out of Belfast and, in a practical sense, with regards to getting the music out there?
Timmy: I guess the main change is the sheer amount of local music we get sent that’s actually good to go or close to the release stage. It’s kind of what we always wanted for the label, to be a launch pad and mentoring ground for new Irish artists/music. Anyone who runs a small label knows it’s a passion project not so much of a business model and this our way of reinvesting in the local scene. We reached the point where by we only release Irish music at the 50th release and that for me was the defining moment as we did forge Extended Play’s identity as an Irish port of call.
After experimenting with multi formats including vinyl we realised digital was the main platform for us, due to lower financial risk and quicker turnaround, which you need with so many artists with lesser profiles.
Mark: I’m really into your Black Bones edits series with Aaron Black. How did this come about and what’s next for the project?
Timmy: Thanks Mark. Aaron and I have been friends for years and both collected music for decades, played out together etc, so we always toyed with the idea of doing some sort of music based project together. The whole edits idea really fitted with the bit in the middle where our tastes meet. We plan to do 3-4 x 12”s a year, DJ together as Black Bones and expand into original recordings of our own.
Mark: I’m guessing you’ve barely had a Saturday night off for a decade or two!…How do you keep both yourself and the tunes fresh?
Timmy: Haha I’ve had the odd one off for holidays, family commitments, sanity etc. But come Saturday night I’m honestly happiest when behind the controls, so this is a huge driver for me. During the week, I’m searching out new/old music to share with people but never really sure until I get to the booth what selections I’ll play. I think that unpredictability is the thing that keeps it fresh for me and hopefully those who come to see me, as neither really knows what to expect.
Mark: Belfast can we be quite a guest-led city and many weekly residencies can fluctuate in terms of numbers and vibe. The Night Institute seems to be flying - any tips? Anything you really had to have set in stone from the off?
Timmy: I think the TNI blueprint was exactly the antidote to what you’ve pointed out here Mark. Rising DJ fees and costs associated with putting guests on, means related door prices have to rise accordingly. What if you want to go out and don’t have £15 - £25 for a ticket? Where is your weekly fix? The combo of myself and Jordan seems to have combined appeal, keeping our door price low but quality control high and building trust in people to have a good time with us is something we strived for from the off.
Mark: And lastly - if you could play at any club in any era - what would you go for and why?
Timmy: A back to back with Ron Hardy at the Music Box in Chicago, that whole era where disco was moving towards house interests me a lot, as I try to move about in my own sets and not get stuck in one groove. I find tracks that are not pristine but a bit rough around the edges are generally what I’m drawn to, this era seemed to birth a lot of those great records, that I can still play. Hardy’s own productions and edits created music that’s stood the test of time and that fast style of mixing he had would keep me on my toes.
Timmy: I’ve admired Touch Sensitive as a label with true international flair, from the diversity of the releases to the presentation and formats released on. What was your drive to start the label? Which aspects are most important to you?
Mark: Thanks Timmy! Yeah, I think it’s been well documented how the label came about - through a hook-up with David Holmes I had the chance to put out his ’71 soundtrack and Cherrystones’ post-punk compilation. At that time, my drive was to present and produce those records on a par with the labels that have meant the world to me - with no compromise on quality, format etc - and that’s continued to be the case.
The most important thing to me is to produce and represent the releases as best I can and for the artist to be 100% happy. A lot of the folks I work with are already friends but, for example with regards to archival compilations, I’m really keen on building relationships that extend way beyond a licensing agreement. Hearing these lost stories as well as the sounds and hoping to pass them on to new ears.
Timmy: What are the main issues you encounter with running a label based in Northern Ireland? On the flip side we are finding people generally more interested in what’s coming out of here these days, do you see any benefits of not being another label from the likes of London for example?
Mark: There’s obviously no problems in terms of production, working with artists and trying run up some press from wherever a label is based these days and maybe not being another London label makes us seem exotic haha!
In saying that, I do often find that a trip out of Belfast reinvigorates me - meeting folks who are into the label or working on a similar tip. Belfast is cool but it’s a small place - there’s only a couple of record shops and I probably know everyone who’s into Touch Sensitive. So yeah, it’s good to get out and know that the music and records are getting out there!
Timmy: I saw you did a show on NTS recently, how did that come about? Was it a shit yourself experience or relaxed ride?
Mark: Haha! It was cool! The folks at NTS have been very supportive of the label from the start and obviously David and Cherrystones both have regular shows. I dropped them a line mentioning that I’d be in London a few times this year and would love to do a slot if they ever had an hour free. I really enjoyed the experience. I listen to NTS every day and get so much from it.
Timmy: Local music representation is clearly also important to you and TS has managed to bag some amazing music from the likes of David Holmes, Barry Lynn and Group Zero, who else is coming up on the label?
Mark: Next up is an EP by Autumns from Derry. He’s new to the label but has released music through Downwards, Clan Destine and CF. Christian (Autumns) is constantly moving forward and his sound has evolved into this beautifully brutal thing - halfway between his love for post-punk and his love for techno.
We’ll also have an EP from Documenta soon and another soundtrack from David Holmes.
Timmy: If money was no object which artist/band would be your dream signing?
Mark: That’s a tough one! I guess at the moment I’m not coveting much - just constantly hoping to hear something totally new and unknown. But if you’ll permit me a bit of freedom with the space-time continuum, then I wouldn’t have said no to Kraftwerk handing me their run of albums from 1974-1981...