You’d be hard pressed to find a way of discussing the current techno scene in the UK without mentioning Manchester based Andrew Bowen & Dimitri Poumplidis, known as simply AnD. With their formative releases having appeared on labels such as Mindset & Idle Hands, the pair cemented themselves in the techno community with dub-tinged 12”s for Horizontal Ground, Krill Music, and perhaps most importantly Inner Surface Music - a label co-founded by the pair with close friend, Tom Dicicco.
Since its inception in 2011, the vinyl-only imprint has manoeuvred from strength to strength, charting the journey into harder, more aggressive techno with which AnD themselves have taken in recent years.
With the sixth offering to Inner Surface Music having been released recently, we caught up with the pair to discuss the label, their recent Modal Analysis 12” and the significance of Eastern Bloc Records.
So first off how how are things? We recently saw the release of your ‘Bow’ EP for Modal Analysis, how long had this been in the works for?
We are very good thankyou, it’s been an extremely busy year for us! We have had a release lined up with Modal Analysis since the label was forming as an idea. We originally played for them at their club night in Athens in 2011 and we were instantly made to feel at home with their family of friends. It was so nice to meet a bunch of like minded souls and we all really made a connection from the start. So it made total sense for us to get involved with the label.
Over the years your productions have changed a fair bit – the early releases have even been described with the context of Dubstep, whilst recently things have got harder and more distorted. How do you think you’ve informed each others listening tastes over the years?
Over the years we have definitely had a profound effect on each others listening tastes. We both listen to a lot of different music from one another, if we both have an ipod on us and you looked through them both, they will most likely be the bi-polar of each other. There will most likely not be one track on there that is the same. We think this works well for us though, we tend to be inspired by different sounds that end up coming back out in ideas as something completely different but still coherent.
Andro, I believe I am right in saying you used to work at Eastern Bloc Records which is how you both met Tom Dicicco. Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with the store and its significance?
Yes you are right, I worked at Eastern Bloc Records in Manchester for the last six years. Eastern Bloc means alot to me! It is an Institution in Manchester, the shop is now nearly thirty years old and still going strong. The ethos of the shop has always been quality over quantity and thats why it still exists after twenty nine years. People know that when they go to buy records in the shop they will get an honest opinion and truly great selection to choose from. It was a great time in my life to work there and I feel truly honoured, especially when you look at the history of what the shop has done, and the amazing musicians and DJs that have worked there.
What is the music writing process like for you? Do you always write together or do you work on ideas separately and bring them to one another at a later stage?
We do a lot of writing together and also by ourselves, there is no real specific process to it. Inspiration comes and goes so when your in the mood it’s best to get the idea down. We both have very clear ideas of how we like our tracks to sound, so even if we do work separately it tends to end up in a similar place.
What’s your studio setup like as well? I heard you modify bits of hardware to use in your productions. A previous interview I read mentioned an ‘abandoned air raid shelter beneath the streets of Manchester’, although I assumed this was to be taken with a pinch of salt!
Haha no we definitely don’t have a studio in an air raid shelter, but if you know of one, let us know! Our studio setup is pretty small, we have recently been getting a bit more involved in buying some new hardware and outboard gear. I think we’ve been working on the computer for while, so we are both starting to feel the itch to get more hands on. We have modified a few bits and pieces of gear but it is something we rarely get the chance to do.
You’ve recently released the second various artist EP through ISM, can you tell us a little bit about how the release came together and your future plans for the label in general?
We had been speaking with Tom about the direction the label was going, and once we got to the the forth release we felt it best to make a few changes. We felt a change of aesthetic and sound was happening with where we wanted to go as a label. So we got in contact with a bunch of new artists we all loved and asked them for some music, this is how the two various artists EPs came about.
To introduce that many artists to the label in the format that we had been working in would of taken six releases! We are really happy with how the last two releases have made a real statement of intent and it shows the direction we would like to go in the future. We have some very special releases planned for next year from some truly amazing artists, so watch this space!
You played Berghain on Friday night, how was it? I’ve read the club had quite a big affect on your sound after the first time you played there.
Berghain gig with Godflesh was amazing, there is just something truly inspiring about that space. Everyone on the lineup really went for it, it was a proper sound clash of different styles that worked very well together. After the first time that we played there, the club and sound system definitely had a big affect on how we wrote our tracks. The sound system is just out of this world, you can play tracks in there and it feels like your hearing them for the first time. It just brings out all these harmonics you have never heard before!
You DJ vinyl-only. Can you remember what the first record you each bought was and why?
Mmm, thats quite a hard one! We’ve been buying records for a long time now, two of the first real dance records that we bought were ‘Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92’ and ‘LFO - Frequencies’. These two records and a lot of the early Warp Records releases opened up our minds to something truly inspiring that we had never heard before. They were futuristic then and they are still futuristic now, true pioneers of electronic music.
Finally what can we expect to hear next from AnD? Any big plans for 2014?
Next up we have a release in January on Speedy J’s label, Electric Deluxe that we are very proud about. There is a really good selection of tracks on the EP that showcase our sound across a spectrum of tempos. We will be looking to drop AnD003, we have an EP forthcoming on an experimental label Horo and a lot more.
It would be great if you could give us a chart that sums up 2013 for you, Anywhere between 5 - 10 tracks would be excellent.
This is a hard one, way too many good releases this year! This is a very small portion of what we’ve been digging this year singles and album wise.