Slam DJs Orde Meikle and Stuart Macmillan are currently working on their latest studio album, but return to play Inverness Ironworks on Saturday. Their Soma Records label celebrated its 20th anniversary back in 2011 and one of their early artistes was Daft Punk, with Da Funk first released on Soma and a "lost" track, Drive, included on the 20th anniversary album last year. Since the beginning 25 years ago, the Slam duo have been branching out, but always pursuing live DJing, running the label, club nights and producing their own work, as well as championing new talent. This last year, they have developed Slam Radio showcasing their techno and club DJ mixes and the mixes of others too. Slam TV is now the latest way of seeing new artists in action. Below, they answer some questions about the past year, where they are now and how that new album is going ...
1 As the rise and rise of Daft Punk took over the summer – and the year (the album tops so many best ofs)! – what have been your own thoughts? For anyone who doesn’t know, Soma nurtured and started the duo’s career with Da Funk and the rediscovered track Drive which was on the 20th anniversary compilation. Have you had a chance to talk to them this year at all?
We exchanged emails with Thomas wishing them well with the new album. We don’t really keep in touch that well, but we have admiration and pride in what they have achieved. They are a total one-off!
2 The Slam Tent 2013 had a new look inspired by the Gangnam festival in the Far East, how did that translate for Scotland in July?
It was not especially inspired by any particular other event, but designed by our lighting designer, Scott McDonald who has worked on every Slam Tent since it began in 1997. We managed to negotiate him a bigger budget and we got the best quality LED screens possible – lightweight and easier to hang and the idea of having the DJs with a screen below the turntables and behind them came from a club we had played in in Asia actually. It means we can’t put live bands on in the tent, but we feel there is no going back now! Spectacular.
3 What were the highspots of this year’s Slam Tent party for you – and are there any hints to be dropped of next year’s yet!?
It’s too soon to predict or hint at next year’s line-up, although we are already working on it of course. This year we had many highlights – the Saturday flowed incredibly well with Sneak Carter & Farina, Maya Jane Coles, Claude Von Stroke and Laurent Garnier all building things up nicely before we played and Hawtin finishing. All three days went amazingly well for everyone.
4 Talking of hints, just wondering what you can say about the studio album you’ve been hard at work on this year. Do the tracks on EP Astrolabe (out last month) and three-track single Movement in August (though that was on Drumcode so maybe not) point the way to what people should expect from the new album? What have been the joys and frustrations so far?
We are trying to make an album that can be played from start to finish in many different environments – a home lister, rather than a collection of club tracks. It’s very experimental and driving us crazy too as it’s still not quite finished!
5 In an interview earlier this year, you were talking about innovations on the horizon – some of those are already reality. Your own album is underway and there have been three episodes of Slam TV, live streaming that started with Perth duo Clouds. Has that been a hands-on thing for you and is the monthly episode set to become something more frequent (of course you have Slam Radio too)? The other idea you had had was making a compilation tour of Soma’s new artists - how is that going?
We have currently shelved the compilation to focus on our artist album and while we have been so engrossed in the album the rest of the Soma team have been organising things like Soma TV and helping with Slam Radio. Everyone is working incredibly hard and we can see the results. That’s in amongst a very busy release schedule too. Clouds have done very well this year. One to watch.
6 You are both music creators and DJs and also run nights, events, the Slam tent, the label and have the Soma Skool - the electronic music production course. With your antennae unavoidably alerted in all these different roles, what have been the changes/rising names/ new sounds/ genre-mutations that have caught your eyes and ears this year (when not in the studio etc!)?
Technology is continuing to move forward at a fast pace and it’s the people who use it creatively that will stand out from the pack. That’s what is sometimes lacking in new producers – the point of difference. Right now techno has made a massive resurgence globally.
7 What would be your tipped tracks/ artistes/DJs we could direct people to on YouTube etc for hot for 2014 so they could go and have a listen (as well as Slam Radio/TV etc)!
Our new album, of course! And from Soma, Petrichor (see Soma TV clip below) & Roberto Clementi and on other labels, people like Harvard Bass, B-Bass, &Me, Mathew Jonson & Literon.
Slam play the Ironworks, Inverness, on Saturday, December 28, supported by Heidi Hives and M-Stell.