Not many in this industry carry as much nous as Will Saul. Esteemed DJ and respected producer but probably most heralded for his A&R duties at the head of Aus Music and Simple Records, he's remained the bleeding edge of house and techno, swiftly moving with the times and making history in the process.
Responsible for a string of releases testing the boundaries of house and techno with an infusion of sub-bass without losing sight of 4/4 refinery, Aus has charted lauded releases from SCB, Midland, George Fitzgerald and Bicep/Ejeca over the past 12 months. The label that ushered dubstep head Ramadanman and Midland into house territory in 2010 with 'Your Words Matter', it's no stranger to marking musical benchmarks; that shows no sign of stopping. Hence why we caught up with the boss himself ahead of his DJ set at Found Warehouse on Saturday...
How's it going, Will?
“I'm very well thanks.”
Tell us about your current projects. What's taking up most of your time?
“I am currently developing an audio-visual live show around my next album which has just been signed to a large independent record label - it will be announced in the next few weeks but for now I can't say anything. The live show will feature Al Tourettes on drums and me operating various bits of machinery. Which I'm finding terrifying and exiting in equal measures as I've never played live before... Hopefully we will be able to get the vocalists from the album involved where possible as well.”
Aus is only getting stronger it seems. What's coming next?
“Thank you – pleased you're enjoying the label. We have remixes of George FitzGerald's 'Child' EP scheduled for mid October with mixes from Gerd in his Geeman and NY Stomp aliases and also a mix from Gerry Read. In Nov, there will be a 12" from Cottam with a Cosmin TRG remix and then in December there will be a 12" from me and October with a remix from Michael Mayer. Next year we have EP's from Glimpse, Bicep, George FitzGerald, Midland and hopefully something from Duke Dumont.”
The label is constantly evolving, embracing new sounds. Describe the ethos of the label in your words.
“The ethos of the label is really as you've just described - to constantly evolve and embrace new sounds….I love weird and melancholic melodies that are rooted in soul and jazz and I am constantly hunting for a groove that just locks you in - something completely irresistible that has immediate impact no matter what the genre or style. I also don't mean impact in terms of the dance floor either (although this is a bonus) - I mean something that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. We are fundamentally rooted in house but we drift off into all different areas and genres of music…”
What sounds are floating your boat at the moment?
The new Duke Dumont 12" 'For Club Play Only Vol. 2' is a killer and will be everywhere by the time you read this... Also hard to avoid the 1st EP on the Bicep guys new label. 'The Marbled World EP' by Christopher Rau is superb and there's a great collab EP by Midland and Breach out soon that is very good.”
The dance music industry is the busiest it's ever been but margins are tight as ever. How difficult is it to make a decent living running an underground independent these days?
“It's not easy at all but it is possible with a good core roster of artists.”
What advice can you give to struggling label owners out there?
“Don't get stuck releasing a particular sound over and over again – you may become hyped for a short period but due to the fickle nature of human taste. We become bored of something good if we get too much of it. People will quickly move on to the next thing. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that you should just jump on the next hot thing, but I am saying develop a core set of ideals and then try to keep evolving and pushing the boundaries of what you do. I have often released records that I love that I know will lose money because I feel they are great records and are unique and need to be heard. They won't sell on Beatport but they will keep people guessing and interested in your labels output.”
With the dawn of the internet, net labels started popping up left right and centre. Has this had a positive affect on music?
“To be frank, no it hasn't. Low barriers to entry – i.e very little costs – to the digital market means that the quality is often low and the market becomes flooded with average and well below average music. This is a very short overview obviously, but I could write for pages about this… and it would be very boring for the majority of people!”
Will plays at Found Warehouse (Factory 7, Hearn St, London) alongside Boddika and Dusky on Saturday 29th September following a Street Party featuring MK...
Words: Adam Saville