Today, we have forward-thinking Minimal and Deep producer Cateran, a true talent hailing from Leeds.
Known not only for the deep grooves & swung Hi’s in his productions, Cateran is also co-founder of Leeds’ own Syntaxx Records, showcasing some of the UK’s finest rising talents.
Hi Stanley. First of all, I want to say a massive thanks for getting involved with our podcast series having a chat with us. Can you tell us a bit about your musical influences and where it all started for you as a DJ/Producer?
I don’t really know how I’ve got to this stage; there have been so many different times in my life where I’ve listened mainly to all sorts from Jazz, to metal, to Dub reggae. It’s actually only relatively recently, that my focus has been on the stuff you hear me make today. I suppose though if I had to pin it down, the dance music production phase came from originally making heavy techno back in 2012 when I started.
How has 2019 shaped up for you?
2019 has been a really exciting year for me, but funnily enough, it’s been in my personal life rather than my music career. My partner and I became homeowners, so obviously that has taken a massive chunk of my year out in terms of not having my stuff set up. Despite all this, and my output slowing down on paper, I really feel like the quality of my music has increased noticeably. As to releases, I have decided to use this downtime to develop my own productions and it is starting to creep through. I do semi-regularly have periods of next to no creativity (as I’m sure a lot of producers do), but if you can look at these times positively, they can really help you gain perspective and clarity.
We know that you’re based in Leeds, we’re big fans of the scene there! Can you tell us a bit about your go-to spots? Also, are you involved with any of the parties and the DJ circuit over there?
The nightlife was the deciding factor when I came here in 2013 do study music tech, but I wasn’t really into house back then; I was much more into my techno. It just goes to show the impact it has had on my musical tastes. My go-to spots, in no particular order, are Mint Warehouse, Cafe 212, Wharf Chambers, Wire, and Distrikt. Each one of these venues has its own sound, so between all of those venues, your bases are covered for most popular underground dance music styles. A special mention needs to go to Cafe 212 as we’ve hosted all of our showcases there, and the overall intimate atmosphere and focus on the music just makes it so special (the rotary mixer, sound-treated room, and vintage sound system definitely elevate the place to its cult status in Leeds, especially for house music).
Check out – Mint Warehouse
Check out – Cafe 212
Check out – Wharf Chambers
Check out – Wire
Check out – Distrikt
You’ve had some really nice releases over the years; a particular favorite for us has to be ‘Take ‘Em Up To The Empire State Building (Original Mix)’ on your ‘Arrangements EP’. Can you tell us a bit about this track and/or EP? What was the inspiration behind it?
It surprises me that Empire State got the reception that it did; the interesting thing about it was that the namesake, a really nice, tasteful sample of an aspiring actor videoing a monologue for a film audition fit perfectly (after hours of trawling youtube for ideas). He talks about winning over a single mum by taking her son to the top of the Empire State Building and letting him play King Kong. I tried really hard to get permission, but he never got back to me. The deadline for mastering submission was looming so I made the decision not to risk it and pulled the sample. There may be a VIP version somewhere that occasionally makes an appearance though with the sample in. To me though, the released version always sounds unfinished, which is why you’ll hardly ever hear me play it in sets.
Grab your copy of ‘Cateran – Arrangments EP’ – HERE
Now onto Syntaxx, we’ve been following your releases for a couple of years now. Can you tell us more about how the label started? Do you run the label on your own? What position do you take in the running of the label?
It’s really good to know that our music is being listened to over the Pennines! Syntaxx was born out of our disenchantment for the politics involved with putting nights on in such a small, competitive city. Our original brand was called Auxiliary and we used to play at a well known Leeds venue. The problem was that the people in charge at the time liked to do their mates favours so we nearly always got pushed to the side or missed out on good dates. We are all musicians primarily, and the experience made us realise that the promotion game wasn’t for us. We agreed that we didn’t want to stop everything, so we brainstormed and Syntaxx was born. Organisationally, Andy (Modec) does the legal and financial side of things as well as our artwork, Chris (Mehlor) does A&R for our Construxxions tools series, Matt Lee (Tommy Neptune) inputs into all of our ideas and also adds that spice to our remixes with his more 90s inspired modular style. I do A&R for the main label. We all contribute remixes on the majority of our releases as part of our ethos and to helo push the Syntaxx sound.
What does the future look like for Syntaxx? Does the label have any upcoming releases that you can talk about? Or are there any artists that you want to get involved with future releases?
On the whole, we don’t really have anyone specific that we’d like to get on board as we sign music based on its merits and the producers’ outlook combined, so if we like the music and they’ve told us a bit about themselves and we like that, then they’re signed. Occasionally we do reach out to people, but it is very rare. If people just send us a link without any introduction or it just has an impersonal paragraph, it doesn’t matter who they are, or how good the music is, they just won’t get listened to.
What is the ethos behind the label? What do you look for in an artist when they send you demos? Do they have to already be fairly established or are you willing to work with them if you feel they have the talent?
No, they absolutely don’t have to be established-if they’ve never had a release, but their music is good, then they have the same chances to join the family. I know this is such an individual thing from label to label and there is no correct way; I don’t mind giving someone a shot if their music is a bit rough but shows potential as I will provide feedback if they’re open to it. I think it’s really important to remember that collaboration is just as important between a label and artists as it is between artists.
We’re coming to the end of the year now. What are your plans for 2020? Are there any releases that you can tell us about? Any parties you’re going to be involved with?
The future? To be honest we run things pretty loosely; I try to never be more than 3 releases ahead as you never know whos going to send you music. It’s the worst thing being sent a really stand out demo, only to tell them that there’s a 6-month wait (lesson learned there from the early days). We have a split EP from 2 cracking producers based up here called Kitchens Inc and Arky. The EP is more in the retro techno sound that coming through at the moment. After that is Arkady Antsyrev and then we have our next Construxxions release. It’s funny you should ask about events; I think 2020 will see us potentially branch out to showcase in Manchester and possibly Liverpool; we’d love to do that, but it’s just finding the right label/brand to collab with. If you’re reading and you’d like to host us, please get in touch.
Finally, if you had to pick 1 track to cure those Monday blues. What would it be? (Electronic & Non-Electronic Music)
Hard to pick, but Younandewan – Thewisswasfordillysmissus always brings a smile to my face and has such a nice upbeat and positive sound that I can’t, not be uplifted by on a Monday.