#84 - Aka Carl
The SUB CULT label runner has steadily built a production and DJ reputation over the last decade that has seen his music played all over the globe. For EPM’s 84th podcast he drags us into the depths where the nocturnal beat morphs into sonic shards of light. Featuring the likes of Christian Smith, Wehbba, Harry Romero, Filterheadz, Jay Lumen, Mladen Tomic, Loco & Jam, Meat Katie, Steve Mulder, Simone Tavazzi and Ramon Tapia, Carl mixes depth with urgency – giving us a mix brimming with energy yet still showing a touch of restraint for added panache.
Following the path of relentless improvement Carl studied at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), graduated in sound-engineering and design at Manchester’s School of Sound and Recording Degree (SSR) and transferred his deck techniques to a younger generation of eager up and coming DJs teaching at the Technics DJ Academy Manchester.
While studying for his degree in sound engineering anddesignat the academy, the urge to create his own imprint saw him launch the SUB CULT techno platform in 2007, from which the vision of creative and fresh tracks would emerge. The emphasis was and still is in finding raw new techno talent mixed in with household names. As the genre shifted towards darker and slower tunes in recent years, the label adapted accordingly without losing the drive and its prowess for restless contemporary sound.
Fast forward almost a decade and 2016 sees Aka Carl as a well acclaimed techno performer with plenty of notches on his belt who raids the dancefloors across Europe and beyond, not only with his sets, but also his own production and other Sub Cult releases, which top the techno charts on a regular basis. These haven’t gone unnoticed, with heavyweights like Dave Clarke, Richie Hawtin, Dave the Drummer, Luciano, Ben Sims, Jeff Mills, Paul Mac, Veztax, Anti Slam & WEAPON and othersrepeatedly dropping his beats, whether that be his tracks on the domestic SC records, or other labels he secured throughout the years such as Hydraulix, Soul Access, Yin Yang, Naked Lunch to name but a few.
He is also busy with several other projects and collaborations, when he is not working as a mastering engineer for prominent artists of the scene. Teaming up with Welshman Distek back in the day brought forward ample results that spanned from organising parties, producing records and releasing frequently charted vinyl. At the moment they are teaming up as the Dual Mono project, which has already seen the light of day in several solid digital releases on Sub Cult. Another successful joint effort went across the Atlantic in the heart of Texas with the techno beast Steel Grooves. The man that excels with pounding rhythms and exquisitely polished sound was a great combination to Carl’s unique style of production and their team work is undoubtedly present in the latest Sub Cult EP: Solid State – Crystallography, which took the scene by the storm.
All these successful projects see the man behind the helm ever grooving in the scene with plenty of power left. Submerge in the underground depths and enter the Sub Cult with Aka Carl’s EPM Podcast.
Q&A with Aka Carl
1. How did you approach the mix? Did you have a good idea of what you wanted to fit in or was it freestyle?
With this mix I wanted to showcase some of the different styles I like at the moment from the lighter to the harder styled sounds with interesting production edits that I love in techno. I edited some of the tracks so they followed a structure I like to mix by. After that I split all of the tracks I picked in to 3 sections. Start, middle and end. Once they were split up with notes and Q markers I had a practice mix then recorded the set.
2. How did you first come into contact with dance music? And what were your first clubbing experiences like?
I listened to dance music from a young age, and I didn’t know what was what. I was mainly going to clubs like Gods Kitchen and Goodgreef where they then play a mix of trance, techno and techy beats. I used to love going to watch people like Carl Cox, Mauro Piccotto and Henrik B. Back then I didn’t realize I was listening to techno music but slowly over time I picked up on the differences and started following more techno orientated artists and went around the UK to hear them playing at various clubs and festivals.
3. How is the clubbing scene in Manchester these days?
The clubbing scene in Manchester is up and down I think. There are a few good nights popping up, one in particular I like is called Good Gatherings. It’s good to see these guys booking artists that might not have played Manchester before. Other than that the UK has seen a lot of promoters booking the same names over and over again while the other DJs playing are the ones that can sell the most tickets, so you get a lot of poor quality music over all in a night. It would be good if promoters did what you would think they would and that’s promote! Established artists don’t need promoting but there are a lot of good newcomers with talent that aren’t getting as much credit as they should do.
4. You have certainly paid your dues, both academically and on the floor. What did studying at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA),give you in order to become a producer?
LIPA was a stepping stone really. At first I just wanted to be a DJ but then that course showed me that so does every other person, and I realized that I would have to up my skill-set to progress. With the qualification a CPD In the music industry from LIPA I entered the SSR (School of Sound & Recording) and studied for a degree in sound engineering and design.
5. Who are the DJs that inspired you to take up the mantle?
Mauro Piccotto, Dave Clarke, Fergie, DJ Preach. I could go on forever but these are the first ones!
6. How did you first come into contact with Distek?
I first met Distek through a mutual friend who took me to his and his brothers (Zoid) recording studio. They had just set up a record label called Kick The Drum. We had met in a few parties when DJing and around the same time we put on a rave at The Stone Roses old recording studio (The Old Brewery). Distek gave me a promo of his latest 12”. They mentioned to me that they have a sound engineer for the label, which really impressed me and inspired me into becoming a sound engineer as well and to carry on playing music.
7. If you were to play an alternative DJ set, what would you play?
To be honest I wouldn’t like to play other music in a set other than techno, I suppose some of the techno is like house and some of the house is like techno so in that respect I would pick house music that sounded like techno.
8. A friend arrives from overseas and wants to see Manchester. Where would you take them for culture, food, music and fun?
Manchester City is really segregated and there are a lot of good bars and places hidden away. The best place for food and a chilled pint would be the northern quarter. It’s not a clubbing area though. For music you would have to pick a date and the nights are put on all around the city and just on the outskirts. The warehouse project is the big boy in Manchester but for me it’s a hit and miss night.
9. What release plans do you have in the near future?
Release wise I have been taking a bit of a break to pursue a new career in mental health services. I do have a few tracks that are nearly ready and we have been talking to labels but nothing is set in stone yet. I do have a release just out on Pedro Delgardo’s label Yin Yang and a release coming up on Steel Grooves label Capital Techno Recordings under our new collaboration name Solid State. We have already had our first release out on my label SUB CULT gaining support from well-respected artists like Luciano, DAVE The Drummer, Jerome Baker, Paco Osuna and Mark EG. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people think of the second EP. Other than that I have one remix I’m doing for Mitch de Klein on Distortus Music.
10. What is your current top 10?
I have recently done a Top 10 for Yin Yang label Boss Pedro Delgardo “Aka Carl is a Yin Yang artist of the highest degree. His tracks are played by the top techno DJ's on the planet. Here he presents to you his Yin Yang Top 10.” Pedro Delgardo. You can see chart and purchase the tracks here: https://www.beatport.com/chart/aka-carl-yin-yang-top-10/412212
EPM Podcast 84 – Aka Carl Tracklist
Matt Sassari - Junk Modul - Spliced Vinyl Recordings
Danniel Selfmade - Cries of Sorrow - Infamous Recordings
Jay Lumen - Flawless Fever - OFF Spin
Harry Romero - Be Free - Bambossa Recordings
Ramon Tapia - Warehouse (Wehbba Remix) - My Favourite Freaks Music
DJ Fronter - Urra! – Toolroom
Kardinal, Lowkey - Red Light – Phobiq
Christian Smith – Drive - My Favourite Freaks Music
Wehbba - Turning Point (ANNA Remix) - Knee Deep In Sound
Jay Lumen - Work It Out – Toolroom
Chus & Ceballos, Richie Santana - Low Frequencies (Wehbba Remix) - Transmit Recordings
Skober, Ant Brooks - Friday Mood - Respekt Recordings
Loco & Jam – Slave – Toolroom
Tony Dee, Giovanni Carozza - Bipolar (Steve Mulder Remix) - F2 Recordings
Filterheadz – Alpha – Bitten
Anti-Slam & W.E.A.P.O.N. – Higher - Jumpstereo Records
Matt Minimal - Injection (LowKey & Kardinal Dub Edit) – Renesanz
Mladen Tomic - Liquid Light - La Famiglia Recordings
Ramiro Lopez – Defo – Intec
D-Unity - Tell You Something (Raul Mezcolanza Remix) - Funk'n Deep Records
Anti-Slam, W.E.A.P.O.N., Anti-Slam & W.E.A.P.O.N., Criminish – Saturnalia – Tronic
Macromism - Med-X - Agile Recordings
Simone Tavazzi – Odeon - Planet Rhythm
Claudia Cazacu - Infinity (Tom Hades Remix) - Gate Null Recordings
Ph Plus - Exim (Raul Mezcolanza Remix) - Natura Viva
Meat Katie - Lucia (Tom Hades Remix) - Lowering The Tone
Steve Mulder - Chord Mode 02 (Spartaque Remix) - Orange Recordings
Gabriel D'or & Brodoy - The Hum - Remain Records
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