Ramp Recordings is the brainchild of Tom Kerridge, a straight-talking, passionate label owner with an infallible ear for breaking new talent. With personal preference being the sole guide to what gets signed, Ramp’s back catalogue can boast of early James Blake, non-dubstep Zomby, and SBTRKT’s debut beats. The understated UK label (sometimes he leaves the logo off releases) is also responsible for unleashing ‘Fatherless‘ by Breach, Ben Westbeech’s alter-ego, that was a smash for Benji B at Southport Weekender 47.
After hyping his recently released BRAiNMATHs compilation, Gavin Kendrick got in touch to interview Tom, who has compiled a blistering, exclusive guest mix for us and generously offered three fantastic competition prizes of the new RAMP 50 CD plus a RAMP t-shirt. To enter, just answer the following question:
What record label did SBTRKT release his debut track on?
All correct answers should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 30th March.
Winners will be notified shortly afterwards and prizes will be posted directly to you.
Here’s a sneak preview of the awesome CD that’s up for grabs: six years of tirelessly releasing forward thinking music with abandon. A continued disdain for musical boundaries and genres. Spawning a series of eminent new labels. Introducing the world to innumerable artists. Staying 100% independent in a sea of bankrolled labels. RAMP is 50.
I believe you studied in my home city of Liverpool. How did you find that?
Amazing, I love Liverpool!
What did you think of the scene there?
Loved it, great record shops, great clubs, great people.
What clubs did you check out?
Voodoo! As often as I could afford to. Also Bugged Out when it was at Nation. Heebie Jeebies used to do some cool nights.
Do you ever go back?
Unfortunately not that often, all my mates seemed to move to Manchester soon after uni so have nobody to visit there anymore. I’d love to though – Liverpool promoters book me please!
The first track I picked up on RAMP – and still one of my favourites today – is the 2562 remix of Brother: The Point. What was your introduction to Georgia Anne Muldrow?
I heard the first issue of her ‘Worthnothings’ EP and thought she was amazing. ‘Lo Mein’ is an incredible piece of music. The album she put out on Stones Throw was originally planned to be on RAMP, but they came in as we were sorting contracts and offered her an advance I couldn’t match so I lost it. She then wrote the ‘Sagala’ album for us instead though, so all worked out.
Why did you choose to put it out on a 10″?
Dunno, 10 inches are well cool!
I’ve always played ‘Clouds’ at 33RPM – I didn’t know it that was the wrong speed. I found out that Jon K from Fat City Records did the same. Have you come across that before?!
Yep, I love playing records at the wrong speed.
You’re clearly fond of nurturing artists and encouraging albums, what place do you think the album has today?
I love albums. I think ‘the death of the album’ is spoken about too much – I still listen to albums, as do lots of people I know. I understand some people need the instant gratification of single after single, wobbly bass drop after wobbly bass drop, but personally I like to be challenged a little more than that – I’m not 12 anymore. I have more emotions in my life than just ‘AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH’.
You’re still buying vinyl – where are your go-to spots?
As I don’t live in London, I rarely manage to actually get into physical record shops. Unfortunately all the vinyl stores in Suffolk closed years ago – there used to be loads! Now it’s all discogs and the online retailers for the new stuff. Of course, I couldn’t say which online store I actually use, so I am tactfully saying they are all just as good as each other.
What are you buying?
Always buying hideous amounts of old stuff – my house is full of records and I have crates and crates in storage, but I still seem to be able to spend hundreds of pounds on discogs monthly. New stuff – I’d buy Gerry Read if I didn’t get it for free. Vakula gets a fair wedge of my pocket money. Plan B Recordings are doing some great releases at the moment.
Who surprises you?
Gerry Read, most days.
Can you list a current top ten?
Gerry Read – Legs (Kevin McPhee Remix)
Cupp Cave – Retina Waves
Boo Williams – Home Town Chicago
Actress meets Shangaan
Gerry Read – 90’s Prostitution Racket
Stay+ – Arem
Andres – EP (La Vida)
NOCHEXXX – Forthcoming LP (RAMP)
Gerry Read – Forthcoming LP (Fourth Wave)
Kevin McPhee – Who Loves you (BRAiNMATH)
What’s your current favourite cover version?
Current, past, future, all time, forever – Chaka Khan – I Feel For You.
I read recently that Osunlade was considering farming full time and Peter Adarkwah from BBE is moving to Ghana to farm. I understand your father ran a farm, do you still feel a connection to the land?
My main connection with the land is gravity. When you are in the middle of nowhere on a brisk day surrounded by fields with the sun bright in the sky it feels great of course – is this some kind of deep spiritual link to mother earth, or is it just really cool? It’s what I have around me, and what I grew up with, so it’s normal for me. If I find myself in an urban environment for more than a few weeks, I do find myself pining for a bit of fresh air and open space.
Is it something you have ever thought about?
Farming? Of course, it’s what I grew up with. Music was always my thing though, everything else just seemed to be fleeting. Music is the only thing that is just a complete and total constant. I have been growing my own vegetables the past couple of years, even considering getting myself a greenhouse this year. I might make some cider soon.
What important lessons did you learn from your father?
I have learned more from my Dad than any other person. On a RAMP level, he was a businessman, a self employed farmer, so I obviously saw what he was doing and took heed. He worked lots of hours every day, which I am finding myself doing too. My Mum says I’m just like my Dad.
You’ve said before that many independent labels are actually funded by majors. For someone who doesn’t know, why would majors do this?
It’s not just majors who fund “independent” labels. I suppose big labels do it to test the water with music they might not think is commercially viable, or to test out different types of music, to see if it’s possible to make money from it.
How does this affect the output?
I suppose it does water things down to some extent. Is that a good or bad thing? Depends what you want – more people in the world are into pop music than they are weird scratchy bleepy synthy hissy music. Pop music clearly touches more lives than me putting out a weird Zomby or Gerry Read record than only sells a few thousand copies.
How does it affect the scene?
Sometimes it can make it difficult for small labels like us to hold on to artists. They have a limitless chequebook, we don’t. I suppose it can stunt new labels growth – if Warp or XL had majors signing their acts before they had a big hit they certainly wouldn’t be the labels they are today. When artists decide to make that leap from our scene to the big wide world of pop, they are not longer a part of our scene, so they are no longer shaping it. I do think sometimes that transition happens a little too fast – sometimes i feel artists should develop a bit more in the scene before putting out their big album, but i suppose money can a big factor over artistry when confronted with a big fat cheque. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the transition from underground to pop is a terrible thing, far from it, but I’m still waiting for somebody to do it on our terms. To convey the ideas independent labels are putting across to a much bigger audience right now could potentially be very interesting, unfortunately it usually ends up being a load of whingey shite.
What advantage does being independent bring you?
We have the freedom to release whatever we like and take chances on things bigger labels would not touch. For me, that’s exciting.
What other contemporary labels do you admire?
I love Ostgut – just how they have everything under one roof and how well the machine runs is incredible. Domino and XL I admire greatly, how they have grown so much but are still so open minded – they both seem to get the balance right of huge lumbering pop acts, and cool little weird signings.
What labels have you learned most from?
RAMP. Other labels have done things I like, or may have inspired in some way, but RAMP is the only label that has actually given me real life lessons. Stones Throw were a big influence to me in starting RAMP, as was Planet E, but I can’t say they taught me anything. Maybe if I was interning for them at some point I would have.
What other interests would you like to pursue but haven’t got round to yet?
Cooking would have been cool, but that other fat bald guy with my name made sure I can’t do that. I’d love to get back into painting too.
What is your plan for the labels?
Keep on doing what I’m doing. PTN we are trying to push to a bigger audience with the Hackman album, which has worked amazingly so far. RAMP is moving slowly away from doing so many club 12’s, but still lots of tracky stuff coming on 4th.
1. Jay Haze – I Wait For You (King Britt Remix) [Contexterrior]
2. Nick Höppner – A Peck And A Pawn [Ostgut Ton]
3. DJ Jus Ed – I’m Comin (Levon Vincent Remix) [Underground Quality]
4. Red Rack’em – Chirpsin [RAMP]
5. Recloose – Soul Clap 2000 [Planet E]
6. Kai Alce – M7 [Mahogani]
7. Fudge Fingas – What Works (Vakula Remix) [Firecracker]
8. Gerry Read – Crawlspace [Delsin]
9. Moodymann – U Can Dance If U Want 2 [KDJ]
10. Iron Curtis – That Day [House Is The Cure]
11. Pop Rocks – Oh Get Down [Acid Purple]
12. Boo Williams – Evil Ways [Anotherday]
13. Fritz Wentink – Ezzo One [Triphouse]