“Ortem is a platform, which will be the home of fresh tracks, overseen by Metro. The emphasis will be stationed around drum and bass and electronic music delivered in all its innovative forms” – taken from the label’s inaugural press release
“A grid usually refers to two or more infinite sets of evenly-spaced parallel lines at particular angles to each other in a plane, or the intersections of such lines”
Metro is the primary recording alias of Scott London. I have been following his production output since day one; from his collaborative work with long-time friend and recording partner Justice for Modern Urban Jazz and its subsidiary Muj for downtempo, breaks and broken beats to his regular appearances on a wide array of affiliated record labels.
His musical background consists of a broad canvas, from soul and funk to hip-hop and rare grooves and gradually developed into a taste for electronic music; techno and drum & bass in particular. Drawing from his early influences, Metro’s production repertoire is characterized by a futuristic take on the modern drum & bass blueprint. Borrowing from the immediacy of techno, integrating minimal and syncopated rhythms, creating intricate structures, manipulating obscure yet catchy loops and vocal samples, Metro’s interpretation of the “post-Autonomic” template elegantly revisits the abstract territory, retaining musicality at the same time.
A busy man, after three brilliant collaborative albums with Justice (“839”, “Oxymoron” and “Dischord”), Scott’s first solo LP entitled “Fugue State” was released on Omni Music a few months ago, showcasing his versatility and maturity as a producer. On December 2015 he announced the launch of his own imprint Ortem and the inaugural release entitled “Grid EP” was released exclusively on Bandcamp on January, 22nd and is available now on all the usual outlets. To celebrate the occasion, Scott was kind enough to share a few thoughts about his new venture and all things Ortem.
Hi Scott and thank you for taking the time.
Hi man, no problem, thanks for having me!!!
I know you must have been contemplating for quite some time to establish your own platform. Why did you eventually decide it, and how have you envisaged the purpose and ethos of your new label?
Probably only for a year, as I was busy with MJAZZ tinges and helping Tony Justice with the start up of his MUJ (like fudge) label. It was something I had toyed with, as maybe just a personal Bandcamp outlet for my own tunes, but Tony encouraged me to go for it properly. It was a fairly smooth process, because of the systems in place for MJAZZ. Having already been co-running a label for over 8 years it seemed that I should know by now what to do, so this year I thought why not, if you don’t have a go you’ll never know. The ethos I suppose is an outlet for my own work in all its forms, the 170 bpm electronic sounds which I love in various ways to work in, but also non-d&b styles: house, techno, breakbeat stuff. I want Ortem to not be pigeonholed, as often my sound gets described as hard to pigeonhole, which is great. I want it to be varied, so it appeals to music fans on all levels; like when we used to go out raving pre-d&b and djs would play tunes from different genres in their sets. It will always have however an experimental edge to it I hope!!
How did the label title “Ortem” come up? Does it have a specific meaning?
Justice came up with the name Metro, when we first started to collaborate in 2008. My surname is London, London is a metropolis, hence Metro. Ortem is Metro backwards. Tony gets the credit for that too! Ingenious, I know :), but I think it’s a great name for a label.
You have been pretty familiar with the business matters pertaining to running a label. How’s the experience of running your own label so far?
Yes MJAZZ taught me a lot (highs and lows). I was involved in everything, from running the web pages, platforms and socials, all the design. The music obviously, putting together some of the compilations we did, the “MPOD” series, which ran for 5/6 years and ended on a high this January with the my old pal PFM, all the physical products that we put so much love into etc. So yeah, moving forward onto Ortem, it’s a new platform, sharp designs, fresh and different styles. The experience so far has been great, very smooth and I really appreciate the feedback and positive comments from everyone, music supporters and peers alike. It’s a taunting thing to do.
Are you planning to expand the scope of the label with bespoke artwork and limited vinyl runs in the future, or will “Ortem” be a strictly digital outlet?
For now only digital, but for sure there will definitely be physical stuff in the future. I’m already thinking about the cassette tape format, a bit like “Spool” that we did on MJAZZ, but non-d&b stuff, the odd CD, maybe a collection of works late in the year and vinyl maybe one day… We’ll see how things go, but ultimately it has to be on the cards. The artwork and look of the label is very important to me too, being in graphics myself and having an artist wife (Bear The Artist facebook page). She has contributed to stuff for MJAZZ in the past, also Fushara’s “Lone Foundation” CD and recently the “Agents Of Disruption” project for Futurepast Zine. So along with designs from myself, I hope to include art from her and also a local photographer Shirley Hollis, which will appear on the 3rd release.
You have been very comfortable with collaborative releases along the years. Is “Ortem” an exclusive platform for your solo work at the moment, or are there plans already for joint releases as well as material from affiliated artists?
I’ve enjoyed the collaborative years, but I have always written alone too. Ortem’s first few releases will be self-penned, but #004 will hopefully be a little solo EP from the man Justice. Yes, I am planning for other fellow affiliates to join in the fun too. I want to try and put something out once a month if possible, to start either a digital single or EP.
It is stated on the press release, that the emphasis will be upon drum & bass and your latest works are mainly 85/170 bpm explorations. Do you also plan experimentations across the electronic music spectrum, on different styles and tempos?
Ah yes, most definitely. I have too much influence and love for different styles for it to be solely 85/170 bpm, although I do really like that tempo to work in and just because it is at that speed it doesn’t have to sound like d&b for me anyway. I have personally always worked in different styles and tempos, under other aliases of mine like 3Times for MJAZZ and others. I’ve recently had something non-d&b on Sector 12/12, which is FREE btw (free download here), all there are stuff you’ll be mad not to grab, Justice has a tune on there too!! But yeah, Ortem is electronic music in all its innovative forms from me and the artists that come on board, you will see this as the year progresses. I also have plans for a more guitar-based electronica project, but we’ll see what happens there. The thing is we all grew up with 80’s electro, hip hop, jazz, funk, soul, rare grooves like you mentioned, that progressed into acid house rave and d&b, so our influences are too strong to be bogged down in one pigeonholed genre anyway. I think and I know that a lot of my fellow-compatriots would agree; we just love music.
Tell us a few words about the “Grid EP”. Although the press release is quite enlightening, would you say that the “Ortem” framework is encompassing a fresh production insight?
I chose the “Grid EP” to kick things off, because I think it gives people a good heads up for what to expect. Yes, it’s all 85/170 bpm, but it’s not your regular d&b sound and it has the above-mentioned influences running through it I hope…
All the best to your new venture and your musical aspirations, I am looking forward to the next Ortem release. When is it due? Any additional information you can disclose?
Thanks again mate and thanks for the support now and over the years. Ortem notches up its second release in the shape of the “Scrap Metal Man EP”. Another self-penned work by the man at the controls, Metro. The scene is set by the EP’s title track, which is all menace and metal; stripped back to the bone beats, drones, an eerie alarm, bass and a sense of something approaching.
Also shouts, thanks and respect to:
Justice, Mike Bolton (PFM), Cuelock, Bear the Artist, Nic TVG, Dexta (Different/Pink Giraffe), Dave Sector 12/12, Neil Sherwood, Daat (Jason & Joe) and the DTND crew, Books, Futurepast, Code, Ross Allen, Mauoq, Kenny & Chris (Trainspotters Mobile Disco), Chris Inperspective, Fushara, Dank Crew (4000) and all that have supported Ortem so far.
The Grid EP Press release:
A fresh year brings fresh information. There is always a sense of optimism and looking forward. And so it is that the forward thinking starts here with Metro’s brand new imprint Ortem.Best-known for his productions via MJAZZ and Pinecone Moonshine, Metro boots up his label with his EP “Grid”. This consists of 4 tracks of uncompromising drum and bass in a “post -Autonomic” style.
“Time Lapse” starts with a Detroit-esque cascade of sound, which both draws in the listener and transfixes them before a sparse and airy landscape is revealed.“Impi” harks back to vocal tape loop snippets of the great minimalists and twists them into a half time glitchy stepper.The EP’s eponymous track is vintage house keys, crackles and electricity that morph into a “woodblock on a spaceship” driven masterpiece. The final offering is hammered home via “Mallet”. This is post-industrial loops, machine noise, clicks, rhythmic drones, washes and claps which sound like a rave in the loading bay of the space station that is the culmination of your journey courtesy of the music within.
With a heritage steeped in the early days of rave, parties and MC-ing for Jam Master Jay (1/2 of EZ Rollers), PFM and LTJ Bukem, Metro has been immersed in and has watched the growth of the drum and bass scene. His collaborative material alongside Justice has formed the backbone of the recent Modern Urban Jazz (MJAZZ) output in the shape of their “839” LP and subsequent remix LP together with their latest LP “Oxymoron”. With many more releases with MJAZZ on the “Modernists” series, he has also released with Pinecone Moonshine, Detuned Transmissions, MUJ, Hidden Hawaii, Omni Music, Syncopathic.Recordings, Absys Records, Amen Brothers, BlueBerry Musik, Rawganics, Sector 12/12, Dubkraft Records, Lone Foundation and Anchorage Sound.
Ortem is a platform which will be the home of fresh tracks, overseen by Metro. The emphasis will be stationed around drum and bass and electronic music delivered in all its innovative forms.