Initially a party organisation from Belgium, De:tuned has become a record label for reanimating the sounds from electronic music’s early days, run by Ruben Boons and Bert Hermans. They have a monthly slot on WAV and they recently released the 10 years De:Tuned compilation. To celebrate it, they asked non less than Dj Food (Solid Steel Show on Ninja Tune) to make a 60 minutes mix of the compilation. This will be broadcasted on Monday 08.06 around 20h via wearevarious.com.
But first we asked Dj Food some questions. Enjoy.

WAV: Hi Kevin,Dj Food’ exists now for 25 years and is known worldwide for its projects with Coldcut & the Solid Steel shows for the Ninja Tune label. But next to that you’re also a designer. Can you tell us a bit more about some projects you worked on?

Kevin aka DJ Food: “I started out making flyers for parties I and friends put on in London in the early 90s centred around the ambient music scene and shortly before I left art college I met Matt Black from Coldcut when he DJed at one of our happenings. I then fell in with the Ninja Tune label and redesigned their logo before persuading them to let me design sleeves for them. From around 1994 I took charge of all the artwork for the label and created cover for Coldcut, The Herbaliser, DJ Vadim, Amon Tobin, Funki Porcini, their Ninja Cuts compilations, the Ntone label and loads more. I was also working with other small electronic labels here and there like Autechre’s Skam label that I designed some early sleeves for and DJ Vadim’s Jazz Fudge label.”

WAV: And you also create sleeves for the Belgian De:tuned label. How did that start?

K: “I first met Ruben from Detuned when I DJed in Belgium for one of his nights alongside Posthuman and Mark Archer, a few years later he contacted me about designing their Brainbox box set of albums and gave me a dream brief to create the artwork. He was familiar with my work and knew what he wanted. When someone gives you a direction that plays to your strengths but allows lots of room to manoeuvre then I feel you can do your best work and I really went to town on it. Luckily they loved what I did and since then I’ve designed a Terrace single, albums for Peshay and As One, the Unboxed single and the entire 10 volume DE:10 anniversary compilation which is one of my proudest and favourite creations in recent years.”

WAV: I saw there’s also a very limited run of a wooden engraved box of the De:Tuned 10 Years release. That’s a pretty limited thing, right?

K: “Yes, that was in conjunction with Martin Boulton from Touched Music, to raise money for the MacMillan Cancer Trust, there were only 15 made and most were sold online and went in less than an hour. One recently sold on ebay and raised £450! Again, I’m so proud to be involved in such a project and to see my design engraved on wood was a first and a thrill so props for De:tuned for getting involved with that.

WAV: How would you describe the De:tuned label?

K: “Musically I think they are huge fans of the 90s electronica scene and are doing everything they can to continue the spirit of classic labels like Warp and R&S including working with many of the artists who originally started out back then but are still active today. I think it took them a short time to find their feet, like any label but the quality of the music they’re putting out speaks for itself. Hopefully the DE:10 series really helped consolidate this and bring the label to the attention of a lot of people who maybe hadn’t previously heard of them.

 

WAV: To make the right selection from such a big catalogue for the 10 years mix was pretty hard, I guess?

K: “Very difficult, there is around three hours of music and I wanted to fit as much in as possible without cutting the tracks down to short edits of themselves. Some just didn’t fit because of sheer length or tempo (ie there was nothing even remotely in their speed range to mix them into) and I wanted to keep an easy flow throughout the mix as I do with most such sets. There’s a clean-ness to a lot of the music where you have to let it roll out and unfold in its own time before mixing into the next track, one of the hardest tracks to have to edit down was As One’s remix of the Jedi Knights’ Solina’ as it’s 11 minutes long originally.

WAV: How does your schedule look like for the next months?

K: “I’m so busy, I have a new digital label on Bandcamp called Infinite Illectrik which exists for turntable projects I’ve been doing with a customised turntable I built. I just remixed Four Tet from his new album using it and that was released on Friday. I’ve finished an ambient album during lockdown with a friend of mine Howlround which will be coming out later this year under the name The New Obsolescents.
I’ve got a new Mixcloud Select channel where I’m uploading weekly Solid Steel mixes from my archive for the price of a coffee each month.
I’m designing something for UNKLE, albums for The Real Tuesday Weld and working on the soundtrack to a book that’s coming out this summer – that’s quite a long story to go into but it will be quite unique. All gigs are currently on hold as we all know so I’m in full on creation mode at home, there is even more in the pipeline but I can’t say where and when that will come out but if I get even half of this finished by Xmas I will have had one of the busiest years for releases that I can remember.” 

WAV: As always the last question is about a favourite Belgian band or artists. I’m very curious to hear yours cause you have a very broad taste in styles. 

K:”Oh that’s difficult – I love the Dewaele brother’s new EMS Synthi 100 album they made. But for something classic I think I’d have to go for some 90s techno like T99 – Anasthasia.

WAV: Thank you so much.  

[Interview by Fred Nasen (WAV)|