Greenmoney: How one remix led to a fruitful musical partnership
Sometimes the best things happen almost by accident, which is the case with Greenmoney – a record label and production partnership helmed by Leo Greenslade (who co-runs the Yo Yo night at the Notting Hill Arts Club) and former Bugz in the Attic producer Alex Phountzi. The duo got together to remix Love Lockdown by Kanye West back in 2009 and haven’t looked back since. Knocking out a bass-heavy form of house music on a consistently high level as well as putting out releases from similarly talented artists, Leo and Alex put plenty of soul into their music, making sure it’s not just run-of-the-mill ‘UK Bass’ the name given to one of the more prevalent sounds of the past year (which some of Greenmoney’s music could be labeled as). I had a quick chat with the pair and they kindly put together an exclusive mix for me which you download below.
How did the Greenmoney set up come about?
AP: We had been talking about getting in the studio for some time but never got round to it. I hadn’t been making much music and had recently left Bugz In The Attic, Leo said he had some stems for Kanye West’s Love Lockdown so we did did a quick remix and everything followed on from there.
LG: We started off working together on remixes for artists like Kanye, Kid Cudi and Busy Signal which over time progressed to working on our own material and developing a relationship with Fools Gold in New York and more recently setting up our own imprint Greenmoney Recordings. It’s been a logical progression.
What’s your history and what was the reason behind the new name?
AP: I started out as one of the founding members of Bugz In The Attic.
LG: I have co-run the Yo Yo club night with Seb Chew for almost 10 years now and have a more DJ-based background. Greenmoney started as a nickname but our production together kicked off at a time when the banking crisis was at it’s peak and the name just worked.
Can you describe the ’style’ of music that you play and release? What differentiates it from anything else that’s on the market?
AP: I would say that it’s a take on house music but obviously taking in other influences such as jungle, bashment, broken beats etc… the stuff we’ve been releasing has all been stuff that we can fit into our sets but that may change over time, if you do the same thing over and over you can get bored…
LG: It’s dance music the way we see it. We both love house music in all it’s different forms and get together and create a vibe in the studio.
Is there a particular ethos behind Greenmoney and what does the name mean?
AP: Our sound is for the floor and we want to reach out to people in a way that stays true to our musical ideas but also makes sure we don’t go up our own arses with overly serious music, so it’s a case of striking a balance. The name came about because we did that remix mentioned above and people wanted to play it on radio. Leo had a nickname where people called him Greenmoney and at the time we started (very end of 2008/beginning of 2009), the shit was hitting the fan with all the banks, Leo called me up asking what should we call it and I suggested Greenmoney…
What were you ambitions/goals with the whole thing when you first started it? How’s it all going so far? Are you where you want to be with it all?
AP: When we started it was just a case of going into the studio and seeing if anything clicked, then once you get your teeth into something you really want to develop it. We’ve put out three EPs and one single in the last 18 months as well as being commissioned for 30 plus remixes since the start of 2009 so we’re pretty happy with the level of output. As producers the aim remains to come up with at least one classic track that gets played for years to come.
LG: I think we have progressed naturally and now have a foundation of releases we can build on for the future. Making music takes time, building the brand takes time and not everything is always going to click. The last year or so has seen a positive step in the right direction and we hope things continue. It’s great that we can now play a one and a half hour set of our own material on the road.
How many releases have you put out this year? And how do you go about picking up the artists/music that you sign/release? Any particular favourites?
AP: As Greenmoney we’ve released two EPs and one single this in 2011 plus around ten remixes for other artists. The artists we’ve released music from (Mista Men, Hardhouse Banton and Major Notes) are all people that we’re fans of. Mista Men sent us their music and we picked it up, Banton was introduced to us by Funk Butcher from Rinse FM and I knew Major Notes already as he was in the same studio complex I used to be in. The single release we did with Roses Gabor is a favourite as its always a pleasure to release songs and we had a killer remix package with Funkystepz, French Fries & Cubic Zirconia all stepping up.
LG: It’s been a busy year for sure with the birth of the new label, the Greenmoney Dubs series and our single with Roses Gabor not forgetting the remixes too. We keep our eyes and ears open and look to develop releases with producers we are feeling.
Which of your releases would you say you really defines what Greenmoney is all about?
AP: A few of them, personal favourites include the remixes we did for Cubic Zirconia, Tawiah ,CockNBullKid and Mz Bratt. From our own productions the Dubs series are club tracks which we may develop into vocal tracks later down the line, the aim is to make raw underground tracks and try and get a killer song on top. Creating good songs is always the biggest challenge.
LG: Personally what we’re trying to achieve with the Greenmoney Dubs series reflects the rawness of what we are about, getting in the studio and creating a vibe for the clubs. I think the single we released with Roses also showed we have the ability to step up and make a vocal track and the Skydiving collaboration from 2010 which has has 400, 000 odd YouTube plays, with young rapper Twizzle, showed what is possible if we hit the nail on the head.
There’s seems to be a massive ‘bass music’ scene at the moment, to what would you credit the popularity of this music and how do you feel about the ‘bass music’ label? (In my opinion it’s pretty cool because it gives way to different genres being mixed up and played side by side rather than dividing everything).
AP: What’s in a name? I’m of the opinion that talking about and analysing music can take the fun out of it. You’re right when you say it means that different genres get played side by side but great DJs have been doing that for years. Having said all of that I think the last few years of UK club music have been pretty exciting, things can get stale when it becomes too generic.
LG: No comment.
The UK in general seems to be constantly creating talented new music makers and new types of electronic music – why do you think this is?
AP: It’s hard to put your finger on. London is obviously at the centre, but you could say that it’s due to creatives from all over the UK and the world moving here, but then you also have Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and so on, consistently coming up with new stuff so it’s hard to say. There’s a certain culture in London and the UK that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
LG: I think there is a freedom in the UK for creatives to go in any direction they want to, and not forgetting that genuine passion for the rave.
Which artists have really made an impression on you in 2011? And who are your tips for 2012?
LG: Names I have been impressed with include Jamie XX, Roska, Africa Hi Tech, Lil Silva, SBTRKT and Sampha, Breach aka Ben Westbeech and Redlight. I think all those producers will step up again for 2012….
AP: Some of the names Leo mentions plus of course the Greenmoney label signings – Hardhouse Banton, Major Notes and Mista Men
What have you been listening to over the past few days, any new music (regardless of genre) really floating your boat?
LG: Drake album, J.Cole, Mac Miller, T.Williams, Joe Goddard….
AP: I’ve been listening to the recent Drake album loads over the past couple of weeks, also been checking a bit of Banda Black Rio to take my my mind of the British winter. I think SBTRKT did really well this year with his album and live show, it’s not easy to make dance music albums and take it live so credit where it’s due.
Where do you hope to be in say five years time with the whole Greenmoney thing?
LG: Sitting on a nice big wedge of Greenmoney! Would be great to have developed our own studio space and achieved some proper recognition through an album project and have started to produce for other artists further down the line. We also have goals with the label and taking things up a notch.
AP: We’re going to run with this for a while, develop our sound get a body of work together and push our label. Hopefully we’ll come and speak to you in five years with a few classics under our belt.
What’s the plan for 2012? Any resolutions??
AP: More music! Push the label and our music, January will be a studio lockdown
LG: In the words of the late great Roy Castle, “Dedication’s what you need”.Alex Phountzi, Bugz in the Attic, Greenmoney, kanye west, Leo Greenslade
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