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DJ Toddla T: ‘Girls Music is about getting exciting music and sharing it’

Sam Moir

todd 300x225 DJ Toddla T: Girls Music is about getting exciting music and sharing itBBC Radio 1 DJ Toddla T has been making solid strides forward with his Girls Music imprint. In a short space of time, the label has released music from emerging talent such as Des Demure, Walter Ego and Roses Gabor.

Toddla, real name Tom Bell, will host the Girls Music party at the Bussy Building in Peckham tomorrow, where label talent such as the aforementioned Walter Ego and Roses Gabor will play alongside him, label mate Raf Rundell, as the 2 Bears, and Ashley Beadle who has a forthcoming release on Girls Music.

Can you tell us about Girls Music?

When I was approached to sign for Ninja Tune a couple of years ago, I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to start my own imprint. Raf Rundell, who’s from the 2 Bears, was the first person to ever put my music out because he used to work for a record label called 1965. I sent him a load of music a while ago; he was well into it and put records out. We very much worked together on music – he’d give me feedback, we’d get the artwork right and he’d come to my shows. It was very much an A&R/management role. I’ve always felt like I’ve needed him involved in every aspect of making music. I thought if this guy’s going to be around in my creative process for so long, let’s start a label together.

When I signed for Ninja Tune, I really wanted to do my own imprint with Raf, not only release my music, but a load of other music that’s been sent to us and Ninja Tune were into it. It’s essentially an imprint that runs through the Ninja Tune system – I pick the music, get it looking right and get on board who I want to promote it and then Ninja Tune facilitates it for us so it’s a great little setup we’ve got going on.

Now with being a DJ on the radio and in the clubs all the time, I get sent an amazing amount of music and occasionally I get sent stuff that is absolutely amazing, but it hasn’t got a home or anywhere to go. I was getting that more and more and thought it’d be great to not only put out my music through this thing but get people involved and help them put it out on the label.

A lot of the time it’s family and friend so the Roses Gabor single we’re about to put out – she’s a good friend of mine, it’s produced by Redlight who I share my recording studio with. They made some amazing music together and I was like ‘Why don’t we put this out?’ Sometimes it’s further afield like the David Heartbreak EP we’ve put out. He was a producer from America who I was chatting to quite a lot. I love his music and it didn’t have a home so we released it.

What do you look for in a potential release?

It’s not down to genre or specifics. It’s just down to exciting music and stuff I really buzz off – music that I would listen to and other people can get into. I can road test tracks in my sets and radio and use that as tool to see if a release would tickle over. The main thing is exciting new music and people who are not scared to try different things and very individual to the person making the music.

You’ve got the warehouse party on Friday – tell us about that and how the acts are associated with Girls Music?

We’ve done a few parties as a Girls Music crew and it’s just a good way to celebrate the label and the roster. Everyone who’s playing is either on the roster or affiliated. You’ve got me, Roses who’s putting out Stars and Night Sky – she’s going to do a PA with Martelo.

We’ve got Ashley Beadle who’s rave royalty. He’s released so much music in the past and we’re releasing his first ever solo EP called Yardism. He’s a brilliant DJ and very influenced by reggae and dance music so he’s a perfect hit for the label. We’ve got 2 Bears because Raf is one half of them, Forgemasters who are legendary Sheffield techno producers who had the first ever release on Warp Records in 1989 called  Track With No Name – they’ve made seminal music.

Robert Gordon, Winston Hazel – Winston being one of my main influences as a DJ – and Robert Gordon being one of the most respected producers and engineers in the north. They’ve made records for years and regarded very highly at the time and people haven’t forgotten that – they’ve made a comeback in recent times.

I wanted to put them on live – they bring out synths and 808s. They play techno music raw and live and it’s an amazing experience. They were doing it in 1989 so when you see them doing it, they’re doing it from the root. It sounds incredible sonically because they’re doing it out of hardware, not CDs or Serato.

We’ve got Walter Ego who’s another Sheffield producer who was sending me music that was so good and so consistent, I decided to release some of his music so we put out a track with him called Set Off which featured London MC Trim. We’re looking at doing another release with him too, but he’s also a great DJ.

He’s got a great balance between really good cutting edge underground music and a good party bump. That’s what’s happening in the Girls Music room and in the other room. They’ve got Church with Paul Woolford, XXXY and a whole bunch of people. It’s a good little mix of music – good vibes inside the party.

What are the plans for Girls Music moving into 2013?

It’s never been a massively over thought process. It’s about getting exciting music and sharing it to the world. That’s what we’re going to continue doing. We’ve got a side label called Crooked House that we put house music with and there are some really exciting projects from the Crooked Man on that.

Our music often stays underground, but sometimes it will crossover to the radio, more mainstream like the Roses track is doing but every little project is kept to what it is – some tunes are meant to stay in the club, some can go further.

What about a Girls Music compilation?

We’ll definitely compile a lot of the music we’ve been putting out – all the way from the first release which was Lady Chan and a UK garage/dancehall release all the way up to Roses’ latest track. It would already make a great compilation with all the music we’ve done in between.

My next project, the Toddla T Sound, is a project between myself, DRS, Serocee and Shola Ama, is a show I take on the road where we have a soundsystem ethos. I’m DJing – they come out and perform live. We’ve got a big visual rig and it’s a good party vibe with a live element.

I’m going to make music with just those for a while, we’re going to tour it and that’s going to go through Girls Music as well and that will be tune after tune, an EP and maybe an album one day. But I think definitely a compilation of all the Girls Music tracks we’re putting out.

Stars – Roses Gabor by GirlsMusic

Details of the party tomorrow HERE.

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