By: Julia Martineau
With a number of deep house heavyweights on its roster, including Claptone and Doctor Dru, Exploited Records has had much success over the past several years. Wavo caught up with Exploited label boss Shir Khan and Italian producer Mennie to discuss musical preferences, upcoming projects, and the inception of the brand’s new sub-label, Exploited Ghetto.
Wavo: Mennie – you’ve kept up a residency at Club 999. How do you prepare for a five hour set?
Mennie: Talking about Club 999 for me is always emotional. I have so many unbelievable experiences connected to it. The most beautiful thing is that during every night you can taste the real “Club” essence. For me, it is like a box containing the most beautiful elements that make you love this job – a huge sound system, never ending lights, being in the middle of a crowd, etc. All of these aspects help me during a long set. The idea behind the five hour set is to give the artist the chance to build an entire trip from beginning to end. It’s like a journey. Most of the time, I don’t like playing the last record!
Wavo: How did you get into deep house?
Mennie: It’s where I started from. I feel that it opened me to lots of ideas and creativity. I’ve always been attracted by soft melodies and complex basslines, and finally, I love using vocals, either from sampling or originals. I think vocals often give the magic touch!
Shir Khan: I have never liked the term “deep house”, but I am aware that Exploited is considered a deep house label, and we even register our own releases under that genre. I used to be into skateboarding, and played guitar in several punk and hardcore bands. As soon as I became a DJ, I got into hip-hop. My bandmates didn’t like that and kicked me out. From hip-hop, my interest in electronic music came to rise. I looked up samples, and then became open to tons of new styles.
Wavo: What’s the concept behind Exploited Ghetto?
Shir Khan: I wanted to keep Exploited for the key artists who release frequently, like Adana Twins, Mickey, Joyce Muniz, and so on. The sound of the label itself has become a bit more pop, which I don’t think is completely negative, but I needed something more edgy. Just simple, bouncy tunes I would enjoy playing out in a club. I was receiving so much good music and so many demos, but most of the time, I had to refuse them – I didn’t want to put another artist on the mother label. That was why I decided to launch Exploited Ghetto. For now, it will be a straight dancefloor label and we’ll see how it develops. So far, I’ve signed four records to the label, and they’re all very exciting. It’s a label for my extended network. Most of the artists who release on Exploited were actually friends before or people I knew through friends…we had a very personal thing going on there.
Wavo: Who are some of your favourite electronic artists right now?
Mennie: It’s always hard to choose – I’d name so many! Right now, I would say Max Graef, Detroit Swindle, and Mickey. These three consistently have interesting aspects and details to their production. Nothing is left to chance.
Shir Khan: My favourite electronic acts are the same ones I liked years ago – Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Daft Punk, Afrika Bambaata…I prefer timeless artists who have achieved something groundbreaking and new. There are a lot of great producers out there, but I’d say those names are the main influences of mine on the electronic side.
Wavo: What inspires you most during production?
Mennie: I really love sampling, so I spend a lot of time listening to different stuff coming from different artists. This really helps inspire me when I sit in front of the machines in the studio. Listening to a variety of different music is my favourite way to get inspired – sometimes you find something you wouldn’t expect coming from a chopped sample or a strange melody, for example.
Shir Khan: I haven’t really been into production for awhile. I just don’t have the time for it anymore. However, you can say that I co-produced at least 50% of the records I’ve been putting out from my artists. What most people don’t see is the fact that I receive demos from my artists and they sound totally different in the beginning. Most of the time, I get involved in the production process and tell them what to take out, how to better arrange things, how to mix better, etc. That’s one of the most time consuming things, and 50% of it is my job. I also think that’s part of the success of Exploited – there is always quality control.
Wavo: Which artists have you most enjoyed working with?
Mennie: I’ve really enjoyed working with Swedish producer Bambook – it’s so easy. Additionally, our first release, “Slip Away”, was in collaboration with Cari Golden, and her voice took it to another level.
Shir Khan: That’s a difficult question. I’ve enjoyed working with everyone I’ve worked with so far. People are different, and sometimes it’s not easy – sometimes ideas clash. Even I can become quite a diva when it comes to making the final decisions. But in the end, most of the the time, we’re happy.
Wavo: Do you have any upcoming projects or tour plans that you’d like to share?
Mennie: 2015 is starting off well with the Exploited Ghetto release. I have another couple of collabs with Bambook on the way, then, I’m working on some upcoming tracks. Regarding gigs in the next month, I will be playing in Italy, Spain, and the UK.
Shir Khan: We’ve been doing lots of Exploited Events all over Europe and we will continue to do so. You can catch the whole Exploited crew back at it again at Sonar Barcelona this year, as well as ADE Amsterdam. We hope to do a US tour at some point, but haven’t really planned it yet.
Check out Mennie’s brand new release, “Phoenix”, on Wavo below.