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Interview: Wigflex Relaunches Record Label After Six Year Hiatus

19 March 21 words: Rory Evans
photos: Ekam Hundal

The notorious Nottingham party crew’s last release was in 2015, but now it’s back with an EP from Son of Philip, including an extra special remix. Rory Evans learns more about the long-term friendship formed through music that led to the label’s revival…

Son of Philip - photo credit: Ekam Hundal / @ekam.visual

As we pass the one-year mark since mass gatherings at clubs and festivals were allowed, it seems natural to conclude that the last 12 months will have been difficult for Lukas Wigflex, whose events have never seen much in the way of social distancing. These difficulties have only been intensified as 2020 saw the second installment of the Wigflex City Festival cancelled, rearranged and cancelled again. Despite all that, the team managed to stay productive.

On 15th February 2021 the first record on the re-launched Wigflex record label was announced. Play Monotonous sees longtime friend, Son of Philip - AKA Tom - make his first solo appearance under the Wigflex banner. However, the label re-launch can’t be called a product of lockdown. A ‘Label Launch Party w/ Shackleton’ was actually due to take place on March 28th last year. Naturally, that event was cancelled due to the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic but the extra time allowed the crew to reassess their options.

Lukas admits that before Covid-19, “We had a completely different plan. We were supposed to bring a record out about this time last year. We had loads of gigs lined up and we were going to do loads of live stuff to promote it. But when Covid happened we thought we’d take a step back.

“Tom and I had just got the keys to our new studio, so we decided to work a bit more on the music we were going to put out. We had two EPs lined up, but if we think about the stuff we have made now and the way it is going to come out, it is definitely going to be a better progression.”

It quickly became apparent that the latter has played a major role in supporting the re-launch of the Wigflex label. However, their relationship began long before operating a studio together last year. According to Lukas, it all started seven years previously when Tom first met Taylor and Morris Cowan, two of the original ‘flexers’, at a Wigflex New Year’s Eve after party at The Brickworks. Finding a common interest in music, Taylor soon sent some Son of Philip tunes to Lukas who was then quick to get him in the studio.

From here the friendship was born and Tom even appeared on a one-off Wigflex compilation album in 2015, under an old alias, Medicut. The creative relationship has been long in the making. So much so, he revealed Play Monotonous was made in his and Lukas’ first studio. “The dingy one?” Lukas laughed. “Yeah, our little synth den in North Basford. It was a mouldy little studio.” Tom admits with a smile.

Tom’s journey to headlining the Wigflex Label re-launch is very symbolic of its passion for supporting Notts based talent. This mantra defined the label the first time it operated. Running from 2009 – 2015, Wigflex released music from Notts based producers such as Hizatron, Taylor and Metaphi. However, Lukas reflects that, “it was hard back then because people were just starting to get into CDJs.

“People like Richie Hawtin, and other big prominent techno DJs were talking about the death of vinyl. It got to the stage where it was all slightly pretentious and people would look down on you if you were playing vinyl, which was absurd. So all the records didn’t really sell and that is probably why I stopped. It was just getting a bit long and it was expensive.”

Expanding on why now is the right time to start things up again, Lukas adds, “Recently I have seen things picking up again. Also, Tom and I have been making loads of music together, and he has been showing me loads of music so this has allowed me to get excited by it all again.

“I also probably have more knowledge now on how to promote a label. Although I haven’t been selling records recently, I promote parties so I am a bit more confident with the whole process, and we have got more of a reputation now. So, it felt like the time was right.”

Both Lukas and Tom are very keen to ensure that the label upholds the original philosophy of supporting local talent. “I am not looking to go out and do A&R and I am not looking to just sign people.” Lukas says.

“It will be people who make music in Nottingham, either at our studio or with friends. I want it to just be my mates putting out tunes that we enjoy.” Tom adds that, “At the end of the day, we’re all mates. We happen to be into the same kind of music and we all make this particular type of music, it isn’t like there is a particular plan behind it.”

Lukas agrees. “When it sounds right and feels right, we will put it out. I have known Tom for seven years and we have been making tunes together since then, but this was the first thing that made sense for him to put out.”

Tom reveals that Wigflex has been influencing his music since before he and Lukas became friends. “I was coming to the Wigflex parties…that has been a part of my musical influence and is why I make music the way I do. I have been influenced by seeing him DJ and hearing that Notts sound. People at school would send Hizatron [original Wigflex resident] tunes about and that was an influence on me also.”

However, Tom is now playing a key role in shaping its direction - one of the most exciting aspects of putting out this record for him. “It is a weird one because I finished the record a while ago, like three years ago. So for me, it isn’t an individual thing about being able to put this record out. It is more about being excited about the whole process and being excited that it is a label re-launch. It is just sick that the label is back up and running.”

In preparation for the launch, the first single off the EP, Rubber Stamp, was released on 15th February. A bio described how it was “Inspired by the story of how Cans drummer Jaki Liebezeit was once told to ‘play monotonous’ during the LSD-induced ramblings of a fan.” However, when delving further into the production process, Tom admits that he had little in way of a plan other than the words of Jaki Liebezeit.

“A lot of people go into stuff with an idea thinking ‘I wanna make this, I wanna make that’ but I am completely the other way. I like to make music through the process and use the process of plugging different instruments into each other to make weird sounds. Allowing things to happen naturally. I don’t go into the studio just to make a techno tune, for example. We have built up a collection of interesting instruments over the years and we just sort of plug things in and see what comes out of the other end.”

Both Lukas and Tom are delighted with how the record has been received since putting it out to the world. “It’s been mental mate, not gonna lie,” says Lukas. “Some of the names that have been getting back and bigging it up are amazing, Tom must be buzzing. “Yeah, it has been pretty nuts” Tom admits. “It’s been downloaded by people who I have been listening to for years and years and years.”

[Music video Son of Philip, Rubber Stamp. Created by Matt Woodham]

Lukas highlights that the record also had an equally huge response with the public. “It sold out on Bandcamp five days after we put it up. There are still some in shops, but overall it’s a good feeling. This is one of the main reasons we never put any records out until now, because last time we lost so much money and when records don’t sell they don’t really take on a life of their own it can be a bit disheartening.”

This record has certainly taken to life. As well as selling out on Bandcamp, it has received radio plays from the likes of BBC Radio 6’s Tom Ravenscroft, while Ben UFO called it an ‘instant classic'.

However, for both Lukas and Tom, one of the biggest successes is that Actress wanted to do a remix of Rubber Stamp. Lukas explains that is was nice, “Because for me, he is up there as our generation’s Aphex Twin. He’s that sort of mercurial wizard. So when I messaged him and sent him the track and he replied to say yes, that was so good.”

When asked if he was happy with how Actress had remixed his track, Tom said, “Yeah man, I was buzzing. He is someone I have taken to for years, he is a don. So to have him listen to my track, never mind do a remix of it, that was sick. We were a bit nervous before we listened to it first but it was sick.”

Although the Wigflex record label wasn’t a direct product of lockdown both the lads are quick to admit how it is helped. “Yeah it has been such a blessing in a way, to be honest” Lukas says. “I know everything’s a bit up in the air but personally and creatively, it has made me sit down and get on with it.” Tom agrees, “Yeah it has been the same for me, we have just been in here every day making tunes. I mean it’s what we should be doing anyway, but it has made it happen.”

So, in a year where many across Nottingham have mourned the inability to attend their favourite party, alongside the false dawn of two cancelled Wigflex City festivals, the energy in which Wigflex has relaunched its label is beautiful consolation. And maybe the one good thing to take away from the last year is that Lukas, Tom and the crew have had this time to create a body of music that is sure to blow us away when we are eventually lucky enough it hear it.

And when the brand returns on 9th October to celebrate its 15th birthday in true Wigflex fashion, we won’t just be celebrating the return of one of Notts’ most loved parties, but also the return of one of its favourite record labels.

Son of Philip, Play Monotonous is out now.

View all stocklists and keep up to date online at www.wigflex.com

@sonofphilip | @wigflex 

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