IN CONVERSATION: 

Phuture Shock Musik 

 

In our latest interview, we chat to label head Josiah Hartley about the past, present and future of his amazing Phuture Shock Musik imprint, along with chatting about what elements helped him get things started and all things Bristol. 

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The audial narrative of labels is something we are really interested in here at Endless Grooves - the movement from one release to the next, the flow of genres and styles, and the understanding of how each release and producer contributes to the identity of the label. In this sense, there are few labels who can match the diversity, passion and forward thinkingness of Bristol imprint Phuture Shock, which has been helmed by Josiah Hartley since its inception back in 2010. 12 years running an imprint is a superb accomplishment, but what Phuture Shock has achieved under Josiah's careful eye and fantastic approach makes it feel like it has been around for many lifetimes. The depth and scope of the labels identity is unparalleled, with roots seemingly everywhere you look and a overall style that champions quality thought processes and heartfelt, passionate productions. Technically and sonically superb, there's so much to say about the imprint that hasn't already been said by us here on EG, and if you take a dip through any of their previous releases you get a real sense of where the label has been and the places it is going to take us. Audial narratives come in many shapes and forms, but Phuture Shock certainly has something special about it, and its nice to know that when a new release comes around, you will be wowed no matter what. 

Having done some review work for the label, we thought it was about time to put some questions to Josiah about the label, its process and its journey to date. What we got in response is truly illuminating, and we now feel like we know everything we need to know about Phuture Shock - and then some. In the interview, Josiah talks about his early musical experiences, growing up in Bristol and being very much involved within its legendary music scene, to being inspired to run a label by the UK Funky scene and its predominantly Black run labels and wanting to have that reflected within Bristol, and of course Phuture Shock's outputs and all that it seeks to do. For us its the most engaging interview we have ever done, and we cannot thank Josiah enough for his truly excellent answers - and on that note, lets dive into this, and learn all there is to know about Phuture Shock and its story.....

 

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First of all, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! To kick things off, maybe tell us a little bit about your formative years, and the kind of music that was swirling around during this time….  

I’d say the key formative years for me with music were around the mid-90s going into the early-00s. To keep it roughly chronological for you, the first kind of music I heavily got into was hip hop - I guess as a by-product of my older siblings playing it whilst growing up. The mid-90s was an amazing period in hip hop; there was so much variety and just about everyone had their own original style. Around that time I was listening to the likes of - Biggie, Nas, Wu Tang Clan, and countless others. I remember I used to wake up every Saturday morning to religiously watch and tape record the rap programme Yo! MTV Raps. MTV was a big deal back then in my childhood, as it was for most kids raised in the 90s. You had the music to enjoy, plus the actual videos were often a big part of the fun and entertainment too. This of course was the days of no internet – so you didn’t have the big distractions of social media. Neither was there YouTube, music streaming services, digital downloads and what have you, unlike today where you can access everything and anything at the click of button. To a modern kid of today, that might sound like their idea of living hell, but back in that era you really didn’t know any different, and obviously you had no foresight of all the technological advances that lay ahead. If music was your thing, you were just thankful to have a TV channel dedicated to music videos all day long.  

Outside of hip hop, I was also taking in a lot of pop music of the time, as you do. In our household growing up, my Mum would normally have on say BBC Radio 1 in the kitchen when cooking or working around the house. Radio was pivotal in my musical upbringing. If it wasn’t through MTV or the weekly TV show ‘Top of the Pops’, then radio is where I found myself in tune with all the latest pop music in the UK singles chart. For a good few years, every Sunday before dinner I would look forward to hearing the weekly chart count down where you’d get to find out the new # 1 of the week. There was all sorts on the airwaves in the 90s – ranging from The Prodigy and Oasis to Jamiroqui and Aaliyah, and tons more.  

On top of that, being born here to Jamaican parents and all the culture that comes with that, I had the benefit of hearing a lot of reggae at home throughout my childhood. My Mum always enjoyed the rocksteady and lovers rock sides of reggae and generally a wide range of soul music. Whereas my Dad (RIP) was most heavily into his reggae as a whole – everything from Dennis Brown and The Mighty Diamonds to the various albums produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, was amongst his vast record collection. I was blessed in the sense that as a youth my ears were schooled to the many classic riddims of reggae, as well as being put onto soundsystem culture and the high regard for vinyl and dubplate culture. It’s probably fair to say that my early exposure to reggae laid the foundations for my later interest in UK dance music - given all its heavy bass influence. 

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The Mighty Diamonds 

In terms of first getting into dance music, the key moment for me I’d say came along with jungle. My introduction to jungle came around 1994/1995, specifically through hearing tunes like 'Incredible’ by M Beat & General Levy and 'Original Nuttah' by Shy FX & UK Apache, on the radio and MTV. They were like the first jungle tracks to hit the UK top 40 charts in a big way, and was therefore an eventful moment for jungle reaching the masses. I was only a kid in school when those tracks came out, but even so I still remember my excitement of being opened up to a whole new world of modern British music. I still loved my American hip hop, but jungle felt closer to home and had a familiar sound I could identify with. Sort of like our British version of rap-meets-ragga, but with faster breakbeats and more energetic. It was a great to witness and take in that big moment of music history as it all happened. That’s probably where my journey with and love for dance music started and it just grew from there. 

 

Shortly after that jungle evolved into ‘Drum’n’ Bass’, sounding more musically advanced. Back then for me D&B sounded like the future, something from another planet; it blew my mind. Then as times progressed into the late 90s, I really got into UK garage as well. This was around ’97 when the ‘Speed garage’ tag was being thrown around, and certain tunes were hitting the mainstream charts. Think Double 99’s ‘Ripgroove’ thru to TJR’s ‘Just Gets Better’ (ft. Xavier). My taste for house also began to grow around the same time. House music, I was always familiar with as it was all over the charts in the 90s, but eventually I got deeper into the more underground stuff like Masters at Work, Kerri Chandler, and so on. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact order of when or what I got into next as I was absorbing and enjoying bits of everything from all over the place. Things just snowballed from thereon into the millennium with styles like broken beat coming from Bugz in the Attic, 4hero, and the like, right thru to grime and lots more. 

Being born and raised in Bristol, were there any aspects of the city that influenced you? 

Without a doubt - I mean it’s fairly well known that heavy bass and Jamaican soundsystem culture is a dominant trait of a lot of music born in Bristol historically; so that partly shaped my early tastes for bass-heavy dance music.  My upbringing with a lot of reggae music and Jamaican heritage naturally played a big part in that influence too.  Bristol has a prominent Caribbean community, particularly Jamaicans, with many having settled in the St Pauls area of the city dating back to the Windrush era. Tied to that, there’s a long running Afro-Caribbean carnival - St Paul’s Carnival, that takes place (almost yearly) in said area, and which I grew up going to from a very young age. Those visits especially during the 90s had a lasting impact as it’s where I first experienced a lot of different bass-heavy sounds from dub to jungle/D&B, played loudly from a soundsystem and set in an outdoor space, as a party atmosphere. As a kid, you never forget that first time feeling when the bass blasting out of a towering speaker hits you hard in the chest, and yet you feel no pain. All while everyone around you is unified by the music and having a good time. It’s a physical and sonic experience like nothing else. I didn’t realize at the time, but those memorable days of my youth going to carnival, was all good preparation for my raving days that came later on in adulthood. 

Another aspect of Bristol that has perhaps rubbed off on me to an extent is its rebellious and independent spirit, which is in the nature of many of its regular local people thru to several of the city’s best-known creative minds be it Massive Attack or Portishead to Roni Size or DJ Krust, all the way to Banksy. That whole maverick attitude of: ‘We're gonna do things our way’. Basically taking a more leftfield approach, not conforming or following the crowd, you know, just doing things a little differently. It’s obviously one of the reasons why Bristol has built such a strong reputation based on that independent rebel mentality when it comes to music and visual art, which kind of goes hand in hand here. I would say that mindset resonates with me and definitely comes out in the ethos of Phuture Shock. 

What I also admire about Bristol and what has to a degree influenced my own varied taste in music, is how a lot of Bristol artists tend to embrace eclecticism. People are generally open-minded, up for collaborating and willing to experiment with different styles of music. Just take for instance the very Bristolian trait of fusing different genres together to create something fresh and groundbreaking. Probably the most obvious example of that coming through the likes of Smith & Mighty, Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead; mixing up a moody blend of hip hop, soul, dub and blues to create ‘the Bristol Sound’, ‘trip hop’ or whatever you want to call it.  But then again you only have to look back at the post-punk era of the 70s-80s with bands like Mark Stewart and The Pop Group, Rip Rig + Panic and Maximum Joy, to see that this melting pot approach has long been embedded the city’s musical DNA.  

The music scene in Bristol has one of the richest pedigrees in the UK. Were there any particular parts of it that you were immediately drawn towards?  

It was all about jungle for me. As I touched on before jungle was my main entry point into underground dance music via hearing said jungle tunes blow up in the UK charts. I was hooked on the sound from then on. The Bristol jungle scene was still pretty underground and developing in ’95, so from what I remember there weren’t any music videos by local producers on MTV or any major airplay on mainstream radio. You had to dig a little deeper to hear it. And without the internet around in those days it was like a wild treasure hunt to access it compared to this day and age. I occasionally got my fix of it on local pirate stations and remember Roni Size’s ‘It’s a Jazz Thing’ being one of the first Bristol D&B tracks that really stood out to me as something in a class of its own. And this was before I was even fully aware Bristol had its own little jungle/D&B scene. 

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'New Forms' by Roni Size & Reprazent 

That whole period was still school days for me, meaning I was too young to fully appreciate or experience the local scene, like being out there in all the clubs and raves happening around the city. Not legally anyway. Fortunately, the closest thing I got to that was hearing DJs on soundsystem floats playing jungle/D&B during my annual visits to the St. Pauls Festival. But I do clearly remember when the album ‘New Forms’ by Roni Size & Reprazent came out in ‘97. There was such a huge buzz in Bristol - from constantly seeing the ‘Brown Paper Bag’ video on MTV, hearing the singles on the mainstream radio or people driving around their cars blaring out the tunes, and also what seemed like everyone manically humming that monster of a double bassline of ‘Brown Paper Bag’. It was mayhem. Then they won the Mercury Prize, which was a proud, game-changing moment for Bristol’s music scene. What more can you say about that album? Total next level. By then, I properly knew Bristol was as much as a D&B hotspot as London. 

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The dancefloor at Lakota 

Were there any club nights or labels or individuals that particularly stuck out for you as inspirations when you started to get into dance music?  

Many of my earliest and most cherished clubbing experiences began at the legendary Lakota - which is Bristol’s longest running underground dance music night club. Lakota had a massive impact on me early on in terms of club culture and dance music right across the board. If we’re talking iconic UK night clubs, for me Lakota is up there with The Hacienda - it’s pretty much the Bristol equivalent if there ever was any, especially during its prime.  

Around the early/mid-00s, in my early raving days, there were countless D&B nights - that was the main club sound dominating the local dance scene back then, though smaller pockets of scenes co-existed as well. Full Cycle were smashing it with everything they were doing from their club events to their label output, which was inspiring to see the Bristol scene at the top of its game. Another standout around that era was the weekly club night ‘Drive By’ at places like Level and Thekla - both great venues, although Level is no longer around. 

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Deli G in the mix 

Someone worthy of mention on the more house side of things I would say is Deli G – a real veteran in the Bristol music scene. He’s done a huge amount for the house scene across the South West as a radio and club DJ, a long time before house became popular in Bristol among a new generation in the 2010s. I’ve definitely learned a fair thing or two about decent house music through catching his DJ sets and radio shows such as ‘The Touch’ on Galaxy/Vibe 101 over the years. One of his club night’s (co-hosted with Ben Daley) from around the mid-00s called ‘Roasted’, that first took place at Bar Latino and The Tube (both venues since renamed), was a standout local event for me in those earlier days. In more recent years ‘Good Vibrations’, the label and event run by Sean McCabe and co-hosted with Deli G is a local party that’s always on point. 

Beyond Bristol, some of the dance labels I really admired and stood out early on in my teenage years were Metalheadz and Good Looking records, particularly as I got deeper into D&B and started buying CD’s and actively listening to specialist radio shows. Later inspiration came from the broken beat scene in West London, with 2000black and Bitasweet being a couple of labels that stood out in big way. I’d also count; WARP, Mo’ Wax and Talkin’ Loud as some other early inspirations. For me, I always felt these labels ticked the right boxes not only for consistency and variety, but equally the strong visual identity across their record sleeve artwork that would always catch your eye. When you’re just a youngster coming of age, the idea of starting up a record label one day is merely a pipedream, or something not fully formed in your mind yet. But I’d say, at least on a subconscious level, all the above labels planted some early seeds of inspiration.  

Before Phuture Shock was founded, did you work at all in the industry? Perhaps as a DJ, promoter, in a record shop or something similar?  

 

Not as such, other than the odd DJ set here and there. I never really put myself out there like that as a ‘DJ’ to be honest. I think I’ve always preferred being on the other side as a raver than taking up the DJ path more seriously.  I also never went through the classic rite of passage of working in record shop, which kind of surprises me as I’ve spent enough time in them digging over the years. Never say never though. On top of that, I’ve also played in a number of bands, doing a few local gigs, and a spot of music journalism, but that’s about it really. 

What were the inspirations for founding Phuture Shock? Were there any labels that you saw as a good model to follow?  

Inspiration has come from a bit of everything from the past; including 90s dance music to the broken beat movement of the early 00s. Though I would say it was largely down to what I saw going on in the UK funky scene in London around 2007/2008, that gave me a push at the right time to work towards getting PSM off the ground. At this point I was already well into bruk and house of the deep, afro and soulful variety, so the funky sound caught my ears straight off the bat. It was a new, exciting strain of house music fresh out of the UK underground; it had a feel-good vibe and energy a lot like UK garage, and a sound that looked like it was going places, maybe like garage had done so in the past.  

What I really found inspiring about the UK funky scene though was the fiercely independent, DIY spirit within the scene, similar to what you saw when grime started out in early 00s. It was like every other producer from Fingaprint (Invasion records) to Roska (Roska Kicks & Snares) had their own labels, and were just pressing up their own records, then going round to the record shops themselves - essentially skipping out distribution - and selling their releases to the shops directly. You couldn’t help but respect the hustle and drive in a lot of those artist/label owners finding their own way like that. Also of note is the funky scene was mainly made up of a young, black demographic; many from my generation - that like myself probably grew up with jungle, house and UKG. As a young black person, it was encouraging to see a lot of people that look like me running dance music labels at that time. It gave me that extra bit of self-belief that maybe I could do it too. It was literally that thing of: 'If you can see it you can be it'. Back then in Bristol, you didn’t really see that level of black representation among the many labels in the local dance music scene. Not even a third of it.  

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Fingaprint's Invasion imprint 

Given the multicultural place Bristol is or at least purported to be, and dance music’s strong black roots, I felt like it didn’t seem properly reflective of the city. So coming from a black owned/run label stance, I also thought, ‘Well, if I can do my bit to make a difference (albeit minor) in that imbalance, then surely that can only be a positive thing for the future? 

In response to the second part of your question, if I were to cite an aspect that comes to mind, then that would be the global outlook and musical diversity of labels like Mo’ Wax and Talkin’ Loud. By no means were they the first or only ones to scout for and sign international acts; I mean it’s very common practice with lots of small labels nowadays, but as far as electronic labels go I feel like they set a pretty good standard for this approach in the 90s. That’s no doubt stuck with me since my formative years as a fan of those labels and to a degree influenced our own A&R approach to seek out diverse talent and sounds from the UK to the world over. Not that I’m comparing PSM to neither of them in any way at all. For the most part though, I think we just try to do what organically feels right to us. There’s definitely a lot of winging it involved as well. 

We’ve always been intrigued - where did the name Phuture Shock come from?!

  

It’s taken from a book called ‘Future Shock’ by Alvin Toffler. The book was written back in the 70s about the impact of fast-evolving technology and its effects on society. What’s interesting is you only have to look at the technology-reliant world we now live in to realise how telling the book still is today. As for the label name spelling, it’s spelt 'Phuture' rather than ‘Future’ to put a little modern twist on it, which for those that know also happens to be the same spelling and name of the pioneering acid house act Phuture. It’s also a nod to a Curtis Mayfield song called ‘Future Shock’, that’s long been one of my personal faves by the great soul man. Lastly there’s a hail to another legend Herbie Hancock, who later covered the song on his classic 80s album ‘Future Shock’. So there you have it, bit of a multi-reference thing going on there, showing my inner nerd.  

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'Future Shock' by Alvin Toffler and Curtis Mayfield respectively 

What was the vision for the kind of music you wanted to release? and has that vision changed over time?  

Our vision was to encompass deep, funky and soulful electronic music with a futuristic twist and slightly to the left, but with enough room for flexibility if you know what mean. We never really had one single genre or style in mind. The idea was to incorporate various styles ranging from club sounds with a strong focus on groove, right through to more downtempo beats and leftfield sounds that can maybe work on either the dancefloor or at home to chill to.  

‘Motherland’, the first release happened to be on the bruk-meets-UK funky tip because that - and more widely house - was the current styles of dance music I mostly favoured at the time, and remain to be big influences on the label output to this day. But by the time we dropped it in 2010, broken beat was long past its heyday, the UK funky scene had already begun to fizzle out, and the UK underground as a whole was going through a transition - the post-dubstep phase. You had a lot of producers blending different styles together like dubstep, garage, techno and house into their work, which in turn created a bunch of new hybridised, bass-heavy club sounds. For us, the shift in the UK sound and the growing tastes for multi-genre club sounds kind of worked in our favour because our vision from day one was to take an eclectic approach and represent a mixture of interesting electronic styles. So when it came to planning our next release, we essentially had a blank canvas to go in whatever direction felt right to us.

  

I definitely feel that the label vision has evolved and expanded to some degree over the last ten years. It’s kind of hard not to with music constantly evolving and when your own music tastes grow and evolve too. We’ve been very fortunate with the diversity of all the amazing music that the many talented and versatile artists over the years have brought to the table, and helped shape the labels sound. 

When you started out, were there particular artists that you wanted to work with? Or did these relationships come together quite naturally?  

Not necessarily. We’ve been blessed in the sense that most things have come about in a natural way. In the label’s earlier years, I preferred the idea of starting from scratch and seeking out new and emerging talent rather than attempting to sign big names that are already established out there. Personally I think it’s a good idea to give it at least a few years and allow your label catalogue to grow before approaching bigger artists for releases. We generally like to try and keep a balance where possible. But there’s no right or wrong way how to go about it. It’s all just a matter of choice and your own vision, and in many cases size of budget. 

Having said that, when we started out there were some of our musical heroes high up on our mental wishlist for perhaps a remix at the very least, several of whom we’ve been super fortunate to secure remixes from - namely Dego and Marc Mac on the dance music front. Both their forward thinking mindsets and sublime body of work – be it together as 4hero or individually under each of their many guises – have greatly influenced the ethos and musical direction of Phuture Shock. Then on the complete other end of the musical spectrum, another couple of really big ones for us came from Tim Gane of Stereolab via his Cavern of Anti-Matter side project and the High Llamas’ Sean O’ Hagan. To some, these names might seem like a million miles away from the musical world PSM largely operates in, but each of these artists’ quirky sense of creative genius is just as inspiring as any of our electronic music influences. We’re very grateful and honoured to have all the above artist’s extra-special contributions within our humble label catalogue. I will add that all of our remixes to date have been special in their own way and by artists whose work we highly rate, but the said few stand out as some landmark moments for us. 

Phuture Shock’s discography contains a wide variety of producers and groups from the UK and across the globe. Was it always part of your vision for the label to have a mix of local and international artists?  

I would say so, yes. Which relates back to my earlier answer about good models of global vision we’ve seen set out by long-established record labels, and the examples I gave. From a label perspective, I think there’s way too much good music being made by producers all around the world to limit your reach to solely your local area or country. You’d be missing out on a lot of good stuff otherwise. If we were to receive a really good demo from a producer, let’s say all the way over in New Zealand, am I going to turn it away and be like, ‘Sorry mate, the music is great and all that, but we can’t work with you because you’re not based in Bristol or the UK’, absolutely not.  The way I see it is if I hear something and I’m feeling it, I would potentially be up for signing and releasing it. We sign stuff based on ‘feeling’. I couldn’t care less where you’re from, what you look like or how many social media followers you have. All that matters to us is the music and ideally if we click with an artist on some level too.  

House stylings have always been a key part of many Phuture Shock releases. Has House always been considered a key part of the initial vision for Phuture Shock? And do you always look for producers who do interesting stuff with the genre?  

Yes, I believe so. As I touched on before, we were always keen to explore electronic music on the more soulful and rhythmically funkier end of the scale, without being pigeonholed to one specific genre or sound. But I’d say given house music’s roots in classic genres like soul, disco and funk, it was very much a given that house was going to become a key part of the label output.  

As for the second part of your question, I’d say this is true more often than not. I tend to be drawn to adventurous sounds and artists that have something a little different about their work that stands out and sets them apart. It doesn’t necessarily have to be super weird, although we welcome that too, but just something with a personal touch and a distinct take on a genre that resonates with us. That being said, I equally love straight up, classic house sounds, so we try to represent a balance of both sides - traditional and a bit more unconventional takes on the genre. 

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'Motherland' by Psyah

Phuture Shock’s debut, ‘Motherland’ by Psyah, came out in 2010. Tell us a little bit about your feelings of releasing the first record on the label…. 

So, a little fun fact: the 2 tracks that make up ‘Motherland’ are by yours truly, made in the days when I was messing around with making beats. Neither of the tracks was ever intended to see the light of day. I simply made them for fun around the time I discovered UK funky; and the results were my own little take on the funky sound. For me, putting that release out was a giant leap of faith into the ocean. We pressed up 200 copies on vinyl, completely self-funded and self-distributed. Back then we had no distribution deal in place to get our records into a wide network of shops, which of course is vital if you want to make your product available to people as far reaching as possible. But you soon learn it isn’t as straightforward as that to get one, especially when you’re an unknown new artist or label pushing niche genres that aren’t quite ‘the in thing’. Then again, part of me was up for the challenge to see if I could actually do it. I was fairly driven enough to get out there, get my hands dirty, and immerse myself in the culture and community spirit of record shops in person.   

Also to put things in context, the time we put out the first 12” was roundabout the times when the digital revolution was in full swing, and as a result vinyl sales were on massive decline. Instead, a lot of people were just downloading MP3’s online - either purchased or for free - and riding with the convenience of that. It was a dark time for vinyl sales and the underground scene as whole. You had record shops all over closing one after the other, certain distributors were going bust, record labels were vanishing - along with in some cases the artists signed to them.  As for Bristol in 2010, all we really had left - as in shops pushing new dance music was Rooted Records – which was one of Bristol’s most iconic record stores, before its closure in 2011. 

So as I was saying, with no distributor to get our release in the right stores, it was basically a case of rocking up to different shops ourselves and offering copies to them on wholesale. Rooted was our first and only stop in Bristol - not only because it was one of the last ones standing, but also because there was no scene or much of an appetite for UK funky or broken beat in Bristol. Which I guess is the genre(s) where ‘Motherland’ could be filed under. But to Rooted’s credit, they were always up on new stuff coming out of London; all the bass driven sounds like dubstep and grime, to crossover bits of funky. And they were also very supportive of local artists and labels. I believe it was Chris Farrell (who eventually went on to open Idle Hands record shop in 2011) that served me at the counter all those years ago and took a few copies of the release on sale or return basis. That was probably my final visit to Rooted because a few months later they were closed down, which was a surprise and sad day for many in the Bristol music scene.  

 

After that we hit London, as that’s where most of the target record shops were and was obviously the hotbed of the UK funky scene – although it was drying up a bit by then. So there was me again, some random, unheard of bedroom producer from Bristol rolling into all these record shops around London trying to flog this record to them. Sounds crazy thinking about it now, but that was the norm for many DIY labels starting out back in those days. You had to put in the graft differently. At first I recall getting some stocked with UK record shop.com - a key online retailer for grime and UK funky at the time. Then the first proper record shop for us that took some copies was BM Soho (fka Blackmarket records – another historic spot that has since closed its doors). They took around 10 or so copies of the release in total on SOR, which all sold pretty quickly. It’s hardly major units, but as a complete nobody that took a gamble when the vinyl market was at an all-time low, it was a small sign of hope. At the time I thought, ‘ok, maybe I could be on to something here’. Looking back, I really had no idea how things were going to pan out or whether we’d even make it beyond that one release. UK funky was a very London-centric scene, so as an outsider coming from Bristol it was even harder to get a foot on the ladder back then.   

It’s nice to know that some people took the time to check out the release. Shout out to all those very first buyers that brought a copy of PSM001. 

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Excursions 1 

The label has released a number of ‘various artists’ records over the years. We always see these kinds of records as wonderful bookmarks that highlight the scope and diversity of a label - tell us about what the aims were with these records from your point of view…. 

 

The V/A releases fall under the vinyl-only sub label we launched in 2014 called Phuture Shock Excursions. We started the offshoot as a means to explore more diverse and experimental output from the artists we work with, within and outside the boundaries of electronic dance music. How it came to be is we were hearing a lot of artist’s demos - some of them that we loved and that fitted right in with what we do, but might’ve sounded out of place if we were to release it on the main label. At the same time though, we felt that there were certain tracks that deserved a platform to be heard, therefore it made sense for us to also shine a light on the lesser heard side of an artist’s repertoire. And that’s where EXCURSIONS came into the picture. The concept is very much an ‘anything goes’ music policy; that way there’s no limitations to the kind of music we can put out. It gives us free rein to go a bit curveball every now and then, which I feel isn’t a bad thing to challenge people’s ears and expectations from time to time. 

 

In the labels early days, it mainly served as an alternative outlet for some of the artists that we’d previously done releases with on the parent label, such as OPR8, Roof Light and Nubian Mindz. But over the years as the label has evolved and our artist roster has grown, one of our additional key aims with each V/A is to introduce listeners to a set of new and upcoming artists from across the globe. As well as supporting the next generation of talent, we also regularly showcase established artists or more familiar names – including those we’ve worked with in the past and others new to the label – in a way to keep things varied and interesting. Plus it gives each project a bit of cross generational appeal. It’s always great fun to curate these projects and is a real pleasure to work with such a wide range of extremely talented artists, each bringing their own distinct styles on a unique individual project. There’s a global family vibe to it all, and everyone involved smashes it every time. 

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You have worked with a number of artists on repeat releases, such as Nubian Mindz, Cyclonix, Karmasound, Mr Mageeka and Appian, to name just a few. Do you think that working with the same artists on a frequent basis has helped to shape the Phuture Shock sound? 

100 percent. For me, if you’re making that initial investment into signing an artist for let’s say an EP, then I feel it’s only right to build and maintain a long standing relationship if possible. Ideally where there’s the option for a follow up release, and maybe some kind of artist development involved over a period of time. It doesn’t always work out that way for various reasons, because you know, every artist is on a different path. But definitely finding that balance of having at least a few core artists whose music you regularly put out makes sense to me, providing they are happy to do so.  We’re fully aware that we’re a small independent label with certain limitations, therefore our contracts allow artists the creative freedom to work with other labels as and when they please, which is no issue for us at all. We’ll remain supportive of their work and wherever their journey may take them the same way. 

Over time, the Phuture Shock sound has evolved enormously, from its roots in UK Garage,Funky and Dubstep to being slightly more traditional yet still very interesting House sounds. Was it important for you for the label to have this sense of evolution interwoven into its releases?  

 

Truth be told, none of it was consciously planned, it kind of played out that way by complete chance. I think that has a lot to do with the time we came into the game. In 2010 when we started up, the sound of the UK underground had pretty much evolved into a big melting pot of ‘bass music’ encapsulating all the styles you mentioned and more. We were coming off the back of UK funky and just figuring things out along the way. Plus we were still a good few months away from the house music boom in 2011 to see that coming. There was no way you could’ve predicted what direction the underground was going to move in next around that time. 

 

Our thing from the start was all about being diverse, so from a label point of view it felt natural to embrace some of the hybrid sounds floating around at the time that we liked, as well as the newer takes on house that were coming through. Somehow in the process, release-wise, we managed to document some parts of what was happening during that erratic yet exciting period. I guess that’s one way to make a little sense of it all. Although it turned out that way by chance, for us it’s an added bonus if we’ve been able to convey some kind of narrative across our releases. 

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'La Busqueda' by Karamasound 

The label’s debut LP, ‘La Busqueda’ by Karamasound, came out last year. Tell us a little bit about this album and what it meant for the label, and whether you have any future plans to release long players…. 

Well our first album release was actually ‘Aprileft’ by Appian, however that was only released on CD and digital in 2015. Whereas Karmasound’s debut album with us is our first proper album project released on the vinyl LP format, as well as digitally. So a slightly bigger scale project for us all round. My view here is obviously biased, but what else can I say about ‘La Búsqueda’, other than it’s a truly phenomenal album by one hell of a talented artist. Musically, I feel that it captures in many ways what PSM is all about - soulful adventurous sounds, a little to the left-of-centre and with a diverse melting pot of influences that reflects the label ethos and our broad music tastes; in this case Afro-Latin styles, jazz fusion/funk, nu jazz and broken beat.   

It was roughly a two and a half year process, from very start to finish, to get the album out into the world. During this time we worked closely with Damián (Karmasound) on all aspects of the project from track-listing to artwork and many different ideas and promo strategies for the release. For the LP sleeve artwork, we commissioned designer and man of many talents Raul Luna who did a brilliant job all round. Together we worked closely throughout the artwork stage which went through quite some journey before we were all settled on the final version. Raul also created the music promo video for the single ‘Constelaciones’, and was closely involved in the promo campaign, having produced several promo materials that were used in the run up to the release.  

 

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable, fun experience and a huge privilege to be involved in the unique creative process of putting an album together, whilst working alongside passionate, highly talented creative minds. Damián genuinely put his heart and soul into what is a very personal body of work and the music really speaks for itself. Added to that, the team efforts from Raul on the stunning art and design front and the absolutely spot on mastering/cut by Frank Merritt at the Carvery, put the cherry on top of the cake. We’re very proud of and honoured to have released the record, and very grateful for the positive reaction and support it received upon release. 

  

I would say the album’s release marked the beginning of a new chapter for Phuture Shock Musik. On one hand it tied in with the fact that we were entering a whole new decade and with that the label was also heading towards its tenth year milestone. So although not entirely planned, it kind of felt like the right time for progression and a natural step to work towards putting out our first proper vinyl LP release. More crucially, however, little did we know around 3 weeks after dropping the LP, the world would find itself in the throes of a global pandemic (Covid-19) and all of sudden we’re all going into lockdown. Looking at the bigger picture as in life let alone from a record label standpoint, that’s literally changed everything for just about everyone from then onwards in so many ways.  

But on a slightly brighter note, I do remember during the lockdowns periods we got a lot of positive feedback and messages from different people saying things like, ‘That album brightened up my day when I was feeling down’ and ‘It helped me get through lockdown’ or ‘A Covid Classic’ as someone put. In any other year you’d normally take that sort of feedback on board with gratitude, but in 2020 it felt so much more profound. I mean for us, and more so Damián, to know that the album touched some people like that is priceless, especially during those really tough times we all went through. Music is supposed to bring joy to people’s lives or at the very least uplift your mood when you’re feeling low, and quite often it’s those little things like that makes this thing all the more worthwhile. As for further albums, we very much hope to release more in the future. Stay tuned! 

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The Phuture Shock discography is so rich, varied and dynamic. Looking back over it now, are there any aspects that you want to build upon in the future?

  

It’s difficult to tell what the future holds while we still live through the pandemic and the constant changes happening in the world. But for now as long as music excites us, and we’re able to keep the engine going, we’d mainly like to just continue what we’re doing – and that’s putting out music we feel and strongly believe in. And hopefully we’d also like to put on some more parties to vibe out to with people. I’m proud to see that the label has come quite some way, in spite of the many different challenges we’ve had to face, and if people continue to enjoy and support what we do, then that’s a blessing enough. 

Are there any artists who you would like to have featured on the label in the future?  

 

There’s plenty - but I’m not going to reel off a list names as that might jinx it! So we'll go with the flow and see what happens. For me, part of the beauty in all of this is the not necessarily knowing what’s next, whom or what you'll encounter and just enjoying every minute of the ride while it lasts, much like life itself. 

Outside of running Phuture Shock, do you do anything else musical? Like write your own music, do production or something else?  

Every now and then I’ll dip back into some production, purely for fun whenever I get the creative urge to lay down some ideas that might pop up in my head. I also occasionally do the odd bit of freelance written work. Right now though, I’m primarily focused on holding down the label. I’ll always be a music fan first and foremost. 

What’s next for Phuture Shock? Got any plans in the pipeline that you want to share? 

Coming up next is the single release of ‘Come Around’ from Cape Town producer ECHLN, which features South African artist Amarafleur on vocals. That one’s on the future soul tip and might be familiar to some of our followers as it was included on the vinyl-only ‘EXCURSIONS #7’ comp that we put out last January. This time though it will be a standalone release and comes fronted with a hot new remix by ROMderful – an artist from out of Birmingham, doing some well impressive work over the last few years. The release will be the first in a new series of limited white label dubplates that we’re launching called ‘Phuture Shock Dubz’. That’s slated for release on 18th February, all being well, and is now up for pre-order on 7” dubplate or digital on our Bandcamp. Your best bet is to follow us on the socials to stay up to date with that one and all things PSM related! 

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We would like to thank Josiah endlessly for his amazing answers. You can check out all of the Phuture Shock discography on their bandcamp: 

https://phutureshockmusik.bandcamp.com/music

Their latest release, 'Come Around' by ECHLN, is available to pre-order there too - only 25 copies, so be quick! 

https://phutureshockmusik.bandcamp.com/album/come-around-ft-amarafleur

and finally, stay up to date with the label on instgram via the handle @phutureshockmusik.bristol , or via facebook.