2010 sees the creation of a new project from the Ghostly International crew. From the Spectral Sound imprint—Ghostly’s meaner, harder, techno sibling—Ryan Elliot curates a new project: Document. With tracks from across the spectrum of Spectral talent, this compilation represents the current evolved sound of the imprint: unsettling, haunting beats from Hieroglyphic Being; compulsive, contrapuntal techno from Lawrence; a complex, melodic and deep track from Ryan Crosson. Each are examples of the accomplishment and quality on this new compilation. Burlington Project’s Leo Pollock catches up with the man responsible for this latest offering, Ryan Elliott, ahead of its release.
First up, let’s talk about Document, the latest project from Spectral Sound: what is the concept behind it?
The Document is our new battle flag, marking the beginning of a new era for Spectral. It contains tracks from some of our staple artists as well as some new faces we hope to work with more frequently going forward.
Does this herald another evolution in the Spectral Sound?
Yes. Dance music is always evolving very quickly, and we are not different. There are always new artists coming up, old artists returning to the game, shifting sounds, etc.
You have some of the hottest names in techno on the album: Seth Troxler, Kate Simko, Lee Curtiss, as well as Spectral staples such as Audion and Hieroglyphic Being. Is this first release in the series emblematic of Spectral’s future?
Yes, the compilation is reflective of where Spectral is headed.
On to the music itself. All the tracks are previously unreleased, except for those that appear on the preceding Document EPs, right? How did you go about picking the tracks and artists that you would present?
We wanted the compilation to be reflective of our core family of artists, whether that be old or new guard and picked tracks accordingly.
I read that, ‘an overall aesthetic is hard to describe’ in Document. I would agree with that to an extent. What strikes me about this album, though, is that although it’s from Spectral, it seems to me to be aimed as much to an audience who will sit down and listen to it, as it does to club audience: not something which necessarily fully aligns with Spectral’s original mission to be the dance-floor oriented alter-ego of Ghostly International. Does this reflect on how Spectral has evolved in the last decade? That there is now a new sound to Spectral nearly ten years after its birth?
Really? We think the entire compilation is aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Trends and sounds do shift over time, but our philosophy as a dancefloor focused label has not changed.
Several tracks particularly stood out for me on the compilation. Namely, the mix of Lawrence’s ‘Divided’, ‘Don’t Look Further’ by Ryan Crosson, the mix of Seth Troxler’s ‘Hurt’ and Audion’s Just Me. What was it for you that made these tracks in particular stand out and warrant a place on this compilation?
There really isn't a cut and dry set of rules that make "a Spectral Sound track". We just know them when we hear them. We always strive for something a little different, a little off center. I guess every label A+R person would tell you that they look for something special, but we have a bit of a different filter for these things given our midwest roots.
You are renowned for being first and foremost a DJ and second a producer. Can we, then, expect any studio productions from you this year?
Yes, you can! Now that I have moved to Berlin, and am not balancing both DJ-ing and a serious day job, there is much more time for production.
You have tour dates lined up this year across Europe and the US. Despite the many benefits of being an internationally courted DJ, do you ever tire of the demanding schedule that this entails?
I absolutely never tire of what I do. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face. To be able to do your passion and obsession for a living is the best feeling in the world.
You made the move to Berlin last year. How does it compare so far to life in Detroit (aside from the fact that you’re now solely a full-time DJ and not a financial analyst too)?
I really like living here in Berlin. It "feels" like Detroit, but of course is very different too. The bumping into friends and other artists in cafes or on the streets, the by chance collaborations, and the record shopping is what I like the most.
We at the Burlington Project always like to hear other people’s opinions of the London scene. What did you make of it when you played at Mulletover’s February event?
I had a great time. Matt and Geddes are really great guys. We went on to play two after parties on the Sunday as well. The London scene seems to be really healthy right now. I always enjoy playing there, it’s once of my favorite towns anyway.
Finally, any advice on who to look out for over the coming months?
Anything by DJ Qu, Fred P, Black Jazz Consortium, Strength Music, Soul People Music, Rick Wade, Reggie Dokes....I could go on and on. There is always really great music coming up, but sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.
Document is released on Spectral Sound on May 10 2010
1. Hieroglyphic Being / Got No Place To Go / 5:01
2. Lawrence / Divided (Kassem Mosse rmx.) / 8:15
3. Ryan Crosson / Don't Look Further / 6:35
4. Bodycode / I'm Holdin On / 7:44
5. Kate Simko / Zhivago / 6:52
6. JTC / On Time / 8:25
7. Mike Parker / Protolanguage / 7:29
8. Lee Curtiss / Life Lessons / 6:35
9. Audion / Just Me / 8:47
Seth Troxler feat. Matthew Dear / Hurt (Martinez Dark Soul Remix) / 6:50
11. Gadi Mizrahi / She Only Looks At You / 6:08