Presha recently answered some questions for Noisey Italia, discussing his current approach to DJ'ing, the history of Samurai and future plans for the labels, as well as providing a brand new mix of fresh music.
Samurai music started as a drum & bass label and collective. Do you still view it that way?
Samurai Music and Red Seal still release Drum and Bass, but Horo has been moving away and won't release any again . We are definitely coming from Drum and Bass, but I think Horo has grown into its own sound. In 2016 there will be a few changes in order to avoid confusion about what music each label focuses on, as we have people presuming everything we release is Drum and Bass when it's not the case.
Do you think of drum & bass as a narrowing category or, as opposed, as a somewhat liberating statement?
It's a constricting category for me now really. I still love a fair bit of Drum and Bass but nothing really new has happened in that scene musically for a few years. Drum and Bass fans are very loyal but a fair few are very narrow -minded and not really open to other musical styles. We are lucky enough to have a bunch of very cool, open minded people that have come with us on our journey from Drum and Bass into other styles but we also have detractors that would like us just to fall into line and release more of the same ad nauseam.
What makes a release a Samurai Music release?
Every label we run is different, but musically it's really always been shaped around my personal taste which I have always trusted to guide me on what to release . Also I have to be able to get on with the person that made the music on a personal level. The rest is our little aesthetic touches that people seem to like.
SM has many sublabels. What’s the purpose and story behind each of them?
Samurai Music is the original label and is for what I perceive as dance-floor Drum and Bass. Red Seal is for more experimental Drum and Bass and at times soulful stuff (ie Tokyo Prose). Horo is for experimental Electronics at any bpm. In the early days of the label our distributor used to tell us that we couldn't release a lot of different sounding music on the same label so we divided it up. Horo was born out of moving to Berlin and becoming immersed in the house and techno scene here (like every other musical tourist that comes to Berlin). In 2016 we will merge Red Seal into Samurai Music and break Horo off into a separate label so there's no more confusion about which labels release Drum and Bass and which labels don't.
What do you think of the current breakbeat revival, considered you’ve been in the game since way before it was cool?
I was never really a jungle fan, I was more into the stuff that broke away from the cliché traps of Jungle and the revival seems to be honing on the cliché part of those years. I'm glad people are enjoying it but it all sounds a bit obvious and lazy to my ears. The beauty of those years was the rawness . Without that it's like a facsimile of a vibe.
Most SM artists dwell into the darker side of electronic music, something which has been integral to the jungle/D&B sound since the early days (Mark Fisher calls it “The Thrill Of The Hunted”). Where do you think it comes from? Is there any particular reason that makes you attracted to it?
Yeah it's an interesting subject, I guess everyone is different. I grew up on horror movies, had my goth years, as well as being deeply involved with hardcore / thrash metal, so I have always gravitated towards the darker side of music. It's a fascination with gloom and menace that has always permeated my musical taste.
Did you have any music epiphany recently? Any record or live/DJ set that really struck you emotionally?
I don't go out much but Berlin Atonal is my yearly purge of musical delights. This year the ENA live set was really emotionally charged for me and I felt very proud of Yu . He stepped up there like he was always meant to be there and played an amazing set. My absolute highlight this year was Alessandro Cortini and Lawrence English present Immediate Horizons . That was a very special moment for me, it tied a lot of things up for me musically.
Can you describe the mix you prepared for us?
The first half is a showcase of a lot of new and unheard music from Horo, Auxiliary and the new Grey Area label which is a label collab between Samurai and Auxiliary. The Grey Area music acts as a bond between 85/128 bpm and the mix finishes with some techno I really love. It was recorded live in one take on a pair of CDJ 2000 Nexus & a Allen & Heath Xone 43C. It's an overview of where my head is really at as a DJ these days.