Interview with Ché Armstrong
For those who never heard of Ché before, you should know he is the one responsible for the rising of famous Neuroscience Recordings. There is so much more in the Neuroscience pipeline, so we just had to catch up with him and talk a bit on various of topics. I guess all you want to hear from him, or what you would like to ask him is down bellow in the interview so check it out.
PHW Exclusive interview with Ché Armstrong
PHW: Hey there Ché! Thanks for your time mate, we are really honored we have an opportunity to chat with a guy who’s did so much for the progressive house world! To start, for those who’ve never heard of you, can u tell us… Who is Ché Armstrong?
Ché: First and foremost I would class myself as a DJ. I’ve been lucky enough to play alongside, and warm-up, for some big names in recent times. This year alone I’ve played with the likes of Above & Beyond, Paul van Dyk and Eric Prydz.
Most people will know me as the label owner/manager of Neuroscience Recordings. Neuroscience has definitely allowed me to become more involved with music.
More recently, people will be getting to know Ché Armstrong the producer too. It’s still very early days for me, and I’m still exploring sounds, but I do love making music and it’s something I want to get more involved with! [Click Continue Reading for FULL interview]
PHW: How did you get involved with music/progressive house in the first place?
Ché: I’ve always been a massive music fan, for as long as I can remember, and have listened to everything from Hip Hop, Drum & Bass and some rock stuff. However, dance music has always been my true musical love.
I got in to dance music more when I started buying Ministry of Sound CDs in around 1996. This allowed me to discover some great underground music, and DJs such as Pete Tong, Sasha, Paul van Dyk and John Digweed. I suppose this was my introduction to progressive house, even though it wasn’t called progressive house then. I also started to get in to some trance at around the same time, and this was very different to the trance around now. Back then it was deeper, darker and industrial sounding… I loved it!
Once I was old enough (only just), I started to clubs here in Newcastle upon Tyne, which was great, but in 1999 I went to the legendary Gatecrasher. I think my experiences of going to Gatecrasher definitely still influence me musically today! I’ve seen and heard some amazing DJs there, and I used to love the progression of the night which went from progressive to trance.
PHW: You made a really really big contribution to progressive house world as A&R/manager of Neuroscience Recordings. Neuroscience traced a whole new path in contemporary EDM. So many new talented artists have became known and established names through Neuroscience Recordings. What are your plans for the future?
Ché: Wow… Thanks for those kind words! It really means a lot! I’ve always just wanted to put out music that I love, so it’s awesome to hear feedback like that! J
As for future plans, in short, we’re just going to continue to do our thing really. However, I really want to see the label grow more in 2012. I don’t necessarily mean signing new artists, but I mean gaining more support from DJs and becoming more visible in the scene. I also want to continue with the guys I would class as our ‘core’ artists, to develop and push those guys further. I love working more with existing artists, as I think it’s good to see artists who are associated with a certain label – It works well for both parties I think. Of course, we are still looking for new talent to join us. There’s always space for guys who fit in with our sound. However, I think the level of quality will be raised even further in 2012.
PHW: How would you best describe the sounds of your labels (Neuroscience Recordings, Neuroscience Deep & é Musica)
Ché: I’ll start with Neuroscience Deep, since we’re at Progressive House Worldwide! The Neuroscience Deep sound is just that, the deeper and more progressive sounds. Here you’ll find progressive house, some progressive trance, but also some other genres that fit in. I’d like to think that we put our own stamp on the progressive sound.
Neuroscience Recordings has releases many styles in the past, from uplifting trance, tech trance and progressive trance. Over the past couple of years, the Neuroscience Recordings sound has naturally evolved, with a definite ‘big-room’ sound. It now mainly releases big tech-trance and progressive tracks, but with a Neuroscience twist!
é música is the newest of the three labels, and was originally started as a platform for newer artists. Historically, the label released various styles. However, like Neuroscience Recordings, the label has also natural evolved to what it is now. é música is now focused on releasing mainly trance, and seems to have found it’s own sound. The label is starting to get some nice support, along with a nice group of regular artists.
PHW: What’s it like to run a label in the digital mp3 era? Is it a full time job, and can you earn enough to make a living with it? Is illegal file sharing still a big issue? What are your thoughts about that?
Ché: I work a regular full time job, as well as running the label. Running the label can be really hard work and requires a lot of time, effort and also some money to make it work. Despite this, I do really enjoy doing it. Along with all of the music, I also really enjoy the business side of things. I’ve always told myself, the day I don’t enjoy it, is the day I’ll stop. I would love to think that one day that music might be my full time job though. One thing I’ve always tried to do is make the label self sufficient. Obviously, you need some investment, but I think it’s a false economy to continually pour money in to it. If the label runs well, covers it’s cost and bring a small profit, then I must be doing OK?! I think any growth we’ve had has been organic, with hard work and good music!
I do think that there are lots of issues and problems with the scene right now though… Some people will always file share and download illegally no matter what, so sometimes I wonder if it’s better to accept that – I mean, at least they want out music, right?! There’s not just file sharing to think about now though. It’s a dog eat dog world, where labels and artists are constantly fighting for the limelight. The gap between smaller and bigger labels is getting bigger IMO. I mean, most smaller labels can’t afford to compete with the promotion budget of a bigger label, so often releases from smaller labels can get missed – Even though they can be better releases. Also, smaller labels can end up consuming each other too – You can find that smaller labels can end up having releases from the sale artists. This is sometimes unavoidable but it means that a label will put a lot of investment in an artist; the artist will have a release, then move to another label to start the process again. It doesn’t take a genius to work out this isn’t good for labels or artists. That’s why I like to have a number of regular artists at Neuroscience.
PHW: Can you describe a usual day-in-the-life of a label A&R guy? You have experience with many artists. What are the most common problems? Also, when you request a remix from some an artist, do you tell them: “listen, please make a remix in that and that style… I want it to sound like this” and so on?
Ché: I think the role of A&R is very varied really. Of course, we have tracks submitted via our Soundcloud Dropbox (http://soundcloud.com/neuroscience), but A&R is much more than that to me. I will on some occasions approach an artist and invite them to the label, but more importantly I will work with our existing artists. I will give them feedback and support, and try to develop them overall. I might also suggest collaborations with another Neuroscience artist. I definitely think that it’s about developing artist and helping them, and the label, grow. I also think it’s good to build relationships and friendships with the artists. I think a lot of us here at Neuroscience have a good relationship, and I think it shows too.
My good friend Vitodito now helps me out with some A&R duties, and this has been really good for the label. He’s introduced me to some new artists who are now part of the Neuroscience family, and he’s also brought in some great new artists as well.
I don’t think there are that many common problems. However, if I had to pick one, it would be quality – Sometimes you can find a great track, but it can be really hard to get the quality good enough to release, due to a bad mixdown, etc. I’ll always try to work with artists to get this right, but it’s not always possible, and sometimes not speaking the same language makes things hard.
With remixes, I’ve never asked for a remix in a specific style – Why bother asking the artist if you’re going to control it?! I always give them the freedom to do what they like, but in most cases, you know what you’re getting when you ask a specific guy.
PHW: Which artists would you love to see on the Neuroscience imprint?
Ché: There are lots of guys that I’d love to have on Neuroscience! Mainly the Anjunadeep guys like Jaytech, Michael Cassette, Soundprank, Answer 42 and PROFF. I know they are loyal to their label, but it would be great to maybe get a remix from them… It’s possible! Also, I dream of having a remix from people like John Digweed, Eric Prydz, Sasha, Christian Smith, etc. I love the melodic side of progressive, but I also love the deeper end of progressive too!
PHW: You’ve done a couple of really great tracks, which I noticed on your Soundcloud account. Are you still into production? Can we expect something new from you?
Ché: I’m very much in to production. It’s something I’ve always toyed with, but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve got serious about it. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’m going to keep at it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to dedicate a lot of time to it, along with my other commitments.
I’ve got a track called ‘Assassin’ which I signed to Indigo Records, and that should be out sometime in early 2012. It’s more of a techy sound, so didn’t naturally fit in here at Neuroscience. I really like Indigo though, so I’m looking forward to the release. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m still exploring my sound, so you will get techy stuff like this from me, alongside more melodic stuff too!
PHW: What music personally means to you?
PHW: Your 5 favorite tracks at the moment?
Ché: Really hard to pick just five tracks, but I’ll go for…
- Vitodito & Tiff Lacey – Forbidden Love (Luiz B Remix)
- Blend & EcueD – Hot Air Balloons (Original Mix)
- Ninesh Babu feat. LaMeduza – Carry On (David Folkebrant Dub Mix)
- Pinkbox Special – The French Don’t Cry (Mango ‘Prog Used To Be Special’ Remix)
- Claes Rosen – Into The Bloom (Luiz B Remix)
PHW: We’re almost close to an end. Tell us, what is your biggest dream?
Ché: Another tough one… Personally I want to make more music, and see it get the support of my heroes and peers! I’d also love to get bigger and better DJ gigs too. However, I’d be happy just to see Neuroscience continue to grow, and become one of the best labels in the scene!
PHW: Thanks for your time Ché! We from PHW wish you all the best with Neuroscience! You can always count on our support. Speak with some more great news sometime soon. Cheers!
Ché: Thanks for having me! I really love what you guys are doing for the scene too… Keep at it!
December 28th, 2011