HOOT #08: Carl_H // House of Dog record fair // Funktion-One demo // Above Below festival
Nothing like a whiff of summer and an XL bank holiday to put some cheer in your bones eh? Whether you’re spending your long weekend wisely doing life admin or frittering the days away foolishly and fabulously, hope you’re having a good’n.
Plenty to report in this edition of HOOT, including an interview with our favourite techno/trance/make-you-dance DJ Carl_H, last spotted round these ends putting on a killer Studio Sova session last year with a crew from his Sub:System parties. We chatted about how he carved out his sound, the ethos behind Sub:System and his Animals on Psychedelics label, and asked him for five albums he thinks you should listen to right about now.
Also here: a blissful new Studio Sova session by Daniel from Above Below festival, a chat with our founders George and Tzveti about the origins of Sova Audio for Trommel magazine, some music recommendations from our own team, and an exciting record fair/demo day we’re putting on at Sova HQ in a few weeks, featuring legendary sellers House of Dog records and a whole heap of Funktion-Ones.
Phew! Scroll down to read all the news and check out the recommendations - head-twisters and pulse-quickeners await.
Til next time x
Sova Audio x House of Dog records
Hard to believe as it might be, the next bank holiday will upon us in just a few weeks, and we’ve concocted a perfect way for you to spend it. On Saturday 30th April, we’re hosting a record fair and Funktion-One demo day at our warehouse in East London. Downstairs, renowned Discogs/Instagram sellers House Of Dog will be bringing a rich smorgasbord of records for you to rifle through (including stuff you won’t spot on their site). They’ll be joined by a load of other friends and fellow vinyl pushers, adding up to a dangerously alluring feast for all you wax addicts out there.
Upstairs in the loft, meanwhile, we’ll have our full range of compact Funktion-One systems available for you to experience. This includes both home and studio set-ups, plus a custom home cinema arrangement we’ve put together just for the day. Book in for a free one-on-one session using the link below and you’ll have 30 mins to do what you like with, so you can pick up a fistful of rippers at the fair downstairs and then blast them out to your heart’s content on a club-grade sound system upstairs - nice!
Chuck in some delicious craft beers from our friendly neighbours The East London Brewing Co. and you’ve got a shindig well worth a chunk of your precious long weekend. Schedule a demo slot here:
and see more details about the whole day here:
Sova Audio: Coming through loud and clear
Sova Audio founders George and Tzveti recently sat down for a chat with dance music outlet Trommel Music. They discussed how and why they started Sova Audio in the first place, the consequences (both good and bad) of the pandemic, and what the future may have in store. A must-read for any self-respecting Sova Audio fan!
SOVA LABS x COMMUNITY LEARNING: Live Streaming!
If you’re over 19 and a permanent resident in Waltham Forest we invite you to take part in our weekend live streaming course!
You will collaborate with artists invited to perform on our Studio Sova stream to create the conceptual framework and learn about the basics of sound, visual considerations and technical requirements in relation to live-streaming.
The course will culminate in a real live-streaming event delivered by you and overseen by the Sova Labs team.
It’s free and there are only a few spaces left - applicants will be selected on a first-come-first-served basis.
Hurry up and join!
Studio Sova - Above Below Livestream
Last month we hosted Daniel from Above Below festival for a 3-hour session of ambient drifters and slo-mo heaters intended to set the scene and get y’all hyped for their 4-day party in the Chiltern Hills this summer. Above Below (I can say from personal experience) is a small-scale, large-fun festival with a focus on sustainability, intimacy, inclusion, and all that good stuff. Daniel’s set captures the dreamy, introspective atmosphere perfectly and the rest of this year’s line-up definitely gets our sign off too, with our close pals Ario, Nathalia, o.utlier and Avsluta all due to play. Peep Daniel’s set below.
Somewhat endearingly, Carl_H doesn’t try to play it all cool or nonchalant when you ask how he ended up as a DJ: “You know how some people say that they never really had thoughts of wanting to be a DJ and that it all just happened naturally and things like that - for me it was quite the opposite.” Now, with his heady n heavy sets in high demand at clubs, festivals and grungey raves across the UK and Europe, it’s fair to say that enthusiasm has paid off.
The desire to mix may have always been there, but it took a little while for Carl to hone in on the sounds he wanted to work with. His hometown of Cleethorpes didn’t offer many options to a fresh-faced 16-year-old with a pair of turntables and a hankering for dance music. “There was a local night called Freedom where they used to have Tony De Vit and some other hard house DJs play,” he recalls. “I didn’t look old enough to get in but my friend did so he would go and find out about all different labels and producers and sort of feed it on to me.”
Hard house provided a formative platform, but as Carl was exposed to a wider range of styles he felt himself gravitating towards the more complex, cerebral end of the dance music spectrum. “I remember going into a basement record shop in Amsterdam and finding some like acid techno stuff,” he recalls. “For me, being used to hard house records that would mostly pretty much just do the same thing, this still had that sort of energy and pace but just sounded more interesting.” A more significant evolution came when a friend introduced him to minimal techno through the records of OG head Pier Bucci. “I wouldn't say it was even really the minimal techno sound, because the stuff I play has changed quite a lot from that,” Carl says. “It was just the moment where this sort of constant searching and learning about music properly started. From then on I’ve been studying it more, finding out about different labels and producers, their background stories and stuff like that.”
If Carl’s Studio Sova set from the end of last year (available to watch below) is anything to go by then it’s true that his sound is a little removed from the elastic bump and wiggle that Bucci and the mid-00s minimal scene around him specialised in. Carl’s selections share the intricacy and progression of tracks from that era, but his set is driven along by a much heavier pulse, dotted with acid, trance and tribal inflections that lend a spacey, wide-eyed feel. To my ears, somewhere between the far-out wobble of Goa trance and the drum-tight groove of tougher European styles, with a bit of Northern English oomph mashed in for good measure maybe.
Carl was joined at Studio Sova by a crew from Sub:System, a party series he started with his pal Tom (AKA Remove Me). “We began maybe six, seven years ago because there weren’t really any parties, that we knew of anyway, that were focusing on trance, progressive - that sort of sound,” Carl says. Sub:System events are run with a fiercely underground, near clandestine attitude. You won’t find much mention of them online, certainly no tickets on RA, and they use temporary locations that provide a safe and malleable space for expression, as Carl explains: “We've always tried to use off the grid venues, whether it's indoors or outdoors. It gives us that freedom to create our own sort of space and environment and to keep our own crowd there - everyone's a mixed bag of ages, gender and everything.”
Alongside his work as a DJ and promoter, Carl also disseminates his preferred brand of pineal dance music through his label, Animals on Psychedelics. Artists featured on the label so far include Miro Sundaymusiq, Invisible Menders (the duo of Jane Fitz and Dominique Ahtuam) and Vladimir Gnatenko. “I try to only have people that I've either met or have got some sort of extension to through a friend,” Carl says. “That's not just with the music, it's also the visual side.” That visual side he refers to is the artwork accompanying each release which, logically, features an animal set amongst some kind of twisted DMT-scape. It’s trippy in that classic sort of Fear and Loathing way, but for me it’s the determinedly friends-, family- and inclusivity-oriented approach with which Carl runs the label (and his parties) that really embodies the psychedelic experience - peace, love and universal happiness yo!
Carl_H’s five albums worth sharing
“This is an album but it’s only on CD and all the tracks are mixed together into one. I’m happy that it’s like that now but when I first bought it I was hoping it was single tracks because there’s stuff on there that I’d love to play out. It’s sorted me out on many a trip from A to B though. It’s a great mind-melter, definitely helps if you wanna just escape and get somewhere quicker and not think.”
“This is one that everyone should have. It’s just got loads of great acid house tracks that feel incredibly clever and way ahead of their time. Everytime I listen to it I can really put myself in a big arena watching them live, even though they were playing way before I was into this sort of stuff. Obviously you can watch performances on YouTube now but for me it’s not as effective - I can really picture what it was like when I listen through this.”
“This is the first record I ever owned. Don’t really need to say too much about it - just a classic.”
“For me this is an album where it feels like the machines are doing the work. Whether it’s the ambient tracks or some of the gnarly, dark trancey techno tracks, it all feels really mechanical.”
“This is something I came across pretty recently. It’s not an album I’d take for a deep listen necessarily but it’s just full of really great trancey techno tracks for the dance floor.”
Hoots from Team Sova
“A beautiful concoction of interstellar ambient, deep cosmic jazz and avant garde afro-futurism, accentuated by Sinephro’s dreamy harp playing.” - Tzveti
“Unspeakably beautiful, melancholy-tinged electronica from a Welsh producer I discovered just earlier this month - what a treat!” - Lucie
“Revisited this from a few years back. Devastating, lonesome and gorgeous tape music made when Warren Defever was a teenager. Sounds like time and memories slipping irrevocably away.” - Oscar
“The best hour I’ve listened to this month. A spacey adventure through deep forests and froggy ponds. Avsluta (AKA our dear Lucie) and Alicia have just started a bi-monthly party together, Terra Obscura. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one.” - Tzveti
“Funny 1995 article written by RDJ (AKA Aphex Twin) about driving his tank around Cornwall - “It's like a womb...with a gun.” Can’t really tell if it’s fact or fiction, think that’s part of the fun.” - Oscar