I first heard Aim – aka Andy Turner – on an Ibiza chill out compilation back in 1999, thanks to the crossover appeal of his track, Cold Water Music. That whole album was a big success and since then he has gone onto release some equally strong projects, as well as set up his own label, Atic Records. I recently spoke with him about a few things, including his early days, his plans for the label and his father’s influence on his career.
G: Thanks for speaking with me, Andy. How’s everything going? All set for the latest release?
A: All going good thanks. We just got finished copies of the How It All Got Started (Curt Cazal) Remix EP vinyl back from the manufacturer and they turned out great. Curt outdid himself! His version of How It All Got Started is amazing, it’s the best track ATIC has released so far. It reminds me of the first time I heard They Reminisce Over You or ’93 Til Infinity, it has that same overwhelming, life affirming vibe that hip-hop like that can give you. I think we did the music justice with the packaging too, the artwork and cream vinyl combo is gorgeous.
G: Your music has always been hard to define in a specific genre cos there are so many styles and influences you draw on. How would you best describe it to someone who had never heard it before?
A: I go all over tempo-wise and I’ve always been influenced by old house, breakbeat, hardcore and 60’s psych records, as much as hip-hop. But if I had to boil it down I’d say my music combines punchy early 90’s hip-hop beats with layers of melodic, organic instrumentation, be it from samples or a synthesizer, and a sense of distant, abstract sentimentality.
G: I understand you were in a short lived indie band back in the day. How did you make the jump from that to hanging out at The Hacienda?
A: A guy called Gripper started putting club nights and raves on in Barrow in the late 80’s, which me and pretty much everyone I knew went to. Before that it was all about The Smiths and The Wedding Present, but there was something in this music he was playing that caught my attention and imagination and changed everything for me. I went to all the do’s, started buying dance records and putting on and DJ’ing at basement parties.
G: I know your dad was a jazz drummer back then too. Was his music much of an influence on you and the stuff you listened to?
A: It was. I didn’t realise how much though until I started making beats. I was naturally drawn to sampling old jazz records, it just felt good and right and reminded me of my childhood. He really dug the stuff I was making, as he could hear the lineage. He also influenced me through his dedication to his craft and his independence. From twelve years of age he was getting the train down to London once a week for drum lessons with the country’s top tutor and he was playing professionally, leading a big band when he was sixteen. Later on he left a high up position in the local shipyard to open a music instrument shop with a friend and he pulled it off. It was a success, it fed his family, got us to Spain every summer and it’s still going today. Seeing this stuck with me and made me realise how much I wanted to be involved with music, and also to work for myself. I was DJing and opened a record store in Barrow years before I ever thought about production.
G: How did you first hook up with Mark Rae and the Grand Central label?
A: I’ve been going to Manchester to buy records since I was old enough to get the train on my own, picking up stuff from all the usual spots, Piccadilly, Eastern Bloc, Spinn Inn, Vinyl Exchange etc. On one trip I heard about a new shop called Fat City in Afflecks Palace, so went to check it out. Mark was working in there and I went in with a carrier bag of hip-hop mixtapes I’d made. He bought one and we stayed in touch. I sent him a few tracks I’d been working on; most were demos straight from my Commodore Amiga that had to be re-made, but one track – Let The Funk Ride – was finished. I’d recorded it previously at a studio in Stockport and that version is the one that ended up on my first release, the Pacific North West EP.
G: You founded ATIC in 2005 after your time at Grand Central. Was that something you had always wanted to do, run your own label?
A: No, not at all. It was either that though, or sign to another label which I really didn’t want to do. I was always involved with the artwork, mastering, promo etc at Grand Central and knew I could at least give it a go. There was a lot to learn and keeping ATIC going has been a struggle at times, but we’re twelve years in now and our best releases are still ahead of us, so it worked out.
G: What can we expect from the ATIC roster this year? Any new acts on the horizon?
A: We’ve got plenty lined up. The next release following the Curt Cazal Remix EP will be a two track single from Mikey D.O.N., who most will know from his 90’s hip-hop output as part of Krispy 3. I got to know Mikey when I recorded his vocals for Brand New, a Crowhead track we released a few years ago. We’ve been working together on and off ever since and these tracks are the first fruits of that labour. Following that will be the new album from Niko, which I’m really excited about. The songwriting is stunning and she’s gone for a really expansive sound, big waves of synth with fat beats and lush, layered vocals. We’re hoping to get it finished and released towards the end of this year.
G: You’ve always been good at getting lesser known names on the same project as older, established names like QNC, Diamond D and AG. Is that something you make an effort to do, get that blend of old and new?
A: That is how it worked out, but it wasn’t a conscious thing, I didn’t set out to do that. I just worked with artists I liked who I met along the way, and artists who’d influenced and inspired me and who I looked up to.
G: What are your plans for 2017? Will we hear much from you after the EP drops, or is it time for a breather?
A: No, no breather! I’m looking forward to getting started on my next Aim album. I haven’t started a track of my own, from scratch, for ages, so I’m chomping at the bit as they say. I’m happiest and most relaxed sitting in the studio starting new songs, playing around with old drum machines and listening through records for sounds and samples. That isn’t work to me, I love it and can’t wait to clear the decks and get back on it.
The How It All Got Started (Curt Cazal) Remix EP is avilable to pre-order here.