● 1st June 2016 – MusicIn Print

Adam Shelton has shaped Birmingham’s electronic music scene bringing it from the dance floor death bed in 2005 with the birth of Below. The Sunday day time party gained legendary status across the UK. One Records followed in 2009 quickly cementing itself as a leading underground record label signing music from artists such as the Martinez Brothers, Jef K, Dan Ghenacia and DJ W!ld.

From the courtyard of an old Digbeth boozer to most iconic clubs in the world, Adam has honed his craft with the biggest names in the game and been championed by the godfathers of dance music. Seeing him on the bill next to pioneers such as Sven Vath, Craig Richards, Kerry Chandler and DJ Sneak proves how far his journey has come.

How has the Birmingham music scene changed from the early days of Wobble and Atomic Jam to what we see now?

I feel lucky to have been around for both Wobble and Atomic Jam who were bringing artists to the city that were so important at the time. It would have been a scandal for the second city to not have had Dave Clarke, Josh Wink, Derrick Carter, DJ Sneak… these are just a few examples of people that really blew me away and in the mid to late 90’s these guys were on top of their game, energy levels were high through music, drugs, and just that time in general was a buzz. The Q Club where Atomic Jam held their parties was just so special; I think walking into that venue is the same as when you first walk into Fabric in London or the Berghain in Berlin. It was mind-blowing architecture for a club environment, added to that acoustics that were really pushed to the limits to fill the room with as much sound as possible. Wobble was really the club that did it to me for real – great residents, forward thinking bookings, the right venue. I remember been in the queue and hearing the shutters rattling; excited to get in there was an understatement.

I think the city now is on form. Especially in the last five years, you can’t deny that Birmingham is not fully on the map for electronic music – Rainbow Venues… Lab11… The Hare and Hounds, all firing and putting on solid parties weekly. It’s hard for me when I have seen so much in the city and have been collecting records for 20+ years to say that the scene now is fresh; it’s more watered down musically at the big nights, but it’s a business and it’s big business for some which lowers the quality levels but brings in the crowds. The smaller, more select parties for me are what keeps the city alive, Cloak n Dagger, Leftfoot, Social Underground… these parties have more soul, and visiting venues like Spotlight, the Hare and suki10c you can have a good night without the bullshit door policies and intense atmospheres. Places and parties come and go that’s for sure and with the city under so much development there can only be more good stuff popping up in the future.

One Records has now been running for 6 years, was running a label always your game plan?

I have never had a long term game plan, the last 10 years or my life have been mad, from doing parties to running venues to starting the label, it’s all rolled into one trip. But I do feel now, the most comfortable I have ever felt with the label. Now all the other things are out of the way and just a fond memory I can really focus on my music, my gigs and making the label as strong as possible and I feel I have some really good people on board now. The next 6 years are going to be big in the game in a very credible way and hopefully as a crew we can experience good things together and help each other to reach high points in our careers.

You’re now on issue 036 of One Record releases. Any particular one that stands out as a highlight for the label?

036 to be fair is pretty badass! One of my favourites so far for sure. When I sit there and play the back catalogue I am consistently happy with all the music we have released, I have tracks that I play a lot because they suit what I play, the label is not just about what Subb-an and I like; its about putting out music we want people to like too. I don’t think having a best seller is the right way to reflect highlight. What I do buzz off, and a constant highlight of running the label, is the top quality the crew comes with, John Dimas, Yamen & EDA, Alex Arnout, Acid Mondays, Jack Wickham are all hugely on it, moving forward with their own interesting projects and delivering cool music to One Records.

From the success of the One Record’s tees to the cover art collaboration with Plume, how important is strong branding for you and the label?

I love the logo, and people seem to take to it really well, so working on collaborations with people has been a nice extension of what we can do with the label. I think there are so many avenues you can go down with visual awareness, merchandise and random ideas you have to try out just to see how it is received by your followers. It can open up the label to new supporters also. You might want a t-shirt but not be into house music – that’s cool, it’s all an extension of the brand.

How significant is it to keep the faith in wax, and continuing to press and play vinyl?

I could not believe in anything more so than this; the history, the collectability, the artwork on the sleeve, the way the label is presented, the sound you get, the feeling you get when you get a new purchase of wax and open it up and put the needle on for the first time. Twenty years I have been having that feeling and I know I will have it for as long as my hands can put the record on the player and hand over the cash for it. Chop my hands off and I will use my feet.

I love clothes, from the same age of buying records I have always been into clobber but as time has gone on it excites me less and less. Records excite me more and more and the funny thing is I only just feel now I have scratched the surface with buying music. It is a never-ending amazing hobby. I like it, yes.

You’re now on issue 036 of One Record releases. Any particular one that stands out as a highlight for the label?

036 to be fair is pretty badass! One of my favourites so far for sure. When I sit there and play the back catalogue I am consistently happy with all the music we have released, I have tracks that I play a lot because they suit what I play, the label is not just about what Subb-an and I like; its about putting out music we want people to like too. I don’t think having a best seller is the right way to reflect highlight. What I do buzz off, and a constant highlight of running the label, is the top quality the crew comes with, John Dimas, Yamen & EDA, Alex Arnout, Acid Mondays, Jack Wickham are all hugely on it, moving forward with their own interesting projects and delivering cool music to One Records.

From the success of the One Record’s tees to the cover art collaboration with Plume, how important is strong branding for you and the label?

I love the logo, and people seem to take to it really well, so working on collaborations with people has been a nice extension of what we can do with the label. I think there are so many avenues you can go down with visual awareness, merchandise and random ideas you have to try out just to see how it is received by your followers. It can open up the label to new supporters also. You might want a t-shirt but not be into house music – that’s cool, it’s all an extension of the brand.

How significant is it to keep the faith in wax, and continuing to press and play vinyl?

I could not believe in anything more so than this; the history, the collectability, the artwork on the sleeve, the way the label is presented, the sound you get, the feeling you get when you get a new purchase of wax and open it up and put the needle on for the first time. Twenty years I have been having that feeling and I know I will have it for as long as my hands can put the record on the player and hand over the cash for it. Chop my hands off and I will use my feet.

I love clothes, from the same age of buying records I have always been into clobber but as time has gone on it excites me less and less. Records excite me more and more and the funny thing is I only just feel now I have scratched the surface with buying music. It is a never-ending amazing hobby. I like it, yes.

What’s your preferred part of the creative process?

100% playing the music for the first time. When you get a great reaction from the crowd and you’re confident about it but you also know that anything can happen it’s a nervous / exciting / satisfying process and when it works out well it’s a special feeling.

How much inspiration do you take from hotspots of electronic dance music like, Chicago, Detroit and NYC?

One of my early influences was Derrick Carter from Chicago and Derrick May from Detroit, also the body & soul crew from NYC consisting of Francois Kevorkian, Danny Krivitt and Joe Claussell. Now to the trained ear these are very general names in music around the 90’s but they started my whole story of electronic music in its advanced form. When I heard these guys play and researched the music they were playing, that’s when I really start getting into it and now I am still looking deeper and deeper into the story of disco, house and techno. Three cities you have to be extremely knowledgeable on, in my eyes, if you want to know the real story.

Your DJing has taken you far and wide, including broadcasting from the infamous favelas in Brazil. can you tell us more?

I have been very lucky to travel the world meeting amazing people as I go, Brazil has a special place in my heart, I fell in love with Rio de Janeiro on my first visit and have started my own event there now. What inspired that was playing in the favela. The mix of people, the feeling of excitement when hearing new music was just mind-blowing. Electronic music in Rio is happening but they don’t have the history that we have so their knowledge is more limited, but from my point of view that’s exciting as you can take records that you feel have been blasted so much over the years that you might not play it so much any more, but over there its new to them. They love it. It makes music come alive again. They are beautiful people.

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