Label in focus: B.A.B.E (BURNED AT BOTH ENDS)

Label in focus: B.A.B.E (BURNED AT BOTH ENDS)

This month our Bandcamp label in focus is Nottingham based B.A.B.E (Burned At Both Ends).

With an already impressive roster including the likes of Cleric and Yant, it is rapidly emerging as one of the most exciting underground techno imprints around. We took some time to speak to label boss and producer Habgud to find out more and discuss the skills required to run a successful techno label…

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We are big admirers of the label here at Trip and we are looking forward to hearing more about what the label has in store for the techno community.

Thanks for having me! Looking forward to answering questions in an interview rather than asking them for once haha (I did a Journalism degree when I was younger – which I wasn’t very good at).

What is the techno scene like in Nottingham and what was the motivation behind setting up a label?

It’s hard to describe the ‘Techno scene’ in Nottingham because essentially there isn’t one (for the kind of techno I would identify with). There’s events and promoters that do some cool stuff more on the UK Techno / Tech House kind of side but nothing remotely close to fitting what I do.

I used to try to contact these promoters and it used to bug me how I would get aired / no support from other collectives and artists in Nottingham, but this gave me a push to create a label and a platform for myself. I’m proactive in that sense and not really a fan of being salty and moaning.

That being said, there are some great people in Nottingham doing really interesting things like the crews at Running Circle Records and Where Wax. Also the guys that share the same studio space as me and BeaBeaa (who was on my B.A.B.E mix series recently). I also like that Notts is a bit out of the loop as it means when I’m at home I’m not constantly tempted by really good parties, and this gives me focus in the studio.


Why was techno a sound that appealed to you personally? Could you explain a little about your gateway into the techno community?

I could write forever about the chance meetings and people I met that led to me being involved in techno but the long and short of it is. After dabbling in music production (Reason 5 crew stand up) in college around 2012 – mostly making weird Trip-Hop Massive Attack type music, I went to Uni in Sheffield around 2013 and was introduced to Techno by one of my best friends (who happens to now do all the fantastic design and artwork for B.A.B.E).

Around that time, I got in with a good crew of people in Manchester, then played warm up and helped out at some of the big parties at the time (Grey Area & Selective Hearing). This let to meeting and hanging around a lot of influential people to me musically like Cleric, Setaoc Mass, Reflec, Dyad, Gareth Wild, Blue Hour. It’s that group of people that have helped me grow and learn a lot about Techno as a genre and in a production sense too.

What is the ethos of the imprint and the B.A.B.E collective?

I used to get told as a kid “don’t burn the candle at both ends” and always found it an interesting concept. So, I thought making a record label that could release tracks for any particular time in a party from ‘opening music ambience’ to ‘closing track euphoria’ was something cool. That’s why the tagline for the label is ‘For those who burn the candle at both ends’, the people who arrive for the first track and stay until the last track are the ones who make a good party a great party.

What are the key characteristics of the B.A.B.E sound? What criteria do you have in mind when selecting tracks for your label?

In terms of sound, I think if anyone’s listened to the records, I’ve put out they’d say there is no specific sound. I want the label to constantly evolve as my tastes do, other labels might put out a record and before you’ve even listened you know what you are getting (some of my favourite labels do this btw), but I want B.A.B.E to constantly surprise people. Sound wise it must work on a dancefloor; I want my label to be a place for the tracks people are commenting “ID ???” in someone’s mix. This is why tracks always get tested rigorously in clubs first.

Techno has obviously burst into mainstream over the last decade and there seems to be an ever-increasing split between what is deemed overground and the more underground raw/hypnotic sound. Were you conscious of this when you started the imprint and how do you feel about the current divisions in the scene?

When I got into techno in 2013 it was only just starting boom, those first couple of years a lot of the music was still super niche, but its crazy to see what it’s become now. In terms of divisions in the ‘scene’, the benefit of living in Nottingham is that I don’t really get involved in this kind of rhetoric or conversation, because I’m on the outside of the ‘scene’ looking in most of the time. Like I said earlier I’m not a fan of moaning so in terms of the ‘overground’ you refer to, I get why the ‘pop’ / ‘business’ side of techno can annoy some purists, but to be honest I don’t really care. I prefer to focus my attention to the label and the studio rather than get annoyed about something I can’t control.

What advice would you give to anyone trying to set up and establish their own label? What was the process like for you and what are some of the pitfalls?

I set up a label because I felt like the music I was making didn’t really have a logical place for it to go. Often people might say “Oh he’s just releasing music on his own label, not any BIG labels”, but how do you think those labels got BIG in the first place? I also wanted full control over the artwork, who gets the promo, release times etc…

If you want to set up your own label I would say my top 3 tips are:

  • Do it because you love making music, not because you think it’s going to get you loads of gigs.
  • Create a strong visual identity (I know we are sold this purist idea that it’s all about the music, but if you look at all your favourite labels, chances are you like the artwork too).
  • Try your hardest to work towards a physical (vinyl) release, there is some fabulous digital-only music but unfortunately, it has a much shorter shelf life. You don’t have to start releasing vinyl straight away, but for me, it should always be the end goal.

Build a good setup in terms of the people you work with, I work with my brother painting the artwork, one of my best friends does the design work with me, and the fantastic team at Ready Made in Berlin do a great job pressing and distributing the record.

In terms of pitfalls, I would say make sure you are bringing something a little different to the table, there are a LOT of labels already, and as someone who gets a lot of promos that start to merge into one, focus on being uniquely yourself. Don’t be another artist’s tribute act.

We noticed that you played at Tresor a few years ago. How was the experience of playing at such a legendary club for you?

An amazing experience made even greater by the fact it was my first international gig, and I had a big crew of friends from Nottingham come over with me, including friends I’ve had since I was 11 years old.

Places like Tresor, Rote Sonne (shoutout Gonzo) in Munich and FOLD are such great outlets for booking talent without looking at vanity metrics like follower count. These places go off a feeling they have for artists and it’s what makes them so special.

What are the top three (if possible!) techno records, that influenced your sound?

Hardest question of the lot! I will try and explain why I’ve chosen each one, techno records instead of techno tracks is interesting:

Sinfol – Intra EP [Anagram]

A record that I played a lot when I first started DJing, all four tracks are amazing and show so many different sides to Techno, from deep and driving on ‘Crystalline’ to euphoric on ‘An Odyssey’. When I first heard this record it showed me you can still make pumping music for the club but it can have really beautiful elements sprinkled in too.

Cleric – Voices of Control EP [Clergy]

A great record from an even greater friend. Formation is vintage Clergy material, often people talk about Second Limit, which is also on this record but the A2 is a perfect example of getting a lot out of a little. Drum automation, velocity and slight changes are what makes something drive a dancefloor.

Samuel L. Session – Moments of Clarity EP [Cycle]

All four tracks are everything people strive for in todays modern techno: groove, soul, drive – and it was made in 1999. I always find myself going back to Samuel L. Session tracks for influence and inspiration. A special record.

You already have some fantastic artists on your roster with the likes of Cleric on board. However, are there any artists you would love to sign up or even collaborate with?

Yes, there is an ever-expanding list of artists I want to work with as I discover more music. I’m very excited to share the B.A.B.E Station End of Season One EP I’ve been working on with loads of great artists (and a track from myself). 

A few artists I’m a big fan of now (I could list like 50) are Sera J, ANNE, Bailey Ibbs & Isaiah.

Yes, there is an ever-expanding list of artists I want to work with as I discover more music. I’m very excited to share the B.A.B.E Station End of Season One EP I’ve been working on with loads of great artists (and a track from myself). 

A few artists I’m a big fan of now (I could list like 50) are Sera J, ANNE, Bailey Ibbs & Isaiah.

What plans are ahead for the label moving into 2023 and beyond?

Got a fantastic 005 release coming from Stanz Amor (and two tracks from myself) which is already doing the rounds in clubs and getting people dancing. So excited for everyone to hear that. Then comes the End of Season One compilation with some great tracks.

I’ll also be continuing the mix series, which I’m really proud of, and putting together tracks for a potential 006 record at the moment. But my plans for the next year or so are to put out music on other labels, so maybe this opens up B.A.B.E for other artists that share the same vision…

Follow B.A.B.E (Burned At Both Ends).


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