Future Disco: Hessle Audio
Founded in 2007 by Ben Thomson, David Kennedy and Kevin McAuley (a.k.a. Ben UFO), Hessle Audio has profoundly influenced the trajectory of dance music in both the U.K. and beyond thanks to a combination of fierce quality control and its diverse, forward-thinking releases. Read our Q&A with the Hessle Audio founders below and download an exclusive mix from their back catalogue put together by Ben UFO.
Is there a particular aesthetic that marks out a Hessle Audio record?
David Kennedy: I don’t think so. People used to say that our records were percussive, bone-dry, and bass heavy.
You were friends beforehand—has that made it easier? Running a label in 2012 must be tough.
DK: As time has passed, our individual tastes have changed, which if anything now plays to the label’s strength. Personally, I don’t think running a label is especially tough. I often read about people moaning that the general public doesn’t buy music anymore, but it’s really not true. People are hungry for new music, and our sales definitely reflect that.
How has the musical landscape changed since starting the label?
Ben Thomson: There’s been a strong reaction against the direction the dubstep scene took, and as a result, a general move away from 140 bpm, although we certainly haven’t abandoned that tempo, or dubstep itself, completely. The accessibility of music through Internet culture and the strength of the lineage of London dance music, from acid house through to hardcore, jungle, and garage, means that people are able to draw on multiple sources to create their music, and that flexibility and a willingness to experiment has meant that genre boundaries and tempo restrictions have, to an extent, melted away.
Bass music is in an unprecedented state of flux. Do you feel it’s your job to keep pushing forward, to keep it undefined?
Kevin McAuley: Releasing a Hessle record that sound similar to something we’ve already put out, or something on another label, doesn’t really interest me. It’s a bit weird to think that we could now be assigned the task of pushing things forward — for one thing, people will be disappointed if they think we aren’t! It’s also likely to become a harder and harder thing to do, but we’ll keep on trying.