Dynamic Range Expo Records boss on running a Psy label
Grant Pleming, aka Dynamic Range has just released a blistering new fullon compilation called Bridging the Gap Vol. 2.
It is a more than worthy follow up to his debut compilation of the same name (minus the Vol.1 appendage) which also saw the launch of his label, EXPO Records back in 2013.
This latest release showcases just how far Dynamic Range and EXPO Records have come in the space of 3 years. Vol. 2 presents a somewhat broader range of styles and also broader range of track tempos from 137 bpm up to 144.
The aptly titled compilation certainly bridges the gap between artists that have existed for many, many years, namely Kali and Cyrus The Virus to an impressive collection of fairly well-established newer producers; Makida, Relativ, Escape and Cylon as well as Sonic Entity vs. Manmachine to two new and exciting talents Hyriderz and Radical, who both pitch in with very promising tracks.
If you’re a producer, a DJ or someone considering releasing music yourself or under a label, this chat with Dynamic Range is an immensely insightful conversation as to how it can be both rewarding and challenging to do…
…my relationship with electronic music and in particular psytrance has lasted longer than any girlfriend I have ever had…”
You launched EXPO Records in 2013. I am sure the idea must have dwelled on your mind for a while before that moment when you decided ‘let’s do this!’ Was there a tipping point; something specific that made you decide to go ahead?
Dynamic Range: About a year before I launched, I was on the psytrance page on Beatport and was somewhat disappointed and utterly shocked at some of the music getting coverage- Prog was on the way up and I felt I could build something to counter that movement or atleast showcase more fullon and even full power progressive stuff. I love some of the progressive music and more than often will be caught playing and releasing it as I have done in the past and am definitely doing in the future- but there is a fine line between what I believe is great, emotional and driving 138bpm progressive psytrance and the stuff that sounds like it could be from a cartoon. I spent some time back then watching the top 10 fullon labels and took note some were releasing less and less, which opened up somewhat of a gap for me and what I wanted to do. I guess all in all I just wanted to be apart of the growing culture and contribute in some way!
It’s a well documented fact that it is virtually impossible to make money from releasing underground dance music so why do it?
Dynamic Range: It’s a passion project, and there is no other way about it. Music has always been a part of my life, be it playing piano when I was a youngster (sadly gave this up, by biggest regret) to producing, djing and just listening. I have had an ongoing relationship with ‘electronic music’ for as long as I can remember. The first CD I bought was electronic music or back then “dance music”, and can safely say that my relationship with electronic music and in particular psytrance has lasted longer than any girlfriend I have ever had, ha!! So in any relationship, why not take it to the next level. Expo records has allowed me to entrench myself in a scene I have grown very fond of- Its about far more than just casually running a label. Having a sort of day job that at times I don’t enjoy, The label allows me to escape my every day life, although at times admin intensive, its become addictive be it searching for new music or releasing it- I absolutely love it!!
If you’d know then what you know now would you do it again?
Dynamic Range: Definitely, I have made some incredible friends through the scene and starting Expo Records that I probably would not have made without the label. I have managed to discover new talent, showcase established artists through releases, tour management and now bookings, and in general keep on growing, which I think is important… If there was no potential for growth both for the label, artists and on a personal level then I would have very little drive to continue- right now the future is so bright for Expo records, more so than ever before and I am excited for what’s to come.
How has EXPO tied in with your DJing? Do you play mainly label music or are you every open to playing whatever’s fresh at the moment and meets your style?
Dynamic Range: It has definitely helped from a booking perspective, I definitely wouldn’t have played as much locally, and would not be able to add the U.K, and soon India and S.America to my booking schedule without it. On the mixing front, up until recently we havent released enough music for me to only exclusively play Expo stuff, especially given how different and varied some of our releases have been in the past. That said this year we have some exciting music to release and a brand new music policy to build on our sound. I think as a DJ its also not smart to limit yourself, there is so much good music out there if you search hard enough. It would be selfish and narrow minded in my opinion to not show off off other music from other labels I am enjoying though- Digital Om, Tech Safari, Future Music, Iono and of course Nano all come to mind. Running the label,booking agency and rubbing shoulders with a lot of the artists I love has also allowed me to obtain music before it’s released, somewhat a competitive advantage when it comes to Djing.
What’s an ideal timeslot for Dynamic range?
Dynamic Range: I love transition slots and creating a journey in my sets. I would say 8/9 in the evening, or late morning on a Sunday!
My vision with the 1st and 2nd volumes was to bridge the gap between serious progressive and fullon psychedelic trance…”
Bridging the Gap Volume 2
Tell us about the compilation name. There is no doubt a message within the name ‘Bridging the Gap.’
Dynamic Range: The recipe is simple- good quality music that stretches bpm from 137-145… My vision with the 1st and 2nd volumes was to bridge the gap between serious progressive and fullon psychedelic trance- I think in particular I got it right with the second volume.
How long has it taken from the time you had your first track for this compilation to release date?
Dynamic Range: It was over a year, if I am not mistaken- somewhat frustrating at times. To be fair its also sometimes nice to hold onto music and test it knowing no one else (except a select few) can.
Why so long?
Dynamic Range: The release was actually meant to come out around Oct/Nov, but with artists’ busy touring schedules and a few other hiccups, I had to keep pushing it back. I was rather strict on the submissions, and could have easily pushed out 13/14 tracks but decided that 9 was sufficient.
What was the first definite track on the album?
Dynamic Range: Relativ – Aftershock… I have been a big fan since his first release under that alias, and his sideform stuff still blows my mind! We had been in chats for ages surrounding it, and he was quick to submit. I almost released it as a single because it came so early and I forsaw some delays- glad I didn’t though, it’s a great contribution to the album.
You naturally played some, if not all, these tracks out at some stage to test them; which one surprised you the most when you dropped it?
Dynamic Range: Light Seeds by Sonic Entity & Manmachine for sure- A seriously powerful progressive tune that I was eager to test and pitch up- I have witnessed DJ Mark and myself drop it and it just works at any time.
Kali – Story teller is a surprising addition, notably because I’d heard he is not releasing psytrance anymore…
Kali and I had been in chats for sometime about releasing with Expo. Some time had passed and I decided to check in. He sent me some music, the last of it that he had made I believe. It sounded like it wasn’t going to see the light of day. Luckily Kali is an understanding humble chap, and with a bit of pressure from myself and some constant nagging he agreed to let me release it. Iam hoping that with some time we will see Kali return, he has so much to offer as a producer and it somewhat saddens me when guys move on who show so much promise!
Describe the track selection as if you were selling the compilation in a CD shop to someone who was interested in it…
Dynamic Range: It has something for everyone who loves psytrance and enjoys to be moved – A CD that will take you on a journey through psychedelic music. If you are not into serious psytrance then this is not for you!
Two notable new artists for me are Hyriderz and Radical. Both show some real promise. Where/how’d you find these guys and where are they from?
Dynamic Range: A lot of searching and research online… the admin intense part of running this label… Hyriderz are from France, I found a collab of theirs with Block Device and went through their soundcloud and was very impressed at how quickly their music had progressed… Fresh talent with room for improvement for sure- but they are getting there and we have signed them as artists and hope to grow them in 2017 and beyond. Radical is from israel, also new to the game but so much promise- he has a couple other bombs on the way and really is pushing a style we are exploring this year, hopefully some more to come from him as well!!
We keep talking about fullon making a comeback and I guess with artists such as Ace Ventura & Astrix creating a dedicated fullon project, it seems like it is. Why then do you think our newsfeeds are still full of prog drops and triplets? Are the fullon guys just not as good at promoting themselves or do you think it’s just easier to film a floor going off for 20 secs (after the drop) then a floor invested in the journey of a proper fullon psy set?
Dynamic Range: Sho, I think you have some valid points there… I think for one it’s easier on the ear at a slower bpm, especially when you are not in a party environment- I mean I don’t think one could listen to 145bpm for a full 12 or 24 hours without wanting a break. I think the scene progressed and grew as every scene does (and has to)- if it stays the same it becomes stagnant and people get bored – look at what happened to Dubstep music- it blew up but with little progression it disappeared as quickly as it started…. There is also the factor that there are so many more producers these days due to how accessible production software is, this has allowed for also so much subpar music to come out and a flooding of the scene with the increase in popularity of progressive psytrance. That all said If I look at the line ups in Europe last year and this coming year they are definitely showcasing an increased amount of fullon and I think some great quality music that I have only leart to appreciate now is being showcased. Each sub genre has its time and its great to see psytrance scene growing as a whole and more fullon being showcased or should I say coming back!
Out of the artists on Bridging the Gap who do you think would totally rock an SA dancefloor, bearing in mind what seems to go down well here?
Dynamic Range: From a progressive perspective I can see Sonic Entity fitting in well for a daytime event- he has that driving intelligent progressive sound that is enjoyed here- on the fullon side I do forsee Escape pushing some great music this year, especially hearing about his latest collabs that he is busy with. He has that aggressive yet smooth full power sound that SA dancefloors love- I mean, have a look at the response for guys like Waio, Sinerider and Brainiac locally… He is up there in my opinion so why not!! Then it still baffles me how Cyrus The Virus has not been here, he is a veteran in my opinion! He may not have released in a while, but his past music would have been stock standard on an SA dancefloor a few years back and he is reinventing his sound as we speak.I think he would work both in the morning or an evening set- His new EP is coming out on 6 feb on Expo records and is also nothing short of brilliant!