As an online community, event and mix series, the newly formed record label More Cowbell are at the forefront of the umbrella genre known as “130” - a sound that encompasses all forms of underground UK Bass music, loosely identified by having zero limitations sonically or structurally other than the speed at which they are created.
Launched by Harriet Bliss (aka EICH) little under a year ago, the platform grew popular through their memorable 'War Dubz' series, gaining inspiration from a similar concept that stalwarts Keysound Recordings hosted in 2018. The series formed an effective means of discovering new talent, providing opportunity and generating hype through the love of the sound. A free download series soon followed and and at the turn of the year an exciting rebrand revealed a stand-out aesthetic for their own event series and a Keep Hush takeover.
Manchester based Monir delivers Collusion EP, the first official More Cowbell release, set to land digitally on the 1st July which perfectly encompasses the 130 sound. This heavy weight three tracker goes in full throttle with a backbone of UK Techno. Broken kicks and highly swung percussion throughout, are complemented by tribal elements on lead track Collusion and steppy moves on Overpass & The Instinct. Early radio support on this coming from LCY, Keysound and Sicaria Sound and without doubt many more had our favourite underground club rooms been accessible as much as we all want them to be right now!
We caught up with MC founder EICH to find out more about the imprint as well as touch on a couple of relevant topics that are pressing in current times.
Hi Harriet, thanks for talking to us ahead of an exciting opening release! First and foremost, talk to us about the meaning behind the brand name “More Cowbell” and the inspiration behind starting it.
So I kind of took the idea from a song name by the producer Walton, I’ve been following him for a long time and a few years ago he released a tune called ‘More Cowbell’, which I thought was really funny. I remember back when this whole thing was kicking off in 2013, it was always just a joke you’d hear people say at raves and I think it originated from the old Swamp 81 shows on Rinse FM referring to the 808 cowbell sample you’d hear in a lot of those 130 type productions. Chunky would always be saying ‘needs more cowbell’ on the shows, which I think actually comes from a sketch with Will Ferrell. I just thought it was pretty jokes, and a pretty heard thing throughout the scene. Everybody seemed to get the reference anyway.
How would you best describe 130 as a genre?
It’s kind of a bit hard to place because I feel like when ‘130’ first emerged it was seen as that post-dubstep sound that merged the sounds of dubstep with techno and an added bit of shuffle from early 2-step, although I don’t really think people were calling it 130 back then. But now I think the term ‘130’ is pretty loose in terms of genre limits. There’s people doing loads of different stuff but still keeping the ‘sound’ that’s associated with it. You’ve got lots of people paying homage and taking influence from early sound that emerged in 2013, but you’ve also got producers focusing more on different elements like breaks, drill, 2-step, dubstep, techno etc.
More Cowbell’s early output was formed off the back of the exciting War Dubz series, how did that come about?
We essentially just picked two producers out of a hat and gave them a week to make a tune and there weren't really any creative boundaries at all. It actually ended up being a great way to discover new artists in the scene for me. Myself, Dusk and Blackdown actually did a Rinse show dedicated to the war dubs and it was the most hilariously anxiety inducing 2 hours of mixing two minute track into two minute track live on air.
Talk to us about the A&R processes for the label and how did Monir become the first producer on the Label?
I just try to keep my ears open for stuff I like, through Soundcloud, through the Facebook group or just people sending me tunes.
I’ve got a vision for the label and the sound we want to push and anybody who I think shares the same vision as me is usually somebody I would try to seek out to release with us. I think the link with Monir came about around Christmas time, he sent me a message with some tunes attached for my radio show and I loved them. I could hear a lot of my own influences in his music. I’d been playing a lot of his material out and about or on radio, and he quickly became one of my favourite new producers in the scene. I knew at some point I wanted to release with him, and he sent me Collusion and I was just like ‘yep, this is the one’, then the other two tunes came a couple of weeks later. To be honest, most of the tunes he sends me I love so it was actually quite difficult to just round it down to three.
How have you had to adapt your plans based on what’s been happened since the Covid-19 pandemic?
It’s quite a difficult one because Covid-19 just happened to coincide with the label launch, which sucks because releasing tunes you obviously want to hear them being played in the club, but I didn’t want to just put the label on hold and really had to look at the positives of the situation. I feel like from a personal standpoint now I need music more than ever, and right now I can put in more than I was before creatively because I have more time to do so. So I just had to forget about the fact that we won’t be hearing this on club systems for the moment and realise there’s other outlets for people to consume music. So we’re still releasing music, we just have to work harder to get it heard through the internet. I think it's really important to continue doing what we're doing, lockdown would be so much worse without music.
Another important topic to touch on is the recent Black Lives Matter protests. As people of white privilege, we are educating ourselves on the movement and the disparity between black and white at social, systemic and industry levels. We also recognise that we have a responsibility to listen, educate, and improve support for the BAME community’s fight, be more inclusive and give back to a culture that has given us so much. What impact has this had on the way that More Cowbell operate moving forward?
We all need to swallow a big white privilege pill and take responsibility for what’s going on around us. The conversations we're all having now should have been happening long before this. Listen, learn, donate, support, uplift, protest. We’ll be practicing all of these things.
Here's some material I've found really useful:
Audible - this company are doing a month free with two free books for people who may struggle reading; I'm currently listening to 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race' By Reni Eddo Lodge
Collusion EP is available to buy from July 1st - be sure to check out the show reel , expect eagerly anticipated excitement galore!