England’s brilliant Omni Music label (helmed by producer Eschaton) is quickly tearing up the underground Drum n Bass scene with it’s quality releases. Eschaton has successfully managed to group together up and coming talents like The Drumkilla (check out his interview here), Kasious, and Mutants. As well as some heavy hitting legends like Pete Rann, Voyager, LM1, and one of my personal favorites, Aural Imbalance. By seamlessly amalgamating old and new, Omni has become something to behold for listeners who prefer the more classic atmospheric stylings, as opposed to the contemporary Pop based DnB structure.
Founded in 2011, the label and it’s owner has put out numerous tracks, EPs, LPs, and even some physical vinyl releases from artists who reside all over the world.
I discovered Eschaton’s solo work through the brilliant Drum & Space compilations some time a few years ago, but had no idea that he was at the helm of such a brilliant label. I was able to speak with him about what it takes to start a label, acquire some tips for aspiring businessmen, and he was even kind enough to provide an epic Mega-Mix for the site (please listen above).
Prox: Who were some of your favorite musicians growing up? Were you only a fan of electronica or were you influenced by other genres as well?
Eschaton: Being a child of the 80’s I was subjected to a host of different genres. I always enjoyed Electro and some Synth Pop and Nu-beat, but as I was so young I listened to all sorts of music from Rock to Depeche Mode to Jean-Michel Jarre. It wasn't until the late 80's that Acid-House started to explode and I got a taste for that, so I started avidly listening to any radio show I could. That music blew my mind and sounded so different, so unlike anything I'd heard. It's then I started making an effort to hear things and hearing all the music that led up to that. I heard the Acid from Chicago and the techno from Detroit and there was no way back.
Growing up I wouldn't say I had any favourite musicians that stood out above others as there was so much to hear and so many different styles. I wasn't a fan of just electronic music as a youngster, but that certainly came along and shook me to my senses. After that and through the 90's, my main passion was electronic music. I still listened to other styles, from early stargazing and psychedelic guitar music to earlier classic artists from the 60's onwards, but electronic music was at the forefront for me as it was new, exciting and ever-evolving.
Barely a month went by without hearing something new that hadn't been done before. The music started to split from Acid House/Rave to Hardcore, Techno, House, Ambient (etc, etc) and it just kept going. Even now there are so many releases that I missed in one particular genre that it's still a great and eye-opening listening experience searching back through artists back catalogues.
Prox: Why did you choose Eschaton as your production moniker?
Eschaton: I’ve always been into more shamanic/spiritual ways of thinking and Eschaton relates heavily to shamanic principles and how the whole of history is drawn forward to the ‘last thing’ (derived from the ancient Greek word ‘éskhatos’).
Consciousness being drawn towards a final unity. It embodies everything we as conscious creatures contain and that is the essence of my music and Omni Music, to reflect all; the yin and the yang, the light and the dark, the totality of moods and sounds. You probably wish you’d never asked me that now, ha ha.
Prox: What was the DnB scene like in the 90s (tonally, popularity, radio play) in England as opposed to now? Did you ever get the chance to see any of the DnB superstars like LTJ Bukem, Goldie, or Photek perform?
Eschaton: The early 90’s when the music transformed from rave/techno and breakbeat into Jungle/drum and bass was a time like no other. It constantly reinvented itself and evolved from 1993 to 1997 with barely a second to sit back and think about what was going on. One reason I think it has stood the test of time, is that there is so much to go back to and re-visit. It was an incredible time for creativity and without the luxury of the internet to constantly feed you new music, the only way you’d hear anything new was at the raves and clubs, the radio stations or by visiting your local record shop. It was much more satisfying when you stumbled upon a track you’d heard a DJ play months before in a record shop, it was a buzz moment and that seems to be missing a tad now. It was all new and exciting then and you really had to work hard to hear the music you wanted to hear.
The scene has become much more fragmented, with sub-genres here and there, so it’s very different from how it was back then. With the resurgence of the older break-driven sounds, plus the constant stretching of technological capabilities, it’s rediscovered the excitement and there are some great club nights springing up in each locality to cater to that, which is great.
I have seen LTJ Bukem and Goldie perform back in the 90’s, but to be honest, back then it wasn’t just about those superstars, it included the other long standing DJ’s such as Fabio, Grooverider, Randall, DJ SS, Tango, Ratty and so on. They were what you went to see as they had the tunes which wouldn’t see the light of day for months, and there was always something new to hear. In 1991 and 1992 I enjoyed local DJ's as much, attending local nights was as eye-opening as anything, and of course the local underground radio station (in my case it was 'Rave FM' followed by 'Touch FM').
Prox: Many of your song titles reference spiritual, scientific, and psychedelic concepts. Is it safe to assume that you have a vested interest in these fields? Have you experimented with any mind-altering substances and if so, how have they contributed to your artistry and philosophy?
Eschaton: I've always had an interest in paranormal subjects due to a number of personal incidents that happened to me growing up. So from that I have been naturally curious about how these things fit into science's view of the universe and wanted to understand them. Having a keen interest in those fields developed more and more as I got older and as I read more and more material about Eastern philosophy, Quantum physics, astronomy, and shamanism. There were of course a few psychedelic experiences along the way and they helped me make sense of some things and have increased my understanding.
The ideas creep into my music quite heavily as it's an inspiration that has taken root in my subconscious. I think those ideas contributed to my compositions by making me decide to approach tracks from a different angle and try and consider putting something different in that maybe hasn't been done before. There's a kind of unwritten rule in this music that it has to be done a certain way, and sometimes I just think, 'well stuff that, I'm going to do this for a change'.
Prox: Omni is quickly amassing a catalogue of heavy hitting newcomers and even some legends like Aural Imbalance, Voyager, LM1, and Pete Rann. How does it feel to have such an incredible mix of old and new?
Eschaton: I feel quite humbled to be able to release such great music from people such as Voyager and DJ Trax, etc, that I grew up listening to. It’s one of those things that you don't notice until you suddenly sit back and think about it and you kind of wonder how you managed it, ha ha ha. But it's great to be able to do it, I just wish I'd done it sooner. It's also a great feeling to give new artists their first chance in getting their incredible music heard, I am lucky to have been contacted by so many talented people and I hope that they continue to push forward with the music they love.
Prox: The label has maintained a sound that was much more prominent in the 90s and early 00s. Why did you opt to gear the label towards more atmospheric, jungle oriented elements as opposed to contemporary Drum n Bass/Dance stylings?
Eschaton: Well I guess because to me that's the timeless sound of DnB and what really took it to the next level. It's a style that has infinite forms of expression and there are artists still creating new forms, so really, why ignore it? That's really what the label was set up for, to allow those great artists who would otherwise be overlooked to have some exposure, and also bring back some of the classic artists that helped shape the sound of timeless DnB. I'm also a big fan of some experimental DnB, where the artists go that little bit further and twist their sounds into something entirely different, but still with that nod to the timeless sound. I've always loved breaks and breakbeats and it's refreshing to hear them being used in new ways instead of just a rolling 2 step pattern of monotony. I'd like to think that overall Omni kind of bridges that gap between contemporary and classic styles, with releases that incorporate both.
Prox: What are your hopes for the label? Where we would you like to see the label in five years?
Eschaton: Someone asked me that question a year after I had set the label up and I can't remember my response but it would probably be different from the one I'm going to give now. I think Omni has achieved a lot since it's inception in early 2011 (almost 5 years ago in fact!), we've had 4 vinyl releases with some incredible artists on them, numerous CD releases, and amassed a huge catalogue of EP's and LP's. I'm not sure what else I can wish for really. I've started branching out into other styles that I love on the Ohm Series, so I'd like to see that get as successful as the main part of the label. In 5 years, I'd probably like to see the label increase it's fan base as it's really the fans that make it what it is, and I'd like to see our music in different areas around the globe that have not been touched by this music. Music is the medium that can unite, which in this time of seemingly increased turmoil is needed more than ever. With the increase of media coverage of bad events and paranoia comes the need to unite and transcend the problems. If we can all find a common denominator such as music and let that break down barriers between people, countries, and continents, then half the battle is won and we'll see the world and each other for what it is; beautiful and all connected as one. If Omni can reach out through the fog of ignorance and touch more people over the next 5 years, then I think that's a job well done.
Prox: You have released a sizable amount of tracks and full length LPs. Is it difficult to put out so many tracks on a consistent basis?
Eschaton: Personally it's not difficult as I'm extremely organized, which is a skill I had to have as a manager. I'm always working at least 3 months ahead of myself. It takes a lot of dedication and thought to put so much out and multi-tasking is paramount. I often find myself doing 5 things at once. I could be uploading a release to the distributor while creating artwork for a release that's coming out in 2 months time, while rendering down the masters of a release that's 3 months in the future. So organization is the key, and sticking to the goals you make. Most Omni artists will tell you I've hassled them at some point to finish something, ha ha. I like to keep it all ticking over smoothly so I'm quite persistent, probably to the point of being annoying for some.
But I do it to keep the flow of the music being released as I know the fans are always wanting to hear more. The only difficulty I could foresee with putting out so many tracks, although this is yet to happen, is finding tracks of the right quality. Like I said, that hasn't happened yet, and I can't see it happening any time soon as I continue to get some great dubs and demos through, and when I hit a dry spell I just hassle some artists :P
I want to keep Omni at the forefront of the DnB scene. Even though we pale in comparison to labels such as Metalheadz, Hospital, Fokuz and so on and so forth, Omni Music has something new to give to the scene and the quality will always be as high as any major-league label.
Prox: Could you give us a few pointers on making DnB? What are some of the essentials for making atmospheric tracks?
Eschaton: I guess every artist approaches things in their own way. I think first and foremost you need to have a passion for it and an ear for melody. It helps if you're musically proficient as well, that way you can entice the best of whatever you play. Another thing is that you still have to be inventive. You can't just stick an ambient pad in behind a sub bass and beat and expect it to sound good.
However, I think the most important thing (whether it's atmospheric, jungle, drumfunk or whatever) is to make the style your own, don't try to emulate other artists. Define your own distinctive take on the music as that is what you'll be remembered for, not sounding like a copy and paste robot.
So, have a passion and feel free to make the sound your own. Listen to what others do, check their mixdowns and see how they match to your own, but be original and love what you do and let the ideas flow. If you're dedicated enough and believe in yourself, the results will happen.
Prox: What are some tips you have for people who would like to start a label? Tell us about how much work goes on behind the scenes. How much have you learned about yourself and the industry throughout this entire process?
There's a tremendous amount of work really. The number one thing is that you have to be organized. Having worked in an office as a manager for 20+ years, I could transfer those skills into running a label, so it's about being organized and staying on top things. It's good to give yourself deadlines too or things just lapse.
In terms of the work, it involves sourcing tracks and artists, being in continual communication with artists (well as much as possible, it's hard when I've got 50 or so artists on the label), organizing artwork, mastering, and liaising with the distributor. On top of that there is promotion (posting on social media, Facebook, forums, etc), plus guest mixes, and organizing promo packs for DJ's. Then there's the accounting side of things, collecting royalties, working out artist's shares, and paying them. There is of course the ball ache of putting in a tax return too, which is a heck of a lot of work for such a small label, but unfortunately it has to be done.
So it's very time-consuming, and in all honesty can at times be frustrating, but the reward is getting the incredible music out there for all to hear and to be able to give something back to the artists for their hard work, is great.
Prox: What are some of your favorite tracks and releases from your catalogue?
Eschaton: That's a difficult question as obviously I like everything I release and it's hard to single out anything in particular. If I was to try and think of some off the top of my head though I'd say anything from Jiva, Drumkilla, Cryogenics and Parhelia, the recent vinyl releases that featured Future Engineers, Justice, Voyager, Aural Imbalance and others; Mine and Enjoy's 'Symbiosis LP' still sounds layered and intricate every time I listen to it (sometimes you get that lost in the production when making it so you don't appreciate what you've done). I'd certainly also say mono_sono – Staggered is always a firm favourite as well. There's such a lot of material and I think it depends on my specific state of mind as to what I prefer on what day to be honest. The forthcoming EP by Optimystic is pretty fine, with some exquisite attention to detail. Tomorrow you could ask me the same question and I'll give you a completely different answer :)
Prox: What are some of your favorite hobbies? What can we usually find you doing on a typical Friday night?
Eschaton: Apart from music my hobbies include Traveling, Hiking, Kick & Thai boxing and martial arts, going to the gym, jogging, cycling, astronomy, reading copious amounts of history, philosophy, paranormal case studies, and physics. And of course I like a good movie (or a bad movie according to my wife).
Normally Friday night is the night I chill out, as I'm worn out from the week’s shenanigans! A good night to recharge your batteries, have a little lie-in on a Saturday and then you're ready for anything again :)
Prox: Final thoughts?
Eschaton: Well I'd probably finish by giving everyone who has supported Omni Music a huge thank you, as we can't do this without you. It's a lot of hard work for everyone involved and we hope our fans appreciate that. Also all the DJ's who have played and supported Omni, huge thank you and respects to all of you.
I'll end with a thank you to every artist on the label and I urge your readers to check out any music they put out as it's always of the highest calibre. I'll be careful not to miss anyone ;)
Massive respects to: Fushara, Shebuzzz, Roo Stercogburn, Macc, Parallel, Greenleaf, Infest, Quasi, Fada, Shadow Boxerz, Enjoy, Ursa, Wilsh, Jiva, Cycom, Nic TVG, Relapse, Cavernous Space/Made in Russia, Indidjinous, CJ Weaver, Stunna, Pete Rann, Ricky Force, Jason Os (Daat), Hidden Life, Zengineers, Sprinter, Sumone, Neil S, Madcap, Reborn, Maff, Marvel Cinema, Icewind, mono_sono, Phasix, Physikal, Noble Sense, PILA, Okee, St Kaaz, Paluca, Scale, T.G.M, Fishy, Parhelia, Acid Lab, Paztech, Sky Residents, Asymmetric/Limit, Audapta, Abstract Drumz, Foci's Left, Justice, Metro, Goreteks, Nemanoe, S Kid, Aural Imbalance, Sub, Tidal, Dwarde, Tim Reaper, Oscillist, Arabaraq, Zebedee, Hansollo, K-Chaos + Luster Lamps, Cryogenics, Borja, Booca, Subfilter, Bass'Flo, Voyager, DJ Trax, dgoHn, DJ Senator, Storehouse, Drummotive, Leonux, Kappadee, Deep Stealth, Perceiver, Rehabilitation Units, Simon Bean, Beckett, J Digital, NSF Sick and Destroy, Wavkiller, Stranjah, ICO, Two Ghosts, Drumloop 808, Sativa and Destroy 2K, Phuture T, Modul8 and Sickhead, Speak, Audioholic, Ziyal, Fr.om, Christian Bokhove, Hidden Sound, Brijawi, Meanone, J-Breaks, Flow Steremov, LM1, Theory, Dissident, Subdata, Synth-Tesia, Mental Duo, Jaskin, Brad Impact, Echo Echo, Rainforest, Peron, OTM, NSF Bad Answer, DSP, Mendelayev, NSF Different thoughts, Jnr Bryson, Moreno, Anonymi, Derek Carr, Paul Addie, Kasious, Reximus, Mutants, Martianman, Fruktumungus, Drama, Jamie Simmonds, Mental Forces, The Drumkilla, Total Sceptic, Daniel Knoxville, Pageant, The Dicemen, Becki Biggins, Future Engineers, and Terminus....phew...
I've prepared a mix to say a final farewell where I decided to take things in unusual directions and feature a host of rarely mixed or heard older tracks of what to me, is timeless and experimental Drum and Bass, including some artists you'd never associate with making Drum and Bass. It also features a great selection of so far unreleased tracks from Cavernous Space, who has always been an artist I admire and I feel deserves much more exposure.
I wanted to create a whole new universe with this mix, so sit back and drift to 3 hours of epic timeless beats, and unusually for my mixes, there's not 1 Omni Music track included, so you should check them out yourselves on our Bandcamp page ;)
For more information and releases, check out the Omni Music Bandcamp page, here. If you did not do so at the beginning of the article, please enjoy the wonderful Mega-Mix Eschaton has provided for us. You can also listen, here.