Basement Phil Talks Street Beats Reissues

Discogs states that Street Beats was the first Basement sub-label, why was it created?

Homegrown Records was actually the first sub label of Basement Records, Street Beats was the first sub label that purely focused on Drum & Bass.

When I was running Vinyl Distribution I made a decision not to sell hardcore and jungle anymore but to put all the resources of the company behind the new genre Drum & Bass. In those early days it wasn’t popular and selling in very small quantities, there was also only a few labels dedicated to this new sound so Street Beats was launched to help fill the gap and to give Basement Records another avenue to release music rather than putting out loads of releases through the one label.

Why two track 10 inch releases?

At the time 10″ dub plates were all the rage with a lot of DJs cutting them at Music House. The label was just following this trend.

They were often presented uncredited or missing track information, why was this?

In those early days we wanted the DJs to focus on the music and not who had made the tunes, it also brought a little mystery to the label.

To this day certain volumes are still uncredited, will we ever find out who made them all?

Unfortunately when I left Vinyl Distribution I left a lot of the paperwork history of Street Beats there and over the following years it all got lost. The DAT’s are marked as the releases so it’s unlikely I will ever be able to confirm the exact details.

The Truper series captured Photek at his rawest and featured some of his most celebrated amens, what did you think when you first heard these?

I was first aware of Photek when he released his “Jump EP” on Cert 18 (as Studio Pressure) and the “Something of Real Existence EP” on 3rd Eye (as System X). I got his number from Ray Keith and invited him down to Vinyl Distribution for a chat. To help him along I gave him a nice advance to help improve his studio and the 10″ releases were to recoup that advance. I came up with the Truper name by just taking the T from Rupert and putting it at the front to emphasise that Rupert was a Drum & Bass trooper marching along with the new sound.

As for what I thought? Well, blown away would have been an accurate description! The relationship grew over many years and I was privileged to receive some stunning tracks for my Basement label.

I launched Rupert’s Photek label through Vinyl Distribution which cemented his place in Drum & Bass history as one of the greats, if not the all time greatest.

These were recently released for the first time digitally and on twelve inch vinyl, can you explain why you decided to do this and the restoration process?

When I first went onto Facebook I was bombarded by fans of the label about reissuing a lot of the catalogue, when I found hot how much the 10″ records were selling for, as they were only sold in limited quantities when originally released, I thought a reissue would be warranted. As a collector of records I did not want to release on 10″ so those that have paid a lot, or spent years collecting, still have something exclusive so decided to reissue on 12″ singles instead.

Some of the tracks were cut from original DAT’s and some were cut from vinyl as the DAT’s were corrupted but ensured the quality was there for all to hear. To make it a special release, it was limited to a 500 issue and came with a pair of Street Beats slipmats and 12 track CD. The CD also featured 9 tracks that Photek recorded for Basement Records under his Sentinel pseudonym.

The second volume of reissues features the long lost Crazy Day Dreams by Roger Johnson and Peshay previously only available on dubplate to a handful of people. What made you include it as part of the reissue when it was never actually released? Was it originally scheduled for the series?

When Street Beats was launched Roger was the in house engineer at Basement Records with a studio in the Basement of the Vinyl Distribution head office. He was instrumental in the success of the label in those early days. Once again a lot of people requested this track, if I remember right it was actually licenced to be released but never came out, so I spoke to Roger and asked him if he was cool about including it on the Street Beats Volume 2 LP. This triple pack features a lot of tracks made by Roger on his own and his collaborations with Peshay.

The third volume is a twelve inch double pack by Oblivion otherwise known as Source Direct, these are some of the finest examples of nineties drum and bass and highly sought after. What can you tell us about these tracks and the reissue?

Rupert (Photek) introduced me to Phil & Jim when they were first starting out which then led to the launch of the Source Direct label through Vinyl Distribution. In return for the help I gave them in those early years Phil & Jim then produced a series of releases for me personally showing their deeper musical vibe as they knew this style of DnB would get me really excited. I was pleased as punch to release their X Files and Oblivion projects on Basement and Street Beats. I was recently approached by Joy Orbison’s management about licensing “Lush” for an upcoming mix album he was working on so I contacted Phil & Jim to discuss releasing the Oblivion tracks as, once again, they are highly sought after and expensive to buy. The guys were happy for me to reissue this double pack and it will be available real soon.

You recently played me a test press of the reissues (which I’m now lucky enough to own) and once again hearing them played loud in a record store was truly something magical. Are you happy with how the reissues are turning out and how they are being received?

I am really pleased with the reissues, I know some purists out there hate the idea of cutting from vinyl when DAT’s are no longer available or damaged but I have spent a lot of money working with only the best mastering engineers and cutters out there to ensure that the quality is up to the standards fans of Basement Records and its sub labels have come to expect. I feel this has been achieved and even though some of the tracks have been mastered from vinyl it’s hard to spot them as they sound excellent. A big shout goes out to Stu, Beau and Shane.

What can we expect in the future, anymore unreleased tracks hidden up your sleeve? If I was to say the VDLP comp….?

I have a few more coming, two more Homegrown packs (Volume 3 & 4) and then the Eze G reissues, Data Dump and Old Trainers (the 4 tracks released on the Street Beats 10″s) plus the Unnatural Light & Soundscape releases. There will be some Digital only reissues from my Pivotal Entertainment Label and that’s it for Basement reissues. As for the VDLP, unfortunately, for a number of reasons this will never be released. I am now concentrating on releasing just new music and first up is the soon to be released Precious Material relaunch. This label always had a special place in my heart and I am still loving DnB with a strong emphasis on the musical side so hope this new project gets the attention it deserves. The Album is called “A New Beginning” and features Head Hunter, Jazz Juice, Ray Keith, Physics, Paul SG, Soultec, Jrumhand, Okee, Aquasion, Silence Groove, Actraiser & Tidal. I am now working on compiling Volume 2 which will be all exclusive tracks and I am already buzzing with some of the tunes signed…