The meteoric rise of Innamind Recordings as a staple go-to label is a story of profound beauty. Founded three years ago by a young Jeremy Pattinson, Innamind has grown from a digital only platform to a crucial “all-eyes-on” vinyl imprint releasing eccentric bass driven sounds rooted in the foundational aesthetic – dubstep in its purest art form. However, unlike some of his peers behind other well known and highly respected flagship labels, Jeremy lacked any prior producer titles or iconic DJ credentials. Where System and Artikal were logical moves for Vivek and J:Kenzo, Jeremy’s reasoning (against all warning and advice) rested on one simple notion: for the love of the sound. A combination of careful decision making and timely releases, coupled with a strong artist portfolio attracting a loyal fan base has seen Innamind evolve into an iconic record label cum global brand championing “instabag” status, a privilege only few can command in today’s music climate. With Innamind’s 14th release on the horizon and Blacklist002 in the pipeline, Jake and I finally managed to pin down Jeremy for an interview to discuss the success of his label, his new ventures in the US, and what he has planned for the future. He also kindly recorded an exclusive dubplate mix.
TRUSIK: So Jeremy this has been a long time coming, Jake and I are very grateful for you taking the time to speak with us. We wanted to open by saying congratulations on your green card – that must be a weight lifted off your shoulders – how does it feel?
KURSK: Thanks a lot man, it still feels surreal to be honest. The whole process was hugely time consuming and drained a lot of energy from me, so it is definitely great to have it all sorted out.
TRUSIK: By way of introduction for any readers who aren’t familiar with you and your work, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
KURSK: My name is Jeremy Pattinson, and I am currently based in Los Angeles, California. I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand where I started playing records under the alias Kursk from about 2008. I also operate and run Innamind Recordings and now our brand new sister label called Blacklist.
TRUSIK: Having grown up in New Zealand, would you say that the dub/reggae and sound system culture which exists over there played a big part in your discovery of the sound?
KURSK: Definitely. Going to the Subtle Sound System dances was when I first got the introduction to the sound. Big up my brother Ill FigZ (who owns subtle sound system), he brought through a plethora of some of the biggest names pushing the sound at the time. He also brought me through and gave me my first set on his system. Subtle Sound System for those who are not familiar is the biggest custom-built sound system in Australasia and it really was one of the biggest driving influences to me in the early days of wanting to start my own label. I also had the pleasure of seeing Vex’d live at an outdoor festival at the end of 2007 and that really changed things for me as well, I think to this day it’s still one of, if not, the best DJ set I have ever heard.
TRUSIK: You’ve also been quite the traveller moving between NZ, India, the UK and now the US. What was the reasoning behind your recent move to LA?
KURSK: Well the reason I choose Cali was because I really enjoy the weather and I have some good friends out here so it made it an easy decision. Having one direct flight to New Zealand was also a huge advantage of moving to Cali. Mesck lives here and we have formed a pretty strong friendship and we are in the process of starting something together at the moment. The scene in LA is really strong too, there are a lot of heads out here who all have a lot of love for the music.
TRUSIK: You had a massive US tour in 2013 and then the Innamind showcase with True Nature in Brooklyn. In your experience, how has the reception of the music been in America in comparison with the UK?
KURSK: America is an amazing place, I am really honoured to be able to call this place home, and there is so much happening always. True Nature is an absolute legend. True Nature and Coh are like brothers to me and their night ‘4th Temple” really sets the bar high every time, always incredible vibes there and amazing people. The whole tour was a lot of fun, it was crazy to me to actually see how deep the love for the sound goes out here, I think when you tour around you get to see that more. The people out here really appreciate everything, I think more so than the UK where people might have been spoiled for so long. Everyone is there for the music and it really shows, all the promoters are great people as well. I have to say my highlights of the tour were 4th temple in NYC, B-Side in LA and Gritsy in Houston – that system is insane, earthquake material, I heard that the Submission party was also incredible but I unfortunately had to let Quest and LAS go there alone because I had my green card interview on the eve of the party.
TRUSIK: In the UK, it seems the hype around dubstep has somewhat faded over the last few years, with grime and other bass music stepping more into the limelight. Why do you think this might be, and is it the same case overseas?
KURSK: I guess when I was living there I did notice it and I can agree with what you are saying to some extent. People are still buying the records in the UK, it is still our biggest market and the demand for vinyl records is the highest it’s been since I started the label, I just think from a promoters point of view its not the most lucrative music to push. I personally am not that fazed by the lack of nights pushing our sound at the moment, the ones that do are doing it are doing it proper.
TRUSIK: I’m sure you’ve seen the comments made over style stagnation and a general lack of innovation at 140 BPM which is true to an extent, however I think it’s fair to say there are some interesting ideas being explored at the moment. For someone who is at the heart of it all, what are your thoughts on this?
KURSK: Of course, in a scene as small as ours there are always going to be similarities popping up from time to time, but I think most new producers that I’m hearing these days need to have more patience with their productions and focus on creating their own unique style and sound. They shouldn’t focus too much on how other producers make their tracks, it seems to me like a lot of people want to be the next Gantz, Commodo or LAS but you will never be unique or stand out from the crowd if you are trying to copy what other producers are doing. I have had a few demos from people in the past where they have actually said that they have tried to sound as much like LAS or like Gantz as they could. That’s all well and good for a bit of fun, but if you are wanting to be serious about things and actually get some music signed it’s never going to happen if you are blatantly trying to sound like a another producer. The music just isn’t going to stand out to me.
TRUSIK: Innamind has certainly come into it’s own over the last few years and is now one of the most talked about labels. What originally attracted you to putting music out on vinyl?
KURSK: It was always my dream and aspiration of mine to put music out on vinyl. At the very beginning of the label in 2011, no one wanted to give me a physical distribution deal. I must have sent letters and emails to more than five different companies and none of them got back to me. I realised I would have to start with digital releases only, but myself being a vinyl collector and player that wasn’t something I was very happy about. I knew though that in the long run that was what I was going to have to sacrifice in the time-being to get to where I wanted to be. I also thought and held onto the fact that there is something special about putting music on a physical format for both the artist and the label, where you can actually hold and see your hard work and time you invested. Each record takes a lot of time and careful planning and I think its really rewarding when you receive the test presses and first drop the needle on the record to hear that music on physical format and then to get to hold the finished product is also something really special.
TRUSIK: The aesthetics for the label appear to be particularly well put together, how important do you think the visual element of a label is?
KURSK: I think the look of a label is really important, not AS important as the music but it’s definitely something that you need to have correlate with the sounds that are associated with it. We are always looking for new designers we can collaborate with on projects; we have some interesting state side artists we are working alongside on some bigger projects this year. We have a gatefold double 12” coming up and we and have secured this amazing illustrator based here in L.A. who has taken on the project. I also love to give my artists, creative artistic freedom. I think that it is very important, if they want to put a moose on the record (just like LAS and Mikael did for IMRV008) then hell yeah, lets put a moose on the record.
TRUSIK: What would you say is unique about your label that sets it apart from the rest?
KURSK: I always struggle to answer that question for some reason but I will have a crack at it. I guess it has something to do with our tight nit family of producers who are all making such diverse music, we are not pigeon holed into one specific sound like a lot of other labels out there are. Every artist wants to be involved with Innamind for what it is. I think as far as advice goes I would say you just have to have a vision and an idea of what direction you want to move in and then just gun for it, try not to pay to much attention to what is going on around you and if you are passionate about what you are doing it will shine through in the end. A HUGE thing is to be very very picky about what you release, I am the first to admit I might have made the mistake of releasing a couple things that I am not that proud of in the past, but that is all part of growing and finding your feet and direction.
TRUSIK: Do you have plans to expand the roster? Are there any breakthrough acts you’re keeping an eye on, especially in the States?
KURSK: I have signed a couple fresh artists, both from Europe that I am looking forward to announcing very soon for the IMRV series. I would love to sign a couple artists from the USA and I am constantly on the hunt for fresh producers, there are a few people (I won’t say any names) that I have my eyes on out here but I feel they still need a little more time. I am overly picky when it comes to signing new artists, but I think thats is very important.
TRUSIK: Your decision to do a one off pressing with Epoch (which sold out in a manner of minutes) and a recent release under the title BLACKLIST are interesting moves as they aren’t formally under the Innamind “name”. Do you feel these releases are still within the Innamind “family” or are different avenues to explore different sounds?
KURSK: Most definitely still under the same umbrella. With Blacklist, I wanted to create something a little different with no real boundaries. I wanted to create a new outlet for our artists who maybe want to release some of their more experimental tracks. I plan to take the Blacklist series pretty far, and the next few months for the outlet are looking pretty interesting. When people ask me what the difference is between Innamind and Blacklist I say, If you remember the Xmen cards from back in the mid 90s you will remember they had a couple of special series called “Versus” and “Spring Break”. Blacklist is to Innamind what “Spring Break” was to the 95 Xmen cards.
TRUSIK: You’ve also recently had to repress some of your older releases due to popular demand, was there any other reason for doing so other than that there was a market for it?
KURSK: Well the main reason I ran some represses was so that all the new supporters of the label had a chance at getting their hands on the music, bare in mind that the earlier releases we were only pressing 300 units and now we are pressing upwards to 1000 per release so I felt that there were a lot of people missing out. The represses are clearly marked “repress” and there are some minor differences with the artwork from the original pressings so that the original collectors still have their original pressings, it was just a way for us to get more music out there to the people. I was also tired of seeing wankers like Tanmushimushi buying up like 20 copies of each release and then putting them on Discogs for stupid amounts of money, that guy has no shame.
TRUSIK: With the release format focused around 10” and 12” records, have you given any thought to putting out a second compilation album given the amount of music you must be sitting on? Perhaps a digital bundle of some sort?
KURSK: I want to do something with the Blacklist series when we are a few more releases deep but other than that I just want to keep the main focus of the label to be vinyl. I sometimes feel with compilation releases that there can be a lack of flow and quality control with so many different tunes spread out over one release.
TRUSIK: Is my imagination running wild or is it true that some Kursk production is floating about? Can we expect a solo or collaborative Kursk record anytime soon?
KURSK: (LAUGHS) I think your imagination is in orbit man… well I stopped messing around with production pretty much when I started the label, mainly because the label is so time consuming and I personally don’t really have the patience for producing anymore, I really struggle with attention and for some reason I find the process a rather lonely one. I enjoy working on beats with friends from time to time but don’t think anything will ever come of it. Also, I think the level of music I am sent every day is so high that I feel I would have to sit in a studio for about 20 years to get myself to a level that I would feel comfortable with.
TRUSIK: We talked about the aesthetics of the label earlier but you’ve also been working with a couple of talented designers to build an appealing line of Innamind merchandise. Thelem, Coh, and Hekkla have contributed so far but who else have you been collaborating with and when can we expect to get our hands on some new gear? Also, who will be designing the label art from now on given Hekkla’s departure of this role?
KURSK: We are in the process of sorting out some fresh designs and we have some cool collaborations in the works with a couple different artists from here and there. LAS is currently the chief designer, he is coming up with some pretty awesome stuff. Next up will be some Blacklist Merch which will drop alongside BLACKLIST002.
TRUSIK: So what else can we expect from the Innamind / Blacklist family in 2015, is there any other forthcoming material, interesting projects, or up and coming music gigs you can inform the readers on?
KURSK: Loads of stuff in the pipeline. The Blacklist project is gaining momentum and I have some nice releases planned out for the rest of the year. For the IMRV series I want to keep rolling them out and will introduce some newly signed artists on there very soon. IMRV014 is a 3 track EP by the young master Karma and I have 015 and 016 waiting in the wings. We have some bigger projects in the works for Blacklist so really looking forward to working hard on those and seeing them come to fruition. Also, we are currently planning a UK / EU label tour. We were originally going to be heading there in July but unfortunately the dates have been pushed back due to a couple of venue problems, so it’s now looking like the beginning of 2016.
TRUSIK: Could you take us through the mix you put together for us.
KURSK: It’s a mystical journey… (laughs) nah. It’s just a bunch of tunes I have been feeling, more of a focus on the IMRV series than Blacklist.
TRUSIK: Thank you for your time Jezza, we hope the forthcoming projects are well received by your fans – I’m sure it will be. Are there any final comments / shout outs you wanna share to wrap things up?
KURSK: Thanks a lot mate, big up yourself for all the hard work you do for the scene. Thanks a lot to everyone who has supported the label since day one, thanks to the people who doubted me and told me that I shouldn’t be wasting my time starting a label, you know who you are.
Shout Outs: Wifey (Alicia), Mum (Pam), Gran (flo), Dad (Gary), Brother (Ben), Charles & Barbara, FigZ, Shitarm, Zaine Woolf, Shine, Bev, Dub Savage, Mesck, Shatterz Gang, Gantz, Epoch, LAS, Mikael, Thelem, Karma, Quest, Perverse, Mat (Unearthed – best distribution around), Joe Nice, Maro, Coh, T Natty, Florian and Catalin, Justin, Chris (Well Tempered), Jon (Rail Bird), Beau for all the mastering, Vivek for the advice and support, Commodo, Hekkla, Youngsta and everyone else who has ever supported the label that I have missed out, I have a feeling there are some more, I’m sorry for missing you.
TRUSIK: A track…
by your favourite new artist: Egoless – From the Balkans (even though he’s not “new”)
you wish you had signed to Innamind: LAS – Malfunctions
you’re currently opening your sets with: Ishan Sound – E.O.D
which everyone is talking about in 2015: LAS – Pocosink (Commodo Remix)
Photos by Niels Ijpelaar and Innamind.