Q&A: Jamie Tiller (Music From Memory)
There are few greater feelings in the life of a record collector or DJ than uncovering a truly hidden gem, the sort of tracks that you shove in your mate’s face with pride, or alternatively keep concealed until the moment is right to unleash its latent power. For many people, this sensation is all-too infrequent; to others, it comes naturally. Jamie Tiller and the Music From Memory gang are in the lucky latter camp. Their attitude to “the hidden gem” is far from clandestine. As owners of the label Music From Memory they are more akin to the aforementioned mate that can’t wait to wax lyrical about their new acquisition.
It is a reissue company that has found its niche in dragging up downtrodden tracks from the abyss of music history and nursing them back to health to become some of the most heard and IDed sounds of the past few years. The unknown becomes the undisputedly popular – and hope is restored every doggedly dirty-kneed crate digger out there. With the release of a double disc CD compilation of the Music From Memory back catalogue earlier this year, it shows that the label is not only looking back into music history, but is reflecting on its own past and achievements. The label’s eminence has been sealed, along with that of the relatively new concept of the reissue label.
We had a quick chat with Jamie ahead of his return to Leeds, and debut at HiFi for Nord.
I recently spoke to Chuggy about running a reissue label, and he explained the interesting world of licensing records, and competition between labels. What is your take on this? Have you ever had any disputes (without wishing to cause any beef)?
From my own personal perspective, and I’ve said this before; I’m just most interested in these labels who side step the whole record hype and are on their own journey. Labels that like to introduce rather than cater to Discogs wants lists. These labels that only chase after records that have become hyped or coined by certain DJs or have a 100,000 YouTube hits and so on just have very little personal interest to me. Of course, no one person can claim to have discovered a record but there’s definitely certain DJs or taste makers that rediscovered or at least massively reignited the interest in certain records or caused the demand to jump massively. It appears, at least outwardly, that some labels’ only point of interest is in chasing these kind of records like it’s a race. I just find it massively dull. Labels that go after records that were essentially unknown until a certain DJ played them or web shops (run by reissue labels!) hipped everyone to a record. This kind of stuff is madness to me. That kind of stuff is just straight up biting! I’m just not into this very capitalist free for all of “I don’t care what this music means to me”, or it’s a free market type attitude. So yeah sometimes we unfortunately we cross paths with these kind of labels, but we just let it go and move on.
Do you think we might see a rise in the number of reissue labels? What do you think is the reason for this trend? Are people bored of new music now?
That’s inevitable. I think there’s a lot of amazing music which is simply undiscovered. It’s still happening of course. Those who get the biggest platform are often not the most talented. Visual art has been looking retrospectively for years and re-evaluating itself and rediscovering, so it will continue with music also. It’s a healthy thing when its done with love and not just money or ego in mind.
“Experimental tracks that nonetheless function as dance music” – these are words from Chee Shimzu, who recorded a mix for your latest CD release. Do you think this describes the Music From Memory sound for the most part? Do you think that it is the DJ/label owner’s job to reconfigure what dance music is?
Yes our love of unexpected dance music is definitely one part of what we do!
The labels have a very fine balance between “club” music and “ambient” music. Is this a reflection of your lifestyle? How important is it to you to have both of these elements – both dancing and meditation or relaxation?
I can say personally that I’m very much interested in music for the home and music for the club. I’m not so much interested in ‘cool’ tracks or collecting records for the sake of it.
In past interviews, you have explained the benefits of looking for bargains, rather than valuing the ‘big’ tunes played by “big” DJs. What has been your favourite or most memorable experience of crate digging?
All the places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met, as much as the records I’ve found. Buying record online doesn’t have that same feeling of an experience attached to the record.
Have some artists been surprised when you approach them in order to license a record? I remember hearing Awesome Tapes talk about the shock of long-forgotten artists who are suddenly rediscovered.
They’re all pretty surprised to be honest! At the beginning we contacted an artist that another label was also, it turned out, in talks with. Being in a kind of situation where that artist was well aware of the interest took a fair bit of the enjoyment away, to be honest.
One of the problems that people have with reissues is the horror that some people experience when they buy a record for a lot of money only for it to be re-released at a much cheaper price. Some people also argue that a reissue somehow spoils a record’s aura – it is no longer as special. What would you say on this matter?
I don’t believe that really. Many of the records we have reissued were relatively unknown anyway – the hype or the crazy prices actually came after.
Before starting the label did you have a lot of DJing experience? How are you enjoying playing more gigs now?
I did for sure, but Amsterdam was a very different place then. We threw some parties ourselves but for the most part a lot of people in Amsterdam were massively overlooked until the last few years.
I hear that your mum is from Leeds! What are your impressions of the city? What do you like about this part of the world?
I really loved Leeds growing and spent a lot of the there as a kid – almost all my summers. It’s all pretty much unrecognisable in the City to me now it’s changed so much, though! But I have to say it means a lot for me to play there!