Labels We Love: Dirty

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Every day this month we're rolling out a new feature on XLR8R's Labels We Love of 2009. Whether it's the eye-catching aesthetics of Type or the model-for-the-future approach of Interdependent Media, these cut-making selections of the best in underground electronic, indie, hip-hop, and experimental imprints punch way above their weight. Feast your eyes on the features and then download many of the labels' related podcasts here.

Gettin' into the mix with Paris' lost-groove fanatics.

Call them Dirty Records, Dirty Edits, Dirty Sound System, what have you... They’re just D-I-R-T-Y to us, and for the past few years, the men behind the DJ collective, the Discodeine label, the Dirty Edits production house, and the Alainfinkielkrautrock blog—Clovis Goux, Guillaume Sorge, and Pilooski (a.k.a. Cédric Marszewski)—have been turning the world on to everything obscure and editable, be it Balearic, kosmische, disco, or lost soul and rock, and bringing the underground edit phenomenon to the masses. Need proof? Pilooski’s currently remixing LCD Soundsystem and Jarvis Cocker, and his bootleg edit of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’ “Beggin’” went from being an on-the-downlow, 1000-pressed slab of vinyl to showing up in Adidas ads and getting released as an official remix by Warner U.K. We hit up Pilooski, Dirty’s resident edit king, to get the lowdown on how he spins dancefloor gold from scratchy AM radio hits.

Don’t Limit Yourself
Basically there are no rules when it comes to choosing a song to edit. I could go for a Lebanese pop track or a joint from Greece. I go for the bizarre or leftfield stuff more than things like disco tracks. I love the intensity of Arabic music as much as the deepness of a soul track, and I wouldn’t necessarily go for beat-oriented tracks, as I usually re-do the rhythms and basslines, trying to stay close to the original production. To me the whole process comes out of curiosity; I gotta keep it playful, and it’s often very childish.

Be Scratch Happy
When I have found a good track to edit, I’ll go down to the basement and record it from the original source, either from vinyl or tape. Generally, I prefer the original source to be as dirty as possible; I have a real problem with clean and over-produced music in general—it doesn’t sound natural to me. When it comes to equipment, if it’s vinyl, I’ll use a very basic Ortophon cartridge—as long as it sounds crispy.

In the Mix
I usually use this software a friend developed for me called Waffleton. It’s a mix of Vega (PC-based video software) and Acid. The setting is very basic, with no real possibility of plug-ins (which doesn’t really matter as I don’t usually use them anyway) or anything. I just use it to cut and lengthen parts. I like things hypnotic, but it’s always a case of lengthening in the right measure—it can be a rhythmic part but it also could be just a few words from the original lyrics.

Keep the Structure Snappy
Ten-minute edits rarely work for me, as I like to keep the intensity of the original track. (Having said that i just did a nine-minute-long one for RVNG of the Nerds in New York.) Most of the songs I love are two and a half minutes long, but I still try to make things a bit more psychedelic, so I’ll usually use a Maestro Echoplex tape delay or some bending effects pedals. I’ll play or jam with the bits I took from the original and record them on tape, then put them through FX again or valve compression and so on until I start to structure the whole thing.

Added Effect
I usually add some extra synths (analogs like Korgs and Rolands or live percussion parts) to take it into another direction and make it more personal. Once the structure is finished, I’ll put the final track on tape again. The whole process might take from two hours to a week, depending on how inspired I get. Sometimes it sounds like shit, and it’ll never leave the tape. I’d rather not release something I’m not 100% satisfied with.

Dirty French Psychedelics is out now on Dirty.

pictured Pilooski