Philippe, High Tea Music

Earlier this week i spoke with Phillippe & Robin, better known as T & Sugah, from the Dutch Drum & Bass label High Tea Music. We had reached out to them in advance of the official “LET IT ROLL ON TOUR X HIGH TEA” that was set to take over Melkweg main room this May. Due to all too obvious reasons we will all have to wait to feel Dimension slowly melt our faces off. In more uplifiting news, this did give us a chance to focus on High Tea music & the state of Bass in Amsterdam today. Cheers to T & Sugah and the High Tea Music family, we can’t wait to see them back behind the decks once this shitstorm is over.

What was the vision behind  High Tea when you founded it and what do you think was missing from the Drum and Bass scene that High Tea could fulfill?

Philippe: I have to admit, originally we just wanted to throw our own T & Sugah related party, and what other name than “High Tea” in that case! We felt that DnB parties had a very “dark/industrial” edge to it back then, and we wanted to totally rebel against this by starting a D&B night surrounding a kitchy thing such as a tea party. However this idea eventually developed into a complete brand (including a recordlabel) which embodies this High Tea-like concept in many ways, such as within the decoration on our events up to the names and designs of our albums.

Robin: Yes, all parties felt the same at some point, just a dark club filled with headliners, we wanted to bring another vibe to the table.

What do you look for when you are signing Djs and Producers to High Tea? Is it difficult to differentiate between Producers who make music you may like and those who would best fit the High Tea sound?

Robin: Basically we look for anyone that’s good at what he or she does ( DJing or Producing), but it also has to fit within our brand. Sometimes we get very good demos that are too dark or too minimal for us, we rarely sign those tunes, even though we like them personally. Another important thing we look for are technical skills, often we get demo’s that are really good song-wise, but don’t really work sound-wise. If the sound is almost there we just give feedback, but we also suggest some producers to collab with someone who can help them with the technical part. We did the same when Lexurus sent us a first demo of “No More”, Which we then finished together.

Philippe: Nothing to add here!

Have you guys got any tips / new plugins / software / tv shows that are keeping you entertained during this quarantine that can help producers stay inspired while trapped at home.

Robin: I had a fun time getting more skilled with streaming / video editing software, but in general I’d say it’s a good time for anything new you want to do or learn, just think about that thing that you’ve always wanted to learn and do it!

Philippe: I’d say next to making music try to learn some new skills, for instance one of the guys from our team is using this time to follow online design classes. I think that kinda stuff is really inspiring!

In the UK Drum & Bass is the most beloved genre of electronic music, yet in Amsterdam Tech-house, Trance, Dubstep still dominate the club event programs. Where is your favourite place to see good Drum and Bass in Amsterdam? And have you noticed an increase attention towards DnB in the Netherlands?

Philippe: For Drum & Bass I’d 100% recommend the Melkweg, although I might have somewhat of a bias. And compared to say 5 years ago, I’ve seen a massive growth within the DnB scence. It’s remarkable that the events have really been growing size wise, but the number of different (smaller) nights has really dropped. I think this is a general market tred you see happing everywhere, not just within the music scene.
Robin:  Ditto.

What does you creative process look like? Is it a collaborative process or is it more isolated and then you come together? Do you start with a clear vision or go in blind and see what happens?

Robin: For every tune the process is different, but i’ll try to describe a general scenario. Our tunes mostly start with basic sounds and midi in FL Studio, it’s the quickest DAW for me to sketch in. Once there is a basic idea that I like I move the midi and sounds over to Cubase, since I find it easier to arrange, process and mix stuff in there. We usually have a studio session together once a week where we make changes to the tune together. Once the tune is finished I spend a lot of time on the mixdown. But like I said, every tune is different. Sometimes the first idea comes in a session together, sometimes we build a song around something that one of us played on the guitar, some songs even come from failed remixes that we turned in to originals! Lastly I’d like to say that we rarely have a clear vision that we follow through till the end, we always let the music lead us and see what happens.

Has High Tea got any special plans to celebrate the end of quarantine?

Philippe: That’s easy to answer, with a BIG ASS party!

Finally, who are you listening to repeatedly at the moment?

Robin: Mainly the stuff we’re working on at the moment haha.

Philippe: Not a specific artist perse, but I’m really vibing on reggae at the moment. It’s probably because I’m missing the summer haha.

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