Next up on The EDWIN Music Channel is Antoine Fontaine aka Ntn, one-third of the Marseille/Lyon/Paris based label, Few Crackles. Uniting repetitive Jah worlds of reggae, the arcane bass spheres of dub, dark techno tunnels, UK garage science, and vibrating jungle madness, he condenses an entire set into a 60-minute mix.
№ 106 - Few Crackles - The EDWIN Music Channel
With just four releases to their name so far, the record company launched back in 2018 has already caused quite a stir. Foremost last year’s furious experimental electronic "Burgercome/Stuck" 7inch by Glaswegian producer Malaizy and the untitled album debut by the mysterious band Bassæ, featuring ghostly rhythms, drunken blues, unknown astral glimmer, and otherworldly voices, making their way onto the 'best of' list of 2021.
The latest mix from Ntn features a diverse range of artists including mysterious, London-based leftfield producer Pretty Sneak and Jamaica’s most outstanding contemporary production unit Equiknoxx, as featured in a Mark Ernestus remix, alongside a selection of pastime obscurities like Tandem’s German reggae-pop single “Ein Typ Wie Du” from 1980 as well as lesser-known UK Garage treasures from 1999 like Mills & Boom’s “Do You Better”, or Umbra Productions “Every Day Its A Gunshot” white label stepper.
As ever we caught up with our host, disclosing some secrets about the Few Crackles label, the strong sonic identities of its affiliated artists, Ntn’s very own passion for dub and reggae, and his time living in Paris, Glasgow and – like right now – Marseille. Enjoy.
Q. Hello Ntn, can you tell us a bit about the background of Few Crackles? What was the initial idea behind starting the label and did you have any role models when it was launched?
A. I wanted to start a label for a long time, but it was only after meeting Arthur and Irwin that I knew it was the right time and the right mates to do it with.
As for role models, the list is way too long and it’s quite stressful to dare to compare what we do with the people we admire. But I can tell my first connection with what I like nowadays in a label was Mo’Wax. I bought “Endtroducing” when I was in high school and expected nothing at all - I used to buy records (CDs) « at random » after Christmas with the little cash I just got. That Christmas session I bought Funkadelic’s “Cosmic Slop”, “Pansoul” by Motorbass (I was more into French touch and the beginning of French Touch 2.0 then) and well DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing”. This one was a shock and mixed a lot of the things I was into since I was a child. It pushed me towards Mo’Wax and the connections between the visual identity and the music is something I always had in mind before starting Few Crackles.
Q. You used to live in Glasgow, where you worked at Rubadub, and just recently relocated to Marseille, where you work for the new alternative record store Dizonord. How does your work influence the label?
A. I spent most of my early 20s going back and forth between Paris to study and Glasgow to party. I was really into the vibe you could get at the Optimo parties there. I also fell in love with the after-parties. At some point, I decided to try it for good, as Glasgow is quite a cheap city to live in the UK. After a couple of months there my friend Richard got me a job at Rubadub (I met them through my friend Xavier from Dizonord years before my move). I was doing a few different things there but mainly distribution-related stuff in the end. My colleagues became my close friends (I miss them) and there’s a proper family vibe in this company. I recently relocated to Marseille to move with my girlfriend and start a new adventure with my friend Vincent Privat (founder of Dizonord in Paris). The Dizonord team were old pals, so I was happy to help them in the creation of that new flagship.
Generally, I can take inspiration from both works for the label: Rubadub was the best to know from the inside what’s implied in the production of a record and how to establish this on the world map of record stores. I have it now stuck in my head! here at Dizonord, I’ll be on the sales side of things. Thanks to Vincent (probably the best digger I know), we deal essentially with secondhand records and books I wouldn’t have encountered in the first place, which is actually inspiring.
Q. Few Crackles is a collective venture together with your friends Irwin, an audio and visual artist based in Lyon, and Arthur, who lives in Montreuil and works as a designer in the fashion industry. Is it hard to keep up when you all live in different cities?
A. It certainly doesn’t help, but we always knew that. The good thing is we have a good excuse to take our sweet time between releases.
Q. Few Crackles started 2018 and only has four critically acclaimed official releases. This is quite a small number. Do you select the music you release very carefully?
A. Well, it’s not that we choose very carefully the things we put out, it has more something to do with the idea of things happening organically. All the people involved in our releases are people we’ve spent a good amount of time with before deciding anything. We’re quite lucky to work with close friends like Bassae (a super old friend of ours) and Malaizy (she was my flatmate in Glasgow and still is one of my best pals). Both have super strong sonic identities, so it makes the production process so thrilling.
Q. What do you want to accomplish with the music you release? What qualities do you look for as a curator of music?
A. I want to put out stuff that is made to last for a long time from A to Z... Nah sounds intense as f**k. More seriously we started the label with a line in our head we wanted to walk along. The line is connected to all the stuff we’ve always listened to, and we all enjoy in the team. It can be punk, reggae, jungle, musique concrete, cold wave, pop, techno, rap: there will always be a nod to the things we grew up listening to (and actually still grow up listening to) in the music we release. And the nod might often be so discreet we would be the only ones to know who we want to pay tribute to.
Q. You released a tape pack with sharp riddims, mixed by UK artists like Manchester-based DJ Jon K or Felix Hall from London. How have you connected to the UK based music peeps and how did that connection help to launch the label?
A. I used to live in Paris before and was organizing parties there. Over the years most of the guests came from the UK and ended up becoming close friends when I was living in Glasgow. The idea behind the tape pack is to keep some physical memories of those parties (not only flyers), and eventually have the lineup of our dreams always sitting on our shelf.
Q. Would you agree that certain melancholia can be found in the bigger part of the Few Crackles catalogue? If so, where do you think this melancholia comes from?
A. We work with melancholic mofos that’s why. More seriously it has more to do with the fact we wanted to release quite free material from the beginning. The idea is definitely not to be a label « for the heads », but yeah it was easier to release music that was not targeted for the dancefloor in the first place (as much as we love dance music don’t get me wrong).
Q. In what ways did the label evolve the way you expected it to, and in what ways did the experience differ?
A. After a couple of years and just a few releases I think the most important thing to me is the people you meet through this experience. The meetings are often more gratifying to me than the releases themselves. Sounds super cheesy but I shall stand by this point.
Q. What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline currently?
A. An LP and some tapes! Plus, parties in Marseille and in the UK!
Q. How did you select the tracks for The EDWIN Music Channel?
A. I put together records I loved: some old and recent dubby stuff, a few techno records I got at Rubadub, some UKG cuts I can’t get tired of, and a couple of jungle records. And that’s it! The result is something I would play in a club / my bedroom. Few goofy mixes included, I had to.
Q. What are you doing besides the label and store? Do you DJ regularly, produce your own music, or do things far away from music?
A. Besides struggling with an addiction to social media, I spend most of my time DJing regularly in my living room. My main crew is my neighbour, apparently, he told my girlfriend it made his day working in his flat easier. I also play a lot in my friend Judaah’s living room - we live on the same street. I play outside sometimes mostly in small clubs and friend's parties but that’s more the way I like it. So if you’re a friend, and you’re having some barbecue party anytime soon, hit me up!
TRACKLIST Sheriff Lindo - And On The Seventh Day…Dub Pretty Sneaky - B2 Pecker - Mystical Electro Harakiri Erosion - 2 Equiknoxx - Congo Get Slap (Mark Ernestus Remix) YPY - Franken Mat Carter - Muted Point Audioboyz - The Legendary Terrace - dr. Ronalds Beats DEA Project - Ghetto Life Joe - Studio Power On Mills & Boom - Do You Better (Ruffcut Instrumental) Richie Boy & DJ Klasse - Check The Vibe (4/4 Mix) Umbra Productions - Everyday It’s A Gunshot Corporation Of London - Chuckles Sammy Dreads Meets Don Carlos at Skateland - Interlude Verdy Green - One Night Flex (Jungle Mix) Formula 7 - Religion The Sonar Circle - Strength The Terrorist - RK1 Tears Voyeur - Collage 3 Tandem - Ein Typ Wie Du