4Dcast #004: Mortal Grey - Phantom Hertz Recordings Special
It’s been too long since the last 4Dcast, and after the success of their most recent compilation (‘The Deep End Vol. 1’) to mark the beginning of a new catalog series of deeper releases, I thought it was only right to get Phantom Hertz (and more recently Gradient Audio) bossman Mortal Grey on #004…
D» Easy Christian! To get things rolling: introduce us to Mortal Grey - tell us a bit about yourself…
MG» Cheers Max, thanks for having me. My name is Christian Mount, aka Mortal Grey. I’ve been involved in electronic music for about 12 years starting as a promoter, DJ, producer, and eventually a label owner, which is what I focus most of my free time on now. I also host a weekly radio show every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PST (7:30 p.m. GMT) on Dubstep FM.
D» How did you first get into the deeper side of the dubstep world? Who were your first inspirations?
MG» When I first got into the sound, it was 2006, and the majority of dubstep around at the time would be considered by most people today to be of the ‘deeper’ or at least more minimal variety. Sometimes I miss those days, when people would say that the music I was playing was ‘too slow’ or ‘too minimal’ to dance to, haha. Brostep was not around yet, 2-step and garage were clearly the foundation of and inspiration for the sound. Labels like DMZ, Tempa, Planet Mu, Tectonic, Narco Hz, Hot Flush etc. were what I was filling my crates with.
I would say that my favorite producers from those days were Scuba, Pinch, Luke Envoy, Skream, Goth-Trad, Loefah, Distance and Boxcutter.
I will admit, I did get caught up a bit in the more aggressive style of dubstep that soon followed, but it didn’t take long for me to grow tired of most of the stuff coming out. Perhaps that was due to the oversaturation and commercialization of the sound, or maybe I’m just getting old. I feel that I’ve come full circle in a way, finding myself drawn almost exclusively to the deeper, darker side of electronic music being produced these days.
D» When did you first try your hand at production/DJing? What got you into it?
MG» In 2000 I was working as a doorman in a night club in Flagstaff, Arizona. I became close friends with the resident DJs, and that’s when I began learning how to mix. I started off playing a bit of everything, mostly records that friends handed down to me, or that I bought used - house, trance, drum ‘n bass, techno - whatever I could get my hands on. However, I soon began focusing on the darker side of breakbeats; primarily electro, acid and nu skool breaks. I guess the transition from that to dubstep was a pretty natural one for me.
D» Most people reading this will know about your label ‘Phantom Hertz Recordings’, but for those who don’t – explain how it all started and the concept behind the imprint…
MG» The concept of the label has evolved quite a bit from it’s original intent. A few friends and I started it out primarily as an outlet for our own music and as a home for other lesser known artists. It’s original mission and subsequent releases weren’t genre or tempo specific - it really didn’t have a structure or direction at it’s onset. However, as time went on, I began to get consumed with it’s operation and it became more focused. Last year, I took over full ownership of the label and began to change the structure, the sound and the direction of the imprint to what I consider to be a more cohesive format, and one that I feel will stand the test of time.
D» You’ve recently started up a new catalog of releases specifically focusing on the deeper end of the dubstep scale, kicking things off with a big compilation featuring the talents of Mishva, Darj and INFRA (to name a few) – what can we expect to see in the near future? Any exciting releases you can share with us apart from Mishva’s mammoth PHz EP debut?
MG» Mishva's is a big one, and that one drops on June 3rd [Soundboy - PH002]. After that I have a release scheduled with a returning artist: Christopher Yikes [Dimensions EP - PH003]. Then I have the pleasure of introducing a new member to the world: Fabricator, who I think will be turning heads immediately. Both of those releases are set to come out this summer. Next up is a three track EP from Red Eyes, including a collaboration with ARtroniks. I’m also in talks with a few other producers, but don’t want to announce anything prematurely.
D»> You also recently took over Gradient Audio: how are you finding things with them? Is it hard to maintain two successful labels?
MG» It is a challenge - between working over full time at my ‘normal' job and running both labels, I don't really have a lot of free time. It can be difficult to maintain a balance, but at the same time it's very rewarding. I do feel that taking over Gradient Audio came at a perfect time for me, though. While Phantom Hertz is now focused more on a particular sound, running Gradient allows me the opportunity to support forward thinking music with no genre limitations. It has a solid group of talented artists already on the roster, and a strong back catalog. I was always a fan of what B1t Crunch3r had done with that label, and was honored he asked me to take the helm so he could have time to focus on other projects. He did stay on with Gradient though as the director of A&R.
D» Who would you say your top 5 favourite producers are at the moment? Any that we should take note of that might be rising up the ranks in the near future?
MG» There’s so many producers that I enjoy, it’s hard to narrow them down to five. Maybe these are given, but I would say Biome, Kahn, J:Kenzo, Kryptic Minds and Distance are pretty much instant bags for me.
For producers to look out for in 2013 and beyond, my obviously biased answers would be Anthologic, Darj, INFRA, Mishva, Lysergene, Feonix and Fabricator.
D» What are your top 5 most favourite/precious records you own?
MG» That’s actually a bit of a tough question, as I’ve had nearly two full crates of dubstep records stolen from me in the past. I’ve lost DMZ001, DMZ002, Hot Flush 001, Luke Envoy ‘Gamma' / ’Honour Kill' (if I could have one back, that would be it) etc. etc. The records that have made it to 2013 are all very special to me, but some gems include the Mary Anne Hobbs ‘Warrior Dubs' LP set, DMZ003, DMZ005, Scuba 004 from Gravious, Forensix ’1st Dynasty' / 'Solace' on Mechanoise, Ringo Records 002 with Distance & Skream, and a few of the earlier Skull Disco plates. Not to mention quite a few classic Nu Skool and Acid breaks from around 2000 - 2006.
D» Finally; any shoutouts?
MG» First to my Dad - TK - who runs TKM Audio where I get most of the mastering done for Phantom Hertz. Second, a shout to Forensics, who was instrumental in facilitating the shift to the deeper side of things as director of A&R for the label. Lastly to my friends Broke-N, B1t Crunch3r, to my very supportive and understanding girlfriend Jacqueline, and of course to all of the artists on the label and to all the fans supporting the music!
Thanks Max, and big ups for all that you do! I look forward to getting your next release out on Gradient, I think it is going to be very well received!