The Bristol DJ duo behind the label Banoffee Pies Records run us through tracks from some of their favourite artists playing this year’s Gottwood festival.
In just over a few days time, the salty coastal air on the Isle of Anglesey will once again be filled with the buzz and boom of thousands of revellers arriving for Gottwood festival.
Curating our warm-up playlist and interview, we have Ell, one half of the duo behind one of Bristol’s most exciting labels. While the name may make them harder to Google without getting a bunch of Mary Berry recipes, they are very much worth looking up. Their stream of consistently brilliant “Various Artists” releases are constantly cropping up as secret weapons in record bags across the land; each release eclectic in its selections, from minimal leftfield house and afro-disco groovers to lo-fi hip-hop and spacey ambient. With no signature sound pinning them down, their primary mission is just bloody good music by artists that need to be heard. Check out some of their mixes here:
Also known for running their own live parties in Bristol and beyond every so often, Banoffee Pies will once again be hosting our favourite Gottwood stage, the Walled Garden, for the Sunday shin dig this year – news we are over the moon about. Joining them will be Amsterdam’s finest Orpheu The Wizard and upcoming Female DJ duo, Kiara Scuro. We dropped Ell a line to get to know them a little better.
You and Gottwood seem to be really aligned; you take an anything goes approach and Gottwood really embodies that too. Would you agree with that?
BP: Yeah totally, to be honest there are some gigs we play it can go one way or another, if people rock up and they just want to hear one particular style they might not get it (our style) initially but I think a lot of people nowadays are open to whatever, but of course it’s very nice when the stars align and these woods are a place for that. We can play what we like at Gottwood and what we want without feeling like we are just filling a spot in the day’s line-up. It’s much more of a performance, which I think is the same now with a lot of festivals to some extent – anyone that comes down is walking around with an open mind. It’s great to then fit the mood of the music to that.
You’re right, the crowd that comes down to Gottwood are a very open-minded bunch. Do you have any standout Gottwood moments from your times there?
BP: I’ve gone to Gottwood for good few years now; friends and I have always attended and it’s always been somewhere we’ve loved as a festival. Obviously the landscape and the woods are so beautiful so it’s a pleasure to play there. It’s funny really because we played once the year before last on a smaller stage by the lake for a short 3 hour day-time set and then last year was the first time we’ve played or hosted the walled garden. It was nice to have a natural progression to what is our favourite stage on site and a larger audience.
We’ve been spotting your label’s releases in more and more record bags, during radio shows and live DJ sets. People have really taken to your “no signature sound” approach to releases.
BP: It’s so important to me; I’ve listened to dance music and other genres since I was very young. I’ve never had a favourite genre in all the years I was growing up. When I eventually did want to start a label, I didn’t want to have a platform where we couldn’t play something amazing we’d just heard or not be able to celebrate an artist because we were stuck with one genre. I wanted it to be less of a label and more of a music platform to do what we want and support local talent.
When you look at a lot of labels there is such a trend to follow artists that are doing well rather than to just express yourselves for what music you’re into. You get a lot of random remixes to just sell more copies and that leans to commodifying music rather than sharing lots of different people’s stuff with the world. So it’s just nice to be able to not really care about what we release and hopefully people are alright with that!
I think it’s a challenge but you build a real trust and following this way, people come back to you for that. Discovering all that unheard talent!
BP: There is so much talent in Bristol alone, even just on my road! Bristol is a bit of a village to be honest – the majority of the music we put out is local artists, all probably living within about a few hundred meter radius from one another. It’s so nice to keep that family vibe going. Every now and again we will work with a slightly bigger artist – it’s nice to have them all on the same release, it removes that quality gap that people have in their heads that might not always be correct. For example on our beats series we’ve had FloFilz on the release and then a few friends on the other side! They’re all really happy to be on the same releases as each other so it works well for everyone.
You recently got back from a string of shows in Australia? I was really interested to know more about the differences in vibes down under in comparison to the UK?
BP: I mean it was the first time I’d travelled there – They absolutely love it to be honest and we played a lot of good gigs there, they get loose! Generally they were so up for it and a few really felt like some of the more memorable gigs we’ve played.
Can you tell me a bit about your new sister label, Tracy Island?
BP: When I was younger my Dad used to ‘make me’ (…well I’m sure I loved it but…) watch loads of Thunderbirds and I always had loads of figurines. Through Banoffee we haven’t released many Balearic records, it’s often more dance music or slightly electronic but nothing too “beach” based. So the name came about when I wanted to start a little side project on my own. Do you know Seahawks the band? Well worth checking out – the second Tracy Island release just out was by Beach Wizards and that’s just another alias of the Seahawks – they inspired me initially with that type of sound. The first release was with Mori Ra which was just all edits. It’s just kind of meant to be Balearic listening records to make you feel different. The island thing represents a sound that slides away from stress basically.
More importantly though did you have a favourite Thunderbirds machine or vehicle?
BP: Well it’s got to be Thunderbird Number 2.
Good choice, I really liked the little yellow submarine as well…
BP: Oh okay – what’s that again? Thunderbird 4 right? In that case, get dropped off by Number 2 into the ocean with Number 4 ideally haha!
We asked the Banoffee Pies boys to get us fired up by picking some top tracks by other artists playing at Gottwood this year. Here’s their selects.
Two Lone Swordsmen – Sticky
BP: One of Andrew Weatheralls many aliases from the back catalog of quality production avenues – He’ll be back again this year for his annual Gottwood residency with another chuggy bone grinding set. CU there.
Binh – Yougo
BP: Listen to the pigeons coooooh. One to lose your mind to. That pulsing electro stab is the best. Another Club rocket from Binh. Records on time passages and cabaret all worth a look. Hot.
Glowing Palms – Koh
BP: First heard at Gottwood years ago – a real belter from the man Glowing Palms. Do get to know if you don’t. This one opens the floor, sensational head bucking device included.
Jagger Botchway Group – Moko Le Dzen (Ruf Dug Tight Disco Dub)
BP: Had to mention Ruffy and GP above. Of course. Get to the ruf kutz tent for all vibes all weekend long, family feelings and strictly warm folk. If you know anything about what’s good for you – definitely the place to be.
Willow – Untitled A2
BP: For the post-Burial embracers of lo-fi recordings. Emo dance floors and dark bedrooms. Willow’s productions few and far between but always with the gems on Workshop.
Words by David March.