Salt Mines is a record label, founded in Melbourne, Australia, that’s headed by Rudolf C & Shedbug. With a catalog comprising of mostly Australian producers, Salt Mines is based around a core group of artists emerging in Melbourne while taking in like-minded artists from around the world, all of which share a unique perspective of a singular sound.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with label head Rudolf C as he makes his return alongside Shedbug with their long-awaited Honey Mushrooms II, a follow up to their 2017 EP on Salt Mines. He was able to put together an incredible MIXED BY for us and answer some questions about his label, the Melbourne dance scene, and what lays ahead for Salt Mines during these tumultuous times. Check out everything below!
Upon first listen, I noticed that your mix includes an assortment of songs that do not resemble the sub-heavy grooves we know you by. Can you describe what was your inspiration behind this mix and how these tunes relate to your inspiration as an artist?
I’ve always had an interest in this angle of electronic or electronic presenting music and since I’ve been trapped in the flat I’ve been able to spend time looking further into it. For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to implement some recording techniques, or mimic them should I say, that I think are being used in this early Krautrock style. Unconventional instrumentation, resampling, I’ve been playing around with feedback loops and saturation through echo, etc. A lot of the stuff I wouldn’t necessarily release, but it’s definitely been a fun way to make use of a little bit of gear.
What’s your favorite track on this mix and why?
Probably the last track, Wildmind – Uptime (Braincooler Mix) because it really reminds me of home, this slowmo proggy sound is, I think, quite a staple of Australian music and when I found this I could immediately picture it being played on a hot saturday afternoon at some dusty festival.
We are excited to hear that you and Shedbug have decided to release another joint EP together. What can listeners expect from Honey Mushrooms II?
Happy to hear that :) expect club tracks!
What are some similarities and differences between the first and second editions?
Right off the bat the second edition is a lot heavier which is a pretty clear reflection of the development of both of our tastes. I wouldn’t say I’m moving toward heavy club music but I’ve definitely developed an interest in the more functional, loopy side of dance music. The similarity that sticks out to me is the spontaneity in which the records were put together. The first time around we didn’t take the record too seriously & we’ve definitely taken that approach this time round, the title also reflects this, which I don’t think needs to be spelled out lol
To my understanding, you have been friends with Shedbug for quite some time. How did you guys meet?
Yep we’ve been mates since highschool! I think we may have met for the first time at a house party around 2009 due to mutual friendship groups but I don’t think we started properly hanging out till a few years after that. I think I initially gave him the cold shoulder (sorry bruz) but we eventually bonded over smoking weed & now here we are!
When did you two decide to start a label together and why?
The idea was brought up around the start of 2015, Geordie had been running a club night and DJ’ing for quite a while by then and was more or less responsible for me even listening to electronic music. We were both making tracks and had done a release or two between us which had gotten us very excited about the ol music thing so we thought why not. To be honest, the whole thing came about pretty spontaneously, Geo wanted to wait a bit but I remember quite clearly pressuring him into it. In retrospect this ties in nicely with the overarching theme “lack of planning”
Do you guys ever plan to release tracks as a duo?
We actually did make a track together years ago, Geordie and I used to run a party with Sam, who now heads up bizarro, at Lounge called Untitled. The first few parties we just went ham booking all the locals we’d been following for years, including Lou Karsh who played his first live set in a club at the first party, followed up by Jamal Amir & Cale Sexton for Temporal Cast. Anyway, we used to make tapes for the parties and the first one we did had a collaboration between Geordie and myself plus some early Hymns stuff. We also played live together once, it was for the Tresor 25 years party that Bunker hosted at the Substation in 2016. I’m not necessarily sure that we’d ever release music together though, I think our tastes differ drastically, which is what we both believe is the key to Salt Mines working, meeting in the middle!
Although Melbourne isn’t the first city that comes to mind as one of the hotbeds for underground dance music, it definitely has its fair share of talented upcoming DJs. Some of our personal favorites include the likes of you, Shedbug, DJ Life, Roza Terenzi, DJ Boring, and Cassessets for Kids (just to name a few). What are some of the things the Melbourne scene does well when compared to other cities and where does it fall short?
Absolutely, I think Australia as a whole is really demanding its place on the centre stage at the moment. In regards to Melbourne, i think the best thing about it is the size & the relationship of the people involved. Although it is large it’s also very interconnected and I think that applies to the entirety of the country. people from different cities, all over Australia, know each other and collaborate and support one another. I think that’s what is the best thing about Australia & maybe the only good stereotypical Australian quality, “Mateship”
Obviously the fact that Australia is an island on the other side of the world is a pretty big hindrance to touring etc, but I think that’s one of the key aspects that makes the scene what it is.
How did these qualities influence your decision to leave your hometown and move to Berlin?
The main thing that inspired the move was the ease of operation of Salt Mines, Geordie had moved a year prior to myself and the time zone, shipping costs & currency conversion was taking effect on our ability to properly coordinate the label. For the years Previous, I’d been going to Europe for three months a year to tour & it meant that I’d spend 6-7 months in Australia working a shitty job just to save to go back to Europe, which also kept me from making music a lot of the time. So I thought why not blitz the call centre one more time and just move for good so that I can properly focus on music and playing shows.
How does Berlin compare? Anything you particularly miss from back home?
Yeah Berlin is nice, I’ve been pretty lucky in making a bunch of great friends quicky & being able to settle in. It’s also nice taking a step back from clubbing, I don’t play too regularly here and I haven’t been going out too often as of late (obvs meaning before coronavirus lol) Honestly the one thing I miss the most about Aus is fish and chips, I really really miss that lol
It looks as if Salt Mines was in the midst of carrying out a tour in Australia between the months of February and March this year. With the last two shows on the calendar being postponed due to COVID-19, how have you been coping through this pandemic?
Yeah that was really tough especially considering the last one was a full crew Salt Mines party (sans myself) I wasn’t a part of that tour as I wasn’t able to be there this time around but I can confirm that everyone was fully shattered. The whole pandemic thing to me still feels like a cursed dream, I’m definitely going a bit stir crazy but I’ve been making tunes and exercising so what else can I really do?
What makes you the most anxious for the months to come?
I’m quite stressed about potential visa situations & whether or not, if shit was to further hit the fan, would I be able to get home & how much of my life would have to be upturned to do so. I guess we’ll wait and see.
How do you plan to be productive as an artist during lockdown and do you have any words of advice for your fellow musicians and fans alike?
The thing that’s helped me most as of late when it comes to writing new music is listening to as much as possible. It might seem obvious but I’ve found that my most successful attempts come after a big discogs sesh. Other than that, I reckon experimenting with what gear I have at the moment has paid off a lot lately too.
Our readers certainly have quite a lot of free time on their hands due to isolation. From music to books to movies and television shows, what are 5 recommendations you’d make to them to help them kill the time?
Well naturally I gotta do some of the albums I’ve been rinsing
Harmonia – Musik Von Harmonia
Brainticket – Celestial Ocean
Ash Ra – New Age of Earth
We watched “The Abyss” for the first time the other day which was sick, with the making of (highly recommended) clocks in at about 4 hours and is legit worth it. Also, binge-watched “The Circle” recently, which was definitely cursed but lol :(
What are plans for Salt Mines moving forward? What exciting releases do you have lined up for the rest of 2020?
More Life Sciences Division from Lou Karsh & myself to come this year, plus another VA from the core circle & then some more solo EPs, lets hope we can make it all happen :)
Interview by Yassin