If you’re into house music, chances are you’ve come across the name of Telfort before. The Edinburgh-based artist has been releasing some of the underground’s finest house cuts since emerging on the scene in 2014. His very first outings, a self-released trilogy of EPs stamped his mark loud and clear – quickly garnering him fans amongst music-lovers and DJs alike.
Telfort also runs his own parties in his home town of Edinburgh, hosting the likes of Aziesch, Damiano von Erckert, and Cinthie. We love his work here at BB HQ, he does an excellent job at creating true house music which stands the test of time. Catch us in 15 years time…still listening to his tunes on repeat, feeling increasingly refreshed with each subsequent listen. Needless to say, we are very excited to have him on board our Mixed By series. Here’s what he had to say…..
Hey Sam! How’s it going? What have you been up to in life recently (musically and non-musically)?
Hey! Well while life has been limited to certain activities lately, the time and mental space to make music has been positive at least. Creative spells were up and down last year but from around December until April something clicked and I got pretty immersed in it, the results of which I’m still honing. It was slightly slowed down by returning to working full time and moving flat/studio. Feeling grateful to be working in a good job especially in the current circumstances and for a change in space to keep working on music.
Tell us about the mix you did for us. What’s the story behind it?
It’s a deep one and just where my head was at. Not to be too prescriptive but it’s probably more for solo listening or on a walk… in some woods… ok quite prescriptive. I had a plan for the first half or so and it can probably be heard somewhere in the middle that things open up a bit.
How did you get started in music? Have you always been into house music?
I often wonder if the early house stuff would’ve resonated when I was 7 or something. Someone should’ve played me Ron Trent – I Feel The Rhythm (Paul Johnson Remix), unless it would’ve made no sense, probably not. I’ve been music obsessed generally for as long as I can remember. In my teens there was a pull between sports and music and I guess in this dimension music won. Maybe I play basketball in a parallel universe. It’s hard to pinpoint where I got into house etc more specifically as it wasn’t sudden but I got into producing initially in 2009 or so.
What’s your production set-up and workflow like?
Fairly stripped back, I use a few synths and a Korg Prologue is all over everything lately but it’s otherwise mostly in Live with VSTs and a lot of sampling. My workflow lacks “flow” sometimes to be honest and it can be quite slow and deliberate. I get initial ideas down quickly but then they take a long time to finish, which works for me as they kind of “marinade” in my mind and mature over time. Finishing tends to be more about removing elements too than adding and I arrange and mix things down while progressing ideas rather than it being a separate process. This all takes a lot of listening away from studio monitors as well, on walks and taking random notes on my phone with the most ridiculously minor tweaks like “closed hat down 0.3db” or “check wtf reverb pad decay what” (actual notes) but that’s the process.
What’s the house scene like in Edinburgh? How important has this scene been for you as an artist/DJ? Any good events/nights we should go to next time we’re over there?
It’s a small scene that I guess encompasses electronic music generally but with plenty of appreciation of the spectrum of house! I like playing here about as much as anywhere really and it’s getting better and better in recent years with newer and younger promoters and DJs getting involved and keeping things fresh and moving forward. EHFM radio has been a blessing as a platform and hub for new and more diverse talent and crews emerging more recently too, as well as longer standing DJs here. For me and likely many others, Sneaky Pete’s is at the centre of it. I first played there 11 years ago, somehow, and it has influenced me loads as a DJ and producer, probably in more ways than I’m aware of.
Could you tell us about the night you run ‘Telfort’s Good Place’? How did the idea come about? Any particularly good memories to share?
It started as a new residency in 2016 but I wanted to give it a name rather than just Telfort at Sneaky Pete’s or whatever. I quite quickly wanted to bring in guests to play alongside instead of just being a solo residency too. B2Bs are often seen as gimmicky and overdone which I get but I can prefer it to playing alone if it’s with someone I can connect with. That’s probably not a huge number of DJs and there usually has to be some connection already, like I’m not booking cold, it’s cosier and more personal. Parties with Matt Karmil, Karima F and Smallpeople twice early on made me want to keep doing it as they felt perfect in creating the energy I wanted to and later bringing Cinthie, Damiano von Erckert, Aziesch were also high notes. On memories, Matt Karmil’s face when he went to mix one track and looked up again and the club had gone from a few people to packed in what seemed like a couple of minutes and starting to boot off. Even Tuell playing this 7″ banger that I won’t name here three times in a row to a very receptive bunch also stuck with me!
You’ve now self-released four EP’s (which we love here at BB HQ), and also made an appearance on Edinburgh imprint Lionoil Industries. Why did you decide to release this way?
Releasing my own music made sense at the time as I just wanted to do my own thing and in my own way, which became possible through Rubadub distribution and their support early on. That was exciting and then it kept making sense even though sporadic. I’m closely involved with the Lionoil Industries label and play many of the parties as well, so that was an inevitable release that came together quite organically at the right time and again, made sense! In future I’ll be expanding elsewhere as well.
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
Field Maneuvers festival.
Any advice for budding producers out there? How about for budding DJs looking to get gigs?
I feel it’s really important to take the time to develop your own sound and not rush to have a release out, so the early enthusiasm when things start coming together often needs tempered. Not overthinking the technical side like EQing, compression and what plugins to use while taking more time to mess around until you make or stumble on sounds that fit better in the first place goes a long way. There’s also something to just sitting down to it as often as possible until something happens and trusting in the process of showing up and letting inspiration come when it feels like it. Easier said than done though, I know.
On getting more gigs, everyone’s path is different. There’s oversaturation along with luck and timing being factors, but I feel many overthink social media as being the key or means, based on a lot of conversations anyway. To some extent, your “brand” or “profile” is just a lagging indicator of what you do and what you’re connected to and supporting. Social media is then just a tool to convey all that and build on it, rather than the other way around. Getting an agent might not change things dramatically either, as “how do I get an agent?” is sometimes part of the question, but you still have to focus on what you bring as an artist and do it with no entitlement or expectation, or at least a lot of patience.
Who are your favourite artists? How have they influenced your own sound? Any underrated artists at the moment?
Too many favourites and influences to list but in the past year I’d shout out Paramida and Josey Rebelle especially for helping me through it with their shows on Rinse FM. The best! For underrated artists, I’ve been saying Tom VR for a while but I think that’ll change soon. Louf is amazing too, while we’re mentioning Valby Rotary label love.
What’s next for Telfort?
More records, more parties (hopefully soon), seeing more pals finally and maybe a post-covid early mid-life crisis.