In the ever-expanding realms of UK Bass music, it’s often hard to keep track of those who have been setting pace for the longest. As far as labels go, there aren’t many that have held as big an influence as Cheap Thrills, headed up by long term bass expert Hervé. The label has consistently moved with the times, without straying from their underground ideals, making them a real trend-setting outlet in a very crowded scene.
The project has now been putting out high quality releases for 10 years, an impressive feat for any modern label, and when you have had artists such as Dusky, Armand Van Helden, Mella Dee, Jack Beats and more bless the release roster, you can’t help but be impressed.
At 3000 we love to keep you guys informed and we were lucky enough to be able to grab a few minutes with Herve to discuss his brand new EP on the project, and also take a quick look back over the last 10 years at some of their highs and lows.
You can check out the full interview below:
3000: So, it’s been an incredible 10 years for the label, you’ve constantly stayed on the front foot and stayed ahead of the times, how do you manage to keep it so consistent in such a changing landscape?
Hervé: I think keeping your ear to ground and always looking for new people that have a little spark of something, be it for a release or jumping on someone early to do a remix.
3000 : When you first started the project, did you ever imagine it would still be going strong 10 years later?
Hervé: No! I just wanted an outlet for my music and to A&R new talent, so the label gave me a channel for this. I had no idea it would do so well for so long.
3000: Would you say your outlook on the bass scene has changed drastically since Cheap Thrills became such a potent force?
Hervé: Yes, when we started we (myself, Trevor Loveys, Sinden, Switch) wanted to make bass-led club music, influenced by bass-y genres, UK Garage, Hardcore, Jungle, Hip Hop etc. Now it’s a very different beast. I think it’s got a bit “brostep” right now to be honest.
3000: Over the 10 years, what have been your highlights and even maybe your low points?
Hervé: Too many highlights!
Label-wise, doing the Cheap Thrills first compilation was great; getting that double CD album in my hand felt great, a real achievement! Seeing Fake Blood’s disco cut-up “I Think I Like It” blow up (I think it was the B-side originally!) in the UK and around Europe. My track “Together” blowing up and getting on the Radio 1 playlist, especially as the manager at the time said we should just give it away but the distributor stepped in and said “release it as a single, do not give it away!”.
Stuff going on around the label…
Doing a track with Armand Van Helden and how massive my first DJ mix compilation album went (Ghetto Bass). Making my last album Hallucinated Surf was really hard work but the second half of the album (the downtempo stuff) is, I feel, the best music I’ve ever made. Signing to Domino Records as The Count and Sinden was really cool too – we were the only dance act they had ever signed at the time and the only act outside of Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys on Domino to get on the Radio 1 playlist!
More recently, working with Zebra Katz on “Tear The House Up” and the great video that we did for it (thanks to Mad Decent for paying for that one!). I’m sure I could remember more but I’ll leave it there!
3000: Do you feel it’s still applicable in the modern music marketplace to set up independent labels?
Hervé: Yes, without a doubt. With music becoming more bland and homogenised to keep the money coming in, more than ever we need independent labels releasing music that more mainstream labels will not be interested in – giving a voice to the outsiders and weirdos!
3000: So, let’s have a more in depth look at your new EP, has it been in the workings for a long time?
Hervé: A while. I was just lacking in inspiration and interest in what was going on musically, so I went backwards to go forwards. I thought about my early days raving and the feelings of joy and enthusiasm, the genuine underground outsider vibe that rave was back then. Coming from Essex there was a lot of mates who were boy racers banging out hardcore rave mixtapes and whizzing through the countryside late at night. That’s basically where the inspiration came from. This was all triggered by learning to drive recently myself and enjoying the buzz of playing the tunes whilst bombing it around London at night!
3000: There seems to be a definitive breaks theme running through the EP, is this an area you feel you are close to in your inspiration?
Hervé: I wouldn’t say I’m influenced by breaks/z. I’m influenced by breakbeats.
The influences would be rave/hardcore/early house/jungle/Balearic fed through my brain and a modern studio.
3000: What is your favourite track on the release?
Hervé: Hard to say. But if I had to I would say “I Don’t Know” as it’s more of a deeper hardcore/rave vibe – a juxtaposition to the more uplifting rush of “Boy Racer” and “Destiny” tracks.
3000: Take us quickly through your production methods, do you have any specific rituals you go through when making a banger?
Hervé: I tend to think up the track beforehand; an idea will pop into my head and I’ll imagine how it would sound and just take that into the studio. Other times I’ll hear a sample and that will trigger an idea/feeling.
3000: So, the big question next, what does the future have lined up for Cheap Thrills and more importantly yourself?
Hervé: I’m not sure right at this moment. I’ve had a mad year: becoming a dad; renovating a house top to bottom (I would not advise this with an 8-12 month old child!) and building a new studio. The label is doing just great right now and Illegal Bass, the sister label, is doing great too – but I will be assessing things in the next few months to see what new directions the labels will be heading in. Personally, I’ve got new Hervé stuff, including more Boy Racer EPs etc, and some collabs to finish up. I’m working on a short film which I will soundtrack, there’s some straight-up house stuff under a different name, and I’m putting together a sample pack offshoot of Cheap Thrills. Definitely keeping busy.
3000: Do you have any advice for the upcoming label managers and producers out there?
Hervé: I think, like most people advise, I would say try and get your own sound. Also, music is a lot of ups and downs – in fashion and out of fashion – so be prepared for that. Saying that, lots of people are quite happy to just ride whatever is the current buzzy/big selling genre!
I would also say, if you can, do it alongside a job you really like – it’s hard to make money at the beginning!
3000: Any other shout outs?
Hervé: Yes, shout out to all the mums out there – that is one damn hard job to do!
’10 Years Of Cheap Thrills’ is out this Friday 28th September and you can pre order HERE