There’s no shortage of independent record labels in the industry at the moment and this is making it easier for artists to get their music out there. It’s for this reason that three friends – Agrippa, Henry Greenleaf and Meta – joined together to launch a bass-driven label called Par Avion earlier this year. With the first release a compilation from the three of them, the next one is a solo venture from Henry Greenleaf called ‘Fold Together, a collection of tracks produced over the last four years. Also hosting his own Noods radio show, Henry’s jazz-inspired productions are full of off-beat drum machines and span across dub and techno, with the EP featuring his first 4/4 record. We caught up with Henry to delve into his back story, how Bristol has inspired his sound and what’s in store for Par Avion.
Let’s start from the beginning, how did you get into music?
Through my dad really, he’s a huge fan of Kraftwerk, Dub (Studio 1, King Tubby, Perry etc.), but one year he forgot to get my mum a birthday present so my mum, my sister and me to a festival called “The Big Chill” when I was five and we loved it so we went back every year after until it closed. I got to see lots of people/DJs/bands I now really admire but had no idea who most of them were at the time. I saw Benga & Pokes play when Night was still unreleased, then spent the rest of the summer trying to copy it on my dads new laptop which, luckily came with Garageband. I had no idea what Dubstep was – or who they were – or how to change the bpm in the project aha. This is around 2006.
With being based in Bristol and producing dub-infused techno it feels like the perfect fit for you, but do you feel that the city has had a massive impact on your sound?
I recently graduated from Bath Spa University (Creative Music Tech) and I chose the course because it was so close to Bristol also, a lot of my idols were on the same course. Since I started the course I’ve done my best not to miss a Timedance or Livity night, I just can’t believe how many nights are happening almost every day – in such a small area!
Name some of the artists and labels who have influenced you over the years?
I think my biggest influences have been Kraftwerk, Skream, Source Direct and Paleman – think that’s relatively in order too.
Scrolling through your Instagram, there’s a lot of architectural and industrial black and white photographs – does that landscape have any kind of influences on the music you produce or perhaps play?
I’m hugely interested in architecture and design. My grandad was an architect and both of my parents are interior designers so that’s where that comes from. I grew up just out of London around a lot of fields and once I moved to somewhere that had concrete I couldn’t stop looking at it. I get really inspired by being around huge tall concrete, just looking up in awe with headphones on. I don’t get any music ideas from it but it makes me want to make something instantly. It’s just a happy buzz.
You’re releasing your first EP ‘Fold Together’ on Par Avion, a label you co-run with Meta and Agrippa, why have you decided to go straight in with your own label rather than getting the support from a longstanding imprint?
Agrippa, Meta and myself were being supported by some really wonderful producer/DJs and I think we were just impatient to get our work out. If we started our own label it could be anything we wanted – could be a post office! Also we could start our own nights, so hopefully we’ll have more to say on those very soon.
How did you meet Agrippa and Meta? Why did you decide to start a label together?
I heard of Agrippa when I saw Paleman retweet his Keep Hush interview a few years ago. In the interview he said Paleman was a huge influence for him too, so I followed him and he followed me back. We’ve been sending music to each other nonstop ever since. It was Wills idea to start the label but I think he knew I was desperate for this type of project too. I think Agrippa, Meta and I were all sitting on too many tunes to not put them out ourselves.
‘Fold Together’ is a true showcase of your genre-defying style with influences of techno, garage and electro throughout. What inspired the EP?
Fold Together and Half Under were inspired by drum solos really. Watching Antonio Sanchez, Joe Morella and even the videos of Paleman playing his kit on his Instagram, just really trying to get behind cross/poly-rhythms. The Way (apart from the middle bit) is four years old now and I’m not sure what inspired it. I downloaded loads of drum samples from Teenage Engineering and started playing with them. I had a Microkorg at the time I’d borrowed from my friend Seiya and I was sampling all the pad sounds I could make off of it. Don’t know where the 909 Tom rhythm came from aha. And Rolling Untitled was my first real attempt at 4/4 Techno – that ones nice and simple 🙂
You have your own show on Noods radio, how do you use this platform? For example, is it a place for you test out new records or experiment with different sounds from your DJ sets?
I use the show as an excuse to ask all my friends for all their most recent tracks aha. Also it’s the best way to test my new songs. If the people in the studio (or messaging in) like them then I’ll say they’re mine and if they don’t sound so good/they’re not into them then I’ll pretend I didn’t make them aha 🙂
What is your approached to your DJ sets? How do you plan for these?
I usually go with a rhythm in my head -and somewhere I want to go. Sometimes it’s really fast heavy 2Step, sometimes it’s really heavy 4/4 Techno and sometimes it’s more Electro/Kraftwerk stuff. It can be anything really. Then once I’m there I start dancing and listening to what everyone else is playing and start thinking how I can get people from where/how they’re dancing – to where I want them to be/how I want them to dance. Hope that makes sense, it sounds a little manipulating.
What are some records you’re loving at the moment?
Raime’s “Am I Using Content Or Is Content Using Me?” – especially the first track.
Everything Agrippa has been sending me lately has been on constant play – he’s sampled me on one of them aha
Martyn’s 3024 V/A compilation was fantastic – the Yak and Juniper tracks are really special!
Also Bruce’s album – taken him a long time to make and you can hear how much precision is behind even the smallest detail – super obsessed with the layering behind his kicks/sub.
‘Fold Together’ by Henry Greenleaf is out now via Par Avion – buy here