Get Familiar: Betonska
Amsterdam-based selector Iggy P has been doing his round in the clubs and the radio stations for the longest time and after launching his label Betonska during the peak of the pandemic, we knew we had to tune in and get familiar with what this chapter of his journey looks like.
Why did the project known as Betonska start?
Why it started is quite a difficult question, honestly. But I think the label started quite spontaneously actually after being in touch with several artists who had sent me their music from the 80s and 90s. I tried contacting artists if a specific release wasn’t for sale on Discogs at the time, and with Gayna I stayed in touch for a while. After she sent some great unreleased music from that same period, I asked her whether she would like to see it be officially released in the present time.
Who is behind the project?
It’s me. Luckily with lots of support from family and friends.
What is the goal over there?
Not sure if there is a specific goal here. I’ve always been interested in music history and culture, so this is one way of expressing my love for this music. A rewarding and beautiful by-product is that the artists that I’ve worked with so far seem grateful and surprised that someone listens to their music from ages ago.
How did you find out about this record that you are releasing?
I found a test pressing of it back in 2019. The test pressings appeared to be from 1991, but it has never been officially released until this year! This test pressing contained 3 of the 5 tracks of this year's release, plus two other ones Phil sent me later which he also produced in 1991.
What about this early 90s U.K. rave sound on the new release that attracted you to it?
I had been collecting quite some UK 90s hardcore and jungle around the time of finding this one. Many of those records share similar instrumentation, hardcore synth stabs and vocals, and can often be relatively poorly produced (which I also often liked), especially the rare ones in my experience. Although that also has its charms, this record really stood out to me because of its organic drums, midtempo beat (A side), and perhaps the absence of typical UK hardcore elements, such as the stabs. Also, the Hot Number B side was very interesting to me as halfway through Sugar's toasting, he starts singing in a different pitch, in a way I hadn’t heard before in a proto-jungle track. A very interesting combination of proto-jungle rhythms, toasting, and secondary vocals in the chorus. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind record to me and I feel extremely grateful to be releasing this, can’t express that enough.
Your previous release, Betonska 001, also echoed these sentiments of wanting to put something on wax that wasn’t generally released before, how do you go about finding these songs?
It usually starts with trying to find a copy of a specific record. If it’s not available on Discogs, I try to get in touch with the artist, to ask whether the artist has a spare copy by any chance to sell. In Gayna’s case, she didn’t, but we stayed in touch and she sent much-unreleased music over as well. Eventually, I just asked her whether she would like to see that music be released still, which she did.
I know that you are quite the crate digger, and one of the DJs that is still playing CDs in his CDJs, how does the medium affect the way you play and enjoy music?
I like playing with CDs for the same reason as playing with vinyl, it feels like DJ sets are often much more fluent and less static, as there is no Rekordbox and therefore no loops for example (yeah obviously looping is possible still with CDs, but not as easy as with quantized Rekordbox files). There’s also so much great music made in the 90s that was released on CD only, so I would be missing out on too much music within my taste if I would always only play vinyl for example. I still do collect vinyl mostly, as it’s still the most enjoyable medium to me and I collect much more different kinds of music than the 90s stuff I mostly play in DJ sets and what we’ve been talking about mostly today.
Can we expect a CD from you in the future?
The Betonska radio show is very informative and clearly has the intention to share music. How important is it for you to provide insights to music lovers and collectors?
I don’t really feel like I am providing insights or educating music lovers and collectors, it is merely a way of expressing my own music taste and record collection. If there are people who like that and listen to it, that makes me happy.
What is the best way for people to keep up with all things Betonska?
The best way would be to follow the Betonska.ams Instagram page, as I try to keep up there with all things happening in and around Betonska. I do encourage heading over to the Betonska.eu website though as all major news is being updated there too and there’s a built-in webshop for all Betonska releases and second-hand vinyl on there as well. I’ll try to upload more second-hand sales as well soon, as I didn’t really have time for that lately.
What can we expect from Betonska in the near future?
A sub-label, very soon to be announced.