Astral Black launches at their new Glasgow home this Friday, since their inception last year they’ve built a solid reputation with a series of releases and parties that have resolutely hit the mark. Starting out with limited cassette runs from the likes of Edinburgh beat-maker Jaisu and Glasgow’s grime aficionado Inkke, the label keeps the home fires burning this year with a new DJ MIlktray 12″, while forging ties with Southern counterparts Budgie and Darq E Freaker. The Art School spoke with label head Jon Phonics and DJ Milktray about what’s coming up for Astral Black.
For those who aren’t familiar, what should we know about Astral Black?
Jon: Astral Black is a record label and club night that was started in early 2013. So far we’ve released music from myself, Jaisu, Inkke and Opal Block with records on the way from Budgie and DJ Milktray. We’ve had a club residency at The Alibi in Dalston which is a residents focused night but occasionally we bring in the odd special guest or two, previously we’ve had Slugabed, Alexander Nut and S-Type come through for us and we’ll be bringing Darq E Freaker for our first party at The Art School.
What can you tell me about this mix? Is it a collaboration?
Jon: This mix is kind of an influences mix for our Milkmakerz project, so classic Dipset, Kanye productions, Timbaland productions and newer stuff that we’re into, like young thug and robb bank$ an’ that. We just made a folder of songs and then put them together in the popular DJ style.
Milktray: Yeah, we thought it would be a good idea to compile a mix of rad tunes old and new. It’s also good to get people in the mood for the vibe we bring to the parties so you can put it on Friday whilst you getting ready before you hit the clurb.
What else is coming up for Astral Black?
Jon: Release wise we’ve got the Budgie 12″ up next followed by a Jaisu record and hopefully a Milktray 12″. Putting on parties, we’re back in London for our residency at The Alibi the night after The Art School, followed by an Edinburgh party at Sneaky Pete’s on July 9th and our boat party with Hyponik at this years Soundwave festival in Croatia, which should be rad! Some new t-shirt designs are on the way and just generally trying to always do dope shit and making sure there’s always dope shit to be done.
What have you got coming up as DJ Milktray? It’s been a pretty big year for you in many ways and has no sign of holding up, what’ve been some of your highlights?
Milktray: I’ve just been trying to DJ in clubs a much as possible as that’s really fun, and making a bunch of music at the same time. Coming up I have a few original things and remixes coming out on some rad labels aswell as some stuff from this Milkmakerz project. The main highlight really is just people fucking with my music and getting to meet a bunch of sound people.
Jon P, what have you got coming up this summer? What’s this boat party all about?
Jon: Ive got my new EP White Neckle dropping on July 7th via First Word records. That’s out on digital and 7″ vinyl and followed closely by another release which is a 3 track 12″ for Alex Nut’s Hotep label. I also have a collaboration project with my good friend and talented rapper Jam Baxter dropping mid-July on High Focus, that’s called Fresh Flesh, with the exception of one track we’ve made it all in the last month so it’s nice to have something so new released so quickly. As for the boat party, I was booked to play at Soundwave festival and they asked if we wanted to host an Astral Black boat party, so we teamed up with Hyponik to make it happen. Myself, Opal Block & The Purist are reppin’ Astral Black and Om-Unit B2B Reso are reppin’ for Hyponik. 4 hours on a boat in the sea sounds ideal, so it’s a great pleasure to have been asked. Last time I was on a boat party out there i saw a dolphin so y’know, might see another dolphin or something…
What are your favourite things to do in the summer? If you came to a BBQ, what would you bring?
Jon: Two halloumis. One for me, one for sharing.
Milktray: In the summer I like to eat ice lollies most, but for a BBQ I’d probably not bring that, probably bring some meats and if I felt fancy maybe a potato salad.
Why did you pick Darq E Freaker for your Art School debut?
Jon: Ohh, a serious note to end on eh? Well, we’d like to think the sound we’re cultivating with Astral Black exists at the fork in the road where grime and hip-hop meet. Darq E naturally has the grime influence in his sound from coming up in Nu Brand Flexxx and was the first kid from that scene to really bridge it with hip-hop on his collab with Danny Brown. Them lot come through most of our London parties and are always in the house at Budgie’s Livin Proof night so we’ve been meaning to bring Darq E in for a minute and felt it was fitting for our first Glasgow party considering his relationship with Numbers.