Thanks to the pandemic it’s only four years from now until Hudd Traxx will celebrate its 20th anniversary even when the label of perfectionist Eddie Leader has its 15 year compilation called Here & Now these days. Strange times we live in but especially in these times and for the past one and a half decades the label as well as Eddie have been a constant in the House Music scene delivering quality music from aspiring and renowned artist and sometimes in-between one of the rare releases from the label-head himself. His last EP, There’s A Time, was the first one in years. Fortunately this time Eddie did not make his followers wait as long as before and contributed the track Fade Away to the festivity compilation. In advance of Here & Now Eddie spoke about the label’s past, his perfectionism, inspiring posts from Chez Damier, sneaks around answers to questions like politicians, describes his favorite dance move and shares some cuts from the compilation on the latest art:cast episode.
Torture the Artist: Hello Eddie, tell us something about your day.
Eddie Leader: Hello mate. Firstly, thanks for inviting me to do the interview and the mix it’s much appreciated. Today I did some meditaton, yoga, walked my dog, and then recorded the mix for you. And now I’m listening back to the mix whilst I do the interview
Torture the Artist: Hudd Traxx celebrates its 15th anniversary shortly – congrats on that achievement at first. From your personal point of view, why is the label still relevant after all those years and what’s your outlook on the label’s future and philosophy?
Eddie Leader: Thank you it’s much appreciated. Hopefully it’s still relevant because people still like the music. I have released music that I really like, and maybe this has a connection with the people buying the music. I’ve also worked very hard at the label over the years to make sure it keeps going through the good times and bad. Moving forward I will still be releasing music that’s close to my heart. I want to grow the label and connect to as many people as possible. I can’t see any reason why I won’t still be doing this in another 15 years. That being said we all need to evolve ,so there maybe a few new tricks along the way which I haven’t thought about just yet.
Over the years I’ve definitely thought too much about if other people will like the music or not, and in the end I realised it doesn‘t matter what other people think.
Torture the Artist: Rewind to 2005, alongside Danny White and Dan Ruck you founded the label. What would you tell ‘young Eddie’ now if he had the plan to establish a music label for niche music?
Eddie Leader: I would probably tell him to enjoy it and live in the moment for starters. I would also tell him to trust his instincts, not overthink things and worry about what other people think. Over the years I’ve definitely thought too much about if other people will like the music or not, and in the end I realised it doesn‘t matter what other people think. If I like it that’s good enough to release it. I listened back to the back catalogue recently and it still sounds good to me so that was wasted energy. I would also say Hudd Traxx is an ok name as I didn’t like it in the beginning, the lads came up with that.
Torture the Artist: What made you found the label in the first place and what is everyone’s task?
Eddie Leader: We started the label as an outlet to release our music. We had been releasing under the Slum Science name on a few labels and thought it would be better to be in control of our own music. We also thought we’d make more money which we found out not to be so true haha. There is only me running the label now, the lads left around seven or eight years ago due to other commitments. I do everything for the label apart from art direction, which is my friends Edward & Natalie Meziani, and distribution which is handled by Above Board. Hype PR handle press stuff which is how we met. <smiles>
For the first time in a while I had the chance to sit down and work solely on the label and this compilation.
Torture the Artist: The anniversary will be celebrated with 10 tracks split into two parts from artists who’ve contributed and supported the label’s vision of music. Firstly, why did you decide not to go for the 15 tracks and secondly, since the label’s philosophy is to ‘showcase fierce, uncompromising dancefloor workouts in as sincere and stylish manner as possible’, how hard was it for you to continue in the same way when most dancefloors around the world are closed?
Eddie Leader: To be honest I didn’t think about 15 tracks but it‘s a great idea mate. I think it’s probably due to the fact it’s not easy to make a compilation. For example for the ten year compilation I did four releases with 16 tracks, however eight of those were from the back catalogue and only eight were new. It took me well over a year to get those eight tracks from the producers involved. I was also turned down or let down by numerous producers, so I had to hedge my bets by contacting all the people I wanted on the label. So with that experience in my back pocket I knew it wasn’t an easy task so eight felt right. The last 2 tracks from DFRA and no Different were a late digital addition just because they sent them to me at the right time. It took me the best part of a year to sort this compilation too. You’ve actually given me an idea for the 20 year anniversary, 20 tracks which would be cool. I think I’m going to start on that next year which would give me three years to complete (we’re actually 16 this year, but like everything else last year it got delayed).
With regards to carrying on with the clubs being closed that has indeed been testing. For the first time in a while I had the chance to sit down and work solely on the label and this compilation which was great. I wasn’t sure about releasing music during the pandemic, but Above Board told me to go for it and that vinyl was still selling so I did. I released the Iron Curtis 2 part EP and my EP, both have gone down well which is cool. This compilation has fallen at the perfect time as clubs are starting to reopen so hopefully we’ll hear it out soon.
Torture the Artist: Have you ever thought, especially over the past one and a half year, to release music that’s not entirely aiming to fit into a DJs set but support the home-listening experience?
Eddie Leader: Yes, actually I have. I listen to all types of music and it would be cool to release other styles of music that I like. I think it would probably need to be on a sublabel though. Agnès actually mentioned to me he wants to put a Torpedoman album out and asked if I wanted to do it with him. We talked about starting a label but lets see what happens.
Torture the Artist: You as well as the label are based in Yorkshire, UK, how did the (Deep) House sound find its way into your life and what made you want to release and also produce music that has this classic timeless note?
Eddie Leader: I’m from Yorkshire but I actually live in Manchester now. I’m from Huddersfield and Hard Times was a legendary night that started there, so a lot of people from the area were into House music. I was too young to go but it definitely had an effect on the area. Danny’s brother used to have mix tapes from Hard Times and Back 2 Basics which we used to listen to all the time. Danny had some decks so he was the person that got me into House so I owe that to him. We started going out to Basics in Leeds and I loved dancing and raving all night. I bought some decks when I was 15 and was hooked. Danny started producing and I loved what he was doing so I would sit in the studio and learn. He was keen and hungry to make music and I liked what he was doing and it got me excited about it also. We were always into proper House Music so I guess nothing has really changed with the style. Ha!
Torture the Artist: Iconic artists like Jovonn, Nightmares On Wax or JT Donaldson to name a few, have released on the label and have contributed a track to the latest 15th anniversary compilation. What’s an artist you’d definitely want or dream of having a release on Hudd Traxx, and why?
Eddie Leader: Kerri Chandler. For me Kerri is one of the best if not the best there’s been. He’s the most consistent that’s for sure. I’ve been trying to get Kerri on the label for years. So far no luck but God loves a trier so I will keep trying. <smiles>
Amen to that, could you release that prisoner you’ve been holding on to for over a year to me now please mate?
Torture the Artist: Producer and co-founder/ label head of, are you more strict with your own releases being published on the label than with the ones from other artists and what is your threshold when it comes to own productions?
Eddie Leader: Good question. I think I am more strict with my releases yes. I have only released three solo EP’s on Hudd Traxx in 15 years, the rest have been co-produced. I have always been my own worst critic and my mum always says I’m too hard on myself. I’m definitely a perfectionist, or I was but I’ve learnt to be a bit more easy on myself. It wasn’t until I had a place in Ibiza for the summer a few years ago and made a lot of tracks that I started to like my own music. I actually have about 15 or so unsigned tracks I made since then which I like. Having said that I’m working on my next Hudd EP and I want it to be new music as I think my productions are better now than they were then. Funnily enough Chez Damier did a FB post recently which said ‘some of you are holding your gifts hostage due to perfectionism. We spend so much time worrying about adding endless tweaks at the expense of delaying the project. We worry so much about who will like it and will it be accepted. RELEASE YOUR GIFT..THE WORLD NEEDS IT’. I screenshoted it and replied ‘Amen to that, could you release that prisoner you’ve been holding on to for over a year to me now please mate?’ He was supposed to do a track for the 15 year compilation so I was on his back haha.
Torture the Artist: Your contribution to the 15th anniversary compilation Here & Now is the track Fade Away, does the track title refer to the current events of the pandemic or what do you wish to fade away?
Eddie Leader: Ha no, it’s just because the vocal sample is fade away so it was an easy choice. What do I want to fade away? Hmmm. Maybe Huddersfield Town’s insistance to give away silly goals. <winks>
Torture the Artist: If you had to choose, what’s your favorite Hudd Traxx release? What would you remix if you really had to?
Eddie Leader: Do I have to choose? Hmmm, tough one. It’s like me saying I prefer my dog over my cats or vice versa. OK I’m gonna give you a political answer which is I love them all. Maybe I can give you some personal highlights though. In catalogue order; Iz & Diz – Happy, JT Donaldson – Just Bounce, Rhythm Plate – Robbin‘ Hudd EP, Brett Johnson – Blasts From The Past EP, All Iron Curtis EP’s, Rolando’s remix of my track, Rick Wade – Night Folk EP, Chris Carrier – Burnin‘ Desire EP, Agnès – Got That Music In My Mind EP, Leader & Yuriano (RIP my boy), Matthew Herbert’s remix of Accatone, I Am With You by me, Tomson and Chez Damier, 10 Years Of Hudd Traxx, 15 Years Of Hudd Traxx (especially signing Nightmares On Wax & Jovonn).
Torture the Artist: As DJ, producer and label head is there one thing that you prefer over another or do they complement each other?
Eddie Leader: I like them both and yes they complement each other. I was a DJ before I was a producer but I love them both in different ways. When I’m in the studio I can completely lose myself in the music and in time which is a good thing. I live in the country and my view from the studio is of the peak district so it’s nice and relaxing. When you’re DJing you can lose yourself in the music but you have people to share it with, which is cool.
Torture the Artist: Earlier this year you released your EP There’s A Time, your first proper EP in a long time as most of your releases are singles. However, what took you so long and when did you decide to release a full EP rather than another single?
Eddie Leader: I have no idea where ten years went but I guess work and life get in the way of making music. That and as I mentioned being a perfectionist doesn’t help. I felt I needed to release a full EP as it was over 10 years since I’d done one. I didn’t plan other releases to be singles per se it’s just how it worked out. It’s definitely wet my appetite to release more records.
Torture the Artist: What’s a field you wished you were better at, and why?
Eddie Leader: I would love to be able to play the piano better. I have been learning for one year and am ok but I need a lot more time and practice. When I was making music with Yuri he inspired me to learn as he was classically trained and could play anything.
Torture the Artist: You’ve produced music together with some artists before, what’s a producer you would like to share the studio with?
Eddie Leader: Can I say Kerri again? Haha. Man there’s loads. If I had to say one it would be Dr Dre. As a producer his music just sounds way better produced than anyone else’s in my opinion. If you listen to his 2001 album it sounds insanely good. I used to listen to it in my VW Polo which I bought from my mum. The system in that car wasn’t good at all but that album still sounded amazing. I actually sampled his voice on There’s A Time EP, I love Dre.
I am known for a dance move called The Albatross […] it as a move that could pull any women anywhere, no matter what you looked like.
Torture the Artist: What’s a dance move of yours to accompany your art:cast?
Eddie Leader: Haha. Funnily enough I am known for a dance move called The Albatross. I met a guy at a party years ago and he showed it to me. He described it as a move that could pull any women anywhere, no matter what you looked like. So basically you look at the girl, point at her and then yourself, kind of like what Robert De Niro does when he says ‘I’m watching you Focker’ in meet the parents. Then you use you arms to swoop in like an Albatross and then put your hands on your hips while pulling a daft face. It’s a joke dance move, obviously no girl would fall for that haha. Actually the EP I did with Yuriano is called The Albatross EP and you can see some stills of the move on the artwork. My old designer Sarah drew that.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of the latter, what was your approach to the mix and where do you want to take the listener musically?
Eddie Leader: To be honest I am not a fan of recording mixes at all as I don’t DJ how I would do in clubs. I’m more experimental and clubby when it comes to DJing in clubs. Having said that when I record mixes usually I like to start them off slower/deeper and then build them up to a more clubby vibe, which is what I’ve done in this mix. I also wanted to showcase some of the 15 year tracks so there is four of them in there which is more Hudd stuff than I would usually put on a mix.
Torture the Artist: What is your favorite daily wear attire?
Eddie Leader: Jeans, T shirt, trainers. Or trackie bottoms, T shirt with a hoodie and slippers if I’m chilling at home.
Words by Holger Breuer