Storyboard
01/04/2015
01/04/2015

BBE (BARELY BREAKING EVEN):
REAL MUSIC FOR REAL PEOPLE

bill@bbe

 
 

Each month, we are focusing on a record label founded by an active digger. This month, Lee Bright of BBE, a british label which, since march 1996, has been releasing countless DJ tracks in many genres (hip-hop, house, disco..) and epic selections made by famous DJs such as Spinna or Keb Darge.

 
 

When did you start digging records?
Late 80’s, early 90’s I was living in Manchester, as well as spending time in Eastern Bloc, Fat City (well they kinda had a stall in the indoor market up Oldham St) Decoy Records, King Bee & a couple of other spots – names i cannot recall now – I’d frequent markets… There was a guy in The Moss side centre who always had some nuggets at silly low prices – I remember picking up a Maceo Parker album for £3 I played it ’til it was worn out – and car boots… these especially were a rich vein of gems, near always for pennies not pounds.

What Lps did you buy at first? Do you still listen to them?
My early purchases as a kid were very varied : I’d spend my paper round money on chart albums, along side Soft Cell, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath… I’m too embarrassed to mention some of the terrible albums i bought back then. As I got older I moved through rockabilly, jump jive , jazz to « indie », The Smiths and Felt – especially poignant as I freelance for Cherry Red who look after Felt’s catalogue and i got to meet the « mysterious Lawrence » – and on to electronic, old/new soul, funk, boogie… Pretty much anything.

Do you have a particular style or favorite period?
For me personally the late 60’s to the late 70’s was an amazing period : that said it’s not so much about when, its about the sound and how it makes me feel.

What was your first issue?
BBE’s first release was ‘Stop & Listen Vol. 1’, I remember buying this album… I was not working with Ben & Pete back then. I joined with Peter 1999, when Ben pursued another career path, but I had been hanging about at some of their club nights. Friends had suggested they could release an album featuring some of the music they were playing in the club. To gain attention they asked Dr Bob Jones to compile the album. Bob had a radio show on Kiss Fm at the time (The Surgery) and was well known and respected not just in the UK. So it seemed like a good idea to have his name on the front cover attached.

StopAndListenVOL1

Barbara Lynn
You Make Me So Hot


 

Why this name BBE (Barely Breaking Even) ?
It was not only the state of the finances and still true today, but also a favorite from Greg Carmichael’s Universal Robot Band.

The Disco touch ?
Disco, combining so many musical styles, it makes you smile, it feels like a treat, you want to dance, it’s sex.

What could be the editorial/esthetic line?
If we like it and if it’s possible we release it.

How do you decide on the choice of reissues/issues ?
We release music we love, with people we love and trust, who bring their expertise and musical passion to us with a clear concept. And in re-issuing them we hope to give our audience music they’ve never heard before. Releasing albums is a high risk business, more so today than ever before, we lessen that risk by creating high quality product.

You released ‘Phantom’ in january. What is the best deal/business: to make reissues or to produce/coproduce new records?
The artist and label must synchronise, both be equally responsible, share the risk and have complete trust in one another and understand expectations and be sensible…

Jay Dee aka J Dilla
BBE (Big Booty Express)


 

Is it two different jobs?
Compilations are more straightforward… Artists i.e. a new record : it might have more potential …e.g. tours / remixes / videos, but it is much much harder to make it work !
Running a small record label is many jobs : accounting, office services, human resources, shoulder to cry on, press and radio… You have to do everything and understand each area of the business intimately and keep up with the array of changes that are taking place near daily now.

What could be your leitmotif for the label?
Real Music for Real People. Music that we’ll want to listen to yesterday, today and all of our tomorrow , music that was created from the heart, with feeling that speaks a universal language

BBE is famous for a few compilation series like ‘Kings Of’, ‘Strange Breaks…’… Are there any plans for future volumes?
Always plans not just for these, but other series’… forthcoming ‘Private Wax II’, ‘Strange Breaks yes Mr Thing’: just follow him on Instagram and you’ll see he is unearthing new gems week on week… More compilations with Keb Darge, Sean P, Amir of 180 Proof… Al Kent (Million Dollar Disco)! We’re usually working on a bunch of albums, it’s just a case of how long it takes to prepare everything

Frank Pleyer Big Band
Sally


 

You chose to collaborate with famous DJ’s (Gilles Peterson, DJ Spinna, Dimitri From Paris, Jazzanova…) for your compilations. Who are the next/future collaborators?Jay Strongman, Snowboy, Volcov, Jeremy Newall if the idea makes sense to us, it’s fresh … We’ll give it a try.

Are you still digging’, buying vinyl, visiting record shops?
Not so much me personally – too busy mostly / maybe i got too lazy / ran out of space for records… And many moves later – felt i could not carry them into a removal truck anymore … Peter spends some time… I’m sure of that UK/Ghana/Berlin… if I pass a box of records in a charity / junk shop i’ll always peek.

Have you received many negative answers on some of the LPs you were trying to reissue?
Negative answers… You cannot dwell on unresponsive radio / press / public. It’s a crowded market place, sometimes people miss things … quality never goes away and we daily receive compliments, feedback about releases some of which are more than 10 years old.

 

 

There is more and more reissues of old LPs. Do you think that the LP reissue market could ever reach saturation point?
I cannot see that happening any time soon. I’ve been freelancing at Cherry Red Records for long time and for years they’ve been re-issuing 30 to 40 albums a month…

What are your next releases ?
All to look out for : on 7” J Dilla – ‘Love’ (vocal/instr), DJ Vadim – ‘Black is the Night b/w Lyrical Soldier’, The Hempolics – ‘Warrior Sound’, Beam Up – ‘No Chains/Travelling’ ; on LP Keb Darge & Little Edith’s Legendary ‘Wild Rockers 5’, ‘20 Years Henry Street Music – The Definitive Collection’, and two volumes of Private Wax 12” Series…

What is the LP you dream of reissuing?
‘Eyes of Love’ by Edge of Daybreak.
 

 
 

 

Bama Love Soul

 

A video of Otti Albietz


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