“Hey Silky!” I call into the blue Skype icon, which stands in for the Londoner’s smiling face. Silence.
“Silky?” I try again.
More silence. And then, suddenly, there is an awful buildup of static and what sounds to me, like a burst of rushing water.
“What the hell was that?!” exclaims a male in Cockney English, which I immediately recognize to be the distinct voice of Silky. I burst out into laughter.
“I’m not sure,” I respond, “but it sounds like you’re dealing with a flood.”
“Oh that’d be great,” he laughs.
After a few minutes of playing catch up, it’s time to cut to the chase and begin discussing the topics I’ve set out for. Today, I’ll be interviewing the London-native DJ-Producer and Faceless Recordings label boss to gather some exclusive bits on upcoming releases, his recent move from London to Los Angeles, his restored evolvement with vinyl and so much more.
Silky has just returned to his relatively new home base in LA, after playing Gaskessel in Switzerland, alongside Marc Schneider and Copy Paste Soul. As soon as I ask him about the move, it’s clear that LA is doing him wonders. “LA is a better lifestyle choice for me,” he begins. “I wake up, the sun is shining. I can go hiking outdoors, the food is great —I have the motivation to start working right away. When you work in this industry, it’s easy to get caught up in the socializing part versus the working part.”
I can’t help but nod my head in agreement.
“When I was living in London,” he continues, “there were so many events happening and friends flying in from other parts of the world. It’s easy to get distracted. I’m not one of those people who needs a drink before I go into the studio to help me get into the music. I’m the opposite — if I’m tired or I’ve had a drink, then I’m not productive.”
This holistic approach to work and music can be heard in Silky’s uplifting productions, which reveal the more emotive qualities of house music. Both his sets and productions create a profound sense of atmosphere, making it nearly impossible for listeners to pull themselves away. “And I wanted to be able to spend time with my girlfriend,” he adds. “Most weekends I need to fly out somewhere. Being in LA allows me to have that time during the week.”
When you work in this industry, it’s easy to get caught up in the socializing part versus the working part.
However, LA has also presented some hurdles to the artist. When I ask him about the biggest challenges so far, he responds quite honestly “I literally can not pass my stupid driving test.” For the second time during this interview, I erupt into a fit of laughter, as I visualize the London-native struggling to drive on the opposite side of the road. “Seriously!” he interjects, “It’s embarrassing because the first time they disqualified me for driving too slow. Too slow!” Now we are both howling. Ah well, it’s not like you need a car to get around in LA… ye right!
We first met Silky last year in Miami during Winter Music Conference. At the time, he couldn’t stop gushing that Mixmag had named his label showcase one of the “Top Parties of MMW”. And not in an arrogant, egocentric kind of way — but rather, how a small child would be excited to show you that he could tie his shoes.
Launched in 2013, Faceless Recordings was originally a joint effort between Silky, Climbers from Mexico and “my best mate, Neil Barber,” he tells me. “Climbers were touring Europe at the time, and we were all just hanging out. Eventually, they went back to Mexico and with me and Neil both being in London, it just happened so that we were the two who carried it out.”
For Silky and Barber, when it comes to the label, they are very much rooted in the “quality versus quantity” philosophy. In comparison to many of today’s underground labels, Faceless Recordings’ catalogue is quite modest. However, each release is seemingly unique, captivating the ears and hearts of music lovers around the world. “The point was never to release something every week,” Silky tells me. “I wanted to build something special and help build up unknown artists. I want to release music that has a lasting effect.”
And then of course, there is also the business side of it, he affirms. Few artists make a living off solely music production. “I love making music. If I could, I would just sit at home and write music all day, but the reality is, there’s not a lot of money in it.” Putting out records opens up another revenue stream for artists, which is why Faceless Recordings approach each release with diligence. “I spend a lot of time making sure the press and promotion of each release is solid. For me, having a release come out is like a business card,” says Silky.
And yet, that business card doesn’t necessarily need to have Silky’s name stamped on it all the time. He asserts that while Faceless Recordings can be a beneficial tool for both himself and friends of the industry, it’s important for the growth of his label to align himself with other key players. “I’m doing stuff for my label, but what I think will help Faceless Recordings is if I also release on other imprints with larger markets.”
Faceless Recordings’ creativity bleeds far beyond the music. The artwork of both the label’s logo and each individual release is skillfully designed. “I love the simplicity of the lines around the face,” I tell him. “It’s great.”
“Ah ya, I was thinking of getting it tattooed,” he responds, “…on my face!” Again, more laughter.
Silky goes on to tell me the story of how the trademark face came to be. Climbers had taken to their social media, putting out a competition which called upon designers to create a logo. It was a Mexican artist who was crowned winner.
“As for the releases,” Silky resumes, “The first 6 were done by an artist in LA, Juan Manuel Ramal. And this recent lot… well, that’s a bit of a weird story,” he remarks.
Silky recites the night when he was out for drinks with some friends in New York. “This guy would not stop starring at us. Eventually, I left to go to the bathroom and when I came back, he was sitting, talking with my friends. It turns out — he was a doodler. He had been sketching us on his phone, and it was honestly the most ridiculously amazing sketch! So me and him became friends.”
A few days following our interview, Silky will send me the sketch done by New York artist, Peter Vu and I cant help but feel astounded — it is really good!
And that’s just Silky’s nature. It’s moments like that, which have given Silky the reputation of being “one of the nicest guys in the business.” Part of it could also be the result of living with mentor and Godfather of House, the late Frankie Knuckles.
Silky came to know Frankie back in 1998 and they quickly became close friends. “We lived together in Chicago. He was like a father figure to me.” I can’t help but feel a pinch of pain in my chest. This is new news to me — I was unaware of Silky and Frankie’s friendship before this. Silky confirms, the man had a heart of gold. “He even did my first remix for me on Faceless Recordings,” Silky adds.
The hypnotic part in a record is what captures me… that’s what I always try to create.
Silky’s passion for music is truly unwavering. Having grown up playing piano, an instrument which he still uses to write a majority of his music with today, he broke into the role of DJing when he was 16. “It was really just a hobby,” he notes. “The steps leading here were very gradual.”
“So what elements within electronic music attract you the most?” I ask.
“Something hypnotic. The hypnotic part in a record is what captures me. Some people find it repetitive, but there is a difference. The hypnotic part is what keeps you locked into that groove, where as repetition makes you lose interest. That’s what I always try to create — something hypnotic.”
And judging by Silky’s work, it’s safe to say that he almost always achieves to do just that. His recent mix for Deep House Amsterdam gives listeners over an hour of musical mystification, beginning with dreamy chords that mesmerize your ears before building into harder-hitting house and techno, and then ending with cool, soulful rhythms reminiscent of the Detroit sound.
“I come from a background where DJing didn’t have genres,” says Silky. “When I record a mix, I try to showcase all the styles that I can play. My first gigs were at bars where you’d play 6-7 hours and all on vinyl.” It’s a sound and method of playing music, which Silky finds himself going back to. “I’m tired of everything sounding clean,” Silky confides. “I’ve gone off the digital. I like the warmth and grittiness of vinyl.”
Just as we’re in the midst of discussing our shared love for the 12” wax, Silky interrupts with some exciting news. “Oh ace!” he cheers. “I just got confirmation that I’ve got Audiofly on the label! And it’s going to be released exclusively on vinyl.”
The release, he tells me will be a re-release of Swedish producers’ hugely successful Give It Up, released on Faceless Recordings at the start of 2014. I instantly recall the track, for Chaim’s deep, percussive and enchanting remix. “That track had amazing feedback and support,” says Silky. “Âme dropped it at the Innervisions party at BPM. Mano le Tough was playing it… the remix package was big and diverse.”
The vinyl re-release will feature 3 remixes — one from Audiofly, one from Chaim and another from Holmer of Thugfucker, who will produce under his new alias, Leonard Withers. Silky’s excitement is contagious and with names like that involved, I have no doubt that Faceless Recordings is on to another brilliant release.
As our conversation comes to a close, I feel a great sense of gratitude towards the DJ-Producer, label owner and friend. Silky’s kind and gentle demeanour is truly refreshing. His passion for music and life resonate in the stories he shares, and I have full confidence that his current successes are merely the beginning!
With a click of my finger, the blue Skype icon disappears. In a new window, I open Chaim’s remix of “Give It Up” and scroll through the 6 pages of dialogue before me. I can only hope to tell Silky’s story with the same honesty and spirit that he’s just shared with me.
Stay tuned for Faceless Recordings’ next release, “Handshake” coming at you from Roland Appel (Life & Death) with remixes by Inxec and James Teej
*** We are pleased to announce, that since this article was published, Silky has successfully passed his driver’s test. Congratulations Silky! ***