Low Tide Recordings offers UK sound stateside 

Importing grime

click to enlarge Low Tide Recordings' Jeremy Bittle  is passionate about introducing listeners to grime music. - PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • PHOTO BY RENÉE HEININGER
  • Low Tide Recordings' Jeremy Bittle is passionate about introducing listeners to grime music.
The music media landscape has changed drastically in relatively short order: Spotify, Tidal, and other streaming channels have reset the music industry’s bedrock; the ubiquity of free MP3 downloads on SoundCloud and single purchases on iTunes have revolutionized the way listeners access music, with instantaneous availability of a virtually limitless library of songs.

This landscape is vastly different from the analogue DJ culture that inspired Jeremy Bittle, the Rochester-based DJ who also produces under the moniker Fabricator. According to him, music would be distributed on acetate vinyl at DJ shows. The records would be playable about 100 times. These temporary releases would facilitate the distribution of independent artists. Live events would provide a platform for emerging artists and the latest vinyl releases while stoking the influence of existing ones.

Bittle wants to facilitate a re-emergence of this vintage atmosphere – through which cultural infrastructure develops an organic environment for supporting independent artists. And his indie label Low Tide Recordings is part of that vision. Bittle is passionate about electronic music sourced from the United Kingdom: styles like dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass, and a relatively new niche called grime.

Grime music has its roots in the sampling tradition that birthed hip-hop in the South Bronx in the 70’s. Musically, it can be identified by a stoic and assertive attitude—electronically produced instrumentals ticking along with mechanistic clout. This is particularly personified in a track like “Filthy Gears," a Low Tide release (which can be heard at soundcloud.com/lowtiderecordings).

Grime tracks are played by DJ’s at live events, and MC’s are invited to rhyme over them. Grime vocals are unique in that they emphasize metered cadence and individual jollies, rather than rhyme and the themes of reputation, and power one can find in traditional rap. It’s altogether less political.

The 26-year-old Bittle decided at 14 he would pursue music professionally. Getting his start in 2010 with the night-life event crew RIPROC (Rest in Peace Rochester), he took over the group in 2012.

In the ensuing years, in search of something less cerebral—more for his mind and his feet— Bittle pivoted and became involved with other label projects, including Phantom Hertz Recordings, Gradient Audio, and Keep Deep.

But about three years ago, fellow DJ Aaron “Stuntman” Carter contacted Bittle about becoming involved with a new venture. Low Tide Recordings—a record label created to sell vinyl releases of grime music—has been in operation for about two and a half years. “The inspiration was to create a platform for US grime artists and producers,” Bittle says. The pair works on marketing and choosing music to release, but Carter seems to focus on A & R, or artists and repertoire.

The label’s inaugural release featured UK-based grime producer Potenz, who is highly regarded as one of the original artists in the dubstep scene. Low Tide collaborates with White Peach Records in the UK to get vinyl pressed. Apart from vinyl pressings available in brick and mortar stores in the UK, and on-line in the US, free downloads are released via Bandcamp at lowtiderecordings.bandcamp.com.

“A lot of grime can be dark,” Bittle says. “Meter is really the focus, instead of rhyming, which I think is a lot harder.”

According to Bittle, the grime community is so tightly knit that it can be difficult to break into the scene. The integrity of this subculture is so well regarded, that grime artists are basically exclusive to the UK at the moment. However, for Low Tide, making the connection is the prerogative. “One of my favorite things is to bring an artist from overseas and taking them to Mark’s for a garbage plate,” says Bittle.

Low Tide’s SoundCloud bio reads: “NEWSCHOOL SOUNDS. OLDSCHOOL ETHICS.” “Let’s not forget, that music is about love and community,” Bittle says. “We didn’t come along with any affiliation or any crew, we’re not south side or north side or west side or east side.”

RIPROC presents Low Tide Recordings third release (LTR 003) show on June 27th at Photo City Improv. UK based Chad Dubz will be performing. Perspective Audio will be providing subwoofers for extra bass-frequency fidelity. 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. $5 at the door. 451-0047. lowtiderecordings.com.
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