Forming a relationship with Get Physical Music and a consistent flow of releases on their label, Ryan Murgatroyd assisted and featured on the first ever ‘Africa Gets Physical’-now an annual compilation series. He plays pivotal role as part of Bantwanas and is one half of Crazy White Boy, playing alongside South African DJ and producer, Kostakis. Ryan continues to draw worldwide attention, gaining exposure with his full live performances through the likes of Boiler Room, Watergate and Hï Ibiza. He has garnered huge support from key tastemaker artists such as Damian Lazarus, Lee Burridge, Solomun, and even fellow South African export, Black Coffee. With past, present and future remix projects with the likes of Lane 8, John Monkman, Jonas Rathsman, Super Flu and others, he is now quietly building a library of works to unleash in the near future.
We had the chance to caught up with Ryan Murgatroyd to talk about his current musical projects.
Electronic Groove: Hey, Ryan, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us. How are you?
Ryan Murgatroyd: I’m honestly fantastic, thanks for having me, guys!
EG: Where in the world are you currently?
Ryan Murgatroyd: Right now I’m in Johannesburg, South Africa, where we have the label studios and offices, and where my main studio is located. I’m deep in a writing camp right now, just piecing together new compositions for the label.
EG: For those of our readers that may not know you, please can you give yourself a quick intro?
Ryan Murgatroyd: Well, this is always a bit tricky from the first-person perspective, but I’ve been immersed in electronic music for about 20 years. Back in 2007, I was making music on labels like Toolroom Records, and even Cr2 records, and then I sort off went off the international map and focused on my South African projects for a while. During this time I immersed myself in African sonics, recording and producing with dozens of musicians from Southern Africa, and just finding a really unique way that I like to work with sonics. In 2013 I decided it was time to start making music that would go beyond my own borders, and signed a track called ‘Bantwanas Piano’ to Defected. From there onto Get Physical music, and then about 3 years ago I really got serious.
EG: How did you first get into electronic music?
Ryan Murgatroyd: The same way everyone else does, I imagine, off my tits in a dark warehouse (laughs). I knew straight away I was gonna devote my life to this strange new cultural phenomenon. I had Sl1200s by the time I was 14 years old, and of course in Johannesburg, people weren’t exactly standing to queues to experience electronic music at that time. But slowly it built a small scene of DJs and producers. I got involved in what I guess you would call ‘urban’ electronic music, which means it was the style of house that was typically enjoyed more by people of color. And I resonated deeply with that sound. I always wanted a way to use those elements in a way that wasn’t contrived or try-hard, and also completely unique, and that is the influence for tracks like ‘Ikalimba’ and ‘Bantwanas Piano’.
EG: Congratulations on the recent launch of your new label Swoon Recordings. Can you tell us a bit about the label and why you set it up?
Ryan Murgatroyd: Freeeeeedooooommmm!!!!! (Braveheart voice). I really don’t like having other cooks in the kitchen regarding arrangements, and the writing process. I like electronic music that Is unapologetically emotional, subversive and nuanced at the same time it when I sat down to write the first few singles I knew they would be my best works and the only way to move forward was to be completely free of any input but my own and my teams, and to believe that we could really do something unique and be in the conversation for some of the most prolific electronic music artists on planet earth; It sounds like a lot but of course we have to have a giant vision with the label. A mans reach must extend beyond his grasp, or what is a heaven for?
EG: What’s the vision for the label moving forward?
Ryan Murgatroyd: We’re placing a huge focus on finding new sonic palettes and escaping the generic. Every release has a distinct theme. From the sound design to the artwork, each piece is a complete work of audio-visual art and it’s vital to experience each work as a complete whole. Of course, our roster is primarily artists living and working in South Africa, but that’s not because we’re trying to jump on the ‘We’re African’ train, quite the opposite. I believe we have some unique things to offer sonically, and I want us to be respected independent of where we are from, as real artists on the world stage.
EG: Any up and coming artists we should be keeping our eyes on?
Ryan Murgatroyd: Bruce Loko is on fire! A South African boy who just signed to Diynamic. Leeu is another South African producer I love.
“Our roster is primarily artists living and working in South Africa, but that’s not because we’re trying to jump on the ‘We’re African’ train, quite the opposite”
EG: If you were to pick one project or moment you were most proud of over the course of your career, what would it be?
Ryan Murgatroyd: Well I’ve been lucky to have some insane support from Tale Of Us and Solomun on the first track on the label, ‘Wicked Eyes’. Watching them destroy floors with the record, the first one on my own label, it was a great moment. Playing Black Coffee’s first season at Hi Ibiza, as the only South African resident other than him, was a good one too.
EG: Top 5 favorite records right now?
Ryan Murgatroyd: I have to be biased here, so excuse me. But I make the exact records I like to play. So it would be…
1) Ryan Murgatroyd – Is That You? – Swoon Recordings
2) Super Flu – Acumulee – Diynamic
3) Ryan Murgatroyd – Find Me Another – Get Physical (September 20th)
4) Ryan Murgatroyd – Wicked Eyes – Swoon Recordings
5) BAILE, Felicia Douglass – Without (Tim Green Remix) – Elements)
EG: The second Swoon Recordings installment ‘Is That You’ is confirmed for the beginning of September. Can you talk us through the single and the direction you wanted to go down for the follow-up?
Ryan Murgatroyd: ‘Is That You’ is a really slow, melancholic groover, that is all about merging the cinematic electronica sound with something you can really play to open or close your set. It’s an unapologetically emotional journey, and a very special piece of music to me, personally. A lot of people think it’s my best work, and I might agree. I’m trying to show people that while there is an underlying quality and emotional nuance to every Swoon record, there is definitely no formula, everyone is completely different.
EG: What does the rest of 2019 look like for you in terms of new music and touring?
Ryan Murgatroyd: Well, as just mentioned, the second Swoon Recordings single is out September 6th. On the same month I’m back in Berlin for the 17 years Get Physical party with some shows in Ukraine and Copenhagen as well. On the 20th I have a magical deep house record dropping on Get Physical Music, called ‘Find Me Another’. And then October 4th we’re doing the first major Swoon Recordings club EP, and then I’m back in South Africa for the season here. I can’t wait.