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Xosar inaugurates the ensemble label with Retreat To Rapture

The Brussels based label have turned to the Lowlands-based American for their debut release.

ensemble has grown out of the internittent party of the same name hosted by Brussels pair Gratts and Kong, who are both heavily involved in the Belgian capital’s branch of the 22tracks website – you might also recall Gratts from his contribution to the Refused & Revinylised offshoot of We Play House. The roving night has hosted a high calibre of house talent since it’s inception last year; the likes of Fred P, Young Marco, moomin and Xosar have played in a number of Brussels venues and Gratts and Kong have now elected to expand the ensemble brand to incorporate releasing records.

Describing ensemble as less a traditional label with a regular release schedule, “it just happens to produce slabs of delicious vinyl,” Gratts and Kong have turned to Xosar for their debut release, having apparently fallen in love with the tracks that make up the Retreat 2 Rapture EP after listening to them in the car on a hungover drive back from this year’s edition of Dour Festival. As the video for Rush Hour release The Calling revealed, Sheela Rahman is fond of riffing off the notion of extra-terrestrial life and this is explored further on the lead track “X(osar) Files” whilst We Play House mainstay San Soda contributes a remix under the new Xan Xoda banner. As with several of Rahman’s previous releases, the artwork is done by the producer herself and is adapted from the flyer she produced for the Ensemble event she played at last December.

For more of an idea of what to expect from Ensemble we got in touch with founder Gratts to discuss the ideas behind the new direction and what they have planned for the future.

Hi Gratts, from the press release it seems that you don’t want people to consider ensemble as a fully fledged label, more an extension of the parties?

True, ensemble is still mostly about throwing nights and sharing sounds and vibes we love. So in that respect this first EP is very much about the same. The reason why we don’t want to call it a label is mostly because we’re lazy and it would mean too much work. It sounds so ambitious, you know? Seriously though, it’s because it seems a “label” by today’s standards has to get something out every month (preferably a coloured vinyl, stamped, one copy per customer) by an unwritten rule which is not our goal. We don’t want to rush things and rather release two EPs a year than drown ourselves. So not calling it a label is just conventient and us not trying to scare ourselves haha. That being said ensemble002 is already in the works, more info about that soon hopefully!

The decision to release Xosar’s Retreat To Rapture EP sounds quite spontaneous. Had you and Kong thought about releasing records prior to this?

Both Kong and myself are real vinyl lovers, so yes definitely the idea of releasing a record had crossed our mind a few times. This time the timing seemed right and of course we had heard this tracks by Xosar that we really loved. When we were listening to them in the car coming back from Dour Festival, hungover, with our friend San Soda, he was immediately up for making a remix. It seems everything just came together in a really natural way. As both Kong and I have been dj’ing for quite a few years, it’s definitely exciting to now have a platform to send music into the world. Also by selecting the house tunes for the 22tracks platform in Brussels we get to hear a lot of fresh sounds, often unreleased, that might just end up on an ensemble vinyl in the future.

Are there any specific labels that act as inspiration for how you want to approach releasing music on ensemble?

As we really like electronic music in all its shapes and forms, we enjoy the more adventurous labels out there that still have a distinct identity. This appeals to us more than starting a sublabel for every new release that sounds slightly different than the last one. We always think people are far more open minded than some labels take them for. We’d probably have to mention Running Back because they’ve always sort of made their own rules, sound wise, and make it work. Our friends from We Play House in Belgium are a huge influence, of course. And a special mention to Blank Slate, who are also a young and exciting label and also completely do it their way. It seems to be a better idea to try and do something the way you want to do it, than follow the pack.

Looking to the future, what plans do you and Kong have for ensemble with regards to further parties and releases?

We always look at the parties individually and hope to continue to push artists and music we dig. In the past we’ve had the pleasure to work with people such as Fred P, moomin, Gerd (Clone), Oracy (who’s also mixed our very first ensemble podcast) among others who are all very modest, honest and especially very talented individuals. We also work with a few different venues depending on our guests.

The same will go for the label (which is not a label, remember?), we’ll treat every release differently. I think we’ll especially not try to be trendy, rather just sticking to what we believe in. Other than that, a certain French producer that we are big fans of will hopefully headline an ensemble night sometime next year. Both Kong, myself and people around us seem to have found ourselves playing more techno oriented sounds lately so that will probably shine through in our future lineups and releases as well. Anything goes really, as long as it makes sense to us and as long as it feels right!

Ensemble will release the Retreat 2 Rapture EP by Xosar in early-November.


A1. X(osar) Files
A2. Gone is Yesterday (Xan Xoda remix)
B1. Paranormal Detective
B2. Lycropolis