Juno Plus Podcast 126: UntilMyHeartStops

Leif and Joe Ellis toast a fine year for their label with this 70-minute mix of refined house and techno.

In just three years of operation Leif and Joe Ellis’ joint label venture has grown into a formidable beast of otherworldly house and techno. Named after an especially non-conformist cut from Jochem Peteri’s Ross 154 project, they set the tone for UntilMyHeartStops decisively when they commenced operations with the alien programming of Joey Anderson, catching the producer just as he was starting to gain recognition for his maverick approach. The unusual taste that first record pointed to has since manifested as the overall theme for the label in the time that has passed since, drawing on artists who exist on the fringes rather than the main thoroughfares of contemporary house and techno. EPs from Area, Matthew Wieck and Steevio, while diverse in their make-up, shaped the label as being rooted in off-kilter rhythms and curious, melancholic melodies.

2015 has arguably been the strongest year for the label to date, coming in strong with an EP from the ever-rising Arnaldo before shining a light on North Wales’ Duckett with two sequential 12”s and then on to Zachary Lubin, more commonly found dwelling on Area’s Kimochi Sound. While personal connections count for some of the releases on UntilMyHeartStops, there is also a tendency amidst the curation to reach out to lesser-known figures with scant back catalogues, which certainly lends a level of intrigue when a new release surfaces. That intrigue continued when they chose to close out 2015 with Leif’s second album Taraxacum, inspiring Oli Warwick to comment, “there is much on this record that sounds staggeringly new.”

As well as Leif’s continued journey as an artist in his own right, he and Ellis have been increasingly found stepping behind the decks together since the start of the label, channeling their shared tastes into club sets that reflect the same brand of delicate, refined and subtly unusual dance music. As such we asked the pair to turn in a podcast that captures a sample of what makes them tick beyond the confines of their own imprint, and they were kind enough to answer a few questions which you can read below.

Hi Leif and Joe, thanks a lot for taking part in the podcast series! As we reach the end of 2015, how has this year been for you both individually?

Joe: Musically it’s been a really interesting year, Freerotation was another cracker and what’s been great is seeing more members of the crew start to get attention outside the festival. A personal highlight was a Sunday afternoon this summer in ://about blank playing with Tom and Leif and the rest of the crew. Really, a special weekend…

Leif: Thanks for having us, it’s a pleasure! It’s been a busy year with some great moments, I’ve also been dedicating a lot of time and focus to the album so it’s been a buzz to see to see that finally materialise.

In terms of UntilMyHeartStops, it seems like 2015 has been an especially productive year. Did you have the intention 12 months ago to put out as much music as you have?

Leif: Towards the start of the year we were at the point where we were sitting on a lot of great music that we really wanted to get out there – landing a distribution deal helped us to release it in relatively quick succession. It’s been really cool to see it all rolling along at a decent pace.

Joe: I think in truth we had the intention of putting a lot more music out in 2014 but for one reason or another it never happened, it’s nice to have stuck to a bit more of a plan this year.

Considering the steady increase in releases year on year, do you intend to keep upping the release rate of the label in 2016?

Joe: I’d say four, maybe five records a year feels like a nice pace to go at. We have the next record ready to press and it’s something we’ve been working on almost since starting the label so that is exciting.

Leif’s album Taraxacum is the most recent release – is there a reason why you wanted the album to come out on UMHS instead of another label?

Leif: We’d talked about the possibility of putting out a 12″ of my stuff on UMHS in the past, but I don’t personally feel that the material I was writing really lent itself to an EP. An album just made more sense, and being able to have control over every step of the journey from designing the artwork to sitting in on the mastering session made it a really involving and rewarding experience. Plus I trust Joe’s ear and know that he’d tell me if something sounded a bit shite, which it transpires he was more than happy to do on numerous occasions throughout the process.

Would you like to expand to doing more album projects in the future?

Leif: Yeah, I think the occasional album could become part of the fabric. It’s a nice long term project to work on with an artist.

Joe: We have the early pieces of the next album project coming together which is exciting, probably won’t see the light of day until sometime towards the summer but it’s a good chance for an artist to stretch their legs a bit. Joey’s album on Dekmantel was an absolute classic example this year.

The pair of Duckett releases were also a significant move for the label this year. It had been a long time since he had last put anything out on vinyl – why do you think that was, and can we expect to hear more from him on UMHS or elsewhere soon?

Joe: Hopefully yes because he’s got so much good music waiting to be heard and it was a really enjoyable process putting the records together with him too. His set at FR this year was incredible.

Leif: Duckett is a wizard… Seriously, there’s a certain quality to his music that’s just truly ethereal.

Since starting the label, it seems like the two of you have made quite a habit of DJing together regularly despite being acquaintances for much longer. What made it so appealing to start performing together, and what do each of you think the other brings to the mix? 

Leif: Who said it was appealing? No but seriously, I think our styles have always complimented each other so it brings a whole other angle to a set, and when it’s a good party you really can’t beat the buzz of DJing together. Playing outside at ://about blank on a sunny Sunday afternoon back in August was brilliant.

Joe: Yeah it definitely brings a new set of challenges, we’re playing NYD at the Spotlight in Birmingham together this year too which could get serious

Finally, what was the story behind the mix you have recorded for us?

Leif: It’s the result of a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon session in Bristol, spanning a few different styles and recorded live in one take while simultaneously stamping the Lubin records ready for release.

Joe: Yeah, it was the first proper mix since I moved house and unpacked everything; that always leads to pulling a few random old records out of the pile. Despite having 300 copies of the Lubin record in front of us we still managed to not put it on the mix somehow…

No tracklist was provided

Header image based on photo by Daddy’s Got Sweets