TFword In Conversation With High Tea Music

Following the Dutch drum & bass label’s debut appearance at the Let It Roll Festival, we had a chat with the label heads about their latest music, their philosophy, plans for the future, and lots more.

They say that they’re a home for anyone who loves tea, drum & bass or melodic bass music, and they mean it; the vibes at High Tea Music’s headquarters in Amsterdam are immaculate. The buoyant atmosphere coming through High Tea Music’s HQ is seamlessly translated into their music and their events as well.

Founded in 2016 by Dutch drum & bass duo T & Sugah and Zazu, High Tea Music has been behind some of the most soul-stirring melodic bass music we have heard since their inception. Lighting the stove and kickstarting their drum & bass brews with a series of compilations, until seamlessly transitioning into breathtaking releases from the likes of Lexurus, L.A.O.S, Aperio, Millbrook, Mountain, and label heads T & Sugah themselves, to name a few.

High Tea Music has also successfully ventured into curated events of their own, and over the years, the Dutch record label and events company has hosted heavyweights like Sub Focus, Camo & Krooked, Dimension, Culture Shock, Tantrum Desire, Delta Heavy, and many more.

Another watershed moment in High Tea Music’s fascinating tale came this year when they made their debut appearance at drum & bass genre’s biggest gathering, the Let It Roll Festival. To celebrate this, the label released the ‘Let Tea Roll’ compilation, which featured tunes from Millbrook, T & Sugah, BLVCK CROWZ, and NCT, among others, while exemplifying the imprint’s penchant for emotional and funky drum & bass music.

As they start their journey towards another milestone, we had a chat with the heads of High Tea Music about their experience at the Let It Roll Festival, the styles they cater to, their recent releases, and lots more.

TFword: Your rise as a top drum & bass imprint has been inspirational, and now, to have an appearance at Let It Roll; how was the experience like?
High Tea Music: Once upon a time, we all went to Let It Roll as ravers. To now return to host an entire stage was something we would never have believed in our wildest dreams! Making the whole weekend a surreal experience, filled with many old and new friends, incredible music and loads of dancing!

TF: How and when did the idea of High Tea Music come about?
High Tea Music: This was back at Uni. Back when T & Sugah was slowly becoming a household name in the Dutch drum & bass scene. At that point we (T & Sugah) wished to be able to release music at our own imprint. And so, on the 25th of March 2016, we threw our first “label launch” party in Haarlem. Which basically kickstarted a chain of sold out events and amazing albums!

TF: You also marked your appearance at Let It Roll with a compilation. Tell us more about it.
High Tea Music:
Basically, the idea arose to invite all the High Tea artists performing at the stage to send in a track. Wishing to truly showcase our stage’s sound. This turned out to spark a streak of creativity amongst the artists. For instance, resulting into an amazing collab between Millbrook and Blooom called Ready To Lose.

TF: The label explores many styles and brings a wide array of genres into its music. Was it always the plan to make the label’s catalog expansive?
High Tea Music: This is and always has been the plan indeed. We aim to present the many faces of Drum and Bass and beyond. The common denominator is solely that all music needs to have a melodic aspect, one that tells a story and invokes emotions for the listener.

TF: Let’s roll back the years to your first few releases with the like of Lexurus and Mountain to name a few. How do you think High Tea Music has evolved since then?
High Tea Music: On the one hand,
you’ve seen artists such as Lexurus and Andromedik who started their careers at High Tea reach incredible heights. We’re proud to play a role in this! Next to that you see many new artists nowadays who are pushing the sound of Drum & Bass even further. Thinking of the more “technical” Drum & Bass released by Trinist (aka Josh Lovis), Falcon and Fryware. Or energetic anthems by incredible artists such as Rob Gasser and Rex Hooligan (who should definitely collab some time soon). Also we’ve seen High Tea moving into jumpup terrain with Blvck Crowz and Yarn, just to name a few. 

TF: Talk us through some of your recent releases this year. How has the experience been?
High Tea Music: The experience with our recent releases this year has once again been fantastic. We’ve welcomed many new artists to our roster, along with some of our regulars. I’m particularly pleased with how all the releases turned out, especially ‘LET TEA ROLL,’ our biggest album to date. It was wonderful to see that all the artists who performed at our stage takeover were also featured on the album. This allowed us to create a strong statement of unity among all the performing artists.

With four albums and one EP already released, we are currently working on our latest album of the year, set to be released in mid-November. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!

TF: What, according to you, would be the natural progression for High Tea Music in the coming years?
High Tea Music: This year we’re aiming to spread our sound throughout Europe, with showcases in Prague and Lyon. For next year we will continue this strategy, with some interesting cities coming up! Next to that we are upping the game for the annual “Festeaval” in Amsterdam. This truly was the pinnacle of the summer for us, so we’re aiming to scale up. 

TF: How does High Tea Music plan to close the year 2023?
High Tea Music: We actually have three more events lined up! Two are set for October – on the 6th, we’re bringing Sub Focus, Koven, Delta Heavy, and many more to Tilburg for our biggest club show of the year. Next, we’re hosting an intimate Halloween event in Amsterdam on the 28th.

Finally, we’ll close out the year with our first Xmas DnB party on December 22nd, where Friction will be headlining. This hasn’t been officially announced yet, but if someone is dedicated enough to read the entire interview, they deserve a little surprise!

Image courtesy: High Tea Music Facebook Page

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