What’s On interviews Radio Slave as he jets in to play at Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE, Ghantoot Al Jazira Island, Dubai. Get information on Blue Marlin line-up.

Also this weekend…
James Zabiela at Nasimi
Kry Wolf at Dek On 8
John Morales at Story

There some producers find and nail their own niche for a whole career, Englishman Matt Edwards has been constantly evolving ever since first emerging a decade ago. His most famous moniker is Radio Slave, which in 2014 is synonymous with addictive, long form techno tracks that deal exclusively in the sort of dancefloor dynamics that every DJ needs when crafting truly hypnotic sets.

It hasn’t always been that way, though, because the moniker first appeared next to electro mash-up edits of commercial giants like Justin Timberlake and Sean Paul. Thankfully, though, Edwards grew out of that and into myriad other projects including Quiet Village alongside Joel Martin, which is for more blissed out and Balearic edits, as well as Rekid, which deals in sample heavy late night house, and Cabin Fever, which deals in edits of classic house jams.

Then, of course, there is the small matter of his label, Rekids, which is one of the most consistently on-point and well established techno labels to have come out of the UK in the past ten years. Bolstered by Edwards’ own essential output, the label has also brought through a range of now internationally acclaimed talents. As well as the likes of Spencer Parker and Mr G, chief amongst those is Serbian techno temptress, Nina Kraviz, with whom Edwards still enjoys a close working relationship, having released not only some of her earliest work, but so too her debut album and recent double 12” Mr Jones. The label is truly a family affair that keeps its key artists close by at all times.

“As much as I’d like to sign so many tracks I hear,” muses Matt, “it’s about keeping things tight and knowing where you stand with the people you work with. There’s not much money to go round with a label, and it makes all the difference to work with the people you love.” Given how hard it is to maintain one’s own profile in the modern era, when new young bucks seem to break through as often as the dawn sun, that dedication to proper A&R is another one of many feathers in Edwards’ bow.

“Rekids has its place and maybe we could have been more pushy,” says Matt when asked about balancing his own career with bringing on others. “But I feel it’s always about quality, not quantity, and sometimes it’s good to take a step back and assess what’s happening rather than flood the market with music just to keep things going. I’m not in a rush to just be part of the crowd.”

Despite his already poly-pronged attack, Edwards has still recently found time to mint a new label with Jamie Fry from underground techno darlings Stablo. Called Double R, the label is about releasing and promoting new music and young artists. “It’s really about giving unknown, or up-and-coming talent a platform through a vinyl-only label,” says Matt. “It’s music we believe in and both love. I’ve known Jamie since he moved to Berlin and was a fan of the Stablo releases so it wasn’t long before we thought about doing some kind of label and we came up with The Double R. It’s a simple formula and I hope the music does all the talking.”

The most recent Radio Slave release, Don’t Stop No Sleep, was something of a surprise for many in that it came on Boddika’s experimental techno and electro label, NonPlus. It marked a healthy cross-pollination between sounds and scenes and the four tracks on the EP prove Edwards still knows how to make supple, malleable and engagingly repetitive techno that is impossible to ignore.

“I was told that Alex [Boddika] was a fan of my Radio Slave productions so we finally managed to get in contact and it was only a matter of time before I came through with an EP that we both agreed would fit on his label,” says Matt. “I’m a huge fan of his work and the sound he’s been pushing. I’m so happy for the UK guys coming through with their own sound and identity so it’s been a huge pleasure for me to be part of the label, and yeah, we’re already discussing further releases and a very special remix project.”

As a DJ, Edwards is able to hold down a floor for hours on end, weaving together interloping techno grooves with consummate ease and a true sense of narrative. He has, naturally, been tapped up for a Fabric mix CD before now, but is also a regular at venerated haunts like Berghain in his adopted hometown of Berlin.

Very much still in at the deep end, defining trends as a DJ, producer and label boss, Matt acknowledges 2014 has already been a crazy year but spares a moment to reflect on his career. “I’m still hoping to achieve so much more that I very rarely look back,” he muses. “I guess I’m most proud of my first Rekid release on Classic Recordings back in 2004. It was my first solo record [as formerly Matt worked in the studio alongside Serge Santiágo, now better known as one half of Waze & Odyssey] and was also an incredibly creative period for me.”

On Friday, Matt comes to Blue Marlin to lay down another one of his irresistible selections. “I’ll be arriving on my birthday so I’m sure we’re gonna have a party,” he says from a hotel in Shibuya, Tokyo. He goes on, expanding on his feelings about playing new territories. “I’ve played in all sorts of environments and even DJed in an igloo on top of a mountain so I’m quite used to having to adapt to the environment. Even though it’s great to be in a beautiful club such as the Berghain playing for four hours, there’s nothing like being outside in the sun or under the stars, and secretly I love DJing barefoot.”

Want a snapshot of the producer’s best bits? Check out these three definitive moments from his discography.

01. Screaming Hands (2007)
This minimal monster features tortured and torturous synth lines more drawn out than a sleep-deprived rave victim. Classic Radio Slave.

02. Grindhouse (2009)
The kinetic tech-house drums, spine-tingling melodies and freaky filtered vox make this a modern classic.

03. Don’t Stop No Sleep (2014)
There’s an urgency to the drums, an unsettling sense of dystopia in the synths and a very real paranoia in the repetitive “Don’t stop” vocal riff that make this latest release darkly and uniquely compelling.

Radio Slave at Blue Marlin, Ghantoot Al Jazira Island Hotel. Friday, 1pm to 11pm, free guestlist. Tel: (056) 1133400. bluemarlinibiza-uae.com