RA Exchange

EX.670 Robert Gordon of Warp Records

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Episode notes

"I approached and signed all of the first weird Warp acts." The Sheffield record producer and label cofounder discusses starting the UK label and the early days of bleep techno. Before Warp became the landmark label it is today, it was a Sheffield record store. Robert Gordon was an employee there in the early '80s, working alongside colleagues Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell, with whom he'd start the label in 1989. Listeners familiar with the contemporary UK techno landscape may associate Warp with luminaries like Aphex Twin and other names associated with IDM and bleep techno. It also released a lot of artists who were recording in a Sheffield studio called FON, which is where Robert Gordon found his footing even before starting Warp. In this Exchange—conducted by DJ, producer, CDR founder and Resident Advisor board member Tony Nwachukwu—Gordon talks about FON and laying the groundwork for the Sheffield scene. In 1985, he recalls, it was the first local commercial 24-track studio and attracted luminaries like David Bowie, Yazz and groups tied to post-punk band Cabaret Voltaire. More recently, it's produced work by 808 State, Nightmares On Wax and Sweet Exorcist. Gordon also reflects on FON's early days. It was foundational to the sound of the '00s and formed a tight-knit community around itself that eventually became intrinsic to a bigger musical movement. Although Gordon left Warp in 1991, his A&Ring for the label—along with his own productions and engineering assistance—defined its sound. Listen to their conversation in full.