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The Sound Of: More Time

In just three short years, More Time Records has become a go-to imprint offering a diverse selection of percussive club music. In this month’s The Sound Of, Dhruva Balram catches up with founders Ahadadream and Sam Interface, who deliver a storming mix of sounds from the label’s catalogue

Since its inception, More Time Records has inadvertently stood on top of four pillars: community, collaboration, respect and heritage. These foundational blocks are what the London-based record label is built on, and it's an ethos that appears to come to co-founders Ahadadream and Sam Interface with natural ease. From their origin story to how the dynamic duo envisions their label functioning in a post-Covid world, the ceiling that once may have existed for them seems to have vanished, and they’ve firmly cemented themselves as some of the foremost champions for UK club music.

With roots and influences spread across The Global South, More Time Records has, over the last three years, helped bring emerging names such as Congolese-British rappers Bala Bala Boyz, Saudi Arabian producer Leila Samir and Trinidadian musician Blasé Vanguard from relative obscurity into the spotlight of the UK club scene. In a short period, the label has sought to highlight a wealth of exciting sounds.

“What makes an artist unique is their heritage and their journey,” Sam Interface says over a Zoom call from his studio. “We live in an era where a lot of genres feel very saturated. We look for artists that have a unique sound, and often that unique sound is because they’re incorporating their influences from their heritage.”

“My journey in music has been finally getting the confidence to — or being happy to — incorporate my heritage into my music,” Ahadadream says from his house in Tooting. “The more confident I got, the more people responded to it and I feel like there’s probably other people out there that want to do the same.”

Since the beginning, More Time’s sound has been baked in percussive-heavy, club-ready tracks that threaten ceilings and speaker systems alike. In darkened, sweaty rooms, the releases across their roster feel somehow meditative, presenting a sound you can immerse yourself fully within. From the first release of ’24/7’ by Zed Bias and Sam Interface and ‘Movements’ by Ahadadream, More Time has seemingly been ahead of the curve, and has never wholly centred itself on any one genre. This future- facing mentality seems to stem from when the duo met in 2017. 

“Did I just hit you up? Or did you hit me up? I can’t remember,” Sam asks Ahad. The duo have a playfulness to them, finishing each other’s thoughts and in perfect harmony with the other’s persona: “I’m more organised,” Ahad admits, “while Sam is the studio head who spends all his time in there.”

Sam, who previously produced as SNØW, hit Ahad up on SoundCloud after listening to an edit of Ahad’s 'Lady Saw Drum Dub'. When he messaged Ahad, Sam had been making music for over ten years. Initially a drum & bass head, Sam pivoted when he felt that his creativity was being stifled. “I was growing as a person,” he mentions, “and I found the format of drum & bass a bit restrictive. Around the same time, I went to Trinidad and Tobago and visited the carnival. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of a kind of rhythm and groove.” 

Meanwhile, Ahad had been putting together bass nights at university, filling a gap he believed to be present in the nightlife there. Eventually, his exploration of electronic music led him to discover percussive genres like UK funky, which resonated with him wholly. “Maybe that’s linked to my heritage because I grew up around drums at weddings,” he says. 

Ahad started releasing music, getting traction through Roska’s label via a song called ‘Gunshot’, and then moved on to work as a programmer and host for Boiler Room. “I was so gassed to have one of my biggest inspirations give me a cosign,” he says, “but I always felt I didn’t have that last bit of sonic satisfaction from my tune.” And that’s where Sam stepped in, offering advice and collaboration that dovetailed into starting a label, an intention Sam already had. “I had been wanting to start a label for ages,” Sam admits, “but as Ahad mentioned, I’m quite a scatty creative. I’ve got loads of ideas, but quite often, the ideas don’t come into fruition. And we quickly realised that as a team, we could maybe get those ideas across the line.”

From there, the duo sprinted. They got addicted to collaborating, helping other artists elevate their ideas while pushing themselves into releasing projects they may have otherwise dismissed. “There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had from helping other people,” Sam admits. “The big part of it is always the sonics. I wanted to release records that sounded good: heavy bass and drums that are punching and the vocals sounding clear. Every record that we’ve released always goes through my studio, and sometimes I’ll sit with the artists, sometimes we’ll do it remotely.”

More Time has released projects from the likes of Ghanian artist Bryte, Bristol producer DJ Polo, Cardinal Sound and Zed Bias, amongst others. Over time, More Time’s roster grew organically. “Sometimes they’re just natural relationships,” Sam says. "I think I met [Leila] Samir outside a club in Peckham. She just came up to me straight away. And she was like, ‘I’m from Saudi Arabia and I play the saxophone and I love music’. And I was just like, ‘Wow, that’s cool’. And we kind of just got chatting and I invited her to the studio.”

The last three years have seen the duo put out 36 releases, including a mammoth 12 releases in 12 weeks at the tail-end of 2019. More Time’s sonic focus on emerging artists with a singular sound instantly makes their releases stand-out in a crowded field. Listening to a track in the club they’ve released, it’s instantly identifiable. The Covid-19 pandemic slowed things down for the label, with just “two releases in the whole of 2020”. The duo are quick to dismiss the idea that they’re taking a break, though. Instead, they looked at the pandemic as an opportunity to reinvent the wheel. “Initially, we would just hear a track we like and get excited and say yes to a release,” Ahad explains. “Now, we’ve built this brand. And we will need to focus on how we can take it to the next level. We’re working on a lot of stuff for next year.”

Sam echoes Ahad, stating: “We’ve been funding this all ourselves for the last three years. To take it to the next level, we will need some help. For me, I look at XL and Hyperdub as the type of label I’d love More Time to become.”

That ethos of reinvention also filters down to their production. The duo has become known for their b2b sets playing endless club bangers, releasing tracks that have been rinsed in clubs over the past couple of years. Yet, like every other producer and DJ, they’ve considered how their production can function outside of a club environment. “As your situation changes, your inspiration changes,” Sam says. “I’m excited for the music that’s going to come next year.”

Though in a short period they’ve garnered the kind of success most emerging labels aspire to achieve one-tenth of, both Ahad and Sam don’t want to rest on their laurels. They’ve spent this year calculating and considering their next moves aware in the knowledge that the loyal fanbase they’ve gained isn’t going anywhere, but their fans are hungry for more.

“I think a lot of the time [at the beginning], we were just ‘Run run run’,” Ahadadream says. “This year has been reflective in a way, and it’s been like a stopgap in that we can look back at what we have achieved in the last three years, set some solid goals and move into the next phase.”

Listen to More Time's The Sound Of mix below.  

Want more? Revisit More Time's Selections, and read DJ Mag's recent feature about UK Funky here.

Dhruva Balram is a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter @dhruvabalram