Tim Reaper’s star has been rising for over a decade. In junglist circles, he’s moved past being the exciting new kid on the block to establish himself as a figurehead of the modern scene — his prolific output of unforgiving breakbeat choppage unmatched by any of his peers. But over the past couple of years, he’s also broken out into the wider electronic music underground, helping to bring about the jungle takeover that’s now in full effect.
In 2020, Tim (real name: Ed) decided to take a more active role in propelling the jungle scene forward. In June last year, he was due to hold the first Future Retro club event — an official testing ground for artists pushing the sound to new heights. Of course, the pandemic put paid to that idea — temporarily, at least — so Tim pivoted to a plan that’s now scored him a nice shiny Breakthrough Label gong for his mantelpiece.
Future Retro London, as it’s now known, launched in July 2020 with a unique idea dubbed ‘Meeting Of The Minds’; each release was a four-track EP on which Tim collaborated with four (or more) different artists. “I had an idea during the first lockdown about a collaborative release where I work with a lot of the producers in the jungle scene that I liked, but I couldn't really think of a label that I knew or worked with closely enough that would give me as much creative control, as I needed to make it happen the way I wanted it,” he recalls. “Every tune on ‘Meeting Of The Minds’ was made with the series in mind, after the idea was conceived in lockdown. I wanted all the tunes to be as fresh as possible for their release, nothing that had been sat around unsigned for months or years.”
The results have been some of the most essential releases of the past 18 months. The eight volumes to date pack in rowdy jungle tekno stompage, hellfire Amens, gleaming cosmic rollers and more, with Reaper pulling in old skool icons like Harmony, modern day heroes such as Sully and Coco Bryce, and rising names like Eusebeia and DJ Sofa.
The label has recently branched out too, with the first non-series release ‘FR001’ and label collabs with Equinox’s Scientific Wax and the experimental Circadian Rhythms imprint. All three feature multiple artists and/or remixes, continuing the collaborative spirit that’s driven Future Retro since the start. “I like the varying processes of collaboration that take place with all the producers I work with, they all seem to differ in how they do it, in how much back and forth there is and so on. On top of that, I like the interesting end results that come from the compromises made between me and others involved, and the synergy that comes out of such a project,” explains Tim. “I also feel like Future Retro London has to be a brand that represents a wide amount of people involved in the jungle scene, because there's so much talent out there to be showcased. I'd find it impossible to represent everything I like about jungle with just a select amount of producers.”
A quick tally shows that Future Retro London now boasts a roster of 36 artists, including Tim himself — not bad for a label that’s not even reached its second birthday.
So far, each release has arrived as a double — or most recently, triple — drop too, which Reaper explains is designed to help fans save on shipping costs. He carries on to reveal there are eight main label releases lined up already for 2022, along with the next two editions of ‘Meeting Of The Minds’ and more label collabs. “A lot is in the pipeline which I'm looking forward to and can't wait to share with everyone!”
And what does he make of his Best Of British win? “It feels very surprising,” he says. “I honestly never thought that I'd have an actual chance of winning it considering the other nominees and where jungle fits in the grand scheme of the music ecosystem, but I'm very grateful to all the people that voted to make it happen!” BEN HINDLE