The longstanding duo are back with a new album (but don't call it that or they'll get cross)
Rhythm Plate are Matt 'Rhythm' and Ant ‘Plate’, a pair of house producers from Matlock in Derbyshire, UK, and they’ve just dropped a new, vinyl-only album on their Pressed For Time Records label. Despite its splendidly cantankerous title, It’s Not An Album It’s A Doublepack EP very much is a full-length album, featuring eight tasty tracks of top quality UK deep/tech house.
The pair have been producing together since the late 90s and have also released solo music as Paraíso,YSE, YSE Saint Laur’ant (Ant) and Goshawk (Matt). Rhythm Plate have a particular production style that has found them many DJ and dancer fans since their 1999 debut.
Their take on house music sits somewhere between "deep" and "tech", featuring supertight beats with plenty of jack to them, lots of bouncy square-wave basslines and squelches, overlaid with a duvet of smooth pads, swirling synths and crisp keys. The spaces between hi-hats and snares, and between bassline and kick, seem precisely measured for maximum funk levels, and their tracks somehow manage to be simultaneously buoyant yet heavy.
It’s Not An Album… is the follow up to 2013’s well-received Off The Charts and offers up a selection of sophisticated, soulful deep house, late-night stalkers and rolling techy cuts. We chatted to the pair about their album, their creative process and, of course, plates…
For any readers who may not have been paying attention, please give us a brief intro to who you are and what you do…
Ant: "As well as being mates and drinking buddies, we have a shared interest in electronic music, specifically deep house from before it was trendy."
Matt: "For the last seven years we've been putting out music on our Pressed For Time label, which has gone really well considering we have relied on word of mouth with zero hype. Incidentally, running a vinyl-only label would be a brilliant way of laundering money! I'm thinking Ozark series 4 storylines…"
Tell us a bit about your new album – what can listeners expect?
Matt: "We've covered all the BPMs on this release… from 120 all the way to 124. We're nothing if not eclectic!"
Ant: "Expect an album's worth of classic deep house grooves, but on a doublepack 12-inch."
Matt: "Listeners can expect eight deep house tracks of one form or another, of which they will probably like around three. That for me is the minimum number of tracks required for a doublepack purchase, so I'll take those odds."
How did you put it together – what’s your working method?
Ant: "I typically play my organ while Matt bashes out a rhythm. We sync at some point and fireworks happen."
Matt: "There tended to be a lot of brandy and coke drunk during this period. In fact, if you smell the EP vinyl, you get a definite whiff of Courvoisier. We were thinking of trialling a Scratch 'N' Sniff doublepack, but Juno said they would struggle to get the smells on their website."
Ant: "In terms of working method, I would probably say: Juno 60, Rhodes Mk 2, MiniMoog, glue, sticky-back plastic, brandy and cherry Coke, Cubase. In that order."
Matt: "These tracks were written over a period of nearly 20 years, and were produced in different Rhythm Plate studios (Matlock, London, Coventry). All of the tracks were written and recorded using external hardware, as in actual real synths, samplers and drum machines."
And what’s it like working with the other half of Rhythm Plate? What are they like?
Matt: "When we are working together in the studio, we definitely have our own roles. Ant is the engineer and producer sitting in the expensive studio chair, whereas I tend to just muck about making noises on the synths and Rhodes."
Are all your drum beats ethically sourced?
Matt: "Yep. Medium rare vinyl rips."
Ant: "Indeed they are. And given that we've been using the same drum source for over 20 years, we don't mind finally revealing it – Matlock Bath Petrifying Well. That place creates rock solid drums."
And where do you get your chords from?
Ant: "Car boots originally, but nowadays it's mostly eBay. But Amazon's turned up a few gems of late."
Matt: "We tend to get a beat going, then the fun part is jamming along until something feels right. It's actually quite a challenge to come up with new or interesting chord progressions – it's easy to fall into 'default minor ninth chord' mode. Although not gonna lie, I do like my minor ninths."
How happy is your sampling software, do you think?
Matt: "I'd say pretty happy overall. I like to think we sample creatively: we certainly don't like to use massively obvious tracks. When we do use a sample, we mangle it sufficiently so that it's not instantly recognisable."
Approximately how often do you use plates in your productions?
Ant: "Anytime we're hungry in the studio. So quite often, then."
Matt: "Little known fact, if you google Rhythm Plate, one of the first results that comes up is for a geezer in the States called Homer Laughlin who actually makes porcelain Rhythm Plates. Might have to hook up with him for a promotional campaign."
Following on from that, what are the best plates – dinner plates, nameplates or tectonic plates?
Matt: "Tectonic plates are overrated. They do fuck all for decades and then when they finally do something, they cause no end of problems."
Ant: "Used to be license plates for me, but then thanks to Facebook and them COVID-19 posts I became a science expert overnight, so its now agar plates."
Matt: "Do lanyards count as nameplates? Ant, we should definitely get some Rhythm Plate lanyards made up. Go for the 'business house' look. Maybe sell them online along with the RP bumbags?"
Vladimir Lenin famously said, “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” What do you think he thought of plates?
Matt: "I reckon all his plates had to be the same regulation size and colour. Proper communist plates, nothing flashy."
Ant: "If Lenin was Greek I think he'd think they were smashing. But being Russian I think he'd think plates were too bourgeois."
If all the audio formats had a laser battle in space, who would win and why?
Matt: "Personally, I love vinyl. Always have done, always will do. There is just something that resonates with me, I always associate tracks with their sleeve and artwork – you don't get that digitally. But then I also love Spotify, it's so handy to have on in the kitchen to do the washing-up to. 'Washing-up house' is gonna be the next big thing – Fairy Liquid vibes!"
Is there anything else that you’d like to tell us about Rhythm Plate and your new album?
Matt: "Nothing more to say other than we are genuinely chuffed to still be releasing music 20 years after our first release came out. We've always tried to stay true to ourselves and release music we like, rather than following any trends. Good job, really, as we have never been cool."
Ant: "What Matt said. Plus, given we're shit at self-promoting and marketing, I’d like to add that Cl2+C2H4 is vinyl's true-to-life mathematical equation."
Matt: "I like to think we've had some fun and spread good vibes along the way too."
Words: Harold Heath
It's Not An Album It's A Doublepack EP is out now on Pressed For Time. Buy it here.