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Mitch Wellings

Exploring The Legacy of Phoenix with Mitch Wellings

Founder of Space Tours Records and The Sound Kitchen studios. “Mitch Wellings turned heads when launching his label, Space Tours, back in 2019. Its debut release sold out worldwide in less than 24 hours, prompting an instant repress. The Space Tours collection now boasts 4 sought-after solo EPs from Mitch, with remixes from Harry Wills, Nemo Vachez, Youandewan and Jhobei.

Each release has found a home on dance floors worldwide. Since its inception, Space Tours records have been heavily recognised by the underground digging scene, with support from Voigtmann, Hamish & Toby and Truly Madly to name a few, as well as industry heavyweights such as Sasha, Enzo Siragusa and Gerd Janson.

Known for his eclectic record collection, he’s happiest when flowing between house/garage/electro/breaks and more, steering crowds wherever he sees fit. As a time-honoured record-digging obsessive, you know you’re going to be spoiled by exciting selections and rare underground gems. Notable mixes have included Pager Records, Rube Goldberg Series, Nuances De Nuit and most recently his self-released Space Tourism, putting a stamp on his unique sound.

We had a talk with this great master. Check it out.

Connect with Mitch Wellings on Soundcloud | Instagram

Thanks for talking to us today – how’s the year been treating you so far? 

I’m starting to see some amazing opportunities, it all feels very exciting. Energy is high. Life’s good.

First of all, we want to get to know you “from the beginning”. How did your history with music begin?

I was messing about on music software called dance Ejay at around 10 years old and playing quite a few instruments at the time. I knew by about 14 that I wanted to be a music producer. 

Also, I’m grateful for being a child of the Napster/Limewire generation. Free access to music in exchange for a few computer viruses. Music which I would never have been able to afford in record shops, while being brought up in a single-parent household. I was obsessed. My collection was in the tens of thousands before I’d even left high school. I of course buy all my music these days and mostly just vinyl, but it has come back full circle to sting me as there’s no real money in record sales because of the free downloads era. I’m grateful for the opportunity that I was presented with all the same.

These days, aside from running my record label and DJing, I have a recording studio business, The Sound Kitchen. I also deliver things like beat-making workshops to people of all different ages and backgrounds, from refugees to children with complex learning needs. 

Please can you introduce us to the world of Phoenix… When did the idea of a concept album first start to take shape for you? 

It was born out of lockdown. Not too worried about making music purely for the dance floor as there weren’t any dance floors available. Creativity took hold, one thing led to another. It all just came together, in a very natural way. I’ve always been into storytelling through music. I got to really run wild with that. 

Do you see yourself as the protagonist in the story? 

At the time of writing, any link was unintentional, but I guess without realising I have impaired a piece of myself in there for sure. I quit a reasonably well-paid but mundane office career, to just scrape by and earn a tiny fraction of what I did, to follow my passions. The risky jump was spurred on by the classic Confucian quote of “choose a job you  love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” I’m big on philosophy and this certainly gets preached in the Talk Show that happens during ‘The Human Race (Reprise). The epiphanies that Phoenix has are all rooted in some of my favourite Philosophy, from Stoicism, Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The overarching theme of the album is rebirth however and there are so many parallels that can be taken from that, so hopefully it can relate to a lot of people, whatever changes they are going through. Maybe a new partner, changing their relationship with themself, or even a full psychedelic/spiritual reawakening. Positive change can be there for us all when we’re willing to take a risk or look at things from new perspectives. 

It’s hard to pin The Legacy Of Phoenix down into a single genre – was that a creative decision from the outset, or do you just enjoy exploring a lot of different styles of music?

All genres have good music within them. When I make music, I sit down and make whatever feels right at that moment. Because the labels are mine, I guess there’s nobody to tell me ‘but you can’t put that out, you need to put this one sound out because that’s what’s popular at the moment’. I don’t try and stick to one set thing, a formula like some producers do. I’d just get bored. 

I used to run a minimal party nearly a decade ago now. I thought it was really cool at the time having a really specific sound within the spectrum of minimal, but I can’t think of anything more restrictive now. I still have a sound I’d say, but what interests me the most is combining my favourite parts of multiple genres to create something different altogether. As long as it moves me in some way, whether physically or emotionally then it’s fair game.

How did you go about selecting the cast of characters to bring the story to life? 

By listening to hundreds of portfolios and having a very clear idea of what this person should sound like in my head. For example, it was imperative that Phoenix was to be able to go from a completely average guy, to a captivating, passionate and moving character that the listener could empathise with.

I wrote scripts then had Zoom calls and email back and forth for direction. I’m used to recording people in my own studio but it was an extra challenge as they had to do it all remotely. There were 6 voice actors in total, based in America, Japan and the UK. 

What is it about space, in general, that appeals to the creative in you? 

I guess it’s fascinated cultures for thousands of years. It has so many different meanings and possibilities. It can be a source of calm and tranquillity, or an explosive and destructive force. All of it comes with an heir of mystery, due to how restricted we are when studying something so vast, mostly from just our view here on Earth. 

What does your current studio set up look like? Lots of hardware, or are you mainly ‘out of the box’ type producers?

I have quite a lot of hardware. My favourite piece is probably the Analog Rytm mk2 due to how much control you can have over drum programming. That said, I’m fully comfortable making a track entirely in the box as well and sometimes they can even sound more ‘analog’ or ‘out of the box’ than the hardware stuff if that’s what you wish to do. 

What should we be looking out for from you in the next few months? 

I have a downtempo mix coming for Dimsum Records, as well as releases for Locked In – Amsterdam, Planet Orange – Leeds, a new London-based label, as well as a few other things in the works. I also just slipped out a new podcast called ‘Space Tourism’ on my own SoundCloud, for a bit of a stamp on my sound, or at least the milder side of what I’m playing at gigs at the moment.  

What is the best advice you ever received as an artist?

Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone’s path is different. No matter how hard you work for it, there will always be people who do way better than you. Some will have more talent and there are also going to be people with less, who get opportunities you could only dream of, whether due to networking, strong social media numbers, or just having a face that fits etc. Acceptance is key. As said, everyone has separate paths. Ultimately, it’s not a competition. You’re only competing with yourself to better yourself

Anything else you’d like to tell us…?

Hmmm, I’d like you to know that I’ve started to do Space Tours events, with a few lined up for the UK this year and one in Barcelona, so look out for these. I’m looking for new countries/cities too, so if someone reading this knows of the perfect intimate space for a high-quality audio and visual experience, then let’s collaborate 🙂 

Thank you for your questions and to everyone who’s taken the time to read this. 

Thank you.

It matters little whether you are an artist or a visitor, the love for music is the unifying factor.

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