Portal Event & Interview with Space Textures

By April 5, 2022

Music. Glasgow.

As the 8th of April approaches, so does the the first Portal event at Eiger Studios, Leeds: a night dedicated to the deeper side of techno. Our first guests will be Basis Change and Kairogen – with support from Leeds local Minus Kendal – and it’s fair to say I’m filled with nervous excitement.

The lockdowns in particular affirmed my interest in the deeper sounds. No dancefloors meant days spent both listening to and mixing ambient soundscapes into slower more dubbed out beats. If I wasn’t before, then I had become obsessed with getting locked into these hypnotic rhythms, these layers of texture and pretty much anything that came served within the comfort of a warm bass kick. None of it was territory that I hadn’t visited on prior occasions, but there was a sense of clarity that came with this detachment from the nightclub setting. And when the reopening of clubs was on the horizon again, there were a couple of thoughts bouncing constantly around my head. I wanted a space where I could hear this music on a proper sound system. I wanted a space where I could lose myself in these sounds. And where we could build a community of likeminded individuals and create something lasting together. That, at least, is the ambition of Portal.

With this in mind, I reached out for a chat with Glaswegian deep techno label Space Textures, on which Kairogen released a track last year. Being somewhat of an anomaly for the UK, I was eager to begin by asking label head and artist Fernie about how Space Textures came into fruition:

Fernie: For the past five or so years I had felt more drawn to the deeper side of techno with so many choosing a much harder techno path who had formally been producing and playing the deeper sound – I suppose I went in the opposite direction. I wanted to use the label as an avenue to explore both my own sound as an artist and invite some more established artists and new discoveries to feature also – a means to have control over what I felt as the deep techno’ sound I suppose. It has really been a steep learning curve running everything myself but it’s so rewarding when you see others in the scene liking what you are doing and acknowledging the label as a deep techno stable. For the sound I would say my fascination with Space really went hand in hand with the haunting hypnotic elements this genre features, so it was almost a merging of the two interests and gave me an outlet for those obsessions.

For a relatively new label there is already a really strong aesthetic, and it’s immediately clear that a lot of effort goes into producing each release with the artwork from Nibera and the presentation of the vinyl. I wanted to know if this was something that came about organically or if they set out with a particular look in mind?

Fernie: It really was from the off something that I did not want to do half-hearted. I wanted to present Space Textures as a credible and serious outlet for quality music, and for me the artwork really does represent a large proportion of a labels’ identity – not just the music it releases. Bernarda (Nibera) was someone I discovered having searched for someone making artwork that had a surreal feeling with a Space’ leaning. Discovering her was massive for me and really helped shape the direction and also show artists that we are a complete package for them to come onboard with. From then, Bernarda has really done her thing and with each cover commission the quality just keeps coming. Massive credit has to go to her work for getting our sound out there through visual art.

Cover art for the forthcoming ‘Land of Famished Spirits EP’ (2022) produced by Petit Astronaute – created by Nibera.

Label identities are something which fascinate me. There’s a sense of excitement that comes with learning an artist you like is planning a release on a label you follow. You wonder what will come out of that collaboration and how it will shape a fresh take on the artists’ sound. This feels important in a time when artists can quite easily self-release on platforms like Bandcamp, and so I asked about this and also about the persistence of vinyl as a medium.

Fernie: I think artists want to feel comfortable with who they are working and build up a trust with labels – you do see artists returning to the same outlets almost as residents. One thing I have noticed is there are a lot more vinyl fans out there than I realised. I’ve done some limited runs for Space Textures and our biggest release on vinyl was ‘Textures 1’. I still get messages requesting if other releases are available on vinyl – people really do seek that physical connection to their music and being an original vinyl DJ myself I totally get that and want to cater for it.

Cover art for VA compilation ‘Textures 3’ (2021), featuring Kairogen’s track ‘White Sands’ – created by Nibera.

Following some of my own musings about the popularity of the deep techno genre in the UK, I wondered how many artists there were focusing their productions on this kind of sound.

Fernie: I think the UK does have some really strong and new artists that are working their way into the conversation. Super talents such as Edit Select and Deepbass of course come to mind as the stand outs, but also newer talents like Kairogen (whom you know well), Mechanist and also Caue – there does seem to be a rising of the deeper sound. For Space Textures we receive very little from the UK so it is very much a small talent pool at present, but hopefully growing constantly as more discover this sound.

Moving on I asked about spaces where you can go to hear these sounds. I was curious to know if there was more of a scene up in Glasgow, or if it was equally lacking in nights that pushed the deeper sound.

Fernie: I do feel some envy of my Berlin based friends who seem to have the best deep nights on every week! We really suffer here in the UK to find nights playing the sounds we want to hear. Glasgow has always had a strong techno scene – with Slam being at the forefront of that for decades now mainly via the Subclub and annual bigger events. These nights are extremely popular, but more often than not they are catering for a harder sound now and so there is a massive gap for anyone wanting to lose themselves in hypnotic energies. I had thought about perhaps running an intimate Space Textures label night in Glasgow, but at this point it’s still on the drawing board with venues unwilling to take on the idea of hosting a deep night – mainly due to what they perceive as a risk in getting the numbers through the door I suppose.

I definitely feel like this sound is much more suited to more intimate settings. And I can see how anyone into any form of techno feels envy towards Berlin, but I wonder if smaller scenes that take more effort to establish have the potential to end up stronger and with a more enduring community around them. Fernie agrees with me, adding:

Fernie: You can already see that with some of the concepts growing that the followers are really dedicated and it’s not a flash in the pan type sound.  Some of the best events I have attended are almost always in a smaller venue with a meaty sound system. I will keep the hunt going – it’s something I am committed to achieving for the label, having seen the guys over at Crescent do similar in London – its another great outlet for labels.

As a sub-genre of techno, deep and ambient styles still exist as more of a fringe community – especially when compared to the harder sounds that have seen a recent rising trend in popularity. I asked if Fernie thought this community was evolving, and what the future might look like for those of us following the scene.

Fernie: For sure the deeper side of techno is growing again. I think from the discussions I have with people from around the world it seems that most are getting tired of the same DJs and beats and wanting to explore further. This is where I think the deep techno community really excels – with so many open minded and kind people its really a welcoming group. Having discovered this even more so recently through my work with Norwegian techno concept Monument – the scene is I think riding a new wave and benefitting from fresh ideas that are coming with that.

Fernie contributed a track to Monument’s Around The Tree of Peacecompilation, recently released as a fundraiser to help with the crisis in Ukraine. It’s touching to see that there is truth in the old notion that music knows no boundaries, with various labels and artists pooling together across the global scene to create fund-raising releases. Speaking of the compilation, Fernie said:

FernieFrom the positive reaction of the artists that were approached for that release it evidences the willingness to help out and deliver for the communitywithout egos. It’s really heart warming to see the power of that and the strength of the music come together.

I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment, and it was nice to hear it reaffirmed by another. Bringing things to a conclusion, I asked what was in store both for Fernie as an artist and for the Space Textures label.

Fernie: For me as Fernie, I just delivered a podcast I am really excited about for Monument – I really tried to showcase the sound I am passionate about in that. I also have some further tracks upcoming on new VA albums and have started working on a new EP following the great reaction I got to my Signet EP. My main focus is to get back out playing in clubs again – with almost all restrictions dropping worldwide it really seems like a great time to step up on that front.

Space Textures continues to grow and is very much still in its infancy. I am constantly learning and evolving – its been really amazing to meet so many people through the label that are into the same sound such as yourself! We have a new EP coming this month from Petit Astronaute which is really exciting with some superb artists doing remixes and following that Mechanist has returned with an EP too. Moving later into the year well be returning with the VA Textures series and all being well maybe a label night at a club!

Cover art for Fernie’s ‘Signet EP’ (2021) – created by Nibera.

It certainly feels like an interesting time for followers of this deeper sound. I can’t wait to see how the Space Textures imprint develops over the coming years, and will be sure to check out these forthcoming EPs when they are released. It’s great to see a truly grassroots music scene beginning to flourish here in the UK through the drive and passion of folk such as Fernie, and it makes me all the more excited to be launching Portal.


I’d like to thank Fernie for his time and for his thoughts and insights. If your curiosity is piqued, you can find the Space Textures catalogue available for exploration on Bandcamp, and you can also view more of Nibera’s art on her Instagram.

If you’re interested in coming to the launch of Portal on the 8th April, then you can purchase tickets on Resident Advisor, or if you’re in Leeds you can buy a paper ticket by popping into Eiger Studios or the Hyde Park Book Club.