Pushing the envelope with Future Times Records

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Future Times Records Logo

D.C. is a town built on networking. The social minefield of
forming connections is something our residents love traversing, especially
during Happy Hour deals at The Front Page. One nexus that was built and now
thrives in the hallowed streets of D.C. is not chock full of political social
climbers, but instead encompasses two laid-back gentlemen. These gents, Andrew
Field-Pickering and Mike Petillo, pooled their talent and interests together to
create the progressive house/electronic/tropical (I could probably list about
ten more adjectives describing the myriad of sound emerging from this label,
but I’ll spare you) label Future Times.

Amongst bowls of pho I chatted with Field-Pickering and Petillo
about their vinyl-only label and learned all about Future Times’ formation and
the vibe put forth in their forward pushing beats. Besides running the label,
both Petillo and Field-Pickering also produce the majority of the label’s
material. Petillo is part of Protect-U
and Field-Pickering is one half of Beautiful Swimmers. The two
originally meet in early 2000’s through mutual friends and D.C. music

“There was the Dischord-era and then there were some people who did the slightly weird side projects. Some
of us would set up shows for the smaller level electronic-y, noisy kind of
bands. We would do it at different venues and stuff. We just crossed paths
hanging out,” recounts Petillo. Jokingly interjecting Field-Pickering clarifies
“I didn’t put a thing in the City Paper looking for a handsome label associate.”

Future Times’ inaugural record was a 7-inch of Field-Pickering’s
solo project Maxmillon
, recorded and produced in 2008 by Field-Pickering. A little bit after
his first foray into the recording world, he and Petillo came up with the idea
of doing an actual label. “He [Andrew] had done his record and we were literally
on a bus going to New York just shooting the shit. Our friend Jason had emailed
us some songs we had just made and we were both like ‘yeah those songs are
really good.' He [Andrew] was like ‘yeah maybe I should put them out, maybe
there should be a label.’ There wasn’t too much foresight.”

Since that fateful bus ride back in 2008, Future Times has
built a growing presence both in D.C. and outside of it. In 2010 the label put
forth Brooklyn-based Slava’s 12-inch,
“Dreaming Tiger/World of Spirits”, and although they’ve crossed state lines,
Future Times retains an extremely personal feel.

“There has been nothing yet
that been a straight-out random person all the way that we’ve put out.”
clarifies Field-Pickering. Petillo also modestly explains, “ninety-five percent
of the stuff we’ve put out has been something one of us has been involved in.”

Although mixing the artistic side with the more pragmatic side at times can
become stressful, as Petillo points out, “we get too deep into it
and it’s harder sometimes to make decisions. You’ve got to write a little
description of this record and it’s my
music. You over think things a lot. Now we are at a point where things kind of
take a life of its own. It’s a little easier now to detach ourselves from it. A
lot of times I am thinking of something just as a record coming out as opposed
to something I’ve actually done.”

Petillo, alongside Aaron Leitko make up the dance ready
electronic Protect-U. The duo’s seven-minute track “Double Rainbow” off of their debut 12-inch
garnered much attention these last few months on the blogosphere.

Protect-U recently released their sophomore 12-inch World Music/U-Uno, which received some
visual attention from friend Aurora Halal of Innergaze in her video for the
B-side “U-Uno”. The
video matches the song’s tribal beats and shimmering synths and interlaces shots of the Egyptian pyramids with colors melting across the screen.
“U-Uno” produces more of a pounding then “Double Rainbow”, making it the
perfect track bounce off the walls of a warehouse somewhere.

Field-Pickering has long
had his hand in the experimental scene, originally cutting his teeth with
Maryland-based avant-garde hip-hop/electronic-influenced group Food For Animals. “I’ve always
had an interest in electronic music, even when I was younger. Not the same type
of dance and house now, but Apex Twin and World Records type of thing that was
available to me at the time. Going backwards through all that stuff you find
all the influences.” Search and discover is an interest Field-Pickering has
honed well. Along with Ari Goldman, they make up the funk laced Beautiful
Swimmers whose tracks boast a plethora of varying sample that they uncover in
thrift and record stores in both the D.C. metro area and beyond.

Beautiful Swimmers' samples, like the continual
whistle that begins “Swimmers
seamlessly produce a forward-looking funky sound that recalls dance
music from decades past while still maintaining a fresh contemporality. Europe has taken note of Beautiful Swimmers' dance
appeal, HHV.de, an online-based German music
community named the horn popping “Big
their “number one” track of 2010.

Although Future Times sound is enjoyed across the Atlantic, D.C.
electronic fans are treated to the label’s
envelope-pushing sounds on a monthly basis thanks to “The Whale.” This multi-faceted DJ
night originally occurred in small restaurants around town, but has now safely
found a home at D.C.’s newest and only electronic/dance focused venue, U Street Music Hall. The basement
locale, with its sparse decorating scheme of black walls, limited seating, and an
exceptional sound system, make it a prodigious spot for “The Whale” to showcase
its creative beats.

Besides monthly dance nights and shows around the east
coast, Future Times plans in the upcoming months to release “Vibe 2” a compilation
record that follows up 2009’s “Vibe 1.” At the moment though Field-Pickering
and Petillo enjoy taking the label at their own pace (although their pace seems
fairly ambitious). Field-Pickering determines with a laugh that “it’d be cool
to have it grow and all that stuff. And it has grown in its own way, but it is
still not at the level where I have to pull my hair out.”