Critical Care

2 August 2012 | 11:37 am | Angela King

"‘If you do something you love you will never work a day in your life’, I think it’s an old saying but it struck a chord with me."

"In certain ways drum'n'bass is bigger than ever, but also smaller than ever as well,” Mowlavi says, reflecting on how the scene has changed since he first began the label in one of the rooms of his parent's London house. “There are fewer labels, but the labels that are around seem to be strong and there's good music coming out. One of the things that is interesting is the rise of dubstep has kind of changed up the way that people perceive electronic music - tempo is becoming less relevant so you can experiment more, and that's really exciting. I think that drum'n'bass can go anywhere at the moment.”

In the midst of celebrating the 10th year of Critical Music, Mowlavi was invited to create his own FabricLive mix. Released in March this year, FabricLive.62 resulted in a smooth 29-track compilation brimming with music by Critical producers, including Enei and Foreign Concept, as well as Alix Perez and Rockwell among others. Though his mix has received high praise, Mowlavi admits he felt a bit of anxiety over the release: “Most of the music I have ever released has been collaborative, so this is the first kind of thing that I put out of my own. It's quite scary,” he says. “I was really pleasantly surprised by the reaction, it was really nice the way people appreciated it because I put a lot of work into it.

“I kind of wanted the CD to represent how my sets are in a club. It starts off quite held back and then progresses into more of a dancefloor feel. I always remember people playing sets at nights like Metalheadz, like DJ Lee or Randall who would always try and take you on a bit of a journey, so I tried to do that,” he explains. Mowlavi then adds that his FabricLive mix is along the lines of what to expect when he and Sabre visit Australia this month for the Critical Sound tour, his first visit to these lands.

In identifying that drum'n'bass can sometimes be regarded as “throwaway, disposable music,” Mowlavi has shaped his label to cater to a wider audience, all the while maintaining a high standard of production that has become a Critical trademark. “A lot of music is written for dancefloors, and if you write music purely for dancefloors you sometimes miss the point, or you can miss whole loads of people. People still like drum'n'bass but don't necessarily go raving all the time,” he affirms. “I try to find stuff that has the depth; not necessarily deep but it has some substance to it, it can be appreciated for what it is. It doesn't have to be a banger or a dancefloor monster.”

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Mowlavi keeps the Critical Music machine going 24/7. “I work all the time,” he laughs. “It's quite hard really, you just have to keep on top of it.” With the recent appointment of his first member of staff, a full-time label manager, Mowlavi is able to direct his time elsewhere. He thus speaks with great enthusiasm on working with Critical artists (such as Enei's forthcoming debut LP) and also to work on music of his own, not that he really thinks of it as 'work'. “I remember David Rodigan doing this presentation on his career and he said this thing which I really loved which was, 'If you do something you love you will never work a day in your life', I think it's an old saying but it struck a chord with me.”