You are here

Interview: Marc Houle

The Items & Things co-owner takes us through the Minus breakaway and his new EP...

Marc Houle is an artist that has worked under the shadow of the Minus label for many years, it clearly helped turn him into the artist he is today, even to the point of breaking away and doing his own thing, with his own sound. With Troy Pierce and Magda on that same path their new label, Items & Things, has experienced a resurgence in output of late. With some new music out and taking into account the events over the last year or so it seemed right to see what Marc had to say about it all.

What have been your influences behind the Undercover EP?

This album was a pure studio experience, with me having fun playing on my favourite gear...

How do you go about making your sound? Talk us through the technology or equipment you use…

Over the years I have been picking up gear here and there that I like. Nothing crazy expensive or anything, but each with its own personality. So when I was making the album it was just a matter of looking around and making sounds that really made me happy. It sounds cheesey but I really do love them. So it's alot of old synths piped into a mixing board.

Your label, Items & Things, was put somewhat on the backburner until last Summer, what were the reasons for this?

When we first made the label, it was just a small outlet for some cool music we found but our main focus was the Minus label. When we were wanting to change directions from the label's sound, we were lucky enough to have Items & Things to turn to and start our new path.

What made you want to leave Minus and start up your own imprint with Magda and Troy Pierce? We did speak with Magda about this and it all seemed fairly innocent, despite the rumours…

Yeah, there were no fights or power struggles or anything - it was just time that we started to do things the way we wanted to and not just sit back and enjoy the easy life we had where Rich made all the decisions. The Minus sound now is much different than the one from years ago and as time went on, we found ourselves more and more outside the label. It's lots of hard work for us now but it's also much more rewarding.

As your last release was through Minus, how does it feel to be releasing your latest EP on your own imprint?

Being my own label, I'm able to put much more focus on the release. There's alot happening now with it - alot more than would happen if it was on Minus. Even the track selection is much different. I'm very proud of it because from start to finish it was all my decisions.

How did you, Magda and Troy meet in the first place?

Hmm - let me try and think... I met Magda at 13 Below, a club that once was in Windsor Canada. Being from the same area with similar interests it was just a matter of time before we crossed paths and when we did it was fun. We were both driven by the Detroit sounds and working hard to make music. Soon after we started collaborating and producing lots of music which, after meeting Troy, became our first Run Stop Restore release on Minus. We were great friends before Minus and it's great to have that continue into this new direction.

There's an interesting video that goes along with your new EP track, 'Undercover', what does the track and the accompanying video represent?

Ah - I was working with Ahmet to make some videos for the new album because If I dont make videos, someone else will post up the tracks on youtube with some shitty graphic or photo. Anyway, he came up with the whole concept of a toy robot because to him the music was very futuristic- retro sounding. It's a fun video and not too serious which I like - it captures the spirit of the music. Having fun on the dance floor.

What are the benefits of breaking off from a major label such as M-nus? Presumably you have a greater level of control on all aspects of the release with it being your own label?

Yeah, the benefits are being able to control your brand and how people see you. You can also have more people working towards your career and not just being a piece of someone else's big picture. Right now we're working hard to gather a bunch of releases to really define the Items & Things sound. We're really serious about this label and more serious about the music we are releasing.

Have you experienced any problems taking the route you have?

I'm sure many people only knew me because i was on Minus so now the challenge is to show people that I am Marc Houle and not just a Minus artist.

I'm always intrigued on the inner workings of a relatively small label such as yours, could you define your role within Items & Things for us?

There aren't really any defined roles between the three of us. Each of us has their strengths and weaknesses, but we compliment each other quite nicely. I guess under normal circumstances having 3 chefs in the kitchen might not work so well but we've been friends and worked together for so long, which is definitely an advantage. Plus we have a great team who are really working hard to get everything going at a fast pace so it's definitely a team affair.

What does the future hold in store for the label?

We have a release planned every month. Expect some stuff from Darabi, Tim Paris, Madato, Troy, Magda and a few others. We are also readying a Marc Houle Remiix app for the iPhone and iPad along with the guys from Liine which I'm excited about. I think the Magda album in the fall is going to be great if what I hear now coming from her is any indication. We're also getting ready to sign some new artists on our booking agency and starting to plan a fall tour highlighting some of our new talent.

And yourself?

Right now I will continue touring for this last album then, as always, go back to the studio and make a bunch of new songs. I know I just made an album but I really want to release more music this year. We're in the middle of a remix contest with Beatport and the submissions I am hearing are really amazing me, so I would love to do another later in the year.

Your Down & Out series of parties are still going strong aren't they? Where's the party taking you this year?

Yeah, we're excited for the upcoming North America shows in Mexico City, Chicago and Miami, and we'll then hit some key European locations including Paris, Barcelona, London, Amsterdam and more. We're working on a total of around 17 shows for this year in really cool locations to do these special parties. More dates will be announced very soon on

Related content