Interview: Martin Boulton

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1. Could you tell us about the very inception of your career? Why did you decide to begin publishing music? How did it happen for Touched to come up with the idea of helping people, helping cancer patients?

Hi! great to meet you and thanks for your interest in Touched!

 I came up with the idea after my mother was diagnosed Cancer in 2013, the Macmillan nurses were so kind and so good with her care I wanted to give something back. I just had the idea one afternoon in work, I can still remember it, I thought about making a small compilation album, just asking a few label mates and some friends I talked to on line about music, I talked to a few artists that I liked also.

So I put out the feelers about the idea and it was great, lots of people into the idea. I thought if we made £500 that would have been amazing.
So I set up the Facebook & Twitter pages and my friend Tom Roberts made the website, it was all set so I just started emailing and asking artists about it.
Touched one had over 120 artists on it. It raised over £2000 in the first few Months. I knew we were on to something.

I don’t just pick artists randomly, they are artists that I’ve been into for a number of years or I can just hear one track on soundcloud that stands out and ask them if they want to be part of touched. Its that I’m into so many great artists the albums are now getting bigger and bigger. On touched 3 lots of artists came to me and said they wanted to be part of it and help out. Also, getting it to reach as many people as it can, better to have 400 artists talking about it than just a few.

It’s the Final Mega compilation, its not the end of Touched, I already have the next 5 releases planned out.

2. Tell us more about the Macmillan Cancer Support organization.

Macmillan Cancer Support is one of the largest British charities and provides specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer.
As well as helping with the medical needs of people affected by cancer, Macmillan also looks at the social, emotional and practical impact cancer can have, and campaigns for better cancer care. Macmillan Cancer Support's goal is to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer in the UK.

The charity was founded, as the Society for the Prevention and Relief of Cancer, in 1911 by Douglas Macmillan following the death of his father from the disease. In 1924 the name was changed to the National Society for Cancer Relief, which it retained until 1989 when it was changed to Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund, later changed again to Macmillan Cancer Relief. From 5 April 2006 Macmillan Cancer Relief became known as Macmillan Cancer Support as this more accurately reflects its role in supporting people living with cancer. It has adopted the principles of being a "source of support" and a "force for change".

3. Autechre, Luke Vibert, Ochre, Arovane, µ-Ziq,  Richard Devine, that's an incomplete list of the musicians who have appeared on your compilations. How did you manage to receive such support from them? How did it all come about?
Asking the artists has been both one of the best parts and the hardest part of running touched, the good bits are when you email one of your musical heroes saying the likes of, oh great I’ve been waiting for you touched guys to ask me to be part of something for a long time, I’ve been really into the idea since I heard about it.

To be honest most of the artists I’ve asked have been into the idea, some say ask me again when you do the next one as we have nothing at the moment so I understand that, a few have just said a blank no and that does put you off them and there music, that cant be helped so I worry when I ask some of my long time favorites, luckily most say yes.

The hardest album to date to put together I think was the Touched 2 remixes as I was not just talking to one artist about a track it was 2 people had to be happy with the outcome of the remix.

Martin Boulton

4. Is the label ready to give young musicians an opportunity to be released?

Touched is all about the quality of music, so if your young or old it really doesn’t matter me, I know that touched has been a place where lots of first time producers have released music and do it along side some of the big names in music is a great feeling, being on the same album as Autechre or Future sound of London, when is that ever going to happen to most people.

5. What has changed on the British electronic scene after appearence of IDM?

When I first started listening to electronic music it was just called Dance music, I was into the likes of Orbital, The Future Sound Of London, 808 State, Underworld and the Chemical Brothers, then I started getting into more of the experimental side of things with Aphex Twin and The Sabers  of Paradise.
By 1996 I was into the likes of Autechre, The Black Dog,  B12, by now I was calling it Electronica, I think the whole IDM name came in around about the 2000s with label like Worm Interface, Toytronic, Ai Records, Merck I was getting into artists like Arovane, Proem, Abfahrt Hinwil, Brothomstates, Kettel, Funckarma, Datassette to just name a few that come to mind.
I find now days most people who enjoy IDM want to make it and its never been easier to get your hands on some software and start experimenting, as with so much of it you have to look hard to find the gold but it is out there, the thing I have found is now in 2016 there is not that many labels for IDM artists who are starting out, so most start off with Netlabels and they never seem to have that bigger following, some of the artist I have released on touched could really do with a nice label to release there music on cd & Vinyl but they are hard to come by.

I think the biggest thing to kill off people buying music is Youtube, if you want to hear any track most of the time you can find it on there, maybe not so much of the Underground IDM music but most of the bigger label stuff.

The only good thing about it all is that most artists have to go out and play live now to make that extra bit of money after poor record sales but its great for the fans as you can get to see artists that would mostly not leave there bedrooms.

I really didn’t think that Touched would have been the ride of my life that it has been, talking to all the artists that I’ve really looked up to and listen to for many years, lots of them doing remixes and into my ideas for music projects like Covert, working with all the artists for the album covers has been a joy. Its just been a dream come true and now almost hitting £50,000 is just so mind blowing.
Lots of people think that touched is a massive team of people working for Macmillan, but its just me and my love for music and my Mother making all this happen.

6. What does Touched do besides publishing music? (Does it organize events or anything of the kind)?

In 2015 Touched did its first live event in an old cinema in south wales, it had a great line up and we used the cinemas big screen for the visuals, it looked and sounded amazing. People care from other countries just to see what we were doing, it was great.

A few people have asked me about doing another touched live and its something that I’ve not ruled out yet, lets see what happens in 2017.

I’ve been asked to DJ at this years 21rpm all day music festival in Soho London on October 1st lots of artist who have been on touched will be performing like Seefeel, Plaid, Luke Vibert, Funkstrong, and Graham from 808 State and many others.

      Questions: Ilya Kudrin