San Francisco-based artist Andrew Rasse has a long history of paving his own way in the music scene via his Butane moniker and other projects. As a producer with more than one label outlet, he’s on a mission to deliver quality sounds without boundaries. Chipping away one solid record at a time, the Butane project is evidence that consistency is key. Cutting his teeth on labels like Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical, and Sci+Tec, he’s refined a certain blend of house and techno that always does the job. Rasse is making a lasting impact through imprints of his own: Alphahouse, Little Helpers, and his new Extrasketch project.
As Little Helpers approaches year 10, they’ve reached a staggering cat number 337. With a new record out every two weeks, it’s shocking that Andrew has any time to make his own music. Blindly labeled as to categorically deliver quality, the team is blatant about their mission. Each release is carefully tapped by the team and purposefully for a direct flow to the dance floor. The project is one that Djs can count out. Digital selector in every sense of the work, this label has become a constant for residents and headliners who put in the time behind the decks.
The latest EP sees Butane team up with label regular Riko Forinson for eight tracks with both artists behind the board. It’s clear that Anprefersrfers to spend time and the studio and the dedication shines in a collaborative release like 337. We reached out to the West Coast-based producer to hear a bit more about the story behind the labels and artist.
We felt the B-sides were becoming underrepresented in shops. We wanted to build a label that focused more on the deeper groovier cuts that are so essential for warmup and afterhours DJs, but don’t often hit the charts on Beatport.
Little Helpers has been on quite the journey, give us a bit of background on you and Sean’s ongoing motivation behind the label.
The impetus for Little Helpers came mostly from the demise of the vinyl market back around the mid-2000’s. Everything was moving over to digital, and as such, DJ-consumers were now free to cherry pick the big tracks from EPs and completely ignore the rest. This was a fundamental shift in the way music had traditionally been consumed by DJs. As such, we felt the B-sides were becoming underrepresented in shops. We wanted to build a label that focused more on the deeper groovier cuts that are so essential for warmup and afterhours DJs, but don’t often hit the charts on Beatport.
In your words, what is the sound of the label and how does it overlap with the original sound of Butane the artist project?
The sound of the label is “groove”. That’s it. We like real-deal House Music (with a capital H) and Techno (capital T) as much as we like Minimal. I think people get confused and consider us a “minimal” label when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We just like hypnotic, loopy, stripped-down, bumpin’ understated music that’s suitable for creative DJs who like to actually mix instead of standing up there posing for Instagram. The sound palette of our catalog varies, and it’s far less important to us than that the music actually works in clubs and isn’t totally overproduced with FX and other garbage. We’re not genre specific.
How that overlaps with my Butane artist project? I guess it’s a pretty accurate reflection of how I go about producing and playing music. To rock the party in a somewhat understated way has always been the goal. If I need to take it up for the people with big moments, hands in the air, etc, fine. But I’d prefer to get locked into a groove for three hours and take people for a ride without all the overproduced ADD theatrics of the social media generation.
LH337 sees a collaboration with Riko Forinson, how did you team up with him?
Riko has several solo releases on Little Helpers, so I’ve been familiar with his work for some time. He wrote me earlier this year and proposed a collaboration.. I could hear considerable musical talent in his work, and thought I could lend some of my skills, so I agreed to give it a shot. We started slowly with no preconceived ideas, just trading files back and forth. Now I think we’ve completed almost 30 tracks since April and we’re not slowing down. This Little Helpers EP is a collection of most of our first works – and I’m proud of it. I think it’s good. But we’ve come a long way in a short time. The new stuff
is going to turn some heads.
Butane’s been at home lately on Extrasketch, what’s the current focus of Andrew Rasse the producer?
To continue to hone my craft. I’m making more music right now than any time in my 15 year career, and I think the quality – ideas, execution, engineering, all things that go into being a dance music producer – is going up and up.
How has San Francisco influenced you as an artist and label A&R?
I’m calm here. Stress levels are low. That probably has a lot to do with my stable home life, my advancing age (gasp!), and loads of other things.. but San Francisco itself has been great for my creativity. I have an incredible home studio situation, which is rare in a big city, so I can really get into my work. My routine here is very low maintenance. Food is great. Weather is incredible 90% of the time. I think the city and surrounding area is one of the most beautiful in the world, and we do our best to take full advantage of the northern California nature. These are important things for my line of work. Getting outside really resets me on weekends that I’m not traveling. Yeah San Francisco is a pretty ok place to be.
What’s next for Little Helpers? The label has already become globally renowned, how will you keep innovating?
Honestly, my goal is to just keep doing things the right way, and keeping quality very high. That’s hard enough at times! We put out an EP every two weeks. Vinyl and sample packs come out roughly quarterly. We do a handful of Little Helpers branded label events each year around the world – Miami, Bangkok, Berlin, Amsterdam, etc. Maybe we’ll try to expand a bit on that front, but we’re not looking to reinvent the wheel here. I’m busy enough with my other projects – Little Helpers seems to be in a good place. The goal now is just to keep the quality high and try to act within the industry professionally, responsibly, and with dignity. I think the world could use a bit more of that.