Label of the Month: Peach Discs

While their memories of how they met might differ slightly, there’s no doubt that when it comes to their Peach Discs label, Shanti Celeste and Gramrcy are laser-focused.

17 min
Mar 6, 2023
Ben Jolley

“I met you at a rave, didn’t I?” asks DJ and producer Shanti Celeste of her friend, former housemate and Peach Discs label co-founder Gramrcy. “Do you not remember? I made you a mix CD!” Gramrcy – AKA DJ and producer Graeme — replies, going on to recall a contrasting version of events. “I worked at a bar/club on Stokes Croft in Bristol called The Bank Of Stokes Croft (now called The Love Inn and run by the esteemed Love International crew), which was a few meters up the road from Idle Hands, the record store run by Chris Farrell that Shanti worked in at the time,” he says. Having been in a few times to buy records and hang out, Graeme had already bought records from Shanti and vaguely knew her. She was also running a party called SUM (Super Ultra Mega) that he really wanted to play at, so Graeme recorded a mix, burnt it onto a CD and gave it to her one day when she was working in the shop.

Although Shanti liked the music, SUM finished fairly soon after so Graeme never got his chance to play. However, she was also running a night called Housework, at The Bank with Alex Golesworth, around the same time that Graeme was running his own party there. Then, one day, the manager mentioned they were both putting on basically the same party so suggested they combine forces. An unofficial meeting followed and Graeme ended up sacking off his own party to do Housework with the others instead. “That’s how we first started properly hanging out, and then we became mates,” he recalls. The trio ended up living together (and later met the final fourth member of the Housework crew, Daisy Moon, after they posted an advert on Gumtree for a room in the house).

By 2016, Shanti had released music on tastemaker labels including Apron, Secretsundaze and Future Times, while her DJ schedule was getting busier, and Gramrcy had put out his debut EP, Ruffian, on Berceuse Heroique a year previous. While there was no big plan, starting a label was initially Shanti’s idea – because she wanted to have an outlet to release her own music (naturally, she would go on to release her debut album, Tangerine, via the imprint in 2019). “I was hanging out with people and thinking about how I could do something of my own that would mean I’d always have some way to release music if I want to release music,” the Berlin-based Chilean producer and DJ recalls. “Rather than always being at the mercy of people liking my tracks or giving me feedback and only liking two tracks out of the five that I send them and then having to make more.”

Check out the Peach Discs ‘Label of the Month Chart’ on Beatport.
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Although she didn’t realize that she necessarily wanted or needed to have an imprint until it happened, finding a way to have control of all aspects of the process has long been Shanti’s intention. Plus, “knowing people who make really cool music” was certainly helpful to get everything up and running. But, after a year of going it alone, she started finding it difficult to manage the workload by herself. “To run a label properly and to pay people and make sure that you’re doing it to the best of your ability, doing it on your own is just impossible — especially if you’re a touring DJ.” With this in mind, and thinking it would be helpful to have someone who she could bounce ideas off of — “someone who I trusted and who I knew had really good taste in music” — Shanti asked Graeme (who had already been writing the label’s PR text and helping with design) if he would like to come onboard.

Happily, Graeme agreed and the pair started readying the label’s early releases. However, just as the label’s first record was about to go to press, they had to come up with a new name and logo. As Graeme tells it, the pair were sat in Shanti’s flat in Berlin one day and “the name Peach Discs just appeared,” Graeme says. “I like fruits!” Shanti shouts down the phone… “I like fruity things”. Thankfully, the name proved a perfect fit as it translated to the colourful style of music that Peach Discs — whose releases veer between house, techno and electro with experimental twists — would become known for.

Although the label has never had a particular ethos, Graeme says he and Shanti set out “to work with our mates where possible and then, alternately, the people we don’t necessarily know but are upcoming who we want to give a bit of a boost”. These ideals were clear from the start: after the first Peach Discs release — a two-tracker from Shanti in 2017 — EPs from then-rising artists Chekov, Ciel and Videopath followed and became underground favourites. “We’re always keen to give new artists a platform where we can,” Shanti adds. Over time, the label has also naturally become a home for the pair’s friends to release music — for example, Peach, whose Galaxy Girl EP comprises four acid-tinged underwater bubblers — landed in November 2021.

The label’s compilation series, Peach Pals, helps achieve both goals too. As a label that gets sent lots of demos, Shanti and Graeme are able to look back at the end of a year and package up the one-offs that have dropped into their inboxes. “Often, there will just be one track that really pops out and it’s not enough to put an EP together, but we still want to do something with that specific track because it’s sick,” Graeme explains. Among the newer names who have graduated from featuring on one of the compilations to releasing their own EP is Buen Clima, whose five-tracker Transferencia Electrónica was released on Peach Discs in February 2022. “He’s our Chilean friend and I actually put him on in Berlin late last year,” Graeme says; “he’s got a really punk-y energy to his live shows. He’ll shout and scream into the mic, take his shirt off and it’s really fun”. “He’s an amazing musician,” Shanti adds; “he plays the piano, guitar and is very multi-talented”.

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When it comes to deciding whether to release a track they’ve been sent or not, the pair agree there is no specific criteria to meet. Rather, Shanti says she considers several key things. “Do I like the track? Would I play it? Do I get excited when I listen to it? Is it interesting? Also, if it’s something that I wouldn’t play in the club, then I’m not going to sign it.” She likens this to the process of choosing music to listen to at home and asking yourself rhetorical questions like ‘is this going to make me feel good? Am I going to be relaxed when I listen to this?’ It’s just like, whatever you’re looking to feel, you go for that.”

Graeme adds that they both have to be into the music for a release to be agreed. “It’s interesting because, sometimes, we do have to compromise a little if one of us really loves something and the other is on the fence about it.” That’s a rare case, though, as “almost all the time, we’re in agreement. That’s why it’s nice to have more than one person involved, to be like ‘is this good?’ It’s affirming having someone else to be like ‘yeah, this is sick’,” he adds, pointing out that the Hessle Audio boys would probably not put something out unless all three of them were into the music.

Rather than wanting the label to be known for a specific sound or aiming to emulate a certain energy, Shanti says it’s always been “more just whatever we’re into at the moment. It’s definitely colourful and fun though; maybe apart from the Chekov releases because they were on the dark-ish side.” The releases are also a “presentation of where we’re both at the time, which is always changing and morphing into something else,” she adds. “Tastes change all the time and things are always evolving, and I think that’s kind of reflected on the label.”

Graeme expands on this point by saying that the releases they choose to put out are influenced by the kind of tracks they each play in their separate DJ sets. “I think, with me and Shanti, there’s a lot of cross-over, even though we do come at DJing from slightly different angles. We are both drawn to upfront melodies or vocals — nothing that’s spooky or too dark; that’s where we’re both at DJ-wise, so it’s an important part of it.”

Shanti says it’s also important for their releases to feature club-playable tracks so the “buyer gets more bang for their buck. With vinyl, it’s expensive to buy records, and it’s expensive to produce records,” she says, adding that it’s important for the label to give buyers value for money. “You need to make it so that people who are buying vinyl think and feel that it’s worth buying this expensive item,” she says.

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Aware of the cost implications for fans and DJs, Shanti says she and Graeme always aim to make sure that at least two of the tracks will be club-playable and the other tracks are also functionable in some way or another.” To this end, Shanti considers her own mindset when buying records: “I think to myself ‘why do I buy them?’ Especially in this day and age, I will still buy probably quite an expensive record just for one track, but perhaps it’s different for someone that is just starting out.”

Incidentally, other than industry-wide vinyl plant delays, Shanti says the label wasn’t hindered too much by the Covid-19 pandemic. While they did consider not pressing records because no clubs were open, Graeme says “people seemed to buy more because they were just sitting at home on their own and wanting to play some records”. “It didn’t really affect us in the end, in terms of whether we should keep going or stop,” Shanti adds.

Aside from the music, Shanti has also incorporated another of her own passions into the label’s creative output right from the beginning: art. Having studied illustration at University for a year, she quit the course “because everything had to be so conceptual,” she explains. “I hated that I couldn’t just draw something that I liked and that I thought looked pretty for the sake of it because everything had to have a meaning.”

Now she has free rein, so Shanti has long created all of the label’s animated cover art illustrations while Graeme takes charge of the graphic design. Similarly, ahead of a newcomer’s releases, they ask artists they work with to share things that inspire them — “an image, or something about what the track titles mean, for me to go off of to do the artwork,” Shanti says. “It’s not completely random, there’s a bit of direction.”

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As well as their physical releases, the label has been throwing seasonal events for several years now. “We do Peach Party at Corsica Studios in London three or four times a year. They’re really fun; we book a lot of friends, and a lot of people on the label,” Shanti says. Over the past year alone, they’ve hosted sets from Parris (whose texturally-soaring Peach Discs two-tracker Summer Of South West Waves is paradisial house at its finest) as well as Mor Elian, Club Fitness, DJ Fart In The Club and Amaliah.

On April 6, the first Peach Party of 2023 will welcome Darwin, Kiernan Laveaux and PLO Man. Only throwing a handful of parties each year makes them feel like special events, he suggests; “if we’re doing stuff all the time, it takes the shine off a bit. It’s nice to have them as little check-ins.” Sonically, he says they “allow people to spread out a little bit and explore the edges of whatever the sound is that we have”.

Looking to the coming months, Shanti and Graeme are preparing another Peach Pals compilation (“we’re going to talk about that as soon as we’re done with this call”, Graeme teases) while Nachtbracker’s stellar Capichone EP has just dropped (“that was a long time coming, and it’s really catchy”) and another is coming soon from compilation-contributor Jackson Ryland (“he’s somehow underrated but is amazing; he’s got a really distinct style”).

If all goes to plan, Shanti and Graeme plan to release two more EPs on their acclaimed label this year as well. It’s safe to say that the future of Peach Discs is, apologies for the unavoidable incoming pun, looking pretty darn peachy.

Ben Jolley is a freelance journalist living in London. Find him on Twitter.

Read also Beatport’s Definitive History of House Music