This post was originally written for the Soul Sides Stray newsletter. Subscribe here.

Admin: “Step Into Light” (white label, 2021)

I moved up to the Bay Area in the early ’90s when the acid jazz scene was popping off there but alas, I never took advantage to go to the central parties at Nickie’s BBQ in the Upper Haight and other venues where folks like DJ Greyboy or Mark Farina would spin when they were in town. That said, the sound of acid jazz was there in the background when I was learning to become a DJ and even if I didn’t spin a ton of it, I was more than aware of its influence in the worlds of hip-hop and dance music.

Maybe that’s why when I heard “Step Into Light” as an Instagram post from Friends of Sound founder David Haffner I was all “gimme that beat, fool” about it. I had never heard of Bristol’s Admin before that but no matter, I was instantly into the whole sound/feel of his latest single.

“Step Into Light” is clearly influenced by Admin’s long history working with jazz, deep house, and similar dance styles. I’m a sucker for songs that begin with a good piano loop so this caught my ear from jump. But I like how it patiently builds over the course of the opening 16 bars, not bringing in the heavy drums until you’ve had some quality time, soaking in that slow burn intro. I’m also not normally a fan of sax but the way it’s used in this dreamy (vs. saxy-sax) way is fine by me. Like I said, the whole vibe takes me back to the era of Farina’s Mushroom Jazz mixes.

Admin was generous enough to share some of the making-of details behind the song. For one, he started working on it at the beginning of the CV19 pandemic:

it was pretty bleak in the UK during a winter lockdown and I think a lot of people including myself were finding solace in listening and producing music. The names of the tracks are reminders to keep on moving forward and to take time on yourself [b-side is entitled “Reflect + Heal”.

Musically, Admin explained that he was drawing on some of his favorite influences: jazz, house and hip-hop and while he wasn’t giving up his sources, his samples on here reflected his usual production process:

I’ll usually just pick something out of my collection, just on a hunch, and play through listening for anything that can be used for a track. I remember both tracks just fell into place, which is always a good sign when making beats.

Lastly, I wanted to know why he decided to release this as a white label vs. a more formal release and it had everything to do with the context in which the songs were created:

I needed to keep myself busy and was at a stage where I had put out a few edit whitelabels previously, so it all just clicked really. I wanted this release to be personal.

That partly explains why he opted to release this as a white label:

The project came about quite organically at the start of the COVID pandemic. I needed to keep myself busy and was at a stage where I had put out a few edit whitel abels previously, so it all just clicked really. I wanted this release to be personal.

My thanks to Admin for his time and Dave Haffner for putting me up on this glorious slice of hopefulness. “Step Into Light” b/w “Reflect + Heal” are available for digital purchase via his Bandcamp account.. The 500 units of the physical copies sold out quickly and though they still pop up, you’ll have to hunt them down.