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“We want to hear Jules Verne music.” We speak to Sound Pellegrino’s Teki Latex, DJ Orgasmic and Emile Shahidi about their futuristic vision for the label, the strength of the French underground, and why keeping on top of everything is “almost impossible”.
Attack: Tell us a little about how the Sound Pellegrino concept was born and the people involved.
Teki Latex: Sound Pellegrino is Teki Latex and DJ Orgasmic as founders, A&Rs, curators of certain projects and general representatives for the label, and Emile Shahidi as label manager and head of projects – producer of the podcast, editor-in-chief of our magazine, L’Annuel, and more.
Emile Shahidi: Sound Pellegrino started as a digital sub-label of Institubes, a more generalist label started in 2003 and closed in 2010, reincarnated into two labels: Sound Pellegrino and Marble (Surkin, Para One and Bobmo). Back in 2008, Institubes was branching out a lot with a rap imprint, prog rock records and forays into power pop so the idea was to start a digital arm, free of the delays of the physical production process and strictly aimed at the club, by DJs for DJs. Cut all the middle men between the artistic crush and the availability of the music.
“If you are involved in contemporary creation using cutting-edge tools, your mission is not to reassure people with the familiar.”
You release records, you DJ, you even print magazines. How do the different elements of Sound Pellegrino fit together?
Teki: They fit together through our vision, and a common interest that we share with most of our family of artists for the finer things in life. It’s loosely based on our fantasy of the future, from a point of view that is both hedonistic, romantic and nerdy.
Emile: Orgasmic put it best the other day: “We want to hear Jules Verne music.” Our eyes are always set on the future. Even the subtitle of the 2012 issue of L’Annuel was “A cultural almanach of short-term perspective thinking” and the idea was us and our friends trying to predict was the next months and years hold for us in all disciplines of interest. It’s what we do as a label and it’s also a game we play 24/7. Of course we can be wrong or too optimistic about something that only excites us but ultimately if you are involved in contemporary creation using cutting-edge tools, your mission is not to reassure people with the familiar, it’s to offer new options, open new portals or at least shed light on someone else’s work you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
DJ Orgasmic: Also Nicolas Malinowsky, our visual designer, is responsible a lot for that because he maintains this same futuristic point of view in his work for us, and we’ve been very fortunate to meet him, it was truly an instant match. And he is the concrete link to all those different projects we have, from our designs printed on the Sound Pellegrino x Phenomenon jacket we did, to designing L’Annuel or the flyer of the Boiler Room party we’re throwing on August 5th…
Do you ever find it difficult to keep on top of things with so many different elements going on?
Teki: We find it almost impossible but at the end of the day we always manage to make it work. To be honest I don’t know how. Emile’s regular flashes of rigorousness probably have a lot to do with it.
Orgasmic: It’s not difficult in terms of having ideas. Maybe the logistical part is more difficult to manage – too many ideas, not enough time, while other people have time and money but not that many ideas maybe! Also, you learn by trial and error and I think we’re doing less and less errors and see more precisely what we want so we get to the point faster now.
Emile: Yes, mostly in the past year – our label’s fourth year of existence – we’ve found a comfortable and sense-making way of weaving all our projects together. Almost everything we start must help everything else we do and involve every member of the crew. It’s not always easy but I believe our interlocutors are aware of the sincerity we approach things with and they match it every time and return it tenfold when it comes to deliver so… well… I’m not breaking big news here: practice serves performance and when you have practised as much as I feel we have, you eventually find your way around cynicism which is essentially what we’ve been fighting against from the very first day we all shook hands. Also, two words: Google Drive.
“Starting a yearly printed publication nowadays is a pretty guaranteed way to lose money.”
Are there areas of the business which lose money and have to be supported by other aspects? How easy is it to follow an artistic path when you’re constantly aware of the balance sheet?
Emile: Well, starting a yearly printed publication nowadays is a pretty guaranteed way to lose money! First issue was a solid financial loss, let’s be honest about it. Another one of my missions in the label is to produce interesting and well-thought merchandise so we started MATERIALE which is an online store that also acts as an umbrella for all objects we design and produce – records, clothes, etc. Thankfully we’ve been able to find a sweet spot where we offer quality products – for instance all our t-shirts are designed, cut, assembled and printed in Paris – good enough to earn the trust of our fans and be economically viable. Risk-taking is very essential to the type of music we release and we don’t plan to move away from that so the best way is to focus on a tight number of projects that are very dear to us and not fall into the trap of branching out too much.
We specialise in the specific, for lack of a better motto, but the older you get, the more interest you find and the more taste you develop in new areas and genres and it’s very important to draw a line between what you can appreciate as a fan and what you can truly take care of and carry professionally. We’re far from the era when artists thought labels could provide for everything and take care of everything and, for better or for worse, they gained a ton of autonomy in self-A&R and communication but you still have a very serious responsibility towards the people you commit with on a professional and intellectual level so again it’s really about focus and dedication. Hopefully you have some kind of plan in mind when you started the collaboration and if you’re a small structure then everything should be designed so you can deliver on that core of projects.
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