Preview music from some of the most promising new imprints for 2017, including “fruity music” from Shanti Celeste, classic acid from a Warehouse Project resident and no-nonsense techno from a UK mainstay.
Maybe we don’t need another new label, but we sure do love it when a good one comes along. Here we take a look at seven of the most promising ones – some of which are on the eve of their first release, some of which hope to build on the success of catalogue numbers 001 and 002 – and speak to the men and women behind them about their hopes and dreams for the journey ahead.
“Fruity music for people who like to dance and feel happy.”
Shanti Celeste is a colourful, party-starting DJ and producer. Her productions range from slithering electro to smooth but pumping house jams and now, to appease her inner control freak, she has launched her own label to put out more of same. There is “no deep concept” to Peach Discs, instead it is fuelled by the same simple desire that keeps music lovers “spending hours and hours on Discogs looking for new music and trawling through endless labels finding gems, yet still feeling like we know nothing”.
it takes time, and I’m a perfectionist.
Releases will tend to come with labels featuring paintings done by Shanti herself, and in fact she drew the peach in the logo, while friend Graeme Bateman did the rest. Reporting that it has been “easier than I thought” to get the label off the ground, the immediate future will bring 12”s from new Bristol duo Fred, as well as one from Samuel who released on the BRSTL label Shanti has been co-running since 2011. Though nothing is certain, the Bristol-based boss also hopes to progress to putting out albums one day. “But it takes time, and I’m a perfectionist, so don’t really want to put a limit on that.“
The first EP is out soon and you can preview a playful broken beat number from it below.
I WALKED BY NIGHT
“Passionately created, electronically composed music.”
Manchester-based Krysko knows a thing or two about dancefloor dynamics. A key resident for some of the city’s finest parties – from early Sankeys to modern day Warehouse Project – he can rock a main room or woo a smaller crowd with ease. Despite his DJ years being as successful as they have, to him they are “just a collection of great memories. There’s nothing really tangible there”. As such, it is a desire to leave more of a legacy that inspired this self-confessed hoarder to set up I Walked By Night.
“Starting the label was a way to put something out there, a way for people to get their hands on a record that I’ve helped release,” muses Krysko. “And so I can actually show something that I’ve done to my son in the future other than a shaky video, blurry picture or a SoundCloud mix.”
I started the label so I can actually show something that I’ve done to my son in the future.
After a slow start, things are now rolling thanks to the help and advice of artist manager Mark Potts. Currently looking to put out music that is “100% stuff I want in my own sets”, the label will evolve into wider sonic realms. “I don’t care if my releases sell 10 or 1,000. If I believe in the music, then that’s all that matters. Being honest, I’m not trying to do something different, just concentrate on the music to begin with. I think I’m of an age now where I don’t have a yearning to stand out, I would just like the label to be respected by my peers, stand up on its own amongst the many great labels and be excitedly discovered by new DJs and producers.”
After a versatile first EP from Tristan Grace that touched on acid and house classicism, next up is young Glasgow talent The Burrell Connection, with more from Neville Watson, plenty in the pipeline from Grace and “then maybe, maybe, I’ll get my arse into gear to do something myself”.
Joe Farr makes techno. All kinds of techno. “I admire those who can really hone one particular style, but I can’t work that way, I really thrive on trying out stuff and letting go.” That MO will inform his new label, User Experience, which is about “identity and finding a place in the world”.
His own musical identity has evolved a lot in ten years, and in those years the producer admits he has not been good at facing up to problems. “I see the artwork as a reflection of that – the faces are gazing, deep in thought and quite troubled.” Also recognising that the world doesn’t need another label, he simply hopes to progress himself and his music in a meaningful way that makes him proud.
It's about consistency and focus. I want all my material to be in one place and to maintain a consistent schedule with full control.
“It’s about consistency and focus. I want all my material to be in one place and to maintain a consistent schedule with full control.” To that end, Farr decisively outlines the plans for User Experience: five releases this year and three next, all of which will be two- or three-track EPs and will come with full artwork painted by Lee Ellis and printed to t-shirts that will soon be available on Bandcamp. “I wouldn’t discount doing an album or taking on new artists and expanding the operation in the second half of 2018.”
“Conceptual, deep and minimal techno aimed towards discerning dance floors.”
Darren Allen is a strict do-it-yourself man. The Irishman has been making music for years – as well as running Underlying Form, the nerdy Facebook record group and connoisseur party of the same name – but never put anything out. Keen to do something with his “substantial body of work”, he decided that rather than hawk it around to others, he would set up on his own from day one.
“The first release was an experiment,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about distribution and all the added expenses but, generally, after accepting delays from the pressing plant it has been a smooth ride. The most challenging part has been finding a balance between marketing and promotion. I do not like to see labels turn their art into a consumable product to be forced down people’s throat.”
The first release was an experiment. I didn't know anything about distribution and all the added expenses.
Now based in Berlin, Darren wants the releases to reflect his reality and philosophy and to “challenge people’s rigid expectations of how electronic music should sound”. The label will always focus on deep, weird and trippy electronic sounds and benefits somewhat from the fact that Underlying Form was already a known name in tight-knit underground circles. Not strictly limited to Darren’s own work, remixes and collabs are on the horizon for 2017, but expensive art and design is not, as he instead prefers to keep the cost of the music – the most important part of all this – down to a minimum.
“I probably surprised [people] with the bold approach and style of the first release,” he says. “Just the way I like it.”
“An open-ended, diverse selection of music from the lesser or unknown names.”
American Eric Cloutier is one of the most acclaimed diggers in dance. For many years it was all he did, but boy did he do it well. It makes sense, then, that he is now refocussing his endless quest for musical freshness into his own label project. It will occasionally put out his own deep and compelling cuts, but mainly those from unknown names, be they of an ambient, house, techno or downtempo bent.
“There’s always been this approach from labels that they seem to want to push out the easy sellers without challenging DJs to listen to someone they’ve never heard of,” says Eric. “But I want to get people to think outside of the box and check out this artist I’ve found who only has 1,000 followers on SoundCloud.”
I want to get people to think outside of the box and check out this artist I’ve found who only has 1,000 followers on SoundCloud
Saying he feels that in the last couple of years it has always been the same 100 names on every label over and over again, Cloutier wants to remove the safety net and head off into uncharted territory, in vinyl and potentially digital format. “The EPs I hope to have out this year are from Orbe, Andu Simion, Exercise One, and Gabriella Vergilov,” as well as another from himself and eventually, maybe, one of his own albums.
“Palinoia has been a labour of love, that’s for sure, but it hasn’t been more trying than any other adventure I’ve embarked upon. I’m quite pleased with all the next releases and just hope other people enjoy the selections I’ve made.”
“12 tracks over the space of a year.”
After working with Hypercolour, Aus Music and Drumcode, Tom Demac has taken a year off and now comes back with his own concept label. “I felt it was time for a new project which I can be in total creative control of,” he says, before explaining he expects each track to be a little more refined than his own previous efforts.
I felt it was time for a new project which I can be in total creative control of.
“I feel I’ve learnt a lot over the last 18 months after spending time producing for bands and songwriters, so let’s see if it comes to the fore in my music over the course of the year.”
Though only scheduled for 12 releases, the label – which features photography and design created by his girlfriend – may continue into 2018, provided people haven’t “had enough of Tom Demac’s music by then”.
“Not a specific sound but a quality one.”
Media Records was a 90s powerhouse that oversaw the running of many other equally important labels in the Italian underground scene. Launching US house to the local and international market, it was a go-to outlet for those keen to snap up the freshest beats around. And now it is back, as are many of its subsidiaries, including Divergent, headed up by Belgian artist Bimas.
“Things change every day in this business, but from time to time a window opens, allowing you to jump in,” says Media president Gianfranco Bortolotti. “The goal of it is to relaunch a new roster of labels, DJs and artists, alongside a management company. Plus we are also developing FirstPlanet, a new and exciting, intelligent digital platform that should give us a competitive global advantage.”
the recording side of the business is still the part that gives DJs and artists the ability to sustain a career.
This comes 15 years after the label first folded and sold its catalogue to Warner Music, and now has the added contemporary vision of Truesoul and Desolat artist Bimas. “For the moment we will release quality products with no specific sound,” he says, “though my eyes are always focussed on my favourite genre – techno, and all its variations.”
Recognising many things have changed in the business over the last 15 years, Gianfranco also says that “the recording side of the business is still the part that gives DJs and artists the ability to sustain a career” and hopes Media and its sister labels can once again showcase new trends and movements. Bimas’s own music will be the spine of the catalogue, but the aim is also to develop and nurture new talents.
“Nothing is easy at the present time,” says Gianfranco. “A-list DJs now hold onto their positions at the top of the game for longer, and management help reinforce these powerful positions. There is saturation within the digital distribution landscape, so things like this always create new problems to solve, but we are confident we can do so.”