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Olga Korol Interview & Podcast No: 301

By Interviews

Olga Korol is an artist that needs very little introduction in recent times. Co-owner of BodyParts Records and currently based in Berlin 2021 is looking to be an exciting time for the artist. We sit down and catch up with her to see how things are going, learn the origins of her Body Parts label, delve into the scene in her home country and get to hear about her plans for the future.

She’s also graced the decks to supply us with our 301st Podcast. Deep and plenty of groove just how we like it!

This period has really been an opportunity for us to try new things and reconnect. How have you spent the pandemic? Are there things you have rediscovered?

For me the lockdown wasn’t that hard! Finally I’ve got a proper rest and dedicated time to myself. I’ve been thinking much about humanity and life in general. Obviously we are extremely dependent creatures in nowadays society, but this period showed us this never before. How fragile everything around is. It’s a good time to evaluate and to catch some hidden meanings. Like who surrounds you and who you are without your normal daily routine, gigs and travels. It’s not an easy discovery, but brings you to a level up I guess.

Many have spoken about this “corona-situation” has the perfect chance to re-invent the clubbing scene? Do you believe it? What are your thoughts for 2021?

I believe there is a chance to recover the clubbing scene. People get hungry for the music and dancefloors. When it’s possible, clubs and projects will restart their activity, artists will show all the skills and new material they’ve been collecting during this period. In lockdown many things have happened, like riots and demonstrations which united some people and brought divided others, this can rearrange the clubbing landscape.

Endless online streams gave a chance to see how some artists act in critical situations, how big names shamelessly were asking for donations when regular people were helping each other from the last resources. But I think a new wave is coming that will shape a proper selection of people and talents in the scene.

Looking back at your career, can you pick a moment that wraps it up a little?

Moving to Berlin definitely helped my career in a good way because I’ve got an opportunity to travel more and easier. There were not many direct or affordable flights from my hometown that every club could pay, as well as the visa situation. I had to collect a mountain of papers from the embassies almost every time I traveled somewhere. Once I joined my first booking agency I decided to make a step up and to get the artist visa and move to Germany. As well as I met many artists and promoters personally who contributed not only to my DJ career, but also developing the label.

How’s the idea of BodyParts born? What exactly does the name mean?

The idea was born when I was living in Moscow around 2010. We were learning music production with Denis Korablev under the guidance of my old friend from Ukraine, Alexander Sancho. We noticed how many young talented producers in Russia and Ukraine there were, as well as among our friends. They couldn’t reach foreign labels and show their music to the world. So we just made a platform first of all for them and us.

Since then we released a bunch of unknown artists on BP Digital who have subsequently got vinyl releases on the other labels. The imprint has been growing with time and eventually we are running four sub labels: Body Parts vinyl, BP Digital, Mind Series and Tooloop. The name “Body Parts” doesn’t mean anything particular, but it can be attached to our collective relations. After a few years we launched the sub label “Mind Series” which contains an alternative sound, that’s more dark and deep than BodyParts vinyl. The latest one, “Tooloop”, is a nice game of words. It’s a white label imprint where the tracks sound like tools, moreover Tooloop in Russian means a winter jacket which is embodied in its logo 🙂

You’ve not been very prolific (as a producer) over the last couple of years. Why? how did you prefer to spend your time?

I have never been a producer who spends all the time in a studio. I love studio jams, collaborations and experiments but never had the goal to release my own music much, I don’t even think it deserves to be released. I do around one release per year though. Mostly I dedicate time to the labels I’m working on every day alongside my dearest partners. Searching for new artists, remixers, combine releases, working with distributions. Might to confess a few bombs were born during the lockdown in a lovely collaboration that I would like to announce soon.

How do you see the scene in your home country?

The scene in Ukraine is on a very good level in the world. It has developed pretty fast over the past 10 years. The first events in Odessa was started by FEELEED project. It was a completely new format around that time with another kind of music and prolonged parties in different locations. The project educated and built our own audience which has grown big and after years of work the Port club has been built by the same community. Now it is one of the best event platforms for electronic music and concerts in Ukraine, alongside Closer club in Kiev. Port constantly hosting world famous artists and showcases. Nowadays I can admire the new generation on the dance floors. It’s super cool to see young people dedicated to the music, how many nice producers appear and how they can dare to play with sound.

Any particular festival that you’ve really enjoyed (as a dancer or DJ) and/or upcoming talents you’re looking for?

I started to follow the festivals in Ukraine in 2002. My first one was the legendary Kazantip festival in Popovka, Crimea. That year it lasted for more than one month. I went there every summer for 10 years in a row, and stayed the entire festival. I stayed in a small village near the festival, enjoyed music and the Black Sea coast every day. It was a wild life, no conditions and amenities, only electronic music makes you stay that long and keeps happy all the time. I opened up a new world of music the first time I got there in 2002, and after three years I played at Kazantip for the first time. It was changing and developing and I observed every year how it became bigger and popular world wide. Last time I was there in 2012 I played with my BodyParts crew. After that year I switched festivals, so my favorite and permanent one I visited became Sunwaves in Mamaia, Romania. In the same pattern I’m going there every single year. It makes me inspired and charged for a long period after, no matter if I play or just raving.

You had any gigs in the second part of 2020? How did it feel to be behind the decks again after a while?

I had a few shows, one of them was in Summer at Port club in my hometown. Don’t really remember the first track I dropped in, but the feelings at the decks were like at my first set, almost. The party was super nice, with a packed dance floor and people were dancing like it was their last time! It brings the energy on a high level and you value this job even more.

How about future plans. What do you have planned for 2021?

It was hard to make plans in 2020. That was the most unexpected and unpredictable year I remember. Many plans have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. But I’m really focusing on bringing a couple of releases on 2021, as I made some music during quarantine. The first release has been planned on this spring on Dirty Hands in a collaboration with the imprint boss. I keep on working on my labels and have got pretty interesting release plan on this year for BP recs. Follow it up!

 

 

Lastly, thank you so much for the podcast it is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Mix series.

Thanks Meoko for having me for the Mix series and the opportunity to share some thoughts in the interview. Cheers 🙂

 

 

Words by Francesco Quieti

 

More Olga Korol: Facebook / Soundcloud

More BodyPart Records: Facebook / Soundcloud

‘A platform initially housing producers from all over the world and their own musical vision – giving way for the trio’s ODY arts moniker and label showcases around Europe.’

More MEOKO: Facebook / Instagram / Soundcloud

Vlad Caia Interview & Podcast No: 300

By Interviews

Remarking the occasion of Podcast No: 300, we invited Vlad Caia , the man behind the podcast that has got over 500k+ listens on meoko.net (Podcast No: 210) for a special interview. This podcast also marks Vlad’s return after over 4 years since his first appearance on Meoko, giving us a new, refined, and even more avantgarde guise of the Romanian maestro.

1) Hey Vlad! How are you, and how are you spending this extended lockdown period?

Hi Meoko, happy to be here again. I could say I’m keeping busy as much as I can these past months with doing stuff, I didn’t have time for it before. Finishing a backlog of music spanning many years, working and studying electronics as a hobby and doing quite a lot of programming. It’s a nice feeling when rediscovering forgotten things and coming with that “aha” moment. That’s just a small glimpse on things I’m doing at the moment.

2) You recently collaborated as SIT for a charity event together with Scene Noise and Symetric Sound to raise money for the city of Beirut after the terrible explosion back in August. What do you think of the relationship between music and politics, not intended as “parties” but capabilities and wants to be concerned about society?

It’s a good question with a complex answer. Music is a powerful voice that can and should be put to good use. It’s a direct channel between our awareness and the reality of society. You can put aside the political aspect for a limited time until something of a big importance comes around and a statement is needed. I’m happy we took part in the charity to raise the help the people need and will continue to do so in the future.

3) Are there any other causes that you care about and you would like to tell us?

Not specific ones but as we all know it’s enough to watch the news and check your daily FB/Insta feed. The hardships, isolation and disconnect are all too real. People need to take care of each other more and look after their loved ones.

4) What’s the thing you miss the most about being unable to DJ /perform in clubs during the pandemic period? And what’s the thing you miss the least?

It was a fast transition last year from a full-on schedule to being at home every weekend. I felt like the machine was losing steam and you are thrown out of your routine. Slowly things calmed down and after a much-needed break I began working-from-home just like everyone else. I enjoy the free time I have now a lot. It’s time I can be with my loved ones and family.

I just realized that an important thing we can’t get back is our spent time. Time lost in airports, waiting for a ride and so on. I’m looking forward to performing again but I will always see it from this perspective from now on.

5) I’m sure that with all this “extra” time at your disposal, you’ve listened to tons of old/new stuff. Is there any fresh name that particularly got your attention or old gems that brought you special memories?

There’s so much new stuff coming out it’s hard to keep track of them all. I’ve been receiving a lot of new music from my friends and also people I haven’t kept in touch with for a long time. Everyone is keeping creative and I think that’s the most important fact. I’m also re-listening to a lot of old music and sorting them out and it sounds fresh as the first time and it’s awesome.

6) And I am sure that you have been producing also during this period. What does 2021 hold for you? Any releases lined-up yet that you can share with us?

A lot of things spanning may projects so I’m just going to write about the solo ones here. I’m doing a release on Uvar records coming in a couple of weeks with a 3-tracker record. Very happy how that came out and how diverse the music is. A couple of remixes for Alsi, Zefzeed, Alex Font and Nils Weimann and last but not least a remix for Tripmastaz on BodyParts records that just came out. Other stuff will come out in the following months on a new label called Synkro along with other remixes I’m working on now for new labels.

7) And we can tell the same on time spent in the studio! What’s next for you, SIT, and Amorf?

Amphia is preparing a new release by Ferro with beautiful atmospheric and minimalistic tracks. As SIT we did a couple of digital releases on VA albums these couple of months, for VBX, Trommel to name a few. These will be followed by new music coming out on Cali Lanauze’s Opulence label and a remix for Ada Kaleh released on Dialogue records. As Amorf we just released our new record “Shattered Glass” with two freaky and funky tracks and more are in the works.

8) How would you call the differences between playing alone as Vlad Caia, duo as SIT and trio as Amorf?

There’s a big difference between these. I have more control of the narrative and drive when playing solo. However, changing the direction of the set is a bit more challenging than playing SIT. With SIT is more of a table tennis kind of game. You can bounce ideas of each other faster and easier while keeping the entire game interactive. Doing live shows with Amorf is another different thing, when listening to each other is very important. We put a lot of thought into improvisation and doing things on the spot so it’s important to take notice of these big or small things happening from each other of us.

9) Tell us more about the story of the SIT project. How did you get in touch with Cristi? What makes him an ideal partner? Tell us also one of his ability that makes him outstanding!

We met online in the early days of MySpace many years ago. I was uploading some music I was doing at that time in their sound player and that’s how we connected. We’ve been working together more or less since then going through different stages of projects and I enjoy the creative work ethic we have.

10) Are there other artists with whom you’d like to work?

Many of my close friends I havent had a chance to work with yet and there are quite a few. I have so many ideas I want to try, I hope in the near future when the right circumstance shows up.

11) Do you think that the Romanian scene, thanks to its great cohesion and unity, is responding better than others to the disastrous period we are facing? And how do you see the scenario for the entire dance movement?

In my opinion, the Romanian scene was alive because of the many events that were going on pre-pandemic, festivals, club nights you name it. It was growing as a unique phenomenon at a steady pace. People attending these events were growing in numbers and also the artists were perfecting their craft. With the huge drawbacks and pandemic policies of today, this growth has been reduced drastically. I don’t think the response is better or worse I just know we as a people are used with shortcomings and will get through it hopefully stronger.

12) Do you have any favorite venue or festival that you feel very connected to and you can call home?

Lots of favorite venues so I just will name a few, The Block, Supermarket, Goa, Vent and the list can go on.

13) Any special shout out or final thanks to anyone in particular?

I would like to thank my loved one and my family. I would like to say thank you to my closest friends for being there and last but not least, thank you to all the hard-working and honest people in this industry keeping the vibe alive. You know who you are.

Your MEOKO Podcast is by far the most-played mix on meoko.net with over 500k+ listens. And a special THANK YOU from everyone at MEOKO for the Round 2.

Thank you Meoko for hosting me.

Words: Francesco Quieti / Erchin Jon

Photo Credit: Jan Bernet Photography

Breaking down barriers: a year with Corona and our mental health

By Industry Insider

Within a year we’ve seen the world we know and love come to a complete standstill. It’s hard to pinpoint anywhere across the world that hasn’t been affected in some way by the Corona shit show over the past 12 months. With many of us now out of work and an industry that has come to a complete standstill the effects on all of us have been unprecedented. It’s no wonder that Mind spoke to 16,000 people during the last national lockdown and found that nearly two thirds (60%) of people said that their mental health got worse.

In our industry mental health is already so prevalent, it’s something that needs to be addressed and talked about more often. From erratic touring schedules to late nights and the excess that goes with it as well the pressures that artists and others involved experience in bringing amazing parties together for us. It’s no wonder that many across our industry can suffer.

In times of struggle, it’s fair to say that sharing each other’s experiences can be a real help. It’s important to talk and be there for each other. With this in mind, we’ve caught up with some of our favourite selectors and promoters to ask them to share their experiences, the ups and downs of the pandemic as well as turning our attention to mental health awareness and wellbeing.

DJs //

VOIGTMANN

The UK at the moment is rock bottom with its nightlife industry. What repercussions can you see for our culture and the industry moving forward if nothing is done?

Lots of people will be struggling to keep their businesses open and keep their staff as for most of them there is 0 income and very little to no government support. Esp. the nightlife industry has been left behind by the government and many freelancers/self-employed artists fell through the net of support and are struggling to stay afloat. There’s is a huge dent in the ongoing rich development of UK music/club culture.

 

Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

I feel I am in a fairly good position compared to others –  I carved out a solid position in the music business over the year and know it will return to it to some sort of degree after all is back to normal. Yet, I felt onsets of mild depression creep up as people like us are always busy and thrive off that. Suddenly, we had weeks of no business and simply sitting around waiting for ‘better times’. These are quite existential worries as I had left a solid job in architecture to be a self-employed musician. Scary to have all outlook taken away after years of fighting to establish yourself and earn a good income from it.

How do you think people reading this article can help stand against what is happening to our industry at the moment?

Generally, stay POSITIVE! I can only urge people to support their local scene, pubs, DJs, clubs etc…These are creative people are trying to keep the scene alive and can do with any support. Go see your fav DJ play even if it’s a sitdown gig when you can. Fight back – together we are strong!

 

SILVERLINING

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles in this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

Lockdown was / is, without doubt, a challenge. We’re social animals and the extended time away from friends and family members felt alien and definitely caused different forms of anxiety. Firstly, there was the cabin fever of being at home for so long; then so many of us were unable to do what we love and enjoy music communally; and there was also all the professional uncertainty for creatives such as myself. We had Zoom calls and mix streams, but we found ourselves on them every day in some way or another, whether for work, kids’ schools, family, and friends. You end up existing as a miniaturised, pixelated, avatar of your real self. I recall a moment during one live stream over the summer when I looked up from the DJ booth only to see a single red light of the camera ogling at me eerily, like Hal 9000, and had into a moment of pure existential funk, wondering how we got to this. It is all completely unprecedented, and we are not equipped for these circumstances.

Overcoming this kind of negative headspace requires some work so you really have to fight lest it takes over. I’ve found that cardio exercise, yoga, meditation, eating well, reading books, being creative, all help to keep those happy hormones flowing. You don’t even need to do a lot to make a difference to your wellbeing, but it can take some effort to get over the mental barriers to do them in the first place. It’s also important to talk to friends and share feelings as everyone is going through this together.

What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

The uncertainty has definitely been a huge challenge for so many people I know. This has also opened up a host of questions as to what one’s purpose is in life, especially when being met with the apathy — and even hostility — in government policy this year. Those events that have been able to take place did so under surreal conditions. The scene is not even a shadow of what it was a year ago. All this has come as a shot out of the blue at time when music was really thriving, so it’s definitely taken its toll on many people.

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you? How have you been spending your time?

I’m glad you asked this, as I think there are a lot of positives that we should embrace. Spending much more time with family has been really rewarding. I’ve also enjoyed taking things more slowly production-wise, and not feeling rushed to get things done. You always get there in the end. With two album projects and tons of remixes coming next year, I’ve had plenty to keep me on my toes. I’ve cut back massively on social media use, and recently deactivated Facebook. I have to say that not being on that newsfeed has been a real godsend. This has freed a lot of spare time for more productive and rewarding things like reading, cooking, and organising records.

Any other comments you would like to make…

Linked to what I just said about social media, I have read several studies and articles* that establish links between social media usage and mental health deterioration. During the pandemic, social media use has skyrocketed as a coping mechanism as it’s natural that people want to connect with others online while in isolation. However, due to the addictive design of sites like Facebook and Twitter, increased social media use is likely to exacerbate depression, anxiety, FOMO and feelings of inadequacy. Much like a slot machine, the dopamine craving sends us back to these sites in pursuit of a feeling that may never come. On top of this, we have trolls, bots, misinformation, and targeted advertising to further lighten our moods! I shudder to think of the amount of time I’ve freely volunteered to Facebook, feeding their AI for this company’s benefit and not my own.

So I would make a few gentle suggestions if these harms resonate with you: you can limit your time by deleting smartphone apps, and setting timers on your computer using apps like Hey Focus. If you can, deactivate your personal Facebook and keep your page active via a second account. This way, you still keep your connections and artist/business page, if needed. Instead, give your friends a call or text, and use the rest of your time more creatively.

*For example:

http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7338858/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200929152149.htm

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

 

REVIVIS

 

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

Covid has certainly had an impact on my own mental health. Having restrictions placed on how you live your life has meant I’ve found myself with more time on my hands which has generally meant more time on my own and with my thoughts. I’m mostly a positive person and I’m extremely lucky that generally, I don’t suffer a huge deal with mental health, but with more time to think, and being overwhelmed with negative media and covid stats/deaths via social media, etc, it’s not always easy to stay positive and motivated. I could find myself overthinking things and being overly sensitive.

 

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you? How have you been spending your time?

Covid has given me more time to work on my own productions and to experiment with the different styles of my sound, I feel my sound has evolved a lot in this period. I’ve also taken the time to learn my equipment in more depth – lots of time on YouTube!

I’ve been listening to more music of various genres and I’ve tried to educate myself more on the origins of house and techno and the sub-genres in particular. Away from music, I’ve been cooking more and studying German. I’ve also realised that I can live a much simpler life and figured out what and who is important to me

 

How do you think people reading this article can help support what is happening to our industry at the moment?

I think supporting music firstly is the most important thing. If you’re able to buy music directly from the artists, that’s great, if not sharing music online and via social media helps.

If you can, donate to any of the clubs, labels, parties, etc. that are struggling. If not, share and spread the word.

Finally, educate yourself and try to understand the different types of mental health problems, and be kind.

 

MILLER – REAL GANG

Mental health is something you guys have really pushed to raise awareness off over the past 12 months. Why is that?

Life as a modern day adult has its struggles as it is, when you mix that with restrictions and repeated lockdowns, we feel we are at a time that we are unaware of the effects this is having in the long run. Being solely involved in an industry of events, most of my network has been suffering with the crippling obvious loss of work, cancellations and also moments of connecting. We feel like the dance floor has gave us an extended family, for these people it is a huge part of their lives and celebrating at shows is their freedom. We wanted to step out of comfort zone and push a message that we as Real Gang want to send a genuine and message, rather than always positive when in reality life is not built on these times alone. Our intentions of bringing people together with a message to “save our people” has been our push to do our part, to highlight the matter of normalising mental health within our industry and our people.

 

Tell us more about your ‘Save Our People’ campaign?

The Real Gang “Save Our People” campaign was our input to mental health in which we have partnered up with the Samaritans charity. A clothing line with bold statements in support of the cause. The clothing can be found directly from our website www.realgang.co.uk with 100% of proceeds going to Samaritans charity.


How have you kept yourself active and positive during these times?

Music is my life so as long as I have my studio, my machines, my ears, I can always have my safe place. It has been tough without the usual inspirations around but it has been a time that has challenged me with a nightmare scenario and I have kept myself going, growing and I chose to spend the time on myself. My learning will keep me going as I smile at the thought of brighter days

 

DAN CURTIN

Can you share your own experiences and struggles in this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

It has been a rough time with the loss of gigs and income for sure.  That has been my main trouble, we can all imagine what it means to a family to lose a good portion of income.  So I’ve had to work in different ways to try to make up for it all and I’ve had to stay mentally strong and optimistic in order to be able to handle the extra stress.  This means more work than before and the need for extra determination, more discipline, and more passion.  It’s hustle time!  Hustle harder than last time for sure.

How have you been spending your time?

I’m naturally an optimistic person, always looking to find the silver lining so it hasn’t been that tough on me apart from the added stress as a result of loss of income and future income.  With no traveling I’ve been able to work more in other areas and develop my music career with a tighter focus on production work.  So I’ve actually been busier than ever in that regard.   I’ve been laser focused on my health and fitness (although during the first lock down I drank waaaaaay too much!) so that helps tremendously.

Not making that mistake again during this current lockdown! Bodybuilding is a serious hobby of mine and that has really been an asset to me during this time.  Even with gyms closed never skipping training, never falling off the nutrition plan – never, not once – that really helps.  Healthy and strong body is the foundation for a healthy everything else.  Additionally when schools were closed we had to home school our daughter which was incredibly time consuming but very rewarding, again this was a big help to maintain the focus and have purpose.  Even now, the schools are open but in a limited fashion so there is always school work to occupy our time.

 

Any other comments you would like to make…

Stay strong, stay positive, stay determined, try to get outside, and try to move, seek out help if you need it, don’t stay alone. There is always somebody around who is willing to help.

 

PROMOTERS //

OLLI RYDER

ANIMAL CROSSING

You guys have been one of the very few promoters who have managed to pull off events during this period to really high standards! What was your vision for these when you planned them?

Firstly, thank you for the kind words! It was something we were super proud to have worked on and delivered to a standard that created similar energy and atmosphere to what you would expect at any AC party. Music is all about connecting likeminded souls and I feel as if we successfully achieved that from the feedback we received. It was just amazing to hear music blaring from a function one system and see people dancing again after such a long hiatus.

A lot of energy and resources always goes into ensuring the experience is unique and remembered. The regulations didn’t interfere in that sense, your eyes and ears were engaged at all times. It’s by no means what we’re all used to but in these times we can happily say we were able to adapt, innovate and grow.

This whole period has allowed us to reflect further and grow an even deeper appreciation for what we do. We just love throwing parties for the people and getting the opportunity to showcase our favourite artists in the City we love, we will always find new ways to dance no matter the circumstance and we can assure anyone reading we will be coming back bigger, bolder and better than ever before.

 

You recently did a live stream from your new venue The Loft and worked closely with MIND to help raise awareness of mental health. Tell us about this?

 Giving back is something we have always wanted to put at the forefront of the brand, as we grow we want to help as many people around the world as we possibly can. There are wider projects and concepts we’re working on behind the scenes that we’re super excited to share when the moment is right.

This period of self reflection has again been so helpful for us, if you sit back and really analyse what you have, a wave of gratitude hits and it opens your eyes to a much bigger picture. Mental health is a topic that affects so many in our industry and is more relevant now than ever before; to be able to utilise the Loft and collaborate with MIND to get people dancing and donating was something we’re proud of.

Sending another massive thanks to Michael James and Josh Baker for performing and to everyone who tuned in, we couldn’t have asked for a more meaningful response.

We just love our community, people share the same caring ethos that encourages you to keep progressing.

 

One thing we love about you guys is how positive you have kept over this year. It’s refreshing to see. Any tips to keep spirits up during this time?

A smile a day keeps everything okay my man haha!

We have always been a firm believer of radiating the positive and fun energy with everything we do. It’s easy for a negative thought process to take over your day, so if we can do anything at all to bring a smile to someone’s face then we’re utilising our platforms in the right way.

Positives can be taken in any scenario, the more you focus on them the more you can be at peace, be happy and continue to grow internally. Don’t worry about what you can’t control, work on the internal self and the rest will come.

 

EOIN SMYTH + DAVE BROWNING
FOUNDERS at GAME OVER (One Night Stand, Wildchild)

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles in this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

ESWe’ve gone through the ups and downs of COVID from both a personal and business standpoint like everyone else. 2020 would have been our biggest year to date at Game Over with over 120 shows planned across our event brands and client operations. I think personally the uncertainty of the future has been the hardest pill to swallow. We spent months working out ways we could pivot to work within the rules but alas every step forward was met with two steps back as the rules kept changing. The continuous speculation definitely takes its toll. There’s been plenty of times where we’ve sat there thinking. “WTF is the point, should we just throw in the towel now and move forward”. Those dark moments are usually fixed by digging a little bit deeper, playing a few bouncy records remembering that we absolutely love what we do and this should all be temporary ☺

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you?

ES: For the first time in a long time. I’ve allowed myself to have a break. Re-focus my attentions on myself, my relationships, family, friends etc. We’re usually in a strange bubble where we are 24/7 on the go. Time has flown by over the past years working in Ibiza and it’s rare I’ve taken a moment to press pause and reflect. It’s nice to be able to explore new ideas and opportunities while having some physical downtime. I’m definitely back in the game fitness wise so can finally see that Mens Health front cover on the horizon. You heard it here first hahaha!

Workwise we’ve found ourselves in so many exciting projects over the past 6 months. We look after the marketing and digital side of things for Carl Cox and a host of other clients and the shift to online overnight was incredible. With Carl we’ve helped put together an amazing weekly live stream series called Cabin Fever where Carl gets a chance to dig deep into his 150k Vinyl’s and really showcase his taste in music from funk and soul to 90’s rave and every in between. The response has been outstanding and it’s been real pleasure to work on. We’ve also raised thousands of pounds for varying charities over the course of lockdown with the many live streams and projects taken on. So that’s been a plus and something our industry is magic at.

 

How do you think people reading this article can help stand against what is happening to our industry at the moment?

DB: People who have been around as long as I have remembered we were faced with an assault on the scene in the 80’s . At that time concerted and collective action was the way sense was restored. As human beings we have a right to congregate, to dance and to socialize. All of those rights have been taken away and with that a whole sector of the economy has been destroyed, if swift and concise action is not taken now it may never recover. This is not a time for apathy , this is not a time to blindly obey this is a time to question , understand and then act. At the moment we are being very skillfully divided and confused , a leader need to step forward with the ability to galvanize people into collective action before its to late and we will be the generation who stood by and watched as our world imploded

 

KERRY WALLACE

S.A.S.H

Mental health for many has declined over the past few months. Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time as a result of COVID and the current restrictions?

Personally I’ve been fine, I think I was well overdue a rest after almost 10 straight years of S.A.S.H every Sunday, so when COVID kicked off & everyone was locked down, initially I was happy to take the break. Of course, like everyone else, I had no idea that it would be almost a full year my business would be shut down & if someone had told me that from the beginning I’d say my mental health may not have been as good as it has the whole way through.

What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

I think the uncertainty, financial worries & lack thereof from different countries governments support really would be the main factors. When will my venue open? When will my gigs/bookings start again? Is the third wave about to begin & put us back to square one? How the hell am I going to pay rent? Obviously everyone’s situation is different, but I think the above points have all come into play for most of us.

My personal situation here in Sydney is that I’ve been lucky enough to have had some savings to keep myself & my staff afloat. We’ve kept active with the brand all the way through & just recently started back with COVID safe events under the brand S.A.S.H Social. The government too here has been helpful with a wage subsidy called “Jobkeeper” which of course helps, although doesn’t touch the sides in way of monthly costs we’ve had to keep up. But things for us are on the way back & I feel lucky that we are in Australia right now.

 

 

How do you think people reading this article can help support what is happening to our industry at the moment?

If you know someone within our arts & music scene check in with them, make sure they’re not secretly suffering & if you have an inkling they are, do something about it. I’m sure the smallest gesture would go a long way for anyone in a bad headspace.

Otherwise, if you can’t do anything right now, once the venues are back open & your friends are out playing gigs – GO OUT & SUPPORT THEM. Pay double if you can for door entry, re-post your friend’s gigs, do anything you can to support those once they are back open/working!

Any other comments you would like to make…

A little msg to my friends around the globe in the industry that have had it tough hang in there…. It’s been a complete shit show for everyone. But there is light at the end of the COVIDE tunnel & we’ll get there at some point together. Just keep in the back of your mind how fucking EPIC the parties/gigs will be once we are all open/working again…. That’s what’s kept a smile on my face – Stay strong peeps xxx

 

WILLIAM POWER

TRMNL

The UK at the moment is rock bottom with its nightlife industry. What repercussions can you see for our culture and the industry moving forward if nothing is done?

Many people who have committed their lives to the industry are questioning what the future holds. The government appear to have turned their back on us and we are already at a stage where some irreversible damage has been done. Whether you’re a creative, artist, venue owner/promoter, security guard, production team etc – next time around would you make that same commitment to your trade? If you have a family or people that rely on you – are you even able to make that same commitment knowing that there would be no support for you? I think we will have lost some great contributors to local & international scenes. The longer this goes on, the more we will lose.


What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

Media. Social and mainstream. We are living in the age of misinformation. How do we distinguish what is true and what is false? Everywhere you look there is a mainstream media outlet pushing a fear campaign. They are closer to a government or corporate PR company than an impartial voice for the many.

Socially everyone has a viewpoint (which by right they are entitled to) – but how has that been construed by a 4thhand article with a click bait headline. Or a conspiracy theory posted by an “influencer”. What about the stories based on actual first hand experiences – then slammed by a mob of keyboard trolls. The confusion alone is dividing people more than uniting them.

 

What positives if any have come out of this period for you?

Spending time with my family and 18 month old daughter. Spending some time doing other things that I enjoy and catching up with friends that you don’t get to see when you work every weekend.

I love that feeling of working under pressure and being part of things that come together in the 11th hour. When you’re in that zone, you can achieve a whole different level of productivity. But, you can also make the wrong decisions at times. This period has made me take a step back and look at things differently. What is important, who is important. How can we do things better, more efficiently, work better as a team.

 

INDUSTRY HEADS //

ANDREW LEESE –
SOCIALLY SOUND

Any tips for people who may be struggling with their mental health at the moment?

Cleanse your social media feeds. I did this with my Twitter account during the lockdown and honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So many people are going onto social media and coming off it angry with what they are reading and who they are engaging with. Social media timelines are a toxic place if you let them.. Take control of them and use them with a purpose and you will be amazed what inspiration you find.

Two other things I need to do a lot more of is exercise and drink more water. That’s the negative side of lockdown and being inside so much, our bodies can survive on a lot less.

 

What do you think are the main factors contributing to a decline in mental health in the industry currently?

I think a lot of people who are involved in our industry whether professionally or as a clubber use music events as an escape from reality. Now, the dance floor has been taken away from people. We are constantly facing what is a very grim reality.

Obviously, what some people consume on those nights out can affect mental health in so many ways, but it’s those memories and stories that we live for and right now, we’ve got nothing else to look forward to. Something so trivial as having nothing to look forward to can also negatively impact your mental health, especially so during a global pandemic.

Money is another factor, probably now more than ever. We’re either saving money by not going to gigs and festivals every weekend or we don’t know where our next penny is coming from.

 

Can you share your own experiences and struggles at this time? 

Furlough and lockdown in a weird way have been a blessing for me personally. Last year, I’d definitely gone way past the burn-out phase. The start of 2020 was a rocky one,  I was working outside of the music industry for the first time in over six and a half years.

In late February, I started a new role back in the music industry – three days before the furlough cut-off point. If I started a week later, I’d have been in a really bad way financially and even more so mentally.

What lockdown and furlough gave me, was time to think, reflect and be honest with myself. I was made redundant from my role in August but those four months of free time gave me the chance to build a business plan for a new company, be financially stable and move out of London because right now, I don’t need to be there.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH //

 

If you’re struggling yourself at the moment what can you do? We caught up with Stephen Buckley from MIND charity to see what advice he can offer. Mind, the mental health charity provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problems.

What advice would you give to anyone struggling at the moment?

“It’s important to remember that there is no normal response to the pandemic and your feelings may change day to day. Because of this, it’s important to maintain your wellbeing during this time and connecting with other people is a vital part of this. Talking to someone you trust can help you manage your feelings, as many people find that sharing their experiences can help them feel better. If you’ve noticed changes in your thoughts, feelings and behaviour that are having an impact on your daily life, last two weeks or longer or keep returning, speak to a GP if you can.”

Are there any tips on how to look after your mental health?

“Our physical and mental health are closely linked so it’s important to eat well, stay hydrated and to try and take part in some physical activity, if possible, outside, as being in nature can really benefit our mental health. You might also find that it helps to express how you are feeling about the pandemic creatively. This could be writing, drawing, painting or any other creative way that feels helpful to you. Journaling can also be helpful, as keeping track of what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been feeling can be helpful in identifying what helps improve your mood.”

 

What do you think have been the main causes of a decline in mental health during this time?

“People are really struggling with isolation, stress, grief and fears about the future, and for those of us who were already experiencing mental health problems, things may feel especially difficult. We also know that there is a strong link between issues like financial difficulties, poor housing and poor mental health. So, factors like job insecurity, unemployment, low paid work and redundancy could have a knock-on impact on mental health.”

 

What services does Mind offer and how can Mind help?

“Mind has lots of information and advice on how to look after your mental health during this time available on our website at mind.org.uk and our Infoline is open 9am-6pm, Monday-Friday (except Bank Holidays). Side by Side, Mind’s online peer support community, can also be helpful in getting support from others who have their own experiences of mental health problems. Side by Side is available to all, 24/7, and is moderated daily from 8:30am to midnight.”

One thing that is clear from all this is the importance of being there for each other, showing compassion and care for others and standing united. It’s ok to not feel ok. What’s important is you reach out and share your struggles.

Sending love to everyone from us all here at Meoko. Please don’t be afraid to reach out and stay safe X

Words by Jordan Diston

Not So Serious w/ Chris Stussy

By Interviews, Not So Series

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you would have heard of Chris Stussy. Himself alongside Prunk have grown PIV to be one of the most globally recognised labels and parties in the industry at the moment.

Recently the artist has launched his Up The Stuss imprint with a 3rd release expected in April after EPs from the likes of staple names in the scene Fabe and East End Dubs. His recent ‘Take A Leap Of Faith’ on Constant Sound has really turned heads with it being a nod to the deeper side of his productions. We caught up with him for our Not So Serious series..

1) If you could choose any stage, festival, or a city (or all in one) to play your first gig after the lockdown, where would it be?

That’s a tough question. There are so many places that I love playing. I think it would be in Amsterdam. A ten-hour set at Thuishaven during the day as a ‘festival’ and then ending the day in a club setting… somewhere like Shelter, with one of the best sound systems we have in our country… Haha, sorry I was just daydreaming about being back in the booth for a marathon like that.

2) Without thinking, name your most memorable set – either yours or any one of your choice?

Loveland Kingsday 2019. What a day… I was super anxious before the set but I was also full of excitement. Thinking back to this day makes me think of ‘Fury’s Laughter’ by S.A.M. – I’ve never seen a crowd reaction like that and afterwards, my inbox exploded because of everyone who wanted to know the track ID… the rest is history! I’m getting goosebumps while I’m thinking about that moment again!

3) Can you recall the last vinyl record you played at home?

So Inagawa ‘Yours Sincerely’ on Cabaret Records. When I discovered this track a few years ago I knew I had to grab the vinyl. I was playing some records at home last week and closed with this track. If you have a soft spot for deep chords, this is your tune.

4) Making a track feels like…

One of the best feelings. Being in the moment, just create whatever you want, no boundaries. I even forget what time it is haha. I sometimes say to my girlfriend I’m coming home in 30 minutes and 2 hours later I’m stuck in the groove again…

5) I find inspiration in my hometown when I think of…

Travelling, being around friends, having a good time. Going to a good party where the music is amazing. Hearing new tracks from my friends, there’s a lot of stuff that inspires me really.

6) Favourite drink after (or during) a set?

Vodka Redbull.

7) I’ll never forget that time when…

You have to dig for hours and hours on Discogs to find a track that you’ve heard at a party the weekend before – it happens a lot so it’s hard to forget!

8) If you have to pick one rooftop for a 12-hour set, where would it be?

I would say in London. I love the vibe in the entire UK, I feel really comfortable testing out new tracks there. The crowd is always very open to new music, it’s a very educated crowd so to say.

9) You are trapped in the jungle and are waiting to be rescued with 10% battery on your phone. iTunes/Spotify/Soundcloud are all working offline, name three tracks to accompany your waiting…

Richard Earnshaw feat. Ursula Rucker & Roy Ayers ‘Rise’
Georg Levin, Clara Hill ‘I Got Somebody New’
Robert Glasper ‘What Are We Doing’

10) My dream line up would be with…

12:00-14:00 Brawther
14:00-16:00 Sweely
16:00-18:00 Youandewan
18:00-21:00 Apollonia
21:00-23:00 Kerri Chandler

11) The greatest house vocal to date belongs to…?

Masters At Work feat. India ‘When You Touch Me’ (M.A.W. Remix) [1993]

12) My most sampled jazz record is?

Kool & The Gang ‘Summer Madness’

13) 2020…

2021 🙂

by zaq. | February 2021

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‘I’m always glad to open up when I feel it’s relevant.’: Akufen Interview

By Chats to MEOKO, Interviews

There are not many artists who manage to define a particular era in music, and there are even fewer who know how to evolve beyond such achievements and find other creative paths down which to travel. We caught up with one of industries finest, Akufen, to learn more about his new EP, sampling tips and much more…

Photo credit: Petronille Gontaud-Leclair

 

1) Thank you for joining us today. How are you?

The pleasure is all mine and I thank you for the invite to speak. I’d like to think that I’m doing alright overall, considering the rather challenging and uncertain times we live in since last March. Although I must admit that the complete standby of performing arts events feels like an unforgiving cleaver for many artists, including myself, who made a living from touring.  It’s definitely a major game-changer, but we’re in this together and I’m hopeful that we will overcome this situation in the end.  Meanwhile, I’m taking things a day at a time, focusing on my family which keeps me grounded and helps me in embracing resilience.

 

2) I think it’s safe to say you are very selective with your releases and labels that you work with – how do you decide what labels are right for you?   

I wasn’t always selective, to be honest. I had my fair share of unfortunate experiences, which made me grow eventually more cautious and more selective over the years. When you’re a newcomer, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of spreading fast by releasing on as many labels as possible. Which is understandable. But to be fair, I had more pleasant experiences as my career blossomed. Nowadays I don’t release much, but the labels I choose to release on are the ones that I feel understand where I’m coming from and where I wish to go. In the end, I just wish to collaborate with good and reliable people and feel like I’m part of something greater than just a commercial output, Perlon being the finest reference I could cite. When I met Thomas, Markus and Chris in Montreal in 2000, we became friends at first and then I had the wonderful privilege to become a part of this family of fantastic artists and very lovely human beings, which is Perlon.

3) Your new EP on Onysia Records is another fine example of your work In the studio, What did you use to produce it?

First off, collaborating with Joseph at Onysia was a true pleasure and I salute his generosity and kindness. Joseph gave me complete freedom, which is a rare thing these days when you deal with labels. What I found exciting was his sustained enthusiasm, which is very similar to mine when I started. Now, I rarely if never discuss gear, tools and tricks. I think every musician in their own right and for their own good has to figure out for themselves what works best for them. There isn’t one way to do things, and the most effective one will always be your own. We never ask kids to list the type of crayons, paint, paper and glue they used for tinkering in school. All I could suggest is, try out all sorts of stuff, never restrain your imagination, don’t think of the trends and just play around and have fun.

And I had fun recording this one.

4) Your use of samples in your work is some of the best in the game and so distinctive. Any tips for upcoming producers when working with samples and crafting their sound?

Just be attentive and listen very carefully. Wherever we are in our daily lives, sounds surround us. The most insignificant noise can become a part of something beautiful and unique. Listen to them and what they are telling you. The art of sampling is partly intuitive and partly reflexive. In the end, you’ll figure ways to connect them and hear them converse.

5) It’s not very often you do interviews and you are very much famed for letting your music do the talking – do you think the media has become too much of a focal point around electronic music and artists?

I’m always glad to open up when I feel it’s relevant. Other than that I don’t feel the obligation to unnecessarily fill the corner of a page of some DJ magazine, to sell my mug, share my tricks and brag about my lifestyle, which isn’t very glamorous. I am as selective with journalists as I am with labels, and friends. The journalists I respected over the years have become friends. There is nothing wrong with the media becoming the focal point around electronic music and its players. What’s concerning is the focal point on the glitter rather than the music itself. I just despise the star rating, following and liking culture, and journalism in general which is validating and discrediting often without discernment. You’re either in the game or out of the game. Art is too personal to give it a thumb up or down. This is straight out of the Roman Empire playbook.

6) Back in your early years you were active in the scene in Montreal under many other aliases. What made you move to your Akufen sound?

So much! An insatiable appetite for music, films and books. Years spent in art school, and most of all, a constant need for change. The idea primarily behind the Akufen sound was to work from my intuition and subconscious. It was also very much inspired by the “automatic writing” and “cut & paste” methods, which was developed by the surrealists, the beat poets and the automatists collective in Canada in the forties and fifties. These techniques have been at the centre of my creativity since as early as my childhood. I have fond memories of meticulously crafting large collages of pictures cut from magazines and working with double tape decks in my bedroom, rather than playing with other kids outside. It’s about creating an unpredictable, and unique sound environment, and a story which leaves more room for personal perception and interpretation as it unfolds. I believe that my generation was lucky as we came at a time when everything was possible, and people were ready and all ears. You could throw a Tito Puente piece in a set and the crowd would go nuts. Today, there are too many politics and laws to embrace in order to fit in. There are still some oddballs out there who amaze me, but the music sales business has made their music less accessible to the general public, sadly.

7) You’ve graced your presence at some of the world’s best clubbing institutions and have seen many changes in our industry and clubbing landscape over the years – where do you see it going from here, particularly with the current situation having such a significant impact on venues and promoters?

I could not say honestly. We are all still in shock, trying to adjust to this new reality. Options and ideas will unfold as we start healing and getting our lives back to some kind of normalcy. The pandemic has put on the back burner all public music activities and I believe it will affect not only the scene but the music itself. I have a feeling that the music will evolve in unexpected and surprising forms, and it will be interesting to see how artists will adapt and overcome this situation. I for myself, don’t want to speculate much, I am not even sure that I will pursue my career on the road. I will, however, remain active as a musician, there is no doubt about that, but I’m contemplating other avenues such as film scoring, art installations in collaboration with artists from other fields. I might as well return to visual art and graphic design which I studied in school. It’s clearly a time for radical changes, and I’m hopeful we’ll figure something out. Having said that, we must not look back in nostalgia, because things will never be as they were. Clubbing or not, music will prevail, one way or another, and that’s what’s reassuring in a way.

8) Your live show is something which has brought a lot of attention. What is your set up for this and what made you want to move into a live setup?

I’ll be bluntly honest, playing live is what puts bread on the table for most of us. I was able to feed and provide shelter for my family and send my kid to school with touring. I am overly conscient of the luck I had to be able to travel doing the greatest job. It had its flaws at times, but overall I can only be immensely grateful. I’ve always made it a priority to be as generous and available as possible for those who support me and who will sometimes travel miles to hear me. So performing is not only a way of making ends meet but also a responsibility and an act of loyalty. Night after night you have to leave the rest behind and give your best, no matter how tired or sick you may feel. We must never forget that without the record labels and club owners, the promoters, bookers, agents and the public we wouldn’t have the privilege of doing what we love most. As for my set up, there’s not much to brag about, I use a laptop, a soundcard and a couple of controllers.

9) To stay so relevant for so long takes a lot of drive and passion.  How do you push yourself to achieve your goals and keep creatively motivated?

I believe honesty and integrity were the main keys in remaining relevant, in my case. Being stubborn and uncompromising creatively comes at a high cost, but I agreed to pay that price at an early stage in my career, and I don’t regret it. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise. I rather enjoy a more modest success based on loyalty and which will last after I’m gone. What’s left of us, is what makes us immortal. Not in a glorious historical sense, but rather in a humble inspirational way, primarily for my daughter, and the generations to come. Not only as an artist but as a man of my times. No matter what you do, you got to have faith, you also got to have doubts, never take anything for granted, and be grateful for everything you got. I have to remain continuously.

Photo credit: Petronille Gontaud-Leclair

 

10) Where does 2021 take you? Do you have any new projects on the horizon you can tell us about?

In January, I launched “Ourway”, my new record label, introducing a first Akufen release which you can currently listen to and purchase online at Juno.  The name of the label speaks for itself. I’m aware that starting a new label is a bit of a gamble right now, but I thought it was worth giving it a shot.

I finished recording the new Horror Inc. album last year, and I am in the process of discussing its release in 2021, on “Anoma”, a Montreal based label run by my buddy Ohm Hourani.

There is also a possible 20th Anniversary re-issue of “My Way” on the new label, but it has to be confirmed. As for the new Akufen album, it’s done, but I don’t see it happening until next year.

2021 isn’t gonna take us anywhere. We will have to take 2021 somewhere. Sadly, I had to let go of my studio when the pandemic started, and everything’s been sitting in boxes since July of last year. Relocalizing is complicated for now, but I have faith that I’ll find a new place when the social restrictions soften. As for now, all music work is on hold. Stay tuned, we will return after this pandemic.

 

Words by Jordan Diston

 

More Akufen: Facebook / Soundcloud

MEOKO Industry Insiders: Getting Signed Part #1

By Industry Insider

 

 

In this series, we will be taking you behind the scenes in areas right across the industry. From A&R to agents, to door pickers, to lighting and sound plus the rest. Let’s take a look behind the music and see what’s popping.

This month we will be offering some insight into the beautiful minds of label owners to discover what they’re looking for when picking music for their imprints…

You’ve done the hard work; you’ve spent years perfecting your sound and you’ve finally got some ammo to show the world. But where do you start and what’s good practice when approaching labels?

Let’s find out >>

Burnski / Instinct  – Constant Sound / Aesthetic / Instinct

What do you look for when signing artists?

It all just boils down to the music for me. I just listen for anything that really grabs my ear.

It’s a competitive industry. How do you think artists can stand out?

Don’t treat it like a competition. I would focus on improving your craft and making your music as good as possible over trying to stand out. Compare your progress to your own, you’ll see it coming on each year and that should give you all the motivation you need.

One way to stand out is to trickle into the gaps of what’s out there at the moment. Usually, people start out emulating what’s hot at the moment. You play that game for a bit but then if you start going the other way to that, dig deeper into the archives of music out there, you probably start making stuff that isn’t a flavour of the month at the moment.

I feel you’re more likely to stand out doing that as you’re going off on your own away from the crowd. You might then find yourself doing something other people aren’t and people start playing that and all of a sudden you might be at the forefront of it.

I wouldn’t consciously try and do that to stand out though, do it just people you dig the music. You won’t suck all the magic out of it then and get caught in the game of making music to get somewhere.

A&R is a really refined process. How do you work with artists to get their best work from them?

I once asked a pretty known guy for a demo. He sent me 4 tracks and it wasn’t right for the label. I let him know politely and he kicked right off and blocked me. It really took me back and I thought about it a lot after. I didn’t think any less of him, but I found it quite fascinating. There’s no point signing music that doesn’t really resonate with you.

https://www.facebook.com/180183132001497/videos/2663385410410086

On the opposite, I have worked with other guys and finalized an ep after back and forth for 6 months because they go away and want to get their head down and really crack it. Sometimes it takes a while to get the ep over the line. It’s got to feel right, and you know when it does.

I don’t want to tell anyone how they should do things but you have a choice which mentality you want to have. Just ask yourself, does it serve you well? Will it get me the best results? Will this make me get better at my craft?

Cinthie – WE_R HOUSE

What do you look for when signing artists?

 Sound-wise I’m mostly looking for house music but it can be disco house, 90ies house, deep house, UKG, some raw stuff. But when I’m signing music, it has to work on the dance floor and I’m always telling people to get out of their comfort zone and don’t just send me the generic house track I’ve already heard 5 million times.

But the tracks can be the best in the world if the artist is an asshole, I don’t sign it. The vibe between us also needs to be right. Also, I love to have fresh artists first and don’t really like to release people who already had 20 releases in 4 months, it’s nothing special then for me.

How do you like to be approached when someone submits a demo to you?

 I like a friendly little mail with a private Soundcloud link with up to 6 tracks. If I want more, I will ask for more. But more than 5,6 tracks is too much in my humble opinion. Add a few facts about you, maybe name, where you are coming from and if you had any previous releases. That’s how I like it.

What I don’t recommend is to send out mass emails, send me a mail with “hello Frank etc etc “ ( that’s not my name ), also I don’t really like to see 2000 plays already for the tracks on Soundcloud.

Any tips for artists when trying to get signed?

Always be friendly and send your best tracks and try to keep them a bit diverse. There seems to be a formula at the moment, that always works but it will get boring after a while, so please always get out of your comfort zone and try not to sound like everyone else. Do a bit of research about the label. Sending a banging Techno EP to a nice house label does not look very professional.

A&R is a really refined process. How do you work with artists to get their best work from them?

I usually always test tracks on the dancefloor, then I know if I wanna sight it or not. I also believe that after 24 years in the business I have some kind of experience of what works and what I want.

So far every artist I signed has only released with me once. I just wanted to support as many friends as possible but I will start now to also have a second release by some artist, just to help them grow and maybe tie them a bit more to me. But I have to see, especially for the more unknown artists, releasing with me is sometimes a good door opener. And as I said in the question above, I don’t really like an artist that does labels – hopping. Because then it’s not so special for me anymore and I rather release someone else.

Yaya – Tamango

What do you look for when signing artists?

I immediately know if a track can fit for Tamango or not. I’ve listened to so many records in my life that I kind of recognize in a few seconds if a track fits with the style of the label, both regarding the overall sound used and the mixdown part. I do basically the same thing that I do when I go digging in the record shop: picking 3 diff parts of the tracks and listen to them for a few seconds. If I like the track, I listen to it more carefully to know exactly if it can be signed on the label.  The main element that I’m the most interested in is the groove.

Any tips for artists when trying to get signed?

First of all, I really like it when they send their email to the correct one hahaha!!! (promo@yayamusic.net). I also like some little introduction about them and their previous releases. Please do not send me music through Facebook/Instagram. Also, make sure that it’s a specific email and not forwarded to 100 contacts.

Make you sure that your music features a lot of grooves, a good dose of energy and an infectious bassline. I’m a real house music lover in all the different facets so on the label, despite the inevitable direction that I’m trying to do, I’m open to diff sounds and approaches.

It’s a competitive industry. How do you think artists can stand out?

Nowadays, an artist needs first to do EXCELLENT music. There are a lot of you talents around and the competition is stiff. He should try to create a kind of cool-character, image and needs to work out on the social stuff. This doesn’t mean to take 142343 photos in the studio or doing too much content but simply give a kind, nice and cool image out with some sick videos, meme or anything music and not music-related.

DJ W!LD – Dailycid

What do you look for when signing artists?

Good music that fits with the line of one of my labels, nothing more. If it’s for an EP, I am trying to look for a few tracks with a different flavour but fits together in some way. If it is an album, something more personal with a few dancefloor bombs. I also look for artists where I see the good potential and who can fit with the spirit of my labels to make them grow with labels and create a solid crew around it.

How do you like artists to approach you when submitting demos? 

The best is by email but at the end, I receive them everywhere, Facebook, Instagram Messenger, WhatsApp…The easiest is maybe with SoundCloud private link.

Any tips for artists when trying to get signed?

-Try to send the right number of tracks (I did the mistake a few times to send too much then is really difficult to focus well on each one)

– Don’t be pushy (at the end the people who want to sign you will get back to you)

-Try to make sure the people you send the tracks received them

-Try to send tracks which fit with the line of the label (otherwise labels will refuse the tracks and have the wrong image of your sound)

– Even if the label says no and gives you some tips. Use them and come back later with more tracks.

A&R is a really refined process. How do you work with artists to get their best work from them?

Most of the time I choose artists and tracks that fit already perfectly to my label, but also when needed I explain what I think could be done to fit better on my label. Using my experience in production and working the dancefloor for many years to give the tips and advice I can, to help the artist grow when I see this ability in them.

SY – EWax

What do you look for when signing artists?

As a label, we look for individuality and fresh creativity to the way they make their music, I feel that is key for finding the right artists to work with and not an artist who feels they have to imitate other more successful artists’ sounds.

How do you like artists to approach you when submitting demos?

This very simple, information is everything, It doesn’t take a lot just to tell me a bit about yourself and which artists may have influenced you and your sound, add some basic details on the music you’re presenting to us, so we have a small idea if it is fitting to us or not. This is missed so much these days and really puts me off listening to the music. It’s not rocket science.

It’s a competitive industry. How do you think artists can stand out?

It is a very competitive, yes, there are so many young artists coming through right now, the standards are very high, the highest I’ve seen since I made this a full-time career some 10 years ago, so I would say first and foremost the music, If it’s good enough that will do the talking for you, secondly, in these times social media presence is everything, so make sure this is all kept up to date and you’re using your socials effectively to present and project you and your music.

This very simple, information is everything, It doesn’t take a lot just to tell me a bit about yourself and which artists may have influenced you and your sound, add some basic details on the music you’re presenting to us, so we have a small idea if it is fitting to us or not. This is missed so much these days and really puts me off listening to the music. It’s not rocket science.

Dudley Strangeways – Leftback

What do you look for when signing artists?

The main thing for Leftback is that the music is good and fits with the labels sound but also the artists is someone we want to work with for a long time, this is usually down to if we think the person has something unique sounding to their productions. Most of the artists, but not all have a relationship with the label already mainly through being involved in events or through partying over the years.

Any tips for artists when trying to get signed?

Read the labels demo submission guidelines as it can differ for each label. Do some research on the label, hopefully, it’s a label you’re into and you already have some of their releases so it can’t hurt to mention a track you’ve been playing or listening to. It can show the label you’re interested in them and you’ve not sent another CC all email. If you create a playlist it can’t harm to create a specific playlist per label with their logo so it’s a little more personal as it may grab their attention, it just leads to shitloads of playlists!

 

A&R is a really refined process. How do you work with artists to get their best work from them?

 It’s good to have a selection of tracks to choose from to make an EP up. It’s always hard when you get sent a few bangers and nothing else that fits, not a massive fan having a load of remixes done on one track for a release. This is especially the case for wax as the DJ playing the record is mainly going to play one track from the release and sometimes space can be tight in a record bag.

Those are the records I will leave rather than a 12” that’s got 4 really wicked tracks on, but maybe that’s just me. Sometimes we may ask the artists to change something in the track but this is generally “a would you mind trying this and see if it sounds better”, but the artists will always have the final say if we didn’t like the track there would be no point in sighing it in the first place! We do mix the tracks on occasion if we feel that the music is really interesting but the mix is not 100% up to scratch and the tracks are all mastered in house giving us creative control over those elements, but again with the artist having the final say. Ideally, anything that needs doing to ensure that the release sounds and works as good as possible for what we’re putting out.

Do you offer feedback to demos submitted?

Not all the time if the person who’s submitted the demo has taken the time to send a detailed and personal email with the music something close to what we release I will always try and give feedback. I think this is important as it’s not an easy thing sending demos to labels and can be a fairly daunting process. You’ve put something you’ve created out into the world and don’t get anything back. It can really mess up some people’s confidence, and this is the sole reason Leftback was started as none of the larger labels would respond to demos sent from myself and Michael.

TC80 – Sequalog

What do you look for when signing artists?

Usually, it’s music from friends or people I meet. But I’m interested in artists who have their own signature, even if it sounds classic. I don’t really care about the trend, I prefer timeless music.

Any tips for artists when trying to get signed?

I would say don’t focus on the trends but develop your own musical identity. With time and practice, the quality will rise and it will sound outstanding compared to the mass. Even if it’s very special, better to stay true to the sound you like and resonate with. It’s also cool to receive tracks with playful arrangements, which captivate the audience, telling a story and keeping the intensity climax around the end, before the outro.

It’s a competitive industry. How do you think artists can stand out?

I think it can be cool to work on some decent marketing to accompany a release’s artists. Nice artwork, story, music video, etc… But regarding the creative music process, I would recommend to not think about the result. More important to focus on the practice and a natural expression, being present, crafting the skills step by step and being bold to sound different. With time all of this leads to quality. Then it’s about getting in touch with people/DJ/label owners resonating with artist’s music. If you can try your tracks in a real club situation, it can be helpful to identify things you might want to tweak or change.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Being aware of what you feel and going with the flow. Sometimes it can be chill downtempo, sometimes punchy club orientated, most important is to stay true.

To produce club tracks, I would recommend taking the time to listen to other types of music than exclusively dance music or trends.

For example listening to your favourite music from your childhood, adolescence, world-traditional music, etc… If you are deeply resonating with those different sounds/inspirations, it can naturally constitute your sonic palette that you can use to produce outstanding dance music. Ultimately practising to be in a creative state let things happen by themselves, witnessing presence and life itself. In this state, it’s not the self/ego trying to exist through expression anymore but pure flow.

 

Words: Jordan Distan

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The connection between Ben Vedren and Concrete will always be special, we asked Ben of his top five moments at Concrete

By Festival, Hot Off The Press, Reviews
A sad occassion for all party goers this summer, as we waved goodbye to an integral part of the night scene in, Paris. Sadly Concrete had to shut it’s doors. Ahead of his fantastic ‘In Harmony’ release on his label Reduce Records, we managed to catch up with long term resident and friend of the club, Ben Vedren. The two track EP sees one original from the French artist and co founder Leiris supplies a classy remix. 
ben vedren by lara kiosses
 
 
The connection was and always will be strong between Ben and Concrete, so we asked him his top 5 moments since he became a resident at the club… 
 
1. First Live : wood floor 23/07/2012
Probably my strongest memory at Concrete… was hot and sunny summer afternoon, and  many of my dearest friends were here for support! This moment would change my life forever.
 

 
2.  Afterparty first Weather Festival 19/05/2013
When you play at Concrete, you have the privilege to share the lineups with the best artists. This day, I was thrilled to be around all those incredible guys, which I admire the work of most of them.
Playing my live set between Kerri Chandler and Robert Hood in the main room was a blessing to me.
Pic2
 
 
3. New Years Eve_ main room 31/12/2018
Definitely the most intense vibe I’ve experience at Concrete… that night was completely out of control. Those kind of moment you get stuck for days after!
VIDEO :  https://www.facebook.com/benvedrenmusic/videos/343995466196962/
 
4. Parents_Main room
I can’t remember which party it was, the only thing I know it was a Sunday afternoon. I decided to invite my dear parents to assist my show, a way of trying to show them what I do as they never been to a party before. My dad was really intrigued and my mum dancing all the way. And every one from staff to public were sooo nice to them. Was just the right moment to do it !
 
5. Closing Party : woodfloor 21/07/2019
Learning that Concrete will be over for good was a shocking news for all of us. But we decided that this moment should not be a sad, even if nostalgia was in everybody’s mind.

 

Keep up to date with all things Reduce Records, Reduce Records Soundcloud, Reduce Records FB. 

Artist profiles Ben Vedren Soundcloud, Ben Vedren RA, Ben Vedren FB, Leiris Soundcloud, Leiris RA, Leiris FB

Listen back to the Reduce Records back catalogue here, Monkey Nenufar – Pusspo/Element and Ben Vedren’s MXA EP, coming soon on digital platforms. Watch this space!

MEOKO and Point are joining forces once more to present Argenis Brito (LIVE) in a secret warehouse location {Friday 11th of October}

By Hot Off The Press, Reviews

POINT  MEOKO

MEOKO and Point are joining forces once more to present Argenis Brito (LIVE) in a warehouse location on Friday the 11th of October. 

argenis copy

The relationship between MEOKO and Point. has been one filled with incredible memories, great friendships and unforgettable parties soundtracked by the most infectious tunes. It goes without saying that MEOKO are delighted to be collaborating with Point. once more for another one-of-kind event this October. 

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As the weather gets colder, the nights get longer.  And what better way to make the most of it than a warehouse affair.  We are pleased to invite Argenis Brito with a live set to headline the occasion.

MEOKOYou’ve collaborated many times with Ricardo Villalobos using both your original names and the “POX & POL” alias. Where does name come from and why did you start a brand new project?

Argenis: “I and Ricardo are good friends for over 20 years and we‘ve been making music together for a long time. „POX & POL“ is our last project and we actually started this new moniker as an inside joke that is funny only in Spanish. 🙂 Talking about our output, we‘ve wanted to use a different alias to make things more fun, curious and unexpected.” – FULL INTERVIEW HERE 

One of the most experienced artists on the circuit, the Venezuelan born talent is recognised for bringing excitement to dance floors across the globe across a career spanning well over a decade. His prestigious reputation in the underground scene is preceded by a discography as impressive as it is extensive, with quality releases on labels like Crosstown Rebels, Cadenza, Dame Music, Mobilee, and Contexterrior. We are absolutely buzzing to have Argenis Brito on board and look forward to the incredible vibes he is bound to deliver. 

Argenis Brito – June Podcast | 100% own productions

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

argenis SC

Supporting duties lie in the capable hands of some of London’s finest:  Gianni, Georgia Girl, Denny Kem and Ludo M. These DJs truly delivered quality with each performance and this event is sure to be no exception. 

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Of course, the party will go on, and as the sun rises we will celebrate with an after party by the canal. The magic of these occasions is like no other. If you know, you know, and if you don’t, you’re in for a treat! Confirmed talent for the after party, is a b2b between Rebecca Prn and Lamine Toure with two other acts to be revealed in due course. 

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The countdown is well and truly underway for an event we have been anticipating for a while. The  word magic may be overused, but this event is sure to be something else. See you there. 

FULL EVENT INFO HERE