Ahead of the remarkable ’10 year’ milestone, MEOKO caught up with Cesare, the owner of Serialism Records, to talk about how the 10 years has been and what the future holds in store for the label.
Good evening Cesare and thank you for having us! I appreciate that you made time out of your busy schedule for this interview. First of all I would like to congratulate you on this remarkable “10 year” milestone of yours with Serialism Records. It’s a brave thing to run a label. Before we go any further, what set you on the path to founding Serialism?
Hello and thank you for having me..yes my Serialism Records is 10..times flies!
I agree, it is a brave thing to run a label nowadays but we are still alive after 10 years, and We are here to stay! It all happened around 2006, I was living in London when a good friend and Italian dj Stefano Pellegrini and myself decided to join our forces and start Serialism Records. For a couple years we have been organizing small underground parties in East London (Shoreditch, Old st, Bricklane, Bethnal Green following the wave of underground parties happening all over the area at the time) we were doing our thing..we hanged out with a group of musicians and artists around fabric club (some of them now recognized forces in the worldwide scene), everyone with his own style and passion but ready to share the knowledge with the team..we thought: “why don’t we start a record label to showcase those artists?”..So we did.
It was already my second adventure in the industry as I’ve started a Record label almost 2 years before, my own imprint Mean Records, so I had already an idea of the whole process..
Were there any particular people, parties, labels or moments that significantly influenced you in the early days?
Yes, most definitely. Of course some artists and some people particularly, have been always inspiring my work and the direction of Serialism..but also moments and many experiences are effecting me & consequently the label..At that time we opened Serialism i was impressed and inspired by labels like Playhouse, Mathew Jonson’s Wagon Repair, Benjamin Fehr’s Catenaccio, Cadenza but also Spectral, Sushitech, Vakant, Circus Company, M_nus, Arpiar and of course above all Perlon..but I had that background of the 90’s that was also pushing my taste to different directions..I felt in love at first sight (a decade before) with Ninja Tune, Warp Records, Domino, !K7, GStone, Mowax..and Soma, Transmat, Underground Resistance..some of those labels had previously made a strong impact in my musical awareness so i guess i naturally followed that line to direct the taste and creative moves of my labels 10 years later (although the music style totally different some creative patterns are common)..most of those label still rock and keep inspiring me and the team..some of them less but I still feel that respect a child has for his parents no matter what..
Would you say it is difficult to set up a record label? What advice would you give to other aspiring label owners?
That all depends where you wanna be, what you want to achieve..nowadays opening a label is pretty easy;
make/collect a few tunes from friends, prepare a few eps (no matter how bad or good they are), send to couple digital distributions out there (and there is plenty) that will easily spread your product online at almost no cost and no risk for anyone and with almost no questions asked..this process sounds pretty straight forward and it is. But this is not our way..it is when you want to make something special and work the old school way, printing music on real support (vinyl) and creating a special unique concept, take care of the artists you are promoting, feel the whole process in your heart..that’s where the real pain (but also happiness) starts..you will need to invest cash, find a proper vinyl distribution who trust your sound and see a future in the sales and popularity of your product..you will have to go through a process of production, press and distribution where more people are involved..designers, pr agencies, printing & shipping companies, record shops, promoters and so on..it’s pretty rewarding emotionally wise but is a hell of a job..and financially..not worthy the time and energies for sure..
Serialism counts 38 releases up to date with signed artists of the highest calibre. If you were to pick the three most notable “for you” releases that you’ve put out, which would they be?
- JIN CHOI – Full Range ep incl. Maceo Plex rmx
- QUENUM – Face to Face Lp (incl. singles) with Cassy, Mathew Jonson, Tiefschwarz, Cesare vs Disorder & rmxs
- FRANK HAAG – The Future is Absurd ep incl The Mole rmx
These 3 releases each represents an important step of the label in the industry and marks the start of a new era for the team (at different times) during the 10 years of life of the imprint, but I could mention many more that should be marked “notable”
What do you constantly strive for with Serialism?
I am constantly searching for a fresh special sound, a unique way to translate it visually with the entire image of the project and the best way to spread it as much as possible to the right people.
You are also an artist in your own right – which is more important? The label or your own music, or do they go hand in hand?
Yes, it is actually difficult sometimes to split myself in 2, the artist and the label. Fortunately I have a team of friends and collaborators sparse all over the world that work constantly behind the label and my moves, to make things happen… and of course the 2 go together, having the label and being able to listen and choose among so much music inspires me, teaches me and help my creativity to achieve my own musical targets.
We’re all aware of the massive increase on record sales in these past few years and so many record labels are popping up constantly. In your opinion, would you consider this as a trend or do you believe that vinyl is actually back to stay? How do you see things will be in the next 5 years for the vinyl record industry?
It is a great thing that vinyl came back in the market and sales are growing again although I feel it is a sort of trend at the moment. I want to see it as a good thing that will last but I cannot be 100% sure.
I guess the real vinyl lovers won’t stop buying vinyl, it is a drug for many of us and the digital era it’s not a fully working rehab. Needless to say: playing a tune on vinyl is much more rewarding that playing it from a computer or iphone but one don’t exclude the other one.. Music is music wherever it comes from.
There will be always music lovers, collectors, djs who support this magical feeling. I doubt it will ever stop. Then if we talk about quantities and numbers, that’s another pair of shoes.
Do you feel like there’s anything missing from the electronic music industry at the moment?
Difficult question..the music industry at the moment is over saturated, very dynamic, quick, in continuous evolution. Nobody is safe, nobody have too many 2nd chances, i would be almost comfortable to say it’s merciless. So i guess only the real will survive, the ones who have that plus that comes from experience and real passion, the ones who represent the music as lifestyle, not just as a trend.
I don’t feel anything is missing directly, I just see things in continuous development. Most of the time business prevails but there is still that variable of pure passion and love in the middle that keeps things real.
What does the future hold in store for you and Serialism?
The future of the label looks bright..we have an amazing sequence of releases in the next months synched with some special parties all over the world. Next on the label is an EP of Cristi Cons & Sublee, Frank Storm with Guido Schnider & Dana Ruh rmx, Azimute incl remixes by Livio & Roby, Alex Kid, Alex Smoke and Anushka, Jin Choi with rmx by Baby Ford, Cesare vs Disorder incl Konrad Black remix, Jichael Mackson, Salvo Castelli with San Proper & Rail (Ilario Alicante) remixes and more releases are planned already but I cannot disclose them yet.
On the event side we have started a series of off location parties in São Paulo (my home now) called Serialism São Paulo every 2 months (we already had Cristi Cons and Rhadoo with us at the first 2 parties and ready to welcome Losoul in May), then we have our 7 years residency at Watergate and a show at IPSE in Berlin, a show at Frieda Buxe in Zurich, a show at Pacha in Barcelona, one at Glow in Bangkok, another in Ibiza with the Unusual Suspects crew, in Italy few different cities..everyday more shows are popping out around the world ..in work cities are London, Paris, New York, Miami, Sydney, Moscow and many more cities..we will announce all step by step during the year. We are happy things are moving forward on a daily base.
Cesare that’s been great talking to you, thank you for your time! Last question for you. If you could go back in time and relive any given moment from these 10 years with Serialism, which one would it be and why?
Thank you for having me and congratulations for your 5 years in the exclusive podcast business!
There has been so many magical but also difficult moments during 10 years of our life..back of my head I could mention when Quenum & myself met for the first time in person..our good old friend and artist on the label Sierra Sam brought him to our studio (that was start of 2012) in Berlin after we have been talking for months via email and had released an EP from him already..but now it was a special feeling, one of my favourite artists coming to my studio to show me his debut album and propose it for the label..we spent hours listening, talking, laughing… who would have known that on this day a special friendship started and the friendship will never end! Until today Quenum is one of the most important persons in my life but also a key collaborator of the label for years to come..and of course we are Azimute together 😉
Azimute Exclusive MEOKO Podcase No:237
Written by Denny Kem.