Running a record label is no easy task, some might feel it to be a glamorous exciting proposition but in reality there is a lot of hard work and stretched capacity behind the scenes.
Heist is the record label run by enigmatic house music duo Detroit Swindle, a pair who have released a sprawling assortment of music on the likes of Dirt Crew Recordings, Tsuba and Freerange. In 2013 they founded Heist, a label which has acted not only as an outlet for their own music but for a fabulous array of musicians and artists which have included the likes of Alma Negra, Andy Hart, Frits Wentink, Max Graef, M.ono, Fouk and many more. It has become a representation of fine house music and has established a distinctive respect.
Eglo Records is perhaps one of the most influential record labels to emerge from the UK in recent times. The label run by Alexander Nut has been responsible for the release of Floating Points, Funkineven, Fatima, Steve Spacek and many more. It remains an outlet for cutting edge experimental music and a reference point for electronic music in the UK.
Next month both labels will team up for a celebration of their respective ventures as part of a showcase at ADE. They will host a party at Claire in Amsterdam and will be joined by a number of artists which includes Nu Guinea, J. Rocc, Volcov, Perdu and Kléo. It promises to be a special affair.
We invited them to talk about their respective careers and visions.
Alex asks Detroit Swindle
1. You guys are full on, I see that your constantly on tour DJ’ing, but your still super productive with making music and releasing stuff… and you also have the label. How do you manage to juggle so much. I know personally I find it difficult to balance my creative work, studio, business and home life. I’m curious to know your take on it. Where do you find the time, when do you relax?
Well, that's one hell of a question and something we talk about a lot. Since we started, we’ve gradually became more conscious about how we spend our time. We are both very ambitious and we don’t shy away from intense touring schedules, but the downside of that is that you can lose track of ‘real’ life and be consumed by that very ambition. It happened to both of us that we reached the point where either our body or mind said: 'no more!' This experience has led to a new way of working, where we try to plan ahead as far as possible. We put all our social commitments into the calendar as far ahead as possible. Next to that we try to have at least one weekend off per month. If we’re not travelling we spend time in the studio and at home to see our ladies, kids and friends. Or just lay on the couch and vegetate. Doing nothing is a key ingredient of doing everything.
2. Your DJ sets are really varied, I hear a lot of different styles and genres of music when you play. But production-wise your known more for house music. Are there places, styles, tempos your not willing to go within those two worlds (DJ / Production). i.e would you produce a reggae track,,, would your play hip hop in a DJ set… or do you set boundaries to define what Detroit Swindle is about.
We don’t really set any boundaries other than taste. We like a lot, and I mean a lot, of different kinds of music. When we started, we were mostly into house music, because that was exactly what we were missing in a time ruled by techno and tech house. Since then, we’ve teen trying to stretch our musical output towards our personal taste, which in turn developed in a really eclectic style of DJ’ing. Our own musical output has only in recent years reflected that broadness of styles and is still very much open to exploration. The only hard thing about being a very eclectic act, is that there’s almost too much music you want to put into every set. It’s about making choices and choosing the right vibe at the right time. But when you mix a house record into a salsa record and it works? Thats pure magic.
3. It’s been over 7 years since you guys put out your first release. Things move so quickly… Has your approach to music changed since it changed from a hobby/passion into a full time business (for want of a better term), What have you learned along the way, and what has changed?
Well, as said, when we started there was not a lot of warm and uplifting house music being made (let alone disco, afro- or proto house). So our goal was to make house music that would lfit your spirit and give a positive energy on a dancefloor that was consumed by dark drama at the time. When we started it already surpassed the hobby stage as we made a conscious choice to make music together. The only thing we didn’t account for, is that it would have such a big impact and succes in a short time. It has gone so far beyond our goals and imagination that we still literally pinch each other when sitting in a plane like; is this really happening? That’s probably the most important thing we’ve learned: never ever EVER stop being grateful and mindful of where you are today. We’ve hand-built our name, brand and discography over the years, but you also need a big dose of luck, goodwill and you should always be nice to the people that make it possible for us to do what we do; our fans, the promotors, bar staff, security, sound techs, drivers and last but not least our friends and family.
4. Who would be your dream collaborator, dead or alive? What do you think you could bring to the table?
I know that Maarten’s dream is to work with Joe Dukie from Fat Freddy’s Drop. He’s one of the smoothest vocalists on this planet. Joe, if you’re reading this, you would make him so very happy! For me, I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall in the studio where Dilla used to make his music. His tracks have influenced me so much in the way I use samples and listen to music. I wouldn’t dream of collaborating wit him. I wouldn’t even know what to do in the presence of such greatness...
5. I ask everyone this… did you ever see a ghost or a UFO? Or have any spooky encounters?
Well, it’s a bit of an anti-climax, but a couple years ago I saw moving lights in the sky near my house. The lights where moving super fast at one point and would hover another. I asked my friend to come check it out and we both freaked out completely to the point where we went outside with our cameras in hand. It was quite foggy which added to the suspense. When we walked closer the lights would still act erratically. I was walking down the street with goosebumps when through the fog the contours of a crane slowly appeared. I was so sincerely disappointed that to this day I can feel that disappointment.
Detroit Swindle ask Alex
1) Eglo turned 10 years old this year, congrats! Is there a record you released with Eglo that you can pinpoint as a defining moment for the label? and which Eglo released surprised you the most, either from a demo point of view, or from an audience point of view?
Our first two releases were really our defining moment, I’d been working with Floating Points as a manager/promoter trying to get him a record deal, gigs and remixes, this was back in 2008. But nobody really saw the true potential he had, I took him round to all the major labels and publishing companies but they were all offering pretty crappy deals. So we decided to put our money together and release the music ourselves. It pretty much took off from the start as there was already a good buzz building. We didn’t realise we had a record label until we got to the first mastering session and Jason, the engineer asked us what the label was called? We hadn’t really thought about it. We just kinda hit the ground running. The surprises came after! Trying to convince the rest of our friends to get involved and trying to keep it running.
2) Your label is as much focused on producers as it is on musicians and you’ve had some amazing people release music on Eglo. How do you see the role of live artists in the electronic music environment these days and what role do you see Eglo has in that respect?
I’ve always tried to build with an artist, to me if you release on Eglo, its more than just dropping a record. We want to help the artist evolve and grow. So often that means taking studio productions into different environments, be it night clubs, concert halls or festival stages. That can manifest in a variety of ways, whether its turning software based productions into a live band and reinterpreting the music or transforming electronic music into a live performance separate from simply DJ’ing. So we try to facilitate that. There’s no real rule book. It’s different with each artists and the spaces they occupy.
3) Running a label might have started out as a project for the love of music, but over time, that love sometimes can fade a bit to the background and make place for topics like financial security, planning, expectations. How do you deal with that when considering the next steps for your label?
I just try to make sure I stay inspired and keep the love and the passion at the forefront. If business starts to take over I prefer to take a step back, get everything sorted and then come back ready with more hunger and more new ideas. The business is important, it needs to be handled correctly, you can’t do anything without money, and we all want to be paid for our work. But it’s never been a motivational factor in what I do. Releasing dope music is my priority. I’ve had to learn everything as I go, I don’t come from any kind of business background or have anyone to help or guide me through it. So I’ve had to dedicate a lot of time to learning the ropes and making sure business it handled correctly. That can be frustrating at times and certainly very time consuming, but it’s nessesary and it also gives me a greater understanding of how everything works. The creative and musical aspect has never been a problem, its what I think about every second of the day. Its been a fire inside me since I was a kid. Just gotta make sure the moneys right! As long as we’re not loosing money I’m good. I approach each project with the same level of passion and enthusiasm.
4) We’re doing an event together in Amsterdam for ADE, which for us is always both fun, and hectic. So many people coming over, so little time to really go in deep… In that repsect, ADE is a weird event, where industry pro’s and punters hop from party to party and literally the whole world comes over for a week of rain and (mostly) proper music. What role do these kind of events play for you as a label owner and how are you planning to survive this year’s edition?
I’ve never really been much of an ‘industry’ guy. And I don’t think we’re a very ‘industry’ label. We do what we do regardless of the industry. So I’m just approaching it the same as I would any other party. We’ve got an amazing line up, I’ve played out at ADE a few times in the past and it’s always been fun. The place is just heaving with way more people! This is gonna be a proper party for the heads! And maybe something a little different to the usual ADE stuff. That why u gotta come!
5) To ask you a weird question back after you getting totally sci-fi on us: If Eglo would be a person, who would it be and why?
Thats a crazy question, but I’d probably say somebody like Mr Myagi from the Karate Kid .. we’re the right mix of crazy, well studied, soulful, deep and fun! And we kick ass. I feel like that should be on Mr Miyagi’s tinder profile.
More details on the party can be found HERE.
Enjoy this article? Want more?
You can support Ransom Note and independent journalism through our Patreon campaign now.
Become a friend of Ransom Note