Items & Things
Ahead of their London leg of the quickly becoming legendary Down and Out parties at Loft Studios, we got the lowdown on the whole Items & Things label set up…
Magda, Troy & Marc… tell us about your Items & Things label.
Troy: We started the label as a sub-label of Minus at Rich's suggestion. He gave us the opportunity to release stuff outside of the "Minus" sound and it was really generous of him to give us that chance. In the beginning it was tough to find the type of music that the three of us had in mind which was a big reason there were so few releases in the early days. Later on when it was decided that Minus would no longer handle the business end of the label, we let it rest for a while. That was mostly due to our hectic schedules and no free time to do all of the A&R and office tasks that are necessary to run a label. I think that Magda originally brought the idea back to Marc and i to get the label going again. We were super lucky to find a great Label Manager who could take our lose concept and shape it into a proper label again. For the unique sound of the label, I think the most important factor is the fact that the music has to pass through Marc, Magda and myself. We are all three very particular about the music that we like and while we all come from different musical backgrounds we do have a similar aesthetic.
Now it's definitely a lot more decisions to make and more responsibility, but with that, a much more rewarding experience. Seeing new artists like Madato playing live and really rocking the place is a nice feeling.
Marc: It started out as a platform to release music that we thought was really interesting and different but didn't have a home or fit in to the other labels. What was once a small hobby has turned into our main focus. Now we are working full time on the label – every moment of every day where as before we barely acknowledged what it means to run a label. We see Items & Things as a platform for us and our friends to put out the music we love, without trying to limit it to a certain group of people or a specific sound. Our booking agency Artists & Things and the Down & Out events are based on that same concept.
Magda: We have always tried to release music that was a little out of the ordinary, tracks that were really special and had some unique take on the dance music genre. When we first made the label, it was just a small outlet for some cool music we found but our main focus was the Minus label. When we were wanting to change directions from the label's sound, we were lucky enough to have Items & Things to turn to and start our new path. The benefits are being able to control your brand and how people see you. Another advantage is that you can also have more people working towards your career and not just being a piece of someone else's big picture.
And there aren't really any defined roles between the three of us.. each of us has their strengths and weaknesses, but we compliment each other quite nicely. I guess under normal circumstances having 3 chefs in the kitchen might not work so well but we've been friends and worked together for so long, which is definitely an advantage. Plus we have a great team who are really working hard to get everything going at a fast pace so it's definitely a team affair.
Tell us about your artists (what are your headliners, key releases)
Well the label's concept is more open and rather about good music we find that we want to release. However, with Madato and Danny Benedettini we have two very talented young artists on the label who are releasing more frequently, and we are also working with Click Box again who had their first release on I&T and now returned to us. We've also had some good cooperations with the Get The Curse artists Clement Meyer, Tomas More and Darabi, who had a few tracks on I&T recently. I don't exactly recall how it started, we had been getting the promos from them and was really impressed by the releases. I think soon after either Tomas or Clement got in touch an we started to exchange music. The first time I met Clement in person was actually last year at Sonar, we hit it off right away and things have grown from there. Troy played for their Get the Curse night in Paris at Rex club and they've hung out a few times since then. Cool guys making making/releasing great music.
Further we've been working with Miro Pajic and Andy Martin, who also contributed some amazing tracks to our upcoming label compilation. Andy Martin is a very talented young producer from Mexico who has been sending us promos and had a track on a Various Items release last year September, while Miro is someone we know from Berlin and who had a remix for Marc's track Undercover on the Single in February.
Besides these guys, we're also very proud to have Throne of Blood creators Populette and Electro legends Rework on our upcoming label compilation, as well as Detroit phenomenon Jimmy Edgar, who first released the "Funktion Of Your Love" EP on I&T in 2009. The compilation will come out as a 4-vinyl box set in a very special packaging and cream-white, 180g vinyls on July 13th, and as a separate mix CD mixed by Magda on July 27th.
For the Down & Out events, the line-up always features all three Items & Things founders Magda, Marc Houle and Troy Pierce, plus their guests and/or other label artists. Down & Out events are concept events in small to medium sized venues, where we try to create a special feel. The concept visually – is to enter a space that feels new. Maybe you've been to the location 20 times, but the night you walk in the door for D&O it makes you feel like you're discovering it for the first time. Fans should expect detail in decoration, excellent visual graphics & lighting effects, and more surprises! We had some very successful events in North America and Europe this year, including Mexico City, Chicago, Miami, Berlin, Detroit, Barcelona and Lyon.
Tell us about your future projects
I think the compilation we just finished is definitely the best release we have so far. It was a huge effort getting all of the tracks together and the packaging for the vinyl is amazing. We managed to collect 17 tracks which pretty much sum up our vision for the sound of the label… Stripped down spacey-disco-synth-punk-electro-techno… or something like that.
Besides that, Magda and Marc are currently working on some tracks with Miss Kittin, and we'll have more stuff coming out from our label artists Nyma, Madato and Danny Benedettini. Troy is also working on an EP, alone and in collaboration with others.
On the events side, we will continue to have Down & Out events and Items & Things showcases, and special events.
What's different now than when you started the label?
Magda: The label then was more of a side project while now its the main focus. we have releases nearly every month while in the past we just put out 1 or 2 per year. we are receiving much more music, and putting ll our energy into the label and the special events around it.
Marc: Now that we left Minus completely, I&T is our main platform for all our releases
When and why did you decide to take on a new path for the label?
Magda: Middle of 2011 we decided to split from minus and focus on items full-time. it was a natural progression since the music did not fit the minus sound anymore. it was time for change and time to do something we can call our own.
Marc: After years with Minus, I just found myself not wanting to follow the path Minus was taking. Call it a difference of opinion and style.
What are your releases and highlights so far? How frequently do you have releases?
Magda: I'm proud of every release we do and its hard to say one is better than the other. i feel extra proud of our 4 vinyl box set compilation. we are trying to have consistent output and keep the momentum going. there is a lot of great music coming in from different angles and some interesting collaborations. However, we wouldnt just release something for the sake of releasing. the tracks must be something we all like and agree on.
Marc: We release once a month and for me the Undercover album i just released was extra special but now we have a new compilation coming out that i am not only really excited for, but really proud of. (double preposition endings 🙂
What's planned for the next months?
Click Box EP in September
Collaboration with Miss Kittin
EP's from Danny Benedettini, possibly Benjamin Fehr
Working in the studio…..etc
What are your artists on the label? Do you have a closed group of artists like Minus used to have?
Magda: We prefer to be open and work with various people. we keep things simple and don't do exclusivity contracts. we want to support the releases and hope the artists can benefit from them. we also don't put pressure on anyone to have to make a certain sound or for us to have to release something which we aren't sure about. we so have 2 main young artists we have been working with us consistently (danny, madato) who represent the label at our events etc… other than that we are open to anyone. its all about putting out good music no matter where it comes from.
Marc: We all told ourselves when we started things that we didnt want to have a closed roster where people were tied to us. We're very proud of the people that work with us like Danny, Madato, Click Box and Nyma but we're not going to say that they can't release on another label.
How would you describe your sound?
Magda: something in between house, techno, old school electro, new wave, post punk, acid, disco
Marc: I'd say it lies somewhere between Detroit and Chicago with some funk and New wave peppered on top.
What are the Down & Out events? What's so special about it?
Marc: They're small, intimate parties located usually in off locations where we can transform the club into a special atmosphere with our own special sights and sounds.
As well as the label, Items & Things continue with their boutique Down & Out party series. Aiming to recapture some of the rawness of yesterday, the parties take place in underground venues across the globe. From the weird and the wonderful to the dark and experimental, you can expect it all from Items & Things and Down & Out.
Next Saturday 4th August, West London’s Loft Studios sets the scene for the desired rawness of yesterday, with its exposed brickwork, high-vaulted ceilings, oak beams and vast windows allowing the sunlight to pour in.