Label Love #41: Brokntoys


Set up by Anwar Dawas and Kris Hall, Brokntoys have been ploughing their own furrow for the past couple of years putting out a string of releases of uncompromising yet varied electro. With a focus on timeless music that's not subject to the restricted shelf life that comes with a lot of today's electronic music, they've worked with a nice spread of artists including Pip Williams and Marco Bernardi. Here at the Ransom Note we've been big fans of their output from release number one and they've graced our pages on a number of occasions. So we were very happy to get the chance to have a chat with the guys about setting up the label and standing out in a crowd. 

Also, you can get a 20% discount on the Brokntoys Bandcamp by using the discount code 'ransomnote'.

Who are you and what do you do?

Kristopher – Slacker for Brokntoys.
Anwar – Wildcat tamer.

How did the idea come together to start the label and how easy was it to get it off the ground?

K – Anwar put the idea out there, I was reluctant as you see many labels fall down after a couple of releases. 

A – I guess it was a combination of jealousy and boredom. I met a few label owners who made me feel at ease with the idea, running a label wasn’t as daunting as I first thought it would be.

K – The key thing was finding a distributor that was willing to take us on with small runs. Rubadub took a chance on us, so that was a relief. Also targeting DJ’s who will actually will listen to the promo was important to get us off the ground. And of course having producers who were willing to take a chance on letting a new label release their music.

A – Eternal thanks to Pip Williams and Kurt Baggaley for trusting in us, chances are there would be no label without them.

What other labels both past and present are the biggest influence on brokntoys?

K – I suppose labels like Creme Organization, Bunker, Frustrated Funk and Clone are pretty big influences in the fact that they release timeless music that will never go out of fashion. We would love to have the longevity of those labels.

A – Touchin’ Bass, SCSI-AV and AI opened a whole wealth of music for me.  

Börft, going as strong as ever after 28 years is definitely an inspiration. 

Besides all the adversities and scene atomisation, or maybe as a result of that, it seems like a good moment for vinyl, with lots of great labels being brilliantly curated. Lux, Signals, Jealous God, … too many too mention really!

Judging by the name, is it fair to say spelling is not one of your strong points?

K – One of us is Spanish and the other from Kent. So you are correct in your assumption.
A – Apologies to the spelling brigades, there is a perfect logic behind the typo and it was pretty much unavoidable. Also due to professional bias I very much embrace mistakes.

Your sound is deeply rooted in electro but you seem to have been able to cover quite a broad range of sonic territory within that. I’m thinking particularly of, say, the lush openness of Scape One’s “Right Ascension” to the dark and jagged “Genetic Genocide” by Marco Bernardi. Was this breadth intentional or is it just the luck of what has been sent by your artists?

K – A bit of both really. We both listen to a broad range of music, so we wanted that to reflect in the label. We have been lucky in the fact that artists have sent a wide spectrum of tracks to choose from. Sometimes we do go back and get them to dig through their archives to find some lost gems maybe in a style they are not always associated with.

A – The idea is to make the EP’s diverse without diluting the essence too much. 

Electro will always be at the core, but from BT09 the label will expand into new directions, namely techno and house.

Solid team or bickering children?

K – It would be the most polite bickering ever if it did ever happen.

Record labels are 10 a penny at the moment, how do you go about standing out in what some may say is a saturated field?

K – It helps that we are releasing electro as it’s a small community, it is easier to get noticed rather than get lost in the many house and techno labels. I struggle to find more than a handful of electro vinyl releases each month. Also consistent great music helps.

Top 3 electro tracks of all time. Go!

K – Fastgraph – Systematic   [Klakson]  

A – Luke Eargoggle – We Can Do Anything  [Bunker]  
AS1 – Clouds of Thunder  [Transient Force]  
Mariel Ito – The Fallen  [unreleased] – Eric, if you ever read this, get in touch!

What’s the best record you’ve heard this year?

K – Central – Easy [Nord] 

A – VC118A – Versicolor [AC] 
Not on record, but Automat’s Soundcloud is always a highlight.

How have you gone about putting together the roster of artists you’ve worked with so far? Have you been approaching people or have they been coming to you?

K – We basically drew up a pool of producers we really liked and got in contact. We randomly met Luke Eargoggle in a bar in Paris, he opened the door for us to reach and work with the Stilleben crew. 

A – Also kudos to Alex Smoke, who is our unofficial A&R.

Do either of you have Drexciya pajamas?

K – No, but we both wear balaklavas in bed. Our partners still think we are from Detroit. 

Dream signing (past or present)?

K – Gesloten Cirkel
A – Beau Wanzer, Claro Intelecto

What have you got coming up?

Next up we have Marco Bernardi making a comeback for BT07 and Ola Bergman, who contributed to the Guests of Reality compilation, is doing a full EP for us for BT08. 

We have some new exciting signings for BT09 and BT10.

Finally – please describe the label in 5 words and 5 pictures [See pictures throughout] 

Machine-made soul.
Hands on.

Find out more about Brokntoys here.