Be With Records is a British record label from London, founded in 2014 by Rob Butler.
In 2012, Butler had already made the decision to establish the label, however he wanted to do everything right from the very beginning, so he immersed himself for two years in the business-admin jungle, not only to prepare himself economically, but rather also for legal questions. By which, nowadays he has all sorts of things to do with, since Be With specialises in licensed re-issues of records, which have previously not appeared on vinyl, or have been out of stock for a long time. At the start, there was a record from Butler’s year of birth, for which the hard work promptly paid out. The reprint of Leon Ware’s 1982 self-titled soul-classic album was a fast sell out. Reason enough for Butler, to quit his bread-and-butter job and to take his luck into his own hands; supported by his actively, involved circle of friends. The decision making power is up to him. »I only want to publish records, which I would like to own myself on vinyl«, says the DJ and former record shop worker determinedly. So that explains the colourful mixture in the rapidly growing catalogue of Be With. Butler thinks that he has found a particular niche with his label, which other re-issue labels have not paid close enough attention to. The wish list of releases is still long, admits the self-declared »boring vinyl nerd«.
So what does Be With exactly amount to musically? What do the likes of The Streets, Kylie Minogue, the Haiiwan singer Nohelani Cypriano and the US-American Fusion-Rock band Air (not to be mixed up with the French duo) have in common? »For me it is all Soul music, even the trendy stuff«, Butler answers. »The driving force behind Be With is, that record lovers need their favourite albums and singles on vinyl. It is more a question of format than genre, the direction is indicated by the artists.« After a short time, Butler exaggerated this idea, and also published releases, through Be With, of the Swedish Dream-Pop band Korallreven, whose last single as well as a special remix-EP marks the long farewell of the band. Otherwise, the releases would have been only available digitally. Not the only case, in which there was also a personal relationship with the artists who are not usually involved in the re-issue process. Thanks to his work, he could got to know his hero Leon Ware. »He was very touched by our vision and offered to get us in touch with other soul legends!« the label’s operator recalls. The nice side of lengthy, legal, laborious processes. It’s a good job, that Butler had prepared intensively a long time before the founding of Be With, and can now enjoy the fruits of his labour. KC
Blank Slate Records is a record label founded in New York City in 2012. The headquarters are now, in the meantime, based in Berlin.
»The label was begun out of the desire, from the far away corner in Ithaca, New York, to contribute something to the global music scene«, Naeem explains. That was shortly after a visit to Europe where the young American experienced a surprise. »I was expecting that everyone else on the other side of the pond was better informed, because dance music is so popular in Europe. At the end of it, I stood out as the nerd, who sat there making notes in the first row.« Not only did he take notes, but rather he also did his homework; the first catalogue number, a house compilation with contributions from producers such as Arnaldo and others, which at the time sold a thousand copies.
Naeem was struck by surprise, even though he was very convinced of the music. »Firstly, we pressed 500 copies and one week later, the distribution asked us for 200 more. One week later, they wanted 300 more.« Naeem upheld the request, since he didn’t believe in artistic shortage. »Sometimes one asks, whether labels have simply forgotten that it is a matter of the music of the artists reaching out to as many people as possible«, he says. That is by all means the declared aim of Blank State. »I don’t know, who said it, perhaps Miles Davis: ‘You will never get to hear 99% of the best music.’ The reason for this is that the majority of music is never produced and distributed. The idea of the label is to put unknown or under-appreciated artists into the limelight, rather than established names.« It not only worked for the first catalogue number, but rather also the releases, which followed. Despite them not exhibiting a signature sound, the music ranging from gentle House-sounds, dubby and experimental Techno acts like Michal Wolski, or the Mexican White Visitation to Afro-Beat designs of the twelve-man Big Mean Sound Machine, they are successful. »If I could sum up my taste in one word, I would not buy so many records«, he bluntly states.
»Tonally, there are already structural similarities between Techno and Afro Beat, however, that doesn’t answer the question.« Wolski and Big Mean Sound Machine for instance know exactly the when, where, why, and how of their music, Naeem explains the connecting elements. »I see the diversity of Blank Slate as a strength«, he stresses. The main thing is that a part of the 99% of unheard music is played to the audience. It has worked this way perfectly since the beginning. KC
Money $ex Records is a record label from Berlin, founded in 2015 by Max Graef, Glenn Astro and Delfonic.
With their unique, sample-based concept, the artists of Money $ex are an essential part of a new generation of House-producers, who don’t take genre borders too seriously. The band belongs to a family of labels, which have arisen from the society of the OYE record shop in Berlin. It was there, where Delfonic and Ludwig Labuzinski as colleagues got to know one another. »At the age of 16 or 17, Ludwig had already completed an internship with us« Delfonic recalls. In 2012, Lubuzinski brought along the first release from Box Aus Holz, which he had achieved together with Max Graef. »Back then they had received money from some music fund and then printed the records.« The release was a complete success and marked the beginning of the rise of the young Berlin clique onto the international stage. In the meantime, the early Box Aus Holz records are particularly high in demand. Initially, the distribution, mastering, and design were all outsourced, but meanwhile we have taken it all onto our own shoulders – not only for Money $ex Records and the so-to-speak predecessor Box Aus Holz.
In comparison to the danceable 12inches published by Box Aus Holz, Money $ex Records is set up on a broader basis. That not only means, that albums will also be published, but above all, an openness towards all genres exists. Furthermore, the label mainly publishes music from the founders’ narrow entourage. Admittedly, LPs like »Dog« by the Max Graef band, or Gerry Frankes’ »Freaks Brew« have a strong tendency towards Jazz and Funk. Other EPs are more reminiscent of Techno than House. Albums from famous beat makers will also soon appear on the label. In general, Money $ex Records has a permanently, noticeable connection to Hip-Hop, not only because artists like Hodini / Hulk Hodn, or Twit One originate from the Boom-Bap-genre._»I was also socialising in the music scene of the 90s, and Hip-Hop for me was an awesome area, with A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, the entire Native Tongue-kerfluffle", Delfonic says. »I also had the same mindset. These dirty, messy, a little bit sample-based elements were of course something different to House, which is something I have always appreciated«. Together with the unique illustrations by Rahel Süßkind, who is responsible for the design of every publication, this sample based House creates the common theme in the world of Money $ex Records. There is, however, no masterplan: »We do not know, where the journey will take us«. NF
No Corner Records is a British record label from Bristol, founded in 2012 by Daniel Davies (alias Ossia) and Alex Digard (from Studio Tape-Echo).
It it closely associated with the Young Echo collective. »From the outside, it must seem really confusing what we all do here, with all the cross connections«, admits Davies. So from the beginning; the Young-Echo podcast did not lead to the creation of No Corners, even though the first catalogue number brought together the two projects Jabu and Killing Sound by the acquainted Bristolian collective. Everything began, however, in the Tape-Echo studio with a jam session and ended with the question, what should happen now with all the recorded Jabu material. Killing Sound, the common project of Jabu, El Kid, and Vessel emerged, which made up the B-side of the first No Corner tape. Nevertheless, big plans were never made, Davies admits. »I think, that it’s the best way. Otherwise, everything gets over complicated." The requirements are appropriately modest. »I value No Corner appearing as an eclectic niche platform«, Davies says. »The idea that someone can plug-in and discover something new within our wide offering is a reward in itself. It is a label for music lovers, not for the trade’s own hype.« So simple is the important criterion of the music: »It’s gotta be good.« ’nuff said.
It is already complexly designed with the collective and juxtaposition of various artistic designs and media. From tapes to small-format releases on 7" up to massive vinyl-box sets, you can find pretty much every medium in the back catalogue and with it, it reflects the lively exchange between fine arts, music, and spoken word, like Jabu for example prominently embodies. Which is rather a random result, Davies appeases. »On the one hand, we put a lot of value on us accepting the visual ideas of our artists«, he adds, and points out that Digard works simultaneously as the Art Director. Possibly a characteristic of Bristol, the home base, which is just as aesthetically diverse.
»Be careful with the term ‘Bristol Sound’! To many, that would be unfair and limiting«, he urges. Davies states that the city offers a rich and diverse musical environment, with a vivid exchange within its electronic music scene, ranging from Young Echo to Livity Sound Crew. This is also a feature of the hard-to-grasp label No Corner; the usual attributions fall short of the mark. Drone-loops meet Dubstep-derivatives, abstract Industrial meets danceable and straightforward. This is what it is like, when a label witnesses its own birth. At least one aim exists:_»We find it exciting to create something, and to leave a mark in the history books«, Davies says. Not without irony: »caveman-style«, he calls it. KC