Label Watch: Oath

In only four years, the Istanbul-based label Oath has become an institution for dance music with a Balearic vibe thanks to its marketing cleverness and its basic trust in its own taste. Let us introduce it to you.

Oath is a label for electronic music from established producers such as John Beltran and Seb Wildblood to young talents such as Blomfelt. And then there’s the music: ambient, balearic, electronica – an electronic hustle and bustle held together by a »common vibe«, as Oath founder Kubilay Yiğit says.

Yiğit is in his mid-thirties, dropped out of a marketing degree and founded labels in his late teens. »As a teenager, I listened to Armin van Buuren and other uplifting trance music,« he says in an interview. »At some point I wanted to release something, so I looked at how all these other labels were doing it. That’s how Blue Soho came about.«

The disconnected past

In his twenties, Kubilay switched from trance to electronica and moved to Istanbul, occasionally going to university and mainly founding new labels. One of them is called Drug Boulevard. Kubilay scours Discogs for releases from defunct labels that click on YouTube and relicences them. »I’ve never mentioned this past in connection with Oath, but to be honest, this back catalogue helps me because there’s still money coming in and I can invest it all in Oath.«

Oath is therefore really like an oath – Kubilay is committed to ensuring that we listen to the musicians he likes. Of course, this also has to do with advertising, because that’s where he comes from, even if he has never worked as a »creative« in the »advertising industry«. Many other labels would turn their backs on the word »advertising« anyway. And rightly so? Well, you can’t change the world that easily and you can only reach people where they are anyway. And that is Instagram.

For a label that was only founded four years ago, the Oath account has quite a few subscribers. One reason for this? »Certainly the generic four-letter nickname,« says Kubilay. For a few thousand euros, you can get pretty much any Instagram handle. How this works is not so easy to explain, but the fact is: »It works.«

»Oath is based on a simple principle: if the music is good, it will be valued. No matter how long it takes.«

Kubilay Yiğit (Oath)

Of course, he could have used the money to start the label in other ways, but the four letters on Instagram were »an investment in the future of the label«. He also saved a lot of money because he had moved in with his parents to start the label. Today, Kubilay lives in istanbul again, releases new albums every month and calls Oath his fulfilment. However, Oath would not be possible without the relevant contacts abroad.

For example, there is the designer Ventral is Golden. The Brit has already designed covers for psychotropic colleagues such as Altın Gün and Acid Mothers Temple. At Oath, he also takes on the sober position of treasurer, because: Paypal is banned in Turkey, but Paypal is the only way to earn money on Bandcamp. Ventral takes care of this, says Kubilay, and is now something of a partner of Oath anyway.

Balearic vibe

As »chief designer«, all the artwork already comes from Ventral. They speak »his language«. Releases like John Beltran’s work even better precisely because of the design, because Ventral manages to capture »the Balearic vibe«. »A vibe that is so much more than electronic music and that has opened up the label’s sound to completely new people.«

Oath is now a job, but still not a business, says Kubilay.He wants to think from the artists’ perspective, »offer them a platform« and »walk the artistic path together«. This also includes being open to the music of musicians he doesn’t yet know. »When I heard the second track on Blomfelt’s debut, I wrote to him straight away. Because Oath is based on a simple principle: if the music is good, it will be appreciated. No matter how long it takes.«