RECORD LABEL / 001
Record Label will be the next slow burn feature we will nurture on the site looking at record labels situated and placed in various international locations, affected by different social, economic and community based factors. We will open dialogue with these labels and try to delve deeper into the inception, ideas and decision to create, invest and persue this vision. We will get down to the detail on the core label and guest artists, releases and strategy moving forward, take into account all factors that have affected the commercial impact on vinyl and MP3 sales and also the labels greatest successes, surprises and challenges.
Boe Recordings based out of London pushing a modern underground and groovy take inspired and referencing Chicago and Detroit house music that we all are familiar with. The label is headed up by Ben Parkinson and begun life back in 2007 with its first release by Burnski – Monkey Hanging and more recently Just Like That by one of Boe’s discoveries Ladzinski underlining the signature House sound and narrative from previous releases. Label name inspiration came from Ben recordings resident cat Barry and over time the label has organically grown & risen over the past few years with great character, intrinsic identity coupled with acclaimed deep House releases relinquishing praise from sites including influential online editorial RA, Electronic Beats, and K / D.
A key factor to Boe Recordings involve an solid base to ensure 12inch releases can be purchased in key record stores and also online, coupled with direct promotions available straight from the label offering vinyl and cd packages with purchases has been a definite win win for the label which is an idea a lot more labels need to model and replicate in there own back yards to cut out the middle man and ensure retail prices can be obtained straight by the label in these more modest times.
The next few releases will carry the labels strong heritage situated in Deep House with Kris Wadsworth flying the flag and also more label hook ups concerning gigs around the capital and the ever increasing Boe podcast will ensure the label sound can interest and engage with current and potential new Boe Recordings customers.
K / D and Ben exchanged dialogue over several weeks to attempt to paint the picture of Boe Recordings whilst dipping our toes in to various arenas all affecting the label and the wider electronic community keeping our eye on the future and what it holds, showcasing the labels art work and also a guest mix which you might have guest is not from founding feline Barry the cat but Ben Parkinson himself providing an cascading deep, melodic, consistent and concise deep House journey.
K/D – Label name and where it came from?
BOE – My cat, Barry, he has one eye.
K/D – Your background?
BOE – I grew up in between Wakefield and Huddersfield in Yorkshire. That part of the North had some great parties around the time I was growing up, however, I never really got into clubbing until I left school. Places like Back to Basics & Hard Times in Leeds was where I had my first proper clubbing experience. I started buying records in 1996 but I found it hard to find music that I truly loved, given the fact that I wasn’t involved a scene of some sort or another. The one record shop in Wakefield was pretty crap and the owners didn’t have a clue and to be honest, neither did I at the time. I soon moved to Newcastle to go to university which was good fun, Flying Records was a great place to pick up some of the US house sounds I was into back then. It was more towards the Subliminal / Tribal sound. I guess it was big at the time so was easy to find stuff. I still have all my stuff on labels like AM:PM, Yoshitoshi, Twisted, Subliminal, etc. I’d get rid of plenty of records before I sell those, they hold a certain nostalgia for me. I’ll keep them even though I’d play virtually none of them now. (laughter)
During each semester break I’d come home and go to Leeds to visit the record shops that I hadn’t made it to whilst growing up. Play Music and Loop played a massive part in shaping the sound of music that I have bought over the years, ever since I went there for the first time about ten years ago. I was picking up a lot of west coast sounds, the second/third wave of Chicago house and getting into some of the European labels. I also spent a lot of time partying at Back to Basics during those years and before I moved to London, I was also djing a fair bit and making good friends that help run and DJ at the club now.
Moving to London was another great step for me music-wise. I moved there for work, taking up a graduate position at a “big, nasty horrible corporation”. Fabric was the port of call for many a Saturday night and a new musical world opened up delivered through the raw experimentalism of Craig Richards and the techno DJs that were playing week in week out. It was a bit of an eye opener and a new and different experience to partying back home. The sounds seemed more cutting edge and Fabric as a club seemed more underground. The record shops in London we numerous and varied hugely in their sounds. I could walk down Berwick street in Soho, drop into Koobla to pick up minimal and techno, vinyl junkies and black market for US deep house and Phonica for all the latest European stuff. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. It’s such a shame that the record shop scene has died a death. I admit I shop online and did do during their demise, but I really miss the whole experience that record shopping once had. I tend to do most of my “walk-in” record shopping abroad nowadays, I always try to check out the local record shop, whatever it sells. I do a lot of crate digging too, London is great for its second hand market.
K/D – Idea / inspiration behind the label?
BOE – To do something other than play records to myself or to a small number of people at nights put on with friends.
K/D – Would you go back to putting on parties with the label?
BOE – I would love to do label parties, it’s just a case of having the bandwidth to get them arranged. I’m always open to offers for hosting a label night and I have a couple of irons in the fire for this year. Consider this an advert to promoters!
K/D – Graphics / artwork what is the direction?
BOE – The logo is pretty mature now. For the next few releases the label art is going to have images that mean something in relation to the release. the latest one is a disco ball just paying reference to the sound of the release, it’s pretty upfront and no-nonsense groovy house music so I though the institutionally recognised symbol of the club was appropriate. plus I’m pretty bored of all the “disco” music at the moment so I thought I’d do something a little ironic. maybe some trendy kid will pick it up in a shop, hoping it’s the latest disco re-edit of some significantly average 70s track, then have an epiphany and realise that THIS is what music played in discos should sound like.
K/D – There is definitely a sense of humour, irony and playfulness to the aesthetic of the label which cannot be said for the wider community at large, how would you critique the network of record shops, clubs, djs, and general energy an attitude now in comparison to when you first moved to London?
BOE – Well, when I first moved down here I was very much wet behind the ears. I knew no one and I was literally just a punter in all respects. Now I’ve made a lot of friends and acquaintances in the scene and I have to say that all of them are great people. From DJs to record store workers to producers to label owners. There are tons of small parties and lots of stuff going on to do with the music I’m into. There are a lot of very positive things going on in London at the moment. I definitely don’t take things seriously that’s for sure. This business is based on going out and having fun, sharing common interests with people.
K/D – Artists you work with and how did you meet?
BOE – I got to meet Burnski through a show I used to do with a friend on My House Your House here. He was just about to put out Expresso on Morris Audio and he was listening in to the show. I asked him to record a guest mix and it went from there. it wasn’t long before the idea of a label came about and I asked him to do the first release. I met Strahil (kink) through Myspace and had been in touch before I set up the label as I was always a fan of his right from his first releases on Odori. he kindly obliged to do a sequence of releases with me and I’m very chuffed to have both Burnski and kink on the label as they’re flying right now.
I also met Kris Wadsworth through Myspace and we built up a good rapport despite the limitations of email conversation and IM. He’s going to be doing BOE012 under his KW moniker and it promises to be a really exciting EP.
Leif is one of the very few artists on my label that I actually get to meet up with regularly. He’s always in London and we got chatting about music and decided to put a release out last summer.
Iron Curtis, Ladzinski, Deymare, Marc Vacher, Azuni and Nils Anthes were all met through Myspace or Facebook. It’s pretty mad when you think about it, how the hell did anyone manage A&R before the internet?
K/D – I don’t see any straight up Djs anymore that simply play and select music, and likewise straight up producers that don’t Dj your thoughts?
BOE – Well to be honest, the straight up DJs sort of died out at the time House music was born. House music was invented by DJs and there has always been a crossover between the two disciplines. The two arts are very different in my opinion and the acquired skills in one may not necessarily transpose to the other. I feel it’s much easier for DJs to move into production than the other way around. I think producers who DJ tend to play their own stuff which takes the unpredictability out of sets somewhat. Very good DJs are few and far between in my opinion. They dig deep, surprise their audience and get them to dance on different levels. They certainly don’t play one note tech house at 128bpm for 2 hours straight.
K/D – Any interesting notes or label facts?
BOE – Nope not really, maybe refer to the answer to question 1.
K/D – Do you release vinyl and mp3, and how are sales looking, who buys your 12s?
BOE – sales are tough the vinyl market has slowed down significantly but my “market share” as you would call it has increased steadily. however, overall the numbers have stayed about the same since day 1. some releases have sold less than 300 and the most successful, Halal Prepared sold 500 with the repress. I still get random requests for copies of that one which is really nice, just a shame I can’t oblige with a sale! 500 is still not a lot of records. it wasn’t that long ago that labels could literally press 2000 copies of absolute dross and get away with it. I don’t think the numbers will decrease that much more, there’s still a hardcore set of vinyl buyers in deep house and there are plenty more young kids who want to play vinyl only. it’s cool. much cooler than messing about with CDs or a laptop. But that’s another and much laboured debate that I don’t want to get into!
The digital side is a means to an end in my opinion, it’s essential that it is done well in order to bring back the revenues that the vinyl sales are missing. and to be honest, getting that right is even harder than selling vinyl. if you hit the jackpot of getting your tracks charted on Beatport and then into the top 10 your sales increase exponentially. its absurd but that’s how it is at the moment. if I could get by by just selling vinyl I would. maybe I’ll make a change to doing vinyl only once I’m fully happy where the label is at. Boe X was vinyl only and that’s doing pretty well, I hope to get more sales once the digital buyers get wind of its availability and decide to make purchase.
People moan on about how expensive vinyl is, this is a daft argument., the fact is, that with inflation, vinyl is actually cheaper now than it ever has been.
K/D – How important or commercially attractive are Beatport, Juno charts and positive reviews on sites including RA, Infinitestatemachine etc to label’s if they are and also Ben you have mentioned previously in an interview that you wanted to get more control over the business including production, sales, distribution, and a larger presence in Europe, looking at the label today has this been achieved and with what learning’s?
I think the label has had an increase in exposure over the last year or two. I’ve seen Boe 12”s for sale in many new shops where they haven’t been previously. In terms of production I’m happy, I use Curved, a local aggregator for mastering and production and the results are always good. In terms of sales I’m selling direct now which really helps the label cover some of the expenditure. It’s a lot of work but given I don’t take a salary or any profit from the label it doesn’t really matter. The second hand market has boomed over the last few years thanks to the combination of Discogs and Youtube videos. This is great as it’s keeping the vinyl scene alive. This boost may also be the reason why you see so many super-expensive vinyl releases from sought after artists nowadays. It’s fair play at the end of the day as I would be a bit pissed off if I was selling records at dealer price, only to find them going for £20 on Discogs within a couple of weeks.
K/D – How do you see labels operating in the future with vinyl sales looking marginalised?
BOE – well the fact that numbers have dwindled, distros will become more specialized, handling small numbers of records is expensive and it’ll have to be managed intelligently. there are a few that are doing just that right now, my distro, Rubadub included.
I think we’ll see more specialisation in the music, more and more vinyl only labels. labels may deal direct with shops and/or shops will start doing their own distribution, shops like rush hour and Hardwax have been doing this for years, Juno has recently started doing in-house distribution.
K/D – If all artists distributed there bodies of work vertically cutting out all the middle men what impact would you see?
BOE – I think there would be a larger gulf created between the mainstream and the underground. Artists would get more return for their efforts but would also have outlay more time on acting as the distributor, PR company, etc… This would only happen if there was no money to be made out of “small” labels through offering of such services. Maybe labels and artists would work together and do the whole lot between themselves.
I’ve also started to sell direct from the label. it really does help as the label receives money quickly, for a retail price. plus I can do neat offers such as including a CD with each vinyl copy and supply ahead of release date.
K/D – How much of your returns goes straight back into the label? Do you pay advances to artists or have those days past?
K/D – Everything due to the label goes into the label. I have paid advances in the past and no doubt will do in the future. There has to be an element of reality around the finances between both the label and the artist. I’ll never offer a deal to an artist that will leave the label in the shit. The label needs the funds of current sales to pay for the next one.
K/D – Which labels inspire you?
BOE – Lots of labels inspire me, Rush Hour is a label I truly admire in particular. from a consumer perspective it’s unbelievable how those guys do everything absolutely spot on the music, the artwork, the whole package. Their knowledge of the evolution of electronic music is unparalleled at the moment and the way they can put out cutting edge and genre defying releases alongside their re-issues is really impressive.
Other labels I have looked up to over the years for different reasons (but not necessarily want to sound like) are Prescription, Cajual, Real Soon, Playhouse, Morris Audio, Perlon, Mojuba (inc. all subsidiaries), Classic, Inner Sunset, Downtown161, Basic Channel, I could go on and on.
K/D – Future label projects / releases / parties?
BOE – Label wise I am just focusing on Boe vinyl at the moment. I have a new release with Ladzinski out now, then another solo EP from KW in may. iIm still planning what’s coming after that. In the pipeline I plan to release an album with one of my artists but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet. it’ll be a vinyl and digital release with the vinyl being something extra special in terms of artwork, packaging and the musical content of course.
K/D – How does it feel to own and run a record label, success and failure how do you measure these?
BOE – It’s hard work, demoralising at times, liberating the next but the amount of positives I’ve gained have far outweighed any struggles I’ve been through. I’m lucky I have a regular well paid job to fund it. If I did this for a living I would have been bankrupt very quickly.
K/D – What is your strategy for the rest of the year?
BOE – I have two more releases planned then I’m going to do a rethink. I have a few ideas to take the label onto the next level, keeping hold of the core artists, working with them and maybe bringing some new ones in. I have a lot of confidence in the guys on the label right now. They’re all relative newcomers to releasing records and their output can only get better. I want to do an album and take the design and features of the label up a gear. A fully blown website, cover art, label parties, etc… I’ll be trying to get the music out there with more of a presence.
K/D – If money was no object who you had release on the label?
BOE – Hmmmm, tough question, if money was no object then I probably wouldn’t have a label like Boe!
TRACKLIST & MIX DETAILS:
Recorded at home in the Boe mansions studio on my 15 year old unbreakable 1210s and an Allen & Heath Xone 62 mixer. Completely vinyl only with authentic dust and crackle, the mix reflects the sound of records I like to play at home after a night out or at after parties. Low slung, deep and rolling house music, it’s definitely not an up front club set, it’s one for the headphones or late night listening so kick back and play it loud, I hope you enjoy it.
Marco M. Bernd – Palas Dub [Ehrenfels]
David Alvarado – Morning Prayer [Peacefrog]
The Coastal Commission – Our Music [Pacific Coast House Recordings]
Rootstrax – Deep n Raw [Deeply Rooted House]
Sebo K ft. Prosumer – Moved [Mobilee]
The Coastal Commission – Straight No Chaser [Pacific Coast House Recordings]
Audio Werner – Guteasussichten [Story]
Stablo – 9999 [Stablo]
Unkle Deep – Deep Underground [Etheral Sound]
Cosmic Cowboys – Talking to You (Rene Breitbarth Remix) [Trenton]
Jorge Zacamona – Untitled [Mosaic]
Drainpipe – Monday Melodie [Driftwood]
Boe Links Online: