Record labels seem to be appearing on an almost weekly basis these days, so it's important that new labels create an individual sound and aesthetic so as not to be lost in the quagmire of obscurity, a task which Sam Schorb (aka Damu) and Adam Rogerson have successfully achieved with their new label Fulcrum Records. In the wake of the Dubstep phenomenon, artists and labels have worked tirelessly to ensure that the music scene here in the UK stays fresh and exciting. Labels like Fulcrum will hopefully help ensure that the UK continues to be considered one of the most innovative centres in the world for the progression of electronic music in all it's forms. FULCRUM 001 comes from Paleman, a producer whose debut I'm sure most people will agree has been a long time coming. Label co-founder Damu kindly took some time out to answer a few of our questions.
Fulcrum 001 (Clips) - Paleman [Fulcrum Records]
First of all, what made you decide to start the label?
Before any of my own productions were released I was already keen to start a label. At first, the idea was to release my own productions, but the more I learned about the realities of actually doing it, the more I realised it would have been the wrong time. It was a time to fully concentrate on my album and nothing else. The idea took a backseat for a while until a couple of years later when i started talking to my friend Adam (who is running the label with me) about all the new artists we were already in good contact with who we felt were ready to get some physical releases out. It was obvious that the time was right to get the ball rolling. I still spend the majority of my time making music, but working towards getting Fulcrum running gives me a better reason to get up in the morning; it lets me incorporate some of my other hobbies into my output because we're designing all the sleeve art ourselves. Besides that, it's satisfying releasing music that i really love, that's been made by friends and allies.
Fulcrum Records has been on our radar for quite a while now, it seems like we've been waiting a long time for this first release. What has been keeping you busy these last few months?
We announced the project quite a while back, when Thefft and Paleman were both doing mixes for Mary-Anne Hobbs' radio show on the same night. It seemed like a good opportunity let the cat out the bag even though we'd have to let it simmer for a bit while the process of getting the physical records made took place. We've got a pretty good response to the idea so I don't think people minded waiting. Getting the first release out isn't a quick process, I don't really feel like the timing of the releases is a major factor, it's more important to put the records together exactly as we imagine them.
The producers that are being associated with the label at this early stage could all be considered 'up and coming'. Has it been a conscious decision to sign up fresh talent?
I wouldn't have it any other way. There are enough labels releasing music by artists you already know, which is one of the reasons it would make no sense for us to release records by well established artists at this stage. Before we started the label, we knew we were waiting to hear something special that we felt strongly about releasing, I knew I wouldn't know what it was until I heard it. Tunes started coming through from people I was talking to around last December that really caught my ear, so I decided to start working towards releasing some of their music. Almost all the artists I was in contact with weren't signed, simply because they were the people making the music I was most excited about hearing. It was important to build it from the ground upwards so I think releasing music by people we'd discovered is essential to that. There are some other artists we've spoken to but i'm not giving anything else away for now.
Where does the name 'Fulcrum' come from? Do you feel that electronic music has reached a tipping point, so to speak?
At the time we decided to start the label, I pretty much felt like UK electronic music was beginning to lose its edge a bit. There was still loads of great music coming out, but I felt that on the whole, UK electronic music was leaning too much towards being influenced by the rest of the world, instead of having a characteristic style that could influence the rest of the world. I feel that every artist we release is making music that marks the difference between those two schools, hopefully these records can show even younger producers that the best way is really to just do your own thing and you end up with still great, but much more individual music. 'Fulcrum' fits what we're aiming to do in that every planned release is a warped version of the style that the artists are influenced by. I think its the subtle oddities that gives music its locational identity, when I hear the tunes on a system, I can tell where they come from and what kind of nights the guys have been going to before they made the tunes. The tunes I've been sent by my friends since we've started the label aren't a watered down version of anything else, they're very individual but take on a familiar concept.
We are currently living in a very exciting era for electronic music. What artists and labels do you feel are leading the way at the moment?
Obviously there's never a shortage of great music being released, but one of the main reasons starting a label felt like a good idea in the first place was that there isn't really any other labels operating themselves in the way I'd like to. That's not to say I don't like the way other labels are run, but everyone has their own take on things so this will be ours. Personally, I'm a massive fan of Blackest Ever Black and Modern Love ahead of almost everything else but we're planning on releasing more straight-up dancefloor music than the dubby techno I love those labels for. I've been working behind the bar in a club for a long time until very recently and I've noticed a lot of different 'scenes' moving closer together over the past few years; The nights with the music I liked weren't necessarily the nights with the atmosphere that I liked, but the crossover crowd between the two nights I'm thinking of became more and more and both nights benefitted as a result. I think there's a bit of a post dubstep hangover in the way a lot of labels operate, making the records hard to get hold of or hear about, again, I think it's great that others keep that going but if we were to run a label like that I think it might alienate a lot of the people who I'd like to hear the music. People who probably won't buy the records, but they might download them then come to the nights with a whole lot of energy and some shoes they want to ruin, if you get me? So much is changing in music at the moment, we feel like the DJs and labels need to get a lot closer to their audience again. The nights we really enjoy are already getting really good at increasing that connection so I think the label will become a reflection of that.
Do you have a clear vision for the long term future of Fulcrum Records or are you going to take things one step at a time?
We want to keep it as open ended as possible, it's a project for everyone involved to contribute ideas to, enjoy and learn from, so I guess there's bound to be a lot of directions I'm not expecting. I know which artists are doing it for me at the moment so the label will really go wherever they want it to, it really needs to develop beyond the embrionic stage before it takes on a life of its own and starts deciding its own fate, so to speak. We all like playing together so I'm hoping we'll be able to put on some nights ourselves, but not until we can do it exactly how we envision it, no compromises. There are a few surprises I'm working on as well but thats strictly between me and my brain at the moment.
Are we going to see any releases from yourself on Fulcrum Records in the future?
Currently, I'm not planning to release my own music through Fulcrum. That could change a bit further down the line, but there are a few things we've got planned before I'd think about putting out my own tunes ahead of other guys on the roster. I did originally plan to run the label on the sly and not tell anyone it was me but people work these things out pretty quickly, I didn't want to stop playing Fulcrum tunes in my sets, so it's worked out like this instead. My tunes tend to randomly vary in style quite a lot from one to the next so it wouldn't really make sense for me to release any of my own music through Fulcrum until I was happy with some tunes which fitted in with the label as a whole.
FULCRUM 001 is out on the 16th July on wax and will be made available digitally soon after. Here's a mix that was posted up on Fulcrum's Soundcloud in February to give you a taster of things to come.
Fulcrum 2012 Mix