Hell, I am still working on a top albums of winter piece but can't seem to find enough good albums to fill the bill and am reluctant to post a list of albums I didn't like because there are plenty of those out there. However, I did get exciting about a recent interview I conducted with NYC based DJ Deepak Sharma of Hidden Records. Shameless self-promotion aside (Hidden is one of my PR clients), what I was struck by was Sharma's integrity, hard work, and insight. I'd venture to say we are cut from the same cloth but I hate to make those kinds of comparisons and will instead let this interview do the talking.
Your label has succeeded while everyone else around here has gone digital and moved to Europe. In this vacuum it seems as though Hidden has become your effort to play a role in the reshaping of the North American techno scene - but in this crazy anachronistic fashion. The label still presses vinyl, you use (gasp!) guitars in your productions, you are based in the States, and your recording partner lives in a small town in northwestern Germany. What does it take to reach this level of success, especially in such troubling times, and yet still maintain a certain level of independence and integrity.
You can really only control one thing and that's your effort. If you are truly in love with the music you want to share with the world, you will find a way to express yourself, regardless of economy and music trends. I think there is something very organic and natural about the rise of Hidden Recordings. Both Dieter and I don't belong to a larger record label, or have the benefit of being pushed by a larger DJ. We don't really have a 'look' that you see with some DJs. We have been slow, steady and deliberate knowing that to have a career in music you need to understand it's similar to running a marathon, not a sprint. We are very aware of what's going on in techno, but we don't feel pressure to veer our style to certain trends. Furthermore, a good gig here and there doesn't mean anything in the long-term, you need to continually push and become consistent - which is what people recognize about us now. What draws people to us is that our music has a very human touch to it, and like the name of the label, hidden intricacies in the tracks that not everyone hears, but the ones who do really connect with us. Besides the guitar sounds, we are known for our drums, and for them to be very powerful and good for the dance floor. But to some inexperienced ears, they don't pick up on this. Regarding vinyl, it's important because your label stands out from the crowd and garners more respect, whether that is fair or not. I also think its easier to play than CDs because you don't have to use a flashlight and thumb through a CD case.
You are about to release a full length at a time when naysayers are saying the minimal thing has gone stale. It's the age old question asked of artists-but what things do you hope to bring to the table and push the genre forward with in 2010?
The artist album is a reflection of the style within the catalog of music Hidden Recordings has released over the past years. You'll notice that it's been called everything from deep house, to electronica to techno to tech house. My point is I don't think Hidden Recordings has ever been pigeon-holed into only the minimal bucket and my hope is people will respect the fact that we aren't following any particular trends, but simply producing music we are feeling, regardless of the style. We love making music for all different times of the day and situations, whether it be club music or for the home. The artist album will have everything from softer sounding tracks with guitars to tracks we feel would move dance floors. What's extra special to us is we are now at at level where I can comfortably reach out to artists I've admired for years to complete a remix and add their touch to our music. I hope this album connect people with our sound and also learn about what we represent as a label. Iur contribution to the genre is too keep music fresh and innovative but still have that familiar underground sound, punch and vibe that we have all grown accustomed too.
There's a lot of people hating on the industry from top to bottom these days but the traditional formula has worked for you. Could it be clarity of vision and hard work is the revolution of the new decade? Tell me about your vision for the label and describe some of the long hrs and juggling involved in running a successful indie operation.
It's funny, I've been called the hardest working man in dance music by a few of my peers and to me, its not really 'hard' work, it's just tasks I have to complete to continue to tell the story of Hidden Recordings and myself, so its a necessity really. I simply believe that much is what are doing, and as important, how we are doing it is also as important, and worthy of sharing. For us it's been about the body of work, not who is hyping who and what the next biggest thing is. we have been fortunate as a label who has received a lot of press, but it's due to how we seem to be a throw-back to how business used to be done, or is done in other industries. It seems we are unique in our humble ways and how we've simply taken chances and people can connect with that story. We focus on our relationships in the industry and value what fans say. We don't hold grudges and have thick skins as not everyone is always so professional. our perspective is if we are going to get there, we will do it the right way. For us, we try to create a family atmosphere at the label where everyone knows their role and is excited about completing their tasks for the greater good of the label. There is a strict 'no asshole' policy. Additionally, i listen to others who work for the label and try to gain their input. Every week I at least speak to my team and Dieter and I chat regularly. It's a juggling act that is daunting between producing music, working on remixes, handling interviews, completing mixes for podcasts, finding new artists, and ensuring we are taking advantage of all of what social networking has to offer and keeping it updated. We have to be fully accessible and easy to understand. The big push in the future is trying to find artists who share this same vision and want to join our movement. My vision for the label has always been consistent: To be a platform for Dieter and I and like-minded artists to share their style, story, and sound with the world.
In what ways has the detail oriented nature of your old life as a promoter transferred into your life running a label?
It's taught me just that, not to overlook any details. I remember when i was a club promoter, I would swing by the bar to ensure there were enough lime cut up for the drinks. You have to be aware of everything and even the smallest tasks need taken seriously. In addition, I've always been a humble guy, and it reminded me thatI'd rather be humble and work hard than to try to cut corners and rise to stardom at the expense of others and my own integrity. The smallest accomplishment feels much better when you are satisfied with how you completed it. Similarly, the drink taste better with the lime, so take the extra time to cut it.