Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Label Interview: Simple Records/Aus

Will Saul's Simple Records and Aus imprints and claim to be one of UK's more successful independent electronic dance labels today. Noted we did not say Deep House and Techno even though that's what the labels are known for. He was well into Breaks and Broken Beat among other things before a stint working at the venerable Phonica Records Store in London turned him onto House and Techno. Will also had a gig working at Sony starting from the position of intern and working his way up to A/R and product management before deciding to go it on his own to pursue his vision. His two labels release quality music from the likes of Motorcitysoul, Lee Jones, Sideshow and his own productions as well. We asked Will a few questions about the in ands outs of running 2 successful labels...

- Why did you decide to start a record label?
WS - As an outlet for my own music. Also I have loved the process of creating an entity – the visual identity of record labels has always fascinated me and I wanted to get stuck into all aspects of creating a brand.

What are the differences between your 2 labels Simple and AUS?
Simple is aimed at the deeper end of the peak time (discerning) house and techno dance floor whereas Aus can be more experimental/home listening and is open to a wider range of sounds. You could get a disco/dub record from Sideshow, a quirky deep house record from Lee Jones or a jacking techno record from Sian. Both labels have their core artists and they define the sound of the labels. However, fundamentally both labels are A&R’d by me and my love of a good soulful hook/melody hopefully shines though in both labels.

What are some of your musical influences both in and outside of dance music?
I love interesting melody and grooves that hook you in and don’t let you go. This can be in any genre and from any period in time - from Teddy Pendergrass to Interpol to Carl Craig to Vangelis to Tangerine Dream to Sly and Robbie and beyond.....

Simple has recently ventured into album territory with Motorcitysoul's Technique. What makes a great artist album in your view?
A range of styles, lots of memorable hooks, great songs and a fresh and coherent ‘sound’. Not much to ask for really :)

You worked at Sony as A/R in the past, how has that informed the running of your labels?
I did bits of A&R work which in the context of the music I was A&R’ing at Sony doesn’t really inform what I release now, which is very much from the heart. However, I was also a product manager for Sony International and this really taught me the nuts and bolts of how to release a record right from the details of generating an ISRC code for each track to promoting the record to radio.

How do you manage a label successfully in such a challenging time for the industry?
I run Simple and Aus by myself so my overheads are non-existent. You also learn quickly from your mistakes and successes and after over 50 singles across the two labels I’ve pretty much nailed how to release a 12” effectively. Well I bloody well should have after that many releases! Keeping the sound of the labels fresh and cutting edge is the biggest challenge as what’s popular within dance music changes so quickly. My approach is to never associate yourself too heavily with one sound and attempt to build a core roster of talented artists that will evolve with the labels/trends. Trying be know for releasing good music rather than ‘minimal’ or ‘deep house’.....It’s a double edged sword - if you become one of the hot new labels and have a very unique (but often one dimensional) sound that everyone wants for 6 months then your sales will shoot up in the short term but the music buying public is very fical and they will move onto the next ‘hot’ sound very quickly.

Will you always release on vinyl?
As long as it’s financially viable and I’m not loosing too much money on the format....which sadly doesn’t look like it will be for very much longer.

Lastly, what are upcoming releases and projects to watch out for from Simple and AUS?
We have an Album from Sideshow on Aus in Feb which features vocals from Cortney Tidwell and Paul St.Hilaire. Remixes across the two EP’s from this are from Chateau Flight, Appleblim, Sebo K and Lee Jones. I’m currently putting together a double CD compilation called ‘Aus Music...All Night Long’ which will feature a CDs worth of new tracks from the core Aus artists and some friends of Aus (MyMy, Appleblim, Roland Appel, Shur-I-Kan) plus 2 remixes from I-Cube and Lawrence. The second CD will be a DJ mix of the back cat by me. This will be out in May 09. In between these two albums/Eps we’ll squeeze out an EP from Sian which will have a remix from Minilogue. For Simple we have EP’s coming from Ian Pooley, Mike Monday and me in early 09.

Motorcitysoul's album Technique is now available from Simple Records and Lee Jones' Soon EP from Aus Music
listen / buy

1 comment:

Elliott Fienberg said...

nice interview. i'm a big fan of Lee Jones' new CD Electronic Frank - it's very well done.