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Designer Labels: Electronical Reeds – Part 1

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ER Management Press Photo (1)-1

Belgium has long been renowned as a stronghold for electronic music, thanks in parts to labels such as R&S and clubs such as Fuse. The latest imprint to emerge from the country and make an impression on a global rate is Electronical Reeds, and as you surely already know, it follows in the footsteps of many a great imprint then.

Which, by all intents and purposes is a good thing, because it means the label in question are constantly striving for straight-up quality when it comes to the records they put out. Quite simply, they know what’s involved in running a record label in this part of the world and when it comes to making house music for the floor, they can always be relied on to bring the heat in their own inimitable way. And it’s inimitable really, because you never know what sort of pack they’ll be punching with their releases. Diversity, then, is the key word, but thankfully it’s rarely there instead of ‘quality’ as the imprint continues to impress with each and every release it adds to its burgeoning catalogue. So with the world at their feet and a whirlwind of momentum behind them we caught up with the team behind Electronical Reeds in the first of our new series of in depth interviews with our favourite record labels.

How did you first become involved in electronic music? What was it about the sound that really appealed to you all?

Laurent (Label Manager): I really discovered electronic music in the end of the 90’s when I became a weekend regular at the Fuse Club in Brussels. While before I was more into blues, jazz, rhythm and soul, the growing diversity in electronic music in general and possibilities for artistic expression was incredibly appealing to me. Around the year 2000 – if I remember correctly – with a friend of mine we started a website dedicated to the Fuse Club and their events. The website started to grow as well as the team. We began to collaborate with other events, and also artists and labels from Belgium and France. Over the years we received several awards for our work. We were running several radio shows and managed music programming for a well-known electronic music radio in Belgium. After a decade promoting the music of other labels, I thought it was time to play a role myself in production and promotion. I worked during two years as Assistant and PR manager for a Lille-based label and in 2010 I started Electronical Reeds with two friends.

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Felix (Bookings & Events): What was really appealing? Without a doubt the energetic vibe and unity of the crowd in front of a dude who was standing 2 meters above us making the whole club go ballistic. And people would go nuts over a track that was played for the first time in the club just because of its vibe. That was mesmerizing. I remember when Marusha played Benny Benassi’s ‘Satisfaction’ for the first time several months before it hit FM and MTV and the crowd went mad. And one day I was walking by a record shop, stepped in and came out with 20 records. I was the happiest man alive because I found some of the gems I heard in the clubs. But 10 minutes later I realized I did not have anything to play them on… And that is how it really began.

Arnaud (A&R): I have been in music all my life… My old folks enjoyed dancing so needless to say there was a lot of music at home. I used to listened a lot to radio till one day, we went on a school trip to London where I discovered a new vibe, that of electronic music. I loved it, it made me feel good and I just could not get enough! It is in London that I bought my very first vinyl: Disco’s Revenge from Gusto! I was already DJing but that trip totally changed my perception of music. So many styles, differences in atmosphere and vibes that can, when well-managed, send you to another world!

And how did you become a collective? Who knew who? And how did it grow?

Laurent: We met at Sunday parties that Arnaud and Felix were organizing in Brussels back then. Felix contacted me through my website to promote their events. At the same time Electronical Reeds was born and Felix was looking for a label as an artist. Later, both Arnaud and Felix joined me to manage the label and the 3 of us are still working together since.

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Felix: I knew Arnaud for a while and we were both in Borderline Corp. collective back then throwing Sunday parties in Brussels. That is where we met with Laurent who had just started Electronical Reeds with his buddies. I showed them a track I did with another Borderline Corp. member and it got signed. From that point on I got more and more involved with the label. And Arnaud was my sound engineer since day 1 so indirectly he came on board at the same time. But it was not until 2 years later that we actually joined the management.

Arnaud: As Felix just told you, we knew each other for a while but it was outside music at first. Later it appeared we both were music amateurs and as he was getting into music production, I began working with Felix as his sound engineer. I met Laurent at the same time as Felix. Though while following what the label was doing I was not directly involved until the management change 2 years later when I stepped in as A&R of the label.

So who does what at the label on a day-to-day basis? Is it a full-time job for you guys?

Laurent: For my part I manage all the daily administrative hustle but also the legal stuff, label rights, licensing, distribution, sync and a part of the communication. We work as a team so we do help each other out when there is a rush.

Felix: I am working on our label nights and together with Huru Booking, a new Brussels-based booking agency, developing the bookings for the label and its artists. And today my time is shared between this and my artist career. Needless to say my personal life is nearly inexistent for the moment (laughs).

Arnaud: Well, I do what an A&R is supposed to do (laughs)

I listen a lot to music in general. I talk a lot to our artists about their music expressing the feelings I have about their tracks. I listen to demos we receive. I generally spend a lot of time in my studio reading, learning, testing, improving so we can get better sound on our releases in general and the mixing and mastering for the label or on side projects. I think we can safely say it is a full time job, yes.

I know how you feel! You guys host your own party in Belgium too. How critical has the party been to your recent success?

Felix: Showcasing your sound is important and it gets the word out about the label and the brand. It’s a good exercise for us to play together and as all the crew is usually there, it is a sort of a team building event with a bar at hand.

Arnaud: Yeah, a good musical team building (laughs). It brings you closer to your audience of course so it clearly helped Electronical Reeds gain a good reputation in the night life.

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Nothing wrong with some nocturnal team building! Is the label an extension of the party or is it the other way around?

Laurent: Electronical Reeds is more than just a label. We see it as a platform enabling artists to growth through personal evolution but also through exchanges and collaborations while having access to necessary means like mixdowns and mastering, management advice, publishing, events and bookings. So our events are just an extension of what we do.

Felix: Clearly an extension, label and artists come first.

Arnaud: The label was there first, parties followed and they will stay the extension of the label.

What guests have you brought in over the years? What’s the overall vibe like throughout the night?

Felix: Our parties are focused around the label so guests we invite are labels and artists we identify ourselves with or work with or think of working together with. For example we did a lot of stuff with Rodriguez Jr. who did a remix for the label at first but became a close friend in the meantime. A Mobilee party followed, Katermukke as well with Dirty Doering and Sascha Cawa. Not to forget guys like Smash TV, Uner, Martin Landsky, Kyodai, Madmotormiquel, Rampue and Dairmount.

As for the vibe, it always reflects the label’s sound we aim at: dancefloor driven cuts and melodic grooves. And every artist’s individual story told through his or her performance sort of blends in one big musical story of the night.

Arnaud: Felix just mentioned some of the artists we invited. Concerning the vibe, it’s pretty simple: it is a party, we want people to enjoy themselves, we want them to dance and feel good. That’s it!

We love at good party here at DT! Has your background in Belgium played a big role in the label’s sound and style?

Laurent: Obviously. Considered the heart of Europe, since its creation, Belgium has always been on a crossroad and sort of a meeting point. Belgian mentality is imbued with different cultures, that over time have developed a spirit of curiosity, openness of mind, a sense of surrealism, embracing other cultures and foremost a taste for the party. Moreover, Belgium has a great and long history related to electronic music. Too long of a story to tell here. I guess it is this Belgian open-mindness that allowed such history to unfold. And clearly this it formed the the label’s ground basis.

Arnaud: Belgium has always been multicultural. It is the same way with its music. It helped open my mind and ears to different kinds of music: house, deep, jazz, latino, rock, funk, disco and so on. That background allows me to stay open to what every artist is doing and at the same time not lose track of where we want to go with the label’s sound.

To be continued…

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