Starting your own record label can be a thankless task. Countless hours and often considerable personal investment are required to create your own sonic imprint and for those without a tremendous amount of passion for what they do so be a road not undertaken without much consideration. One such imprint that has grabbed out attention recently has been meteorically rising Mancunian outfit Music is Love who have been making all the right movements both as a label and an event. Music is Love is a record label born from the hearts and desires of these house music lovers with a desire to push straight up house music. Delivering an eclectic balance of classic and contemporary sounds with an ethos that ensures that they release only what they love 2014 seems set to be a big year for the rainy city music collective. With attention to detail paramount in their vision; weighty vinyls, hand curated artwork and high grade remixers from past and present accompanied by exciting side projects and some ‘MIL’ original tracks we sat down with label boss Oli Furness to have a look behind the scenes at Music Is Love and gain an insight into the imprints plans and ambitions for the coming year.
Starting back with Sankeys, it must be a great feeling for the club to back at its amazing home? How has the response been in the city?
Yeah it’s a fantastic time for Manchester and especially Sankeys. The clubbin scene went very introvert (the Warehouse Project aside) for a few years with smaller parties in weird and wonderful place becoming the highlight of the clubbing calendar but with Sankeys and a few other clubs really bringing the heat with bookings its brought “clubbing” back to the city.
With regards to Sankeys the energy in the office right now is electric and it shines through to the parties as there is a real sense of excitement in the camp now and everyone is working 110% to keep the flow going.
Was it an easy decision for you to throw your shows at the club?
In a word, yes. We had thrown a few independent parties last year and had amazing feedback and vibes at all of them but they were a very “if you know you know” kinda party and we wanted to share the warmth and affection that comes with our parties on a larger scale. Plus the fact the phazon is on full power now and is HUGE, (laughs). Sankeys is a really great club that holds that indescribable mojo that takes a party from a good party to a banging party and that ticked all the boxes for us.
Looking at your choices for the lines up you have programmed, did you always intend to go in so heavy?
Fuck yeah. The thing is, in Manchester we are very very spoilt to have the WHP on our doorstep and we obviously all know how incredible their line ups are, but with so many DJs I don’t think you ever get the chance to see a real DJ dig deep into what they love. We have programmed our line ups so that the last DJ of the night is the kind of DJ that will play until they shut us down or turn off the system!
As for the acts themselves We have tried to combine artists that have influenced us and still continue to, if you look at this February’s party to have Chez Damier and DJ Deep who in my opinion are 2 of the greats against 3 completely on point acts like Point G, Marquis Hawkes and Damiano Von Erckert then it is a dream combination, combining influence against current trend to covers all bases.
Now onto the label, tell us your ethos behind the imprint and what musically does it for you?
The ethos we work on with the label is basically release the music you love by artists you truly believe in. This means we don’t always have to chase hype because its not about that for us, it’s about releasing a record that when you pick it up look at the artwork, feel the weight of the vinyl and drop the needle on it you think, “yeah, that’s’ a fucking record!” We also work in a slightly different way to a lot of labels where as we don’t just bang releases out of one artist and move on. We have a double vinyl pack called ” the LOVEBOX VA” (double sided gatefold sleeve) with 8 tracks from 8 artists who we intend on featuring in that season, with each artist getting to showcase his or her sound on the VA and then explore it more on their respective EP.
Who is involved in the day to day running of the label?
The day to day running of the label is mainly done by our little team, Sam Divine looks after agency, Angus Jefford helps A&R and with events, Paul Fletcher is one of the owners and works solely on events and I am one of the owners, label manager, A&R and events. We all work extremely well together and we have all settled into our tasks to create a really loving unit. For the first couple of releases on the label we didn’t use promo companies or even give promos out which was a little naive but we felt so strongly in our product that we thought we wouldn’t need to push out our releases in that way but now a little older and a little wiser we have just started working with jukebox pr to help us gain the exposure we’ve been looking for.
What have been your highlights so far?
Well we’ve only been running a year so its all quite a blur but I would have to say some of the highlights have been the showcases we’ve done, the 1st one was at The Garage in Leeds for the beatstreet crew and the place went Absolutely bananas and being asked to host an official ADE party was pretty sweet too. Apart from that just to see the love and respect in the community we are building grow and for people to really believe and back what we are doing is the highlight, it makes us work harder in every aspect of the brand so its a win win deal.
Would you say the label has changed its sound in the past year or have you kept to your roots?
No, I wouldn’t say that our sound has changed in the past year, but I wouldn’t say there is an underlying sound to the label apart from to release the music we look to party to, so in that respect house music is our sound and that will never change and I wouldn’t want it to. I really don’t get bogged down in genres, genres are made by online site to catergorise music to enhance sales, for us house is house.
Really the sound of the label is dependant on the artists input and us finding a common ground. We do this as we believe in backing producers we have watched and listened to and know they have the ability to create any amount of great tracks, not just one flash in the pan.
You have an upcoming release on the labe yourself scheduled to drop soon. Talk us through the track and your inspiration behind it?
Yeah I actually take the stage for MIL008 which will be our next release. It was a bit of a weird one as the label was never set up to be a egotistical venture but now were 7 releases in I think its time for me to step up to the plate. The EP was just a lot of fun to write,I mean I’m in quite a transitional period with my music, I have a lot of new stuff coming out similar to my last release on Morris Audio which really reflects my use of hardware in a different way as I was reaching for unique intricate ideas and patterns. But there’s a side of me that will always love a good banger so this EP is called “Four 4 the Floor” and it does exactly that. 3 original cuts and one remix from Slapfunk’s “U Know the Drill” witheach one as heavy on the floor as the last so I’m really looking forward to the reactions it will bring on the dancefloor.
If you could have any artist penned in for a track or remix, who would you love to get hold of?
Well for me it that might span a very broad spectrum of artists from Flying Lotus as noone makes music like Flying Lotus does in my eyes & ears but then someone like Derrick Carter on a BHQ remix of something is always party gold but then I’d have to say Levon Vincent as he is above and beyond the best technical producer out there for me right now. Reading back if any of those happened I’d die a happy man, but I think we’re awhile of that yet!
And the sister label, is there more to follow there too?
Yeah well we have just announced our sister label, simply called M.I.L and this is going to take a look at the tracks we love that have a greater sonic interest from house to techno to disco and anywhere in between. This is also going to be a vinyl only imprint. We have our first EP from a young but very talented producer called Colman Buckley and the first EP is dynamite as it spans deep melodic house to a mahogany brown type track and back again. We have a couple of people we are looking at for the 2nd EP and we are also looking at recruiting more established artists for the label so it’s a very exciting project that ties in perfectly with booking a broad range of DJs for our events.
With summer 2014 on the horizon, will we see you at any festivals or out at Sonar and Ibiza?
Hopefully we have a very big deal in place for the summer but I wouldn’t really like to talk about it until its all 100%, as for festivals I personally might be back playing at Glastonbury and I’m sure you’ll see Music Is Love popping up here and there, we also have a very exciting collaboration coming up with a hugely respectable industry leader so hopefully things will run off the back of that. Apart from that plenty of showcases in Europe and the UK so lots to look forward to.
Finally Oli, if you weren’t involved in the illustrious world of music, what would you be doing?
Well, I’m not full time involved in music although these days with my own stuff, the label, the events and the agency it’s kind of creeping that way. But my day job is that I work offshore in the north sea for 2 weeks at a time, it’s pretty whack to be fair but I get a lot of label work done out there as I am constantly looking for a good distraction at home!
In Manchester this Valentines Day? Then head over to Sankeys on February 14th to catch Point G, Marquis Hawkes and Damiano Von Erckert alongside scene legends Chez Damier and DJ Deep. Tickets are available below:
To buy tickets for this event please visit the events page: MUSIC IS LOVE – Point G, Chez Damier, DJ Deep, Marquis Hawkes, Damiano Von Erckert tickets from Skiddle.
These tickets are on sale for MUSIC IS LOVE – Point G, Chez Damier, DJ Deep, Marquis Hawkes, Damiano Von Erckert. Skiddle.com is an official ticket outlet for this event. All credit card purchases you make at Skiddle.com are encrypted through our Secure Server Technology