The story so far…Riddim Records
Cardiff based Riddim Records is only in its early years, but the record label has already started to leave its own unique mark on the scene. Vibe-y liquid mixed with some darker dancefloor shellers create the sound that Riddim is now pushing forward in 2020. South Wales has never been widely known for its Drum & Bass scene, but brands such as Riddim, Incurzion and Concrete Junglists, along with a host of talented up and coming producers and DJ’s are helping to push the 170bpm sound (or as I should say “un cant saith deg”) across the wicked and wild genre from their corner of the scene.
We sat down with its founder, Max Scott, to discuss the who, why, what, where and when surrounding the creation of his beloved Riddim Records.
Max discovered his love for Drum & Bass music at the young age of 13 when his sisters’ friend gave him a Black Sun Empire album. There was no looking back from then on.
“I just fell in love with it immediately. I then saw DJ Die and Break in a venue in Cardiff (which I won’t name) when I was 14 and it just tipped me off the edge, I loved it”. It wasn’t until leaving home and venturing outside of Cardiff that he thought about creating a brand revolving around the music that he had fallen in love with.
After travelling down the M4 from Cardiff to London, Max wanted to put his own stamp on the D&B scene. He and his friends were too young to DJ in clubs or throw events so they looked for alternate gaps in the market.
They started a Riddim D&B fashion brand, but the idea never fully took off. However, this didn’t stop Max and his vision of creating his own Drum & Bass brand. He told me that when he moved to York, “I had all this student loan and didn’t just want to squander it on freshers’ events”. As a result, he put a lot of that money aside and it used it to build Riddim.
The newly founded Riddim (the events side of Riddim Records), held their first event in June 2017, hosting DJ Levela at a sold-out show in Cardiff. Another successful show in Cardiff, this time with Bou as the headliner, helped to build Riddim’s reputation in the Welsh capital. I was in attendance at both of these events and they were brilliant. They were professionally run, brought new names to the Cardiff rave scene and were the first to hold Drum & Bass events in Kongs in Cardiff, which meant the Riddim events brand were blowing a breath of fresh air into their local scene.
They were quick to gain the following of the South Wales scene. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Max admits that he made the error of getting too excited and just wanted to get the brand out there. As a result, Riddim went under a big rebrand. The goal was to create a sustainable brand and one that the D&B community could relate to.
Alongside Dan (the label manager), the identity of the label was spoken about at length. “How do we separate ourselves from the rest of the online labels that are happening right now?” was one of the questions that was flooding Max’s head.
A good question as well. In the era of the internet (and consequently Soundcloud), when literally anybody can start releasing music under a brand and gain attention, how do you gain a real following rather than an army of free download hunters?
The answer boils down to the music, as it always does in this industry. Riddim had built up a great events brand, but it’s hard to push the sound you love through events alone. So, how do you fix that problem? Cue – Riddim Records.
The first release came in June 2018. ‘EP1’ laid the foundations of what would become the labels sound. dBreif’s liquid track, ‘All the 9’s’, wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the mighty Hospital Records. This was accompanied by two darker releases from Thread and Yassily. Max clearly knew the sound he wanted his label to represent. “We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one sound, but we also want to own our own craft.”
After the first release, they had not only found the sound that they loved, but the current sound they felt would be played out by DJ’s. He told me that Riddim “found an identity with a mix of a slightly darker ‘liquidy’ vibe and a dark techy sound as well”.
After five more releases and more successful events in Cardiff and Swansea, the summer of 2019 was around the corner. What a huge summer than would turn out to be. An upload of Kumarachi’s remix of ‘Blade Runnin’ to the SkankandBass YouTube channel, a stage takeover at El Dorado Festival and to then top it off, a slot at the notorious Hospitality on the Beach.
“Honestly, it was a life-changing experience. It was everything I wanted it to be. Amazing vibes, amazing music, the weather was just perfect.”
Three hours at Hospitality’s very own festival is a big nod of the head from what is arguably the genres biggest brand and label. A defining moment for Max and his team, two years of hard work and graft all coming together under the glow of the radiant Croatian sunshine.
COVID-19 is helping to create quite the contrast from last summer to this summer. The entire live music industry has been put on pause, but it has given Max time for some more reflection. At the back end of last year, the thought of packing it was becoming more apparent in his head. The pressure of running a label, being the brand manager for Jungle Jam, running live music events and working pretty much full-time was really getting to him. But, and it’s a big but, he’s come out the other end with a brand new perspective and an entirely new drive to take Riddim Records as far as it can go.
After speaking to Max it’s clear to see that he knows exactly what direction he wants to take his label in and how he’s going to do it. He has lofty ambitions for his brand and has a clear plan for how he’s going to reach them.
“I couldn’t think of anything that makes me happier than the thought of the artists in our inner circle playing at one of our big label nights in Tobacco Dock” was one of the things that Max told me he aims for Riddim to be achieving 5 years from now. Big ambitions but I see no reason why these ambitions cannot be fulfilled.
It may be in its infant years now, but this is a label that has the potential to become a household name in the Drum and Bass scene in the future. Remember the name, Riddim Records.