Sunday, 31 January 2016

deepArtSounds: Part Three

WITHOUT music, life would be a mistake. That’s what Nietzsche reckoned. And he was dead clever. Then again it already seems to be the mantra by which George Boutopoulos lives his life. It’s in his DNA, you see.

What else explains his evangelical commitment to the cause stretching back to a young clubber in late eighties Switzerland through to serious – and we mean serious – record collector onto DJ, producer and multiple label owner including his latest baby, the quite brilliant Zürich-based deepArtSounds which he co-runs.

Having witnessed seismic changes in how music is produced, distributed and consumed over the past thirty years since first stepping into a nightclub in his hometown, no one would have blamed Boutopoulos for retreating to his favourite armchair with his headphones on after bringing down the curtain on his first two imprints, Moto Music and No Acting Vibes.

Not so. Instead he plotted how to do a record label different, better, proper. The result was deepArtSounds, a highly enviable imprint launched in earnest a mere four years ago and yet already jam-packed with classic, timeless, soulful electronic music from a mouthwatering roster: Ron Trent, Anthony Nicholson, Above Smoke, Dubbyman, Jenifa Mayanja and more. Enough said.

In the third and final part [catch up with parts one and two here and there] of our deepArtSounds feature, the charming Boutopoulos talks to bringdownthewalls about what lies ahead for the label, the Madrid documentary and the importance of [being] Ernie.

Why did you feel the need to launch deepArtSounds? And why did it take you five years to get your first release out?
After closing Moto Music and No Acting Vibes, I remained related and committed to house music through buying records and DJing. Honestly, it took years to accept the new digital world, not only the new formats such as MP3 but also the new medias: MySpace, websites, Facebook.

The transition to this new era was not that easy. I still clung on to those “good ol’ times” but I knew something must change. I mean, I wanted to act again, but I needed to re-organise myself. By 2007, I started to mix my own digital podcasts, called deepArtSounds, and they became very popular and requested. It encouraged me to launch a vinyl label under the same name and I wanted to share it with my former label partner Roberto [Pistolese] and my friend Okan [Akpinar].

In reality, the main activity of deepArtSounds still remains to broadcast and to spread our mix podcasts, on [check it].

So who does what at deepArtSounds?
I’m kind of ‘art director’, trying to give the label a face and a direction. I am responsible for most artist signings and for the medias: design, website, promo videos, publicity etc.

Roberto is handling the entire process of production: end-mastering, manufacturing, distribution, promo shipping etc. Okan is more into the podcast thing. At the end we are a good team who help each other and without any hierarchy. Everybody knows exactly what his role is.     

You seem to have had a clear vision of what you wanted to do and achieve with the label. What was that plan?
There was no master plan, but yes, since the beginning I had a clear vision. It’s not only about releasing good music on vinyl. It’s also about having a great time together and also getting in contact with new people, labels and artists. To build new projects and collaborations, even family, as we did with the guys from Madrid.

For us it is important to reflect pureness and honesty. Listening to the music that we release you will notice a certain naturalness. We don’t really care about trends and movements. We just want to release music that was created from the bottom of the artist’s heart. And sure, it must sound deep and soulful!

You debuted with Ernie's superb Origami Town. How did that come about?
As we started the label, we needed food for the first release. We already had an eye on the Spanish deep house scene. We contacted Downbeat and Minuendo Recordings for setting off a project. Ernie responded to our email and he was amazed about our background and long-standing history.

Ernie is indeed a nice guy that we really admire, not only as a producer but also as a person. He connected and introduced us to his big family/kingdom that he has created over the last ten years. He still remains a key figure for the label.

We told him that we liked his beats and deep chords and asked him to produce the first deepArtSounds vinyl. We then took the plane to Madrid to meet him and to talk about the project. We had our ideas about how it should be and sound, but we assured and promised to give him as much freedom musically as he needed.

And then he created the brilliant Origami Town!  

The Spanish connection, and in particular Madrid, is strong. Why is that?
As I said earlier, it all started with Ernie. But we already felt huge potential in Spain. The Spanish underground deep house scene is more related to the US sound, which matched our taste. At first we thought the Deep Explorer label was based in the US!

In my forthcoming film documentary about the deep house scene in Madrid, I try to explain the reason for Madrid’s musical connection to the US.

In Madrid I always feel like I’m at home because my musical roots are the same.
The other reason why we like Madrid is the cuisine and the wine. It’s definitely an added bonus.

You mentioned the documentary you’re making, Madrid Exploring Underground. Having seen clips online it honestly looks fantastic. Tell us more.
It is something that makes me curious. I feel very close to them [Madrid’s deep house players] because of my similar ideas and preferences as well as the role of always being an outsider. We grew up in different countries with a different culture, but we share the same love for classic deep house that is without doubt strongly related to the US.

I have my own story in Zürich to tell, and they have their story. Do we have similar points of view? Do we have similar feelings? I have to find it out [watch the trailer here].   

You’ve set your standards already very high at deepArtSounds in a short space of time. So where do you and the label go from here?
We still keep an eye on our existing artists. We don’t want to have as many artists as other labels. Humility, continuity and consistency are the key words of the label. We are still on our mission and we are grateful to work with outstanding producers.

DeepArtSounds was not created to be an ego thing. It is all about spreading a message in the form of deep music. Meanwhile, the bandwidth of artists in our catalogue is already enormous.

Anthony Nicholson is our outstanding ‘superstar’ and he is very connected to the label. But we also support younger ambitious producers such as Giovanni Damico or Tominori Hosoya. There is more coming in the near future.

We will have more focus on albums. Anthony Nicholson’s latest album will be released soon. Then also this year we will have another album from a great artist, which I can’t announce yet.

Both the Codes Of Sacrifice various artists EP [read the review here] and Anthony Nicholson’s Essential Plates Volume 1 are currently available, plus we have coming up Jenifa Mayanja’s Human Nature EP featuring a remix from Trinidadian Deep.

Then I am also working on my own mini album to release this year. We are also in a serious project with the very talented singer Sarignia Bonfà, who contributed on my Allstarr Motomusic EP for Deep Explorer, Beauty & Simplicity Vol. 1.

One day the mission of deepArtSounds will be accomplished, but I hope the way there is not straightforward. Let’s hope there are still some interesting hurdles to overcome.

Check out:
deepArtSounds online
deepArtSounds @ Motion FM
Watch the trailer for Madrid Exploring Underground here
Codes Of Sacrifice is available here
Essential Plates Volume 1 is available here

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