Power to the label: Raw Power Recordings kicks off
Reported by SunnyAli
Submitted 11-11-08 10:00
These days it’s a common complaint that dance music is becoming ever more label-crowded, and as a result it’s getting ever trickier to manage and grow a quality and successful digital label. They may be relatively easy to set up, but it seems every aspiring DJ/producer wants to own one, which means today there’s a lot of material on offer on the internet that arguably wouldn't have been there a few years ago.
Knowing this, it’s a brave move to step into this arena and any new label manager today needs to work doubly hard to get the highest quality of releases signed. Marking yourself out from the crowd – as with music production – comes inevitably through the level of experience, knowledge and ultimately contact network of the people running the label. So, with over six years of making her name in the industry so far, DJ and producer Gem Stone is well placed to give label management a damn good go.
Gem is no certainly spring chicken when it comes to hard dance. Since first setting hands on a pair of decks nine years ago she’s spent pretty much every day living, breathing and talking hard house, from getting her demos onto the desks of DJs like Tara Reynolds and Rob Tissera, supporting big names like the Tidy Boys, Lee Haslam and Ed Real with promotion work, organising herself sets up and down the UK and holding her own club nights too.
She’s made her name as a slick hard NRG DJ (recent sets include Nebula in Aberdeen and Sin:ergy Vs Gravity in Manchester); and more recently she’s taken to production and over the last two years has signed no less than 17 releases to seven different UK and international labels including The Beat Ranch, Scum NRG and Spin Hard. She’s also successfully turned her hand to remixing, coming second in Toolbox Records’ remix competition in April 2008 with her version of Trauma Vs Paul Glazby’s F*ck Em All. The track was subsequently released on Toolbox’s Hard Heart Beat CD.
With this background, setting up a record label can’t seem that tough. Working with fellow up-and-comer Wil H, she’s created Raw Power Recordings, and launched it at the end of August '08 with tracks from industry giant Tom Parr and acclaimed producer Random but Raw, as well as tracks from her and Wil.
Raw Power is targeting the same hard NRG sound Gem practices and produces, and aims to be a fresh and high quality resource for DJs looking for hard, fast and furious hard dance. Like her other projects, she has proved she has the commitment, experience and resilience to make this a success and can develop RPR into the best label for driving hard NRG music over the coming years. I popped in to see how all the work was going.
You’re a successful up and coming DJ – what makes you want to launch a record label? When and how did you come to launch RPR?
Running my own label has been something I’ve always wanted to do because I want to give lesser-known producers the chance to get their tunes out there as well as having some tunes from big name DJs. I just want to give something back to the hard house community. I was chatting to Wil H online one day and we both decided that we would just go for it. Wil has always wanted to run a label too.
It took us about four months of work to get the first releases out there. We spent time playing around with different logos for the label and eventually decided on one that I think reflects us well. We also sorted out where we would be selling the tunes – in the end we decided Track It Down would be best to start with and maybe look to sell on other sites in the future.
How did you choose the name and style?
That part was easy! The style would be what both Wil and I know most about – hard dance! The name was quite easy to come up with, it fits the style of the label exactly!
Both mine and Wil’s DJing styles are pretty much the same, both hard dance and both fierce! I think the love of that style of music is what drove us to do the label in the first place and will certainly determine what sort of tunes we sign.
What do you really want to achieve with it? Are you promoting a particular sound that other labels don’t, or is this to promote your own productions?
We just want to get good tunes out there and look at doing a Raw Power event night in the future. We will be using the label as an outlet for some of our own productions but will still look at getting some on other labels.
One issue is that the industry has got to the stage where anyone can own a digital record label. There is a lot of bad music out there now that is not good enough to be released. Raw Power is going to be a label you can depend on for good music. We will not sign just anything – we want to release music that will really benefit the industry and keep it moving forwards.
The best labels have a distinctive style that all their releases have in common: what do you want RPR to have?
We’re looking for really fast paced and synth filled tracks! Music that makes you go ‘Ooooohhh’!
As I said before, both Wil and I love hard dance and we are looking for tunes what have that certain something to make the crowd go wild! Labels like Flashpoint and Spinball have got a really good reputation for having the best quality tunes on it and we aspire to have the same. We don’t see the point in releasing tunes if they just won’t sell.
While the term hard dance covers the whole spectrum of dance, we will be looking to sign tracks at the harder end of the scale. We don’t want to sign just NRG, although it will be mostly that.
What have been RPR’s big releases to date? Have other producers been supportive of your new label?
So far we have had four releases that are really selling well. Tunes that have been released already are: Cyber Spider by Gem Stone, Steve Hewitt & Matt Edwards – we signed this tune because we felt that the hard riff and acid line was exactly what we wanted for the label. It was the perfect tune to start the label with. Next up was Atomic by Wil H and it’s a real stormer. It has a slightly funky bassline and cleverly placed synths leading to a very strong main riff that really kicks off.
Our third release is My House by Tom Parr. Tom has been one of my favourite producers for quite some time now so to have him on board in our first four tracks is a real privilege. This track is the usual strong sound by Tom with a catchy vocal and hard synths, this will get any dance floor going! And finally, we’ve released Sewerage by Random But Raw. Rob AKA Random But Raw sent me this tune shortly after I decided to start Raw Power and I fell in love with it, with the clever use of vocals, quirky hoovers and a wicked bassline.
Our bestsellers so far are ‘Tom Parr – My House’ & ‘Random But Raw – Sewerage’. We have had a lot of good feedback from a lot of DJs and hope that this support will help the label grow.
How are you scouting for new releases? What do you look for in a producer in order to sign them?
I make sure I scan forums for people promoting a new production all the time. People also send me tracks – I get sent 2-3 tunes a week. Most of them very good but on most occasions they just don’t have the sound we are going for. We are looking for tunes that have a proper drive to them and something which sets them out from the rest – after all, if everyone was making tunes in the same way the music industry would be a boring place to be part of! We want producers to try new things, think outside the box as it were.
What’s the best way to get your label noticed? How are you marketing the label to make sure everyone knows about it?
I think you have to have a mixture of both signing well known, big name producers and finding and promoting newer up and comers with a new sound that other labels haven’t covered yet. I never wanted the label to be just big name producers and I never will because I want to give the up and comers a chance.
We market the label on sites such as MySpace, Facebook, DSI, Track It Down and HarderFaster and are putting together a mailing list of all our industry contacts, so we can promote by sending press releases out.
We also send the tracks out to bigger name DJ/producers so the tunes get some play in clubs before the actual release. This is really important! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a tune in a club and spent the next few weeks trying to find out what it was!
What about future releases? What’s being released next?
We’ve got a number of releases in the pipeline but the next four will be released by the end of November this year. First up we have a track called The Avenger, by Weazel. It’s definitely one for the end of the night and has loads of fast hoovers and ripping synths. It is incredibly well produced and we’ve agreed that Weazal will be a regular producer on Raw Power with both original tunes and remixes.
There are then three releases I’ve done in collaboration with Steve Hewitt and other producers, over recent months that will be coming out soon. One is Psionic, by Gem Stone & Steve Hewitt Vs WhiteHayz, which was originally meant to be released on Flashpoint along with Deprived by Gem Stone & Steve Hewitt Vs Hi Freak1c, but unfortunately that fell through when Marc Johnson (the owner of Flashpoint) gave it all up. It was only fitting that I take both tracks for my own label.
Psionic is full of little noises, a fierce riff and wicked acid line. It was amazing to work with WhiteHayz (Darrell White & Nick Hayes) both Steve and I will be doing more work with them in the future so look out for that. Deprived has a really strong riff and fun acid line, also one for near the end of the night.
Finally we’ve got a track called Ironic, by Gem Stone & Steve Hewitt, the first track Steve Hewitt and I have made on our own. The vocal says ‘funky beat’, but it’s hardly funky, hence the name ‘Ironic. It’s a hard hitting synthy tune to make any dance floor go crazy! We’re planning to produce more tracks together too so look out for those.
Gem with Gazz Hunt
Do you master tracks before releasing them on RPR? What’s the reason for your decision, whether yes or no?
I always get my own productions mastered but it is up to the individual producer to get their tracks mastered before release. Most tracks are mastered before they get sent to labels. Providing the producer has good enough speakers they can master it themselves, it is just about getting the sound nice and crisp. I don’t feel it is up to the label to master tracks for producers.
How do you personally buy tunes these days from digital labels? What lessons have you learned from buying music over the internet that you’re putting into practice on RPR?
I use download sites like Track It Down and Flashpoint. I think it is important to give a good write up for a tune because sometimes it can sway you into listening to it. I am currently looking for someone to do tune reviews for Raw Power if anyone is interested!
TID is to a certain extent the industry standard and a site that everyone considers essential, purely because it provides such a wide range of MP3 downloads, it has everything DJs could possibly need. Almost all my favourite labels are on there, the same goes with the Flashpoint website although it is more specialised to hard dance. There are other sites but they just don’t offer the same amount of choice.
Getting listed on TID was actually really easy: I emailed them and explained what I was planning to do with my label and we signed a contract. They take a small percentage of any sales and it gives me a brilliant platform to sell my tunes. It gives me the exposure and accessibility I need to give the artists I’ve signed the biggest opportunities.
What’s the hardest part of managing a label? It doesn’t interfere with your DJing and producing does it?
I think the hardest part for me is knowing how to go about things as I have never run a label before so it is all new to me! Luckily I have many friends in the industry who are always willing to help out and offer advice. It doesn’t really interfere with my DJing or production, I tend to do production for the label when I can’t make any noise in the house, haha!
How’s your own producing coming along? How is your personal style developing?
I’ve been working really hard these last few months to get my own sound, I don’t want to make the same as everyone else. I want someone to listen to a track and immediately know I made it! I love working with really fat riffs and strong acid lines to give the tune loads of energy! I hate tunes that just don’t go anywhere.
My own productions are getting better but I still have a lot to learn. I’m very lucky that I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing producers like Riggsy, Frank Farrell, Darrell White, Evo D & Maxwell and Hi Freak1c, and have picked up so much from them, it has really helped.
Which producers are you loving at the moment? Who would you recommend HF readers take a listen to?
At the minute I am loving Darrell White; Gazz Hunt; Tom Parr; Lucy Fur; And of course the mighty Dom Sweeton. These guys are the definition of the sound that I love and always grab tunes when I see they made them! They never fail to impress. Dom Sweeton is the one person above all others that I would love to work with in the future, he gets the most amazing sounds and I think I could learn a lot from him!
For more info
All Raw Power tune are available at here
Also look on:
Photos courtesy of Gem Stone. Not to be reproduced without permission
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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
| From: Phil Lacerda on 11th Nov 2008 17:55.04|
Loving your tunes!!!Viva NRG!!!
From: Hi Freak1c on 12th Nov 2008 18:37.33
Awesome Stuff Gem good luck wid the label and sure it will do amazing, keep up the production doing really well. Top work :0) keep it up!
From: Gem Stone on 12th Nov 2008 19:43.12
From: benedictb on 13th Nov 2008 09:49.29
Are you on Beatport?
From: Gem Stone on 13th Nov 2008 12:04.38
Not as yet mate but we might think about expanding shortly. For now we are available on trackitdown.net x
From: mutley on 16th Nov 2008 20:03.27
Well done Gem, keep up the good work, you're doing really well, i'm proud of you xxx
From: sticky on 18th Nov 2008 13:26.13
well done Gem nice interview,
See ya soon hun