WARNING – THIS BLOG POST IS VERY LONG!!!
I wanted to write a post about my new record with Glyn Lowercase. And I also wanted to talk a little about how people become part of the label or radio station, and I thought it would be good to combine those two things, seeing as Glyn is a main part of Kniteforce now even though I had never even spoken to him before about two years ago. How did that happen? Did he pay me on the sly? Was it blackmail? Wizardry? Charm? Talent even?
Nope. Well, a little of the last of course, ha ha, but mostly nope. Talent is important, but…honestly? Many people seem to think it is the only thing that matters, when in truth, and for me at least, it is one of the MANY things that matter, and it isn’t even the priority. That might sound weird or counter intuitive, I know, but it will make sense. Probably.
But let me explain in my usual, roundabout sort of way, using Glyn as an example so that hopefully, in the future, I will get many less actual music submissions that don’t stand a chance, and many more appropriate submissions that do ha ha! If I have linked you to this blog after you sent me some music, all the things you need to know are here!
It is important to understand that I get quite a lot of music submissions, and a fair number of people send me music each week. I also have very little time to listen to anything, what with two children that I look after much of the week and running three labels (Kniteforce, Knitebreed and KFD) plus overseeing the production / physical side of those AND KFA. Shane Saiyan does the important music and artist bit on that label, and without him KFA would cease in a second at this point, but I still oversee production etc lol. My days are so full, I sometimes have a tiny bit of time with nothing to do and it freaks me out.
Thats not to mention my own music and studio, plus the day to day stuff, dealing with customers on the stores (While again, Lee Idealz does the bulk of the actual sending out of orders in the UK while I handle the US ones, but I tend to handle all customer inquiries) and so on and so forth.
All in all, on an average week, I will probably get: 10 random submissions, plus at least 5-10 tracks from one or more of the nearly 50 artists on our labels roster. Not to mention the remixes and outside artists involved and planning future projects and paying bills and etc etc.
Basically, a lot of things are always happening. I absolutely love it, but if you have new music for me to hear, and want to be on the label or on the radio or involved somehow, you will need to be patient, and to have the things I am looking for.
Because here is the thing: I am Kniteforce. I run the label, and all the major decisions on it are made by me. i do take advice and ask other people on the label their thoughts, but the buck stops here lol. And I DO NOT do it for profit, although I do like to earn money. And I DO NOT run it for fame or ego – I had that with Smart Es and I hated it. I also DO NOT run it as a favour to anyone, or out of obligation, although I do people favours and I have obligations. No. I run the label for one reason alone:
Because I like doing it.
And the result of that is…I only do things I like doing with people I like doing it with.
Now, any good businessman will tell you, this is not the ideal way to run a business. And I will totally agree. Its not. And in some ways, Kniteforce isn’t a business. It is a hobby that became a business. I do all the things that a business does, and from the legal side of things, sure, it is a business. BUT it is run as a hobby.
Now don’t get me wrong – I do accounts, pay bills, I am organised and careful. But the core of what I do is, as stated before, a hobby and not a business.
This is very important to understand, because it very much effects what I will and wont do with music that comes my way. I will not put out music just for money, for example. I will not release music from someone rude or full of themseleves, no matter how good the music is. I do not work with people who are nasty or underhand even if it would be profitable. I don’t base those decisions on talent, in other words, although of course it plays a part.
It is also important to remember my background – I am a person who failed at music at school, and ended up with a chart tune and bought a studio and made a successful record label with my friends who also were not musicians in any sense of the word.
We made it work because we REALLY wanted to make it work. We had neither knowledge or skill. Like a huge number of our contemporaries at the time, we were lucky enough to have the two things you really needed to make hardcore: We had access to a studio, and the stubborn will and desire to make music. And that was it, and it was enough. The rest, we learned along the way. You can look back now and say I am talented at what I do, or that Future Primitive were skilled with the piano lines, or, or, or, but that came through relentless dedication, not inborn skill or talent. There are exceptions – Styles from Dj Force and The Evolution was always gifted musically, and Ham took to the studio like he was born into it, but the rest of us? Not so much. We just smacked our heads against the wall until we broke through it lol.
And this is why Talent isn’t the priority. Experience has taught me it doesn’t need to be. Circling back to Glyn Lowercase, he is a superb Dj and a good friend, but it wasn’t his talents that secured him his place within the label. And it wasn’t talent that made me take on Paul Bradley, Wislov, Shadowplay, Ant To Be, Alex Jungle, Sanxion, or even Pete Cannon, Hyper On Experience and Liquid, although it goes without saying all of them ARE talented.
It was their love for the music, their dedication and enthusiasm.
And also, just being nice people without huge ego.
As the years have passed, I have come to believe more and more that dedication is probably the single most important key to success. And dedication only remains strong if there is enthusiasm. And ego ruins both. Ego and arrogance ruin all, actually.
Glyn Lowercase has dedication and enthusiasm in spades, and is both determined and humble. Its a good combination, and perfect for Kniteforce.
I first became aware of Glyn because he posted pics of his leg tattoos, which happen to be Kniteforce logos. So…thats dedication. More that I would ever ask for, and verging on the insane, sure, but still, you cant just scroll past someone who has put your record labels artwork into his skin. That person is dedicated and loves the label, so the least I could do was say “oi oi, nice one” and have a little chat. It turned out that he was only slightly mad, and he wasn’t full of himself, and he had a weekly radio show (this was before Kniteforce Radio). So I tuned in once, then again, until it became fairly regular, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear well mixed tunes, and an enthusiastic host who was obviously very into the music, and Kniteforce played its part in that as well.
This is a key point.
I want to work with people that are into what we are doing. Almost everyone I have ever taken on to the label was already into the label, knew what we do, what we are about, and wanted to be part of it. Likewise, I almost always become aware of that person because they have already done something Kniteforce related off their own backs. It doesn’t have to be as bonkers as tattoos. It might be I see their name pop up int he store, buying each release. Or they do a Soundcloud mix of KF tunes, or sport a KF shirt at an event they are playing at. All of these things and many others show that the person KNOWS the label BEFORE they ask or are invited to be part of the label. Invitations are actually the most common way people end up as part of the label. It would not be far wrong to say I ask those people to be involved who are already involved lol. Its good synergy. It works well for me if those that I work with are as dedicated as I am to the good of the label, and NOT to their own good first.
When I get a music submission from someone who has no idea what the label is about, it is very obvious. People send me their “latest EDM Banger” and I am like “But why tho?”. Or I get messages like “I did this thing and I have done these things and I am gonna do these things and these people think I am great and I want to do this so why dont you put out my record?” and what I hear is “me me me me me me” and I think “errrr…no” lol. Its not that what you are doing doesn’t matter, its great if you are doing well, go you! – But I find myself asking “whats in it for me / Kniteforce?”. We work as a family or team in a real sense. We commit to the good of the label before the good of ourselves. And in doing so, we all make out well, with opportunities given and offered rather than fought for. Kniteforce is not a stepping stone for your career, although I would never dream of holding someone back if they out grow us. But if you are submitting music purely to add Kniteforce as one of the many labels you have released on, I am not going to be into that, and will probably pass.
When I get such messages, it is clear the people who send them neither understand the label or its ethics, so no matter how good the music, thats not going to work out for us.
Back to Glyn. At no point did he say “Can I do this? Lets make a radio station! Can i come to the studio?”. Rather, when I decided to do a radio station, I had already gotten to know him a bit, and I gambled that he would rise to the challenge of running the station, based on the fact that he had enthusiasm and dedication, was a solid DJ and knew a little bit about how a station should be run. I certainly had no idea how to do it, ha ha. But I didn’t know how to run a record label either. If you have the desire and the dedication, you will learn that shit, thats how it rolls and I trust in it. He had left his other station anyway, and so it was all easy. Here is an idea, here is an opportunity, here is a person who wants to do it. I bankroll it, help organise where I can, use what connections I have, then give it to that person and say “run with it” and then we see how it turns out.
It has almost always turned out well.
Things like this show a persons true colours. Glyn was respectful of what we were about, and didn’t run around bragging or making a fool of himself. He worked hard to get the radio running smoothly, took the back seat that is needed when you are running a thing – you cant be all “me me look at me” cos if you are, the whole thing falls apart. Instead, you have to be here, there and everywhere, helping and coaching where needed. In doing all of that, he fit in with the rest of the label perfectly, and why not? His attitude is shared by the rest of us. And right there is another key point – attitude. It really matters. It may be the prime thing, because if you come to me with a shitty attitude, nothing else is going to happen. So in order:
04. Talent / Skill
To touch on the last three on the list. Loyalty is important. I am perfectly willing to invest in artists that cover the first four, and I will also invest in artists that make it clear they have other loyalties as well. I prefer exclusivity because it means we are all working together for the same purpose, but as long as people are upfront, I can work non exclusive. But if you want to be fully part of the label, loyalty is expected. Some might think this is unfair, but why would I trust Glyn to run my station, come to my house and work in the studio, if he is just going to go and take those things I have worked to help him with and go somewhere else? Again, I have to ask, whats in it for me? Kniteforce is not a stepping stone, as I said before. I give my all to the label and its artists, and if I am going to do that, I expect the same in return. Its a two way street, always, with loyalty and everything else. i back my artists, i expect to be backed in return. Having said that, loyalty is usually not an issue as it tends to be shown before it gets very far. I also firmly believe, in this era of “everyone running about everywhere doing everything” that loyalty to a single label is refreshing, and allows for a career and to build a solid base rather than taking a scattershot approach. Plus, this is my hobby, I work with my friends, if you are on the label, you are my friend, and in friendships, loyalty is an important thing.
Next on the list… 06 is patience. Things take time, and I take pride in the fact that I try to make sure EVERYONE who is a loyal part of the label or station gets given every opportunity to do ALL the things. But it takes time, with this many people and within a hardcore scene which, at this time, is still sadly limited as it is not a huge scene. Glyn was invited to come and make music with me after the radio station was rolling and I had gotten to know him pretty well and was confident we could work on music together and come up with something unique. It took 2 years for him to go from person I knew to person I work with on a daily basis and trust with the inside workings of the label and now recording artist. But it was worth the wait, for me, and I am pretty sure he would say the same.
Others have done the same thing or are in the process, although that makes it sound like a job interview or something – its not, its natural, never forced, just a progression. I took on Kaytaro and Thibor as Djs to the radio station because as well as being good Djs, the first was a regular customer and the second a huge supporter of the station from the get go. Both have gone above and beyond in filling slots when needed and generally helping Glyn with the radio. Kay will be coming to the studio soon, and Thibor will get to mix an album etc etc And this is how it rolls with us.
Shane Saiyan, who runs KFA for me, I met via an argument online ha ha. And that brings me to the final thing: 07 Individuality.
I am not interested in a bunch of music that sounds like I made it, or like Alex Jungle or any of the artists we already have because…we already have them. So its important to think about what you are sending me. Is it a traditional piano breakbeat anthem? Thats great…but…Ant To Be and myself can knock those out too. As can Liquid and Future Primitive and and…that doesnt mean it will get a “No” but it does mean the competition to make something outstanding is particularly high. I love the variety on the labels, and it is not an accident. When I say i want another Empyreal or Alex Jungle, I mean I want another artist who’s sound is so unique, as soon as you hear it you know who it is.
It is a high standard.
And it comes from people who are individual. No one arts like Jimni Cricket or Spudgunjuice. No one D’n’Bs like Idealz. My own work is (I flatter myself) unique in sound. We don’t have any artists you can easily mistake for any others. Gothika Shade does not sound like Ben Venom. We are not interchangeable, and if you want to be part of the label, you need to consider that. Dj Deluxe is a superb host on the radio, eloquent, funny, great at coming up with ideas and entertaining to listen to on the mic as well as having an eclectic and great taste in music. He is not Lowercase, who’s style is more manic and based on upfront promos etc. And neither of them are Idealz, who is silent, no mic, and jungle / d’n’b orientated. Or Dj Patience who is so Drum’n’Bass its weird to find out he likes House as well ha ha. Or, or or, you get the point. When sending something to me or Saiyan or Lowercase, you need to consider what you bring to the table? Is it a new and exciting dish? Then we are very interested. Is it another hamburger? We have those. So its gonna have to be a stunningly good hamburger, you know?
Thats where individuality comes in.
I am not interested in Luna-C clones, or sycophants – as I said, Saiyan and I became friends from a disagreement, and now he runs one of my labels. I can trust him to speak his mind. An that is ESSENTIAL for what he does. Glyn had to learn to be a little more…bold…sometimes. I am not a person that gets upset by disagreements, I am interested in other opinions and value the input from all of my artists. A bunch of like-me’s are no use at all, cos i already have me. And I am not all knowing, I am fallible and need help. And I need enthusiastic, dedicated people involved because I am dedicated myself, but old, and have been around a long time. So enthusiasm is a commodity that is absolutely needed ha ha!
All of this is why KF85 – Luna-C & Lowercase “Heavy Beats” EP is a thing that happened. i am thrilled that I get to bring Glyn into this side of the business, and will enjoy watching him go from learning from me, to doing his own thing, as so many of my friends have done before. I hope there will soon be a Lowercase EP which he does on his own. But…after a few more with me, cos god damn it was fun making this one!
Mostly, I hope this blog has given you some insight into the label and makes you want to be involved. Whether as someone who buys the music, or plays the music or is directly involved – we see you. We see who supports, and we see who wants more, and theres nothing we like more than being able to make that happen!
Anyway, enough from me. Nice one,