From the very beginning in 2011 the concept was simple and crystal clear. Mad Mats & Tooli’s new label Local Talk had two main focus points. First, the actual music was to be inspired around those magical 4/4 house rhythms…and beyond. Second, the logo! The idea was that a simple and direct visual point together with a strong dance MUSIC message would make the label stand out among other labels in their northern neck of the woods. In Scandinavia, the main theme is electronic 4/4 rhythms (techno, tech-house etc) and with Local Talk being more inspired by black dance music this has made them the black sheep in the hometown of Stockholm.
So 10 Years ago Mad Mats and Tooli started the first label in Sweden to focus on their specific sound. With a schedule that has spanned over 200 releases that have included Opolopo, Jamie 3:26, the late Soulphiction, Soul Renegades, Crackazat,S3A, Bassfort, Art Of Tones, Luke Solomon, Atjazz, Fish Go Deep, Lay-Far, this dynamic duo have been relentless in their qualtiy output. About to celebrate a decade in the game with an EP so epic – Bassforts Moon Light & Moonshadow – with reworks by house royalty Joe Clausell and Kyodai, we talk to them ahead of this mighty release.
WWD: First of all, congratulations for being 10 years plus in the game! Does it feel like a decade, or does it feel like a hell of a lot longer?
Thanks. Honestly, it does not feel like a decade. As you get older time does go fast. I have a fairly good memory and looking back some of the stuff happening, getting our first office, we sat in this posh area of Stockholm where a friend of ours was kind enough to let us rent two desks. Since then we’ve moved around a bit, done a few label parties and of course released lot’s of great music.
WWD: Labels and partnerships come and go, but you two have lasted a decade. As friends and label partners, would you say that you are quite similar people, or is the longevity of your relationship because you are totally different?
I think most people that know us would say we’re different, but in saying that we do complement each other. The label would probably not exist if we were similar.
WWD: When and how did you both meet?
Our first proper introduction in regards of running a label together was the fall 2010, and the rest is history. Before that we did run into each other around town at clubs. I did visit the legendary club Raw Fusion a couple of times and also played one of the last nights before it took a lengthy break.
WWD: How did the friendship move on to a conversation about having a label?
Mats wanted to start a new label after running Raw Fusion (the label) for several years and I had something similar in mind, so after having our first meeting it all came naturally.
WWD: Who were the other labels at that time that you kinda looked up to or aspired to be like?
We did talk about labels, artists and producers we liked, but it was never a conversation like ”we’re going to be the next Nervous” or ”we aim to get as big as Defected”. We just wanted to do our own thing.
WWD: Are there a lot of soulful house labels in Stockholm these days?
Soulful house labels in Stockholm? – There’s probably as many here as there is in Antarctica.
WWD: As a record buyer, you can always be sure the next release on LT will be gold. When you began, was the musical direction as clear as it is today?
Yeah, it’s still the same. If we like it we release it. We’ve turned down a few tracks that are considered ”big” and made it on the charts but we made a promise that we would not compromise.
In the beginning a lot of reviews mentioned 90s house and Local Talk in the same sentence but it was never about 90s house for us back then. We like it all. A few artists we’ve released had a specific sound,but then we’ve done +150 releases and not one release sound like the previous.
WWD: How do you manage the A&R process?
We still get sent music, not as much as we used to but there’s demos each week. We do get in touch with artists ourselves too, some of them we know, others we’ve heard a track that we like and send an email.
WWD: You played a strong part in the beginning of Crackazat. Do you see the label as a place to nurture and launch talent?
It’s something we discuss and of course it’s nice to have artists working with you for a longer time. Building something together and plan not only a 12” but also albums. Something we noticed quite early on was artists wanting to release on the label, using it as a stepping stone and then move on to whatever other labels that had some exposure.
Our main thing is releasing great music and we’re happy if we can do so with an artist. If it’s just one release and then they go elsewhere – fine. We’ll still be here and do what we do.
WWD: You have had many successes over the last ten years. Were there tough times too?
Depends how you define success. Is it lots of sales, trending on social media, getting DJ gigs or releasing an artist early on that eventually becomes popular? To be fair, it’s been tough since we started, sales have never been big compared to what vinyl used to sell, price increases along the way, and booking agencies going bust and promoters not paying – we’ve probably had our fair share of all those things. Luckily we’ve found other ways to release the music, like we never said we would restrict ourselves to one format and be a ”vinyl only” label.
I think one of the reasons why we’re still around is because we never sold out or turned the label into something else. There’s so many ways to sell music and promote it these days, but if you’re not happy with what you’re doing, it will show and no point in continuing to do it really.
WWD: The last few years, with all of the vinyl problems and pressing delays, this must have been pretty frustrating for you. Does this change your vision at all?
Not at all. We’ve always said we would release music in whichever format possible. We started with vinyl & digital and a few releases are digital-only also. Sure, it’s not great to hear about delays and pressing records are not cheap, far from it, but we’ll keep releasing music anyway. The most important thing is the tune, not the format.
WWD: You have been in the game for some time, and you will have seen many changes particularly in how people consume music. The shift from vinyl, CD, and digital now taking a backseat with streaming becoming the most important medium. Does this change how you feel about being a record label and your output?
No, our main thing is releasing music we like and make it available to everyone that wants to hear it.
WWD: What do you think is amazing about the music industry today?
It’s still possible to release songs and find new artists that are making great music.
WWD: What concerns you about the industry in relation to underground music?
The music is not the most important thing for some. Labels willing to invest money in music just because the artist is getting some hype or trending on socials.
WWD: What do you think needs to change to make it better?
Honestly, I don’t have a good answer. It’s always been like this, right? Luckily there is so much music out there and you don’t have to like it all, just choose what you like and remember to support the artists and labels.
WWD: When you thought about celebrating 10 years of Local Talk, it must have been a hard choice when deciding on a record for this occasion. Why did you choose this particular release?
To be fair, it wasn’t really that difficult. We had maybe one or two tracks we thought about but the Bassfort 12” is still a very important record for us. We still love it so the idea came naturally when talking about the releases on the label and which one too choose.
WWD: How did you come by Bassfort and their original release? What’s the story on how you signed?
Mats knew Nacho (1/3 of Bassfort) and the Kyodai brothers. When he was visiting Nacho he got to hear the demo for the track Moon Shadow and Mats came back, played me the track – both of us knew it was something special and here we are today.
WWD: What’s happening with Bassfort today?
Good question, you should probably ask the guys this question but let’s say Bassfort is taking a siesta.
WWD: There are ingredients that make tracks epic. What do you think are the elements of seminal cuts like Moon Light & Moon Shadow that make them age so well?
They are both well composed songs, the arrangements work, and both have a strong hook.
WWD: What a buzz to get Joe Clausell on the remix. It’s almost as if there are two records in one. In your words, what has he done to the original ?
It’s a beautiful remix for sure, Joe took the original and just went for it. He sure put his own spin on it, I think the way it builds is phenomenal and it gives me goose bumps each time I hear it.
WWD: The Kyodai brothers were two-third of Bassfort. Who was the other person?
Nacho ‘Gran Reserva’ Velasco
WWD: Kyodai debuted on Freerange Records, and have released on Poker Flat, Mule Musiq, plus a slew of outings on Local Talk. Aside from remixing this great record, what else are they up to these days?
Probably chillin’ and taking a nap – All Jokes Aside, they make music and continues to play live. They might release some new music on Local Talk soon…time will tell.
WWD: Ten years have passed. Do you think you have it in you both to do another ten years?
Sure, as long as we find great music to release, we will make sure it’s out there.
WWD: Are there any artists that you have your eyes on for the label that you have not yet worked with?
Louie Vega or Mike Banks is more than welcome to send over some tunes If they want. But as mentioned in this interview, it’s about the music and we’re happy to receive music by artists we haven’t heard before too. A good tune is a good tune.
If we make it to Stockholm this year, where is a great place to head for a cool beer and some good vibes? T – I would skip the beer and head out to the archipelago and enjoy some cool vibes by the sea.
WWD: Is there a record shop you would recommend to pass by to?
There’s two really close by each other that is must, Record Mania & Snickards Records.
WWD: As you celebrate this 10th anniversary with this release, what can we expect to see from Local Talk second half of 2022.
More music of course! We’ve got a few artists making a return to the label and releasing new music like Shaka, Coflo & Lee Wilson. Laroye is finishing an album for us, We got more music from Wipe The Needle coming too. There’s a fantastic release by Sound Signals, a duo consisting of Craig Smith and Saleem Andrew McGroarty. We’re also working on a new compilation series which is slightly different from the Talking House compilations, more of those are coming too. There’s a live 12” from Soulphiction recorded a few years back, we’re also doing another compilation like the 5 1/12 years one we did a while back that features some new artists we’ve signed plus a few LT family members but that is probably happening next year.
WWD: Happy Anniversary Local Talk. Here’s to another TEN!
Release Date: June 10th, 2022. Buy Here