Wolf Music Talk History, Vinyl, Spiritland, Manuel Darquart and Stand-Out Artists
Based in Brighton Wolf Music is easily one of the most exciting vinyl labels of the last decade. Launched in 2009 last year they crashed past the 50 release mark having released music from some of the most influential artists on the scene including Medlar, Frits Wentink, Ron Basejam, Bicep, & DJ Romain.
Their latest release Wolfep 058 see’s Manuel Darquart joining the label with for what is a truly superb release drawing influences from some of the classic 90’s Italian labels including Irma, Antima and Palmares. The EP features four tracks including a fierce remix by label favourite Medlar. Its well worth checking out. You can check one of the tracks below.
Grab Wolf Music’s latest release Wolfep058 by Manuel Darquart from: https://backl.ink/143029552
We caught up with the two label bosses Matt & Stu to talk about the history of Wolf Music, vinyl releases, Spiritland, label tips and some of the stand out artists out there right now.
Hi there Matt & Stu,
thanks for speaking to us today.
Firstly please can you tell us a little about the ethos of Wolf Music as it is in 2020?
The benchmark is always whether or not the music connects with us both. That’s the starting point. We are into a wide-range of music and are open to all sorts of projects. I wouldn’t say our policy is genre-based, but almost all of the music we release has some aspect of soul running through it. It’s cliché, but it is a feeling – no better way to describe it. What we like is based on our collective experience, current context, and what we think needs more attention and love from the wider world. House, disco, techno, hip hop, jazz – the dots all join up if you know the history and respect the culture and communities that nurture it.
How did you two first meet and what was it that led to your journey to founding the label?
We first met about 17 years ago at an outdoor party in Southampton. There was a local crew called Emotive who were putting on some really good parties at the time and we both gravitated towards them. Stu DJ’d with them fairly regularly and they were wise enough to book me a couple of times too. We got chatting and found that musically we were into the same vibe and we laughed a lot together. Both of us were already obsessive music collectors and DJs, and in that situation there are always records to talk about and dodgy mixing to critique. Stu moved to London, I moved to Brighton, but we stayed in touch, going to events, DJing together, and then one day an opportunity to start a new label came up and we decided to do that together. Starting a label made sense at the time, we were aligned musically and things tend to be more fun when you share the experience with someone you enjoy spending time with. That was 11 years ago and it is still that way.
Which other labels gave you inspiration when you were first launching Wolf Music about how you would like your own label to look?
Too many to list, but we always liked the innovators, those labels that did things their own way and created a unique offering that people from the outside looking in wanted to buy into (a gang I guess). We wanted to have a distinct identity – aesthetically, musically and through the artists we worked with. We assembled a stable of core artists that only released on our label. That way we all grew together, relied on each other, and all pulled in the same direction. That worked beautifully for many years and it was an amazing thing to be part of – making waves around the world with some of your closest friends. Then things always need to evolve, otherwise you stagnate. The scene is continually in a state of flux and it is important to keep things fresh, for the label and for the artists. That is still driving us to this day. Anyone with money can sign the trends or pay for the best creatives around – but there is no personality in that, and there is nothing of yourself you are giving there. You are just putting more of the same out into the world – no one needs another label who simply chase trends and mirror what has already happened. Our inspiration was and still is, to push things forward in our own unique way.
Please can you give us four tracks from your back catalogue which you would say are quintessentially Wolf Music?
KRL – Remember Donny (Greymatter Remix)
Our first release, and two of the core WOLF guys first breakout track. From here they went on to lay the foundations of the WOLF sound.
Medlar – Terrell
This one was really hyped and opened a lot of doors for WOLF. It was also Medlar’s first track with us and started a long-standing working relationship that endures to this day.
Frits Wentink – Mouse
Fritsy’s first WOLF release, and again the start of a wonderful relationship. Many 12″s, albums, and gigs – Frits continually blows us away with the music he makes and all his releases will stand the test of time. He will be an overnight success soon 😉
Velour – Pose
Our forthcoming album project with Essen’s Velour. A great band that Mr Fries produced and introduced us to. A good example of our music policy – it’s not house, but it has a house attitude, and it is soaked in soul.
What would you say are your favourite Wolf Music moments to date?
The early parties in Corsica Studios were wild. We met lots of fantastic people there that have gone on to do great things. Can’t beat a small dark room with a big, well tuned, sound-system. I say that, but maybe a boat on the Adriatic could top it – which is why the Garden Festival WOLF boat parties also stand out. I don’t think they can be topped. Perfect.
What would you say are the most fun aspects of what you do as a label and also what are the most difficult?
Fun – getting to work with very talented artists. Being a custodian of their art and the buzz you get from seeing the public connecting with it too. The scene has some absolute whoppers in it, but on the whole, those that are really passionate about it are good people and are a joy to be around.
Difficult – not all records are guaranteed sales. You put your heart into it, take a chance, and it doesn’t always work out how you hoped. But that’s life – if there was no risk element, what’s the point in playing.
You have become widely recognised for your support of vinyl. What drives your support of the format and have you been surprised at how buoyant vinyl as a format has become again over the last few years.
Vinyl is a personal taste thing. We grew up with it, we like owning it, we like playing it, and we like to see music pressed onto it. It isn’t simple to make a vinyl record, so to do it you need to believe in the project – I personally like that barrier to entry. If you really think something should be on vinyl you will find a way. And yes it still works, if you aren’t looking at it as a ludicrously profitable venture. Format choice is the same as music taste – whatever works for you. As long as you support the artists in the best way you can, each to their own.
After 10 years and 50 plus releases what tips would you give to anyone looking to start up their own vinyl label?
With all our sub-labels, albums, and special editions, it is probably closer to the 90 releases mark now.
Tips – have an idea, believe completely in the music you want to release, take the time to learn from those who know the process. Do it for love of the music, never for the scent of money.
What’s it like playing at Spiritland?
It’s like playing in your living room, but on a grander scale. By that I mean they make you very comfortable, the sound is warm but not loud, and you can play whatever you want. I always look forward to digging deep into the collection for our sets there. Plus they do a naughty bottle of red for £30 that sets you well on your way.
Which artists would you say are really standing out in the house scene at the moment?
Sven Wunder, Surprise Chef, Velour, Earth Boys, Gene Tellem, Medlar, Frits Wentink, Manuel Darquart, Matthew Tavares…
What qualities are you looking for in new artists who submit music to Wolf?
A love and appreciation of the culture, and not taking themselves too seriously. It’s just records 😉
What else can we expect from Wolf Music in 2020?
Manuel Darquart – WOLFEP58
Velour – Velour – WOLFLP005
New Medlar EP.
Gene Tellem EP.
For more info check:
Wolf Music Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfmusicrecordings
Wolf Music Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/nysoul
Wolf Music Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wolfmusic/
Wolf Music Twitter: https://twitter.com/WOLFMusic