How did you get into doing what you do? When did the first idea to create the label come up?
Apparel Music was born from the need to make Electronic music interact with instrumental music. Rather than being identified with a musical style or genre we want to be perceived as a multiform brand with a strong aptitude for music, which in Apparel Music we translate with the word Jazzy. The first project I worked on was Jazzy Caravan. After having recorded the stems that retraced the sounds of Duke Ellinghton’s Caravan, I started to contact and gather the best Electronic music producers I knew, who could give their version of it. That’s how the first interaction between improvisation and technology began and, with it, our journey into the world of Jazzy.
Give some statistics, when the label was created, how many releases, how many vinyl and how many packages / packages have been sent?
Since 2010 we produced more than a thousand tracks on all our catalogues, more than two hundred releases and more than fifty vinyl. We also produced many CD’s/cassettes/a book/art contests/newsletters/posters etc. When you look at the amount of physical products we’ve made you can get an idea of what we are. We’re about art, rather than just music; music is what inspires us to break the borders.
From which country do most of your buyers come from?
We have followers from all over the world so it’s quite difficult to pick a country. Wordandsound, our distribution, is German, therefore our core business comes from Europe but we also have many fans in Japan, Russia, South Africa, Latin America, the US and Canada. It took time but we can fairly say that now we’re pretty much known everywhere.
What is the release of which you are most proud of?
We produced hundreds of artists and it would be difficult to highlight someone rather than another. Certainly names like Delano Smith, Fred P, Lopazz, Scsi-9, John Tejada, Pablo Bolivar, Yapacc, Loure and Kerem Akdag, to name a few, have given a strong push to the label and have helped us to position ourselves in the international market. Although, it would be unfair to say that we’re what we are now only because of them. It’s a mosaic of artists all over the world, each and every one really important. We’ve always been really careful to pick young talents and to build a path with em rather than just taking advantage of the big name to make ourselves known.
Can you describe to us your typical day at the office ?
Everything starts after a good espresso in the kitchen, which is a really important place.
Then, for me and my business partner the week is marked by numerous events, releases and recently we have opened a section on our website dedicated to the Media which is offering us new opportunities and many new partners, friends and loads of work. Since the pandemic we understood that it was necessary to open up to the world, overcoming the old concept of competition and devote ourselves to our fellow professionals by making our platform available to break the barriers that sometimes the music industry has. On Mondays we usually dedicate ourselves to setting the week, on Tuesday we listen to the demos and schedule the contents on the web and social networks. In the middle of the week we usually prepare for the weekend’s event (if there are some) and on Thursdays/Fridays we dedicate ourselves to our work on our newest releases.
Since a year we’re putting a lot of work into the website which is becoming the ‘business card’ of all our different activities; for this reason is essential to make it perfect. Then we run a residency in Milan at the Milan Triennale (museum of contemporary art) which has hosted Radio Raheem for more than a year.
Who’s in your team? Are you a Music Producer or DJ?
My peculiarity is that for quite a long time I’ve been able to manage all the work by myself but, having grown a lot over the years as a brand, it became difficult. Since five/six years I work side by side with my business partner Ludovico Schilling aka SCHiLLiNG whom I launched our label Apparel Tronic with. We opened up a company together when he was living in London and now we’re Milan based.
About the DJing: I started it in the late 90s. I started producing after a few years with my moniker Kisk, but in recent years I have been dedicating myself mainly to the role of label owner and A&R. With experience, you learn to divide up forces, work and skills. Right now I feel more useful to others in making record releases and helping them to promote their art in the best possible way. I became rather a project manager than a full time musician.
Which distribution channels do you use?
We’re distributed by WAS for more than 10 years now. We are present in all physical and digital stores and of course on all streaming platforms. There are different users, therefore different listening needs. I believe it is necessary to publish music in all its formats, depending on the product.
Did you use youtube and how strong / weak the impact?
We do have our own youtube channel but we usually focus on more merit-based and profitable platforms like Spotify. We rely on some well-known channels to promote our releases with the premieres.
Have you ever helped yourself with buying clicks & plays on soundcloud?
Soundcloud has always been one of our favorite platforms, in fact we have been offering our premieres for a few months now on SC. Considering that we do not deal with mainstream music, over the years we have obtained a good positioning and numerous followers on Soundcloud. We believe it is necessary to obtain real numbers for a reliable response to our proposals. For some time we have come across the world of the Repost-exchange. A healthy way to promote your own music and that of others through the exchange of visibility. If you stay consistent with the taste of your channel and apply yourself not only to get numbers but to grow your community, and not clogging your followers‘ dashboards with too much stuff, you are on the right path.
Where do you find hungry and ambitious artists?
Fortunately, we’re in the industry since many years and we receive numerous demos that must only be listened and chosen carefully. Then we try to create the best possible ‘frame’ around the music, that can satisfy both us and the artist. If your editorial policy is clear and you work by keeping your name clean and lovingly caring for your artists, everything becomes easier for you.
What impact does streaming with spotify have on the economic situation of an indie label?
Whether or not I agree with streaming, it has now became an integral part of our lives and jobs. It is difficult to take a position on this, given how much the music produced in rights and copyright in the past. But we are certainly much more careful to this aspect than we than we used to be. Everything has changed since Napster and Spotify, at least, is starting to revive the fortunes of medium-high ranked labels, but we are still trying to fully grasp the introduction of this new way of music spreading. Our habits have changed, the means evolve and with them the purposes and goals also change.
When you look for new music to sign what are some key elements and factors you are looking for, aside from it being a great track obviously?
The first thing I do when I listen to a song/track for the first time is trying to perceive the soul of the person who produces it. When I get the message I start wondering around about release: the right format and the right catalog, the right cover etc. In 2016 I launched -as I previously said- Apparel Tronic with SCHiLLiNG. Tronic is our laboratory, is where we experiment different things. Like the ‘Jazzy’ for Apparel Music, here too we coined the term ‘Bliss-Beat’ to group all the genres and influences we want to put into this label. Since 2016, however, I have created an anonymous collective called Apparel Wax which have been releasing on vinyl.
How would you describe the style and vision of your label?
In a few words: opened to the change, quality driven, enthusiastic, careful to the human relationships, multidisciplinary.
What are some sites or apps that you use to listen / find new tracks?
We listen to all kinds of music on all kinds of portals/websites; from vinyl stores to digital ones, from streaming platforms to blogs and webzines. For producers out there sending in their demos via emails, what are some tips you would give them on professionally sending in their track to you?
You can send us demos to email@example.com or just a preview on Soundcloud with a private link. If we like it we will contact you to start a project and build a release together.