With 10 (yes, 10!) label comps in the pipeline for 2017, we chat to label founder Dan McKie
2017 sees Dan McKie's 1980 Recordings celebrating their 10th birthday with a series of 10 compilation albums, each featuring 10 back catalogue tracks from a given year in the label's history. It's an ambitious project, for sure - but then if you can't reach for the stars on your 10th birthday, when can you?
Now over 160 releases deep, 1980 Recordings are probably most closely associated, in most people's minds, with this decade's tech-house boom. But it's only fair to point out that since 2007, they've actually put out quite a wide variety of house and techno, so don't be in too much of rush to put them in a pigeonhole! The very earliest 1980 material, in fact, largely fell under the electrohouse umbrella, but we won't hold that against them...
Here at iDJ, we're fans of the label's series of 4/4 EPs in particular. Landing once every couple of months or so (they're currently up to 4/4 EP #32), the EPs generally come packed with no-nonsense, club-friendly grooves, with very few big name artists in sight. If it's slammin' underground tech-house you're after, there are few better places to start looking.
They've also recently launched their first sub-label, Phonik, which is an outlet "everything BUT house and techno". So with all that going on, we grabbed label boss Dan McKie for a quick chat...
How did 1980 Recordings come into being in the first place?
"The label was set up by myself in 2007. I originally meant to set it up just as an outlet for my own productions, but then I started to receive many demos, because I was going to start a label with my then production partner but we decided to go our separate ways. So 1980 Recordings was born."
Tell us about the name - what's significant about 1980?
"I just needed a name for the label, and I was born in 1980 so it became 1980 Recordings. Simple as that!"
Describe the label's music policy...
"If I like it, I release it! I try to stick to music I would play out myself, and so over the years that has changed along with my music taste. We release all kinds of underground house and techno; if it’s good, then it has a home with me."
What's been the label's biggest seller to date?
"My remake of Orbital's Halcyon. I should do an updated version, really, but I lost 12 years of musical projects in December... yes, stupid me didn't have any of them backed up! A very rookie mistake, but it's also nice to start afresh, in a way. So I'd have to start from scratch, but I still might do it."
Your website says the label is based in London, Barcelona and Ibiza. How does that work?
"They're all places I travel regularly, to DJ and to put on my own night Fish Don’t Dance, which is also the name of my radio show on Pioneer DJ Radio and Barcelona City FM.
"I do a lot of the A&R for 1980 when I'm in those places, and I've also lived in all three, as well as Andorra for a period of my life. So we're a nomad label, so to speak."
What have been your personal highlights of running the label this past decade?
"We signed a few artists before they got big - people like Bart B More, Abigail Bailey, Ali Payami, Dan Castro and most recently Fehrplay. So I'm quite proud of that."
What formats are 1980 Recordings available on?
"It was vinyl and digital at the start, then we went to mostly just digital. But I'm looking at a vinyl release later this year, maybe. And we're on all the major streaming services as well."
I've been loving the 4/4 EPs: they're a great place to find new talent, much as 1605 Music Therapy's Platform series or Great Stuff's Munich Disco Tech EPs used to be. Were either of those an inspiration for the 4/4 series?
"It’s great that you hold our series up there with such grand labels! But the main inspiration was actually when I was included on Southern Fried's Tried & Tested series. So I had a think about a name, and came up with 4/4."
And now you've got the reissue series coming up as well. Tell us a bit about that?
"I'm going through each year and choosing 10 tracks to mark the 10-year anniversary. And there are going to be 10 of then, so it's a 10-on-10-on-10 sort of thing. Plus, from each compilation we release we'll be giving away one track free on my Soundcloud page."
When you set up the label, did you ever think you'd still be running it 10 years later?
"I certainly didn't - as I said, it was originally just meant to be an outlet for my own productions, but then I was getting sent so many good tracks I just had to keep it going. It definitely isn’t a job to pay my rent - it's something I do for the love for the music, on top of other music industry things I'm involved with."
Words: Russell Deeks