With a new V/A collection out now, we talk to Dave Seaman and Steve Parry to get the story so far
Whether you're a house or a techno lover, you should be aware of Selador by now, unless you've been living under the proverbial rock for the past six years.
Set up by UK house legend Dave Seaman and Liverpool's Steve Parry in 2013, the label has slowly but steadily been carving itself out a reputation for great house and techno music from right across the spectrum, with their biggest sellers to date being Jaap Ligthart & Alice Rose's I Know Change [SHOW-B Remix] and Samu.l's Restless Dreams, which was the label's very first release but, says Parry, "just keeps on selling".
They're currently fast approaching their 100th release, which they're quite excited about: "The list of names involved is quite impressive, if we do say so ourselves," says Seaman, before Parry adds, "We’ve bought party poppers and everything!". Before that, there's the small matter of Selador Showcase: The Eight Wonder, their latest six-track V/A EP, which is out now, and from which all the tracks you can hear below are taken.
Selador releases are currently digital-only – "We did one vinyl release a couple of years back, but to be honest, it’s a lot of extra work which we really haven’t got time for," says Seaman. They've avoided, too, the temptation to set up half a dozen sub-labels for different micro-genres, preferring to take a genre-agnostic approach on the mothership label because, as Parry puts it, "One label's enough for now, thanks!".
Read on to find out more about the label's history, their plans for the future and where they got the rather unusual name from…
How did the two of you first come to hook up?
Dave: "Surprisingly, we first met in a nightclub. Eyes across the dancefloor, ha ha! It would have been 1991 I think, at Fallows in Liverpool. Steve was the ultimate trainspotter, so he was always hanging around the DJ booth on the hunt for information and new music. Nothing has changed in that respect!"
When was the label set up, and why?
Steve: "We launched in April 2013. I’d always wanted to set up a label and never had, and I’d just hit 40 so I was pushing myself to do the things on my bucket list. I'd known Dave since 1991 and so we chatted on Messenger lots about music, and I mentioned one day I was wanting to set up a label. Suddenly my phone rang and it was Dave saying we should start one together…"
Dave: "I’d been out of the label game for a few months after laying Audio Therapy to rest, and was starting to realise how much I missed it. So when Steve mentioned that running a label had been one of his long-time goals, I instantly thought we’d make a good team – and so it’s proved."
Your Soundcloud page describes your music policy as "melodic techno, melodic house, progressive house, deep house" - does that still hold?
Steve: "Our music policy is, if Dave and I both like a track and would both play it out, then it fits the criteria. We both have quite broad musical tastes, so it could be a deeper or housey edged track, or a beefy techno tune, a stripped-back thing or a melodic peaktime moment, a vocal tune or something with an old school nod – we really do like all sorts and have similar tastes. It's a PR guy;s nightmare our music policy – we like what we like, and we don’t like what we don’t like, and that's about it!"
Dave: "We’re probably not that easy to pigeonhole. We might have a tough techno track for one release and then a deep house thing the next. It all falls under the electronic house music umbrella for us, but in an age when so many labels seem to focus on one particular niche genre, we like to keep a more open mind which reflects our wider tastes."
How many people are employed by/involved in running the label?
Steve: "Just me and Dave, although we have some great people that we outsource various bits and pieces too. We could really do with more pairs of hands, but financially it’s a bit of a risk to take on more staff right now. The margins for running a label these days are so tight we have to keep a check on the purse strings much more than we’d like."
Dave: "Ha! Yeah, if there’s anyone out there who wants to work for the love of it, plus free music, merchandise and guestlists, hit us up!"
Where did the name 'Selador' come from?
Steve: "I’m hard work when it comes to thinking of names, but I know when it’s the right one. Dave is far more of a wordsmith than I am, being a former editor of Mixmag… so he kept firing names at me and i was saying no, no, no… then he asked me what other label names liked and I said I thought Suara and Sincopat were cool. So we agreed on something slightly Spanish-sounding beginning with an S!
"Next day, Dave phones and said he'd been watching Donnie Darko, and there’s a part of the film that talks about the most beautiful-sounding three syllables you can put together in the English language being ‘cellar door'... which Dave suggestsed we turn into Selador, and suddenly our criteria were met."
Dave: "I think we both knew instantly that ‘Selador’ was the one. Donnie Darko is one of my favourite films, so the whole back story seemed to resonate."
Dave, you previously ran the Stress and Audio Therapy labels. What were the most important things you learned there that you've brought to the Selador table?
Dave: "I hope I learned how to present releases properly, the care and attention that should go into each release. I find too many labels these days just throw music out there with very little effort. Music has become so disposable largely due to the sheer volume that’s being released, but the fact that most of it is just thrown into the abyss with little thought or respect really doesn’t help either. It’s all content, content, content at the expense of quality control. I was brought up to believe in quality over quantity."
And Steve, your background originally was in retail, with 3Beat Records… is it important to have someone involved in running a label who has that retail knowledge, do you think?
Steve: "I don’t necessarily thing it's the retail side that's the important thing, but what you find with most record shop assistants over the years, is that they are usually so obsessed with music and the whole industry it can almost drive people crazy. Well, yes, I suppose that's me! It's my love and energy for it all still that helps push me along. And Dave is the same. You’d think he might have lost enthusiasm but I can assure you, he’s as bad as I am."
Last time we spoke, Dave, you said of Selador, "We wanted to show that we weren't just an old school progressive label". Is that kind of pigeonholing still an issue, or do you think people generally 'get' what Selador is about now?
Dave: "No, I don’t think it’s that much of a problem for us now. I think we’ve been able to establish our own identity with Selador, but it did take time. People do like to put you in a box. I think it’s how people tend to make sense of everything. Slippery beasts that can’t be pigeonholed are a bit of a loose cannon, and that causes problem for most people."
The 'events space' seems to be a place most labels want to be, yet if Selador is hosting events I must've missed them. Do you have any plans in that area, or was it a conscious decision NOT to, and if so how come?
Dave: "Well, we have done a few parties here and there, including four at Watergate, Berlin, three at Space, Ibiza during its final season, and also two at Pikes Hotel. We also did label nights at Club NL in Amsterdam during ADE the last few years. So we’ve set ourselves a pretty high standard and didn’t really want to compromise on that.
"But it is something we do want to explore further, and in fact we've been working on a concept for such, but we won’t roll it out properly until we’re ready. I’d like to think that will be later this year, though, so watch this space!"
You've got two great potential releases: one from a big name artist, one from an unknown up-and-comer. But there's only budget/room on the schedule for one – which do you go for?
Steve: "Whoever's made the best track! That's our only criterion, really. Great music over an artist's stature any day for us."
Dave: "Yes, I think when bigger name artists first start sending you music, you’re obviously flattered that they’re now thinking of you as a label worth releasing on, but we try not to get carried away by that. The music has to be right, and as Steve said we always try to support new artists whenever we can. Our latest Selador Showcase compilation has half a dozen names that will be new to most."
Last question: Damian Harris from Skint once told iDJ: 'Being a DJ, running a record shop, running a record label… they're all sublimated versions of that thing where you're 15, you get off the bus with your new single and you run round your mate's house going "listen to this!". Is that true for the two of you, still, in 2019?
Steve: "100% yes. I’m still that obsessed kid in a slightly (ahem) older gentleman’s body. I think everybody that knows me would agree I'm like that too."
Dave: "Speak for yourself, I’ve still got the body of a young whippersnapper! Ha ha. No, I agree: we still get excited all the time by new music, and that’s what continues to drive us to this day."
Words: Russell Deeks
Selador Showcase: The Eighth Wonder (Part 1) is out now. Buy it here.