Pirate Copy's label is one of this decade's true house success stories
Kaluki Musik have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Formed out of a night of the same name at Sankeys in Manchester that's been running since 2006, the label made its debut with Jozef K's Elevation EP in 2010. Kaluki have since gone on to stage club nights in Ibiza, Croatia and the USA, sell out the likes of fabric and Paris's La Rouge and host stages at various festivals, as well as putting out music by the big-hitting likes of Steve Lawler, Prok & Fitch - who provided their biggest seller to date in Nodding Dog - and, most recently, DJ Sneak.
Kaluki releases (of which there have been 53 to date) have racked up over 30 Beatport chart entries, while label boss Pirate Copy's own profile has risen in parallel with that of his label, with a hectic DJing schedule and releases on such respected labels as Relief, Moon Harbour, Sola Records and Elrow Music. Despite this, he still finds time to stay hands-on with the club night where it all started, which has now played host to the likes of Jamie Jones, Adam Beyer, Patrick Topping, Richy Ahmed, Eats Everything, Heidi, Maya Jane Coles, Detlef, Latmun and Marco Carola.
Naturally, with all that going on, we wanted to find out more...
When was the label set up, and why?
"Around 2010, I was putting events on and they started to develop and expand. We soon realised that we needed a platform to put music on, a place where we could develop our own artists, and from there it all seemed to fall into place.
"It was a natural progression, and it all snowballed quite quickly. We didn’t have a huge agenda to start with, just friends and family featuring at shows and signing tracks, but now we’re able to take Kaluki on the road and release globally. Looking back, it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come."
How would you describe the label's music policy?
"Our own take on house and techno."
How many people are involved in running the label?
"Me and Nick Yates run everything in-house, but we do branch out to external parties if needed."
Like a lot of labels these days, Kaluki was born out of a club night - yet ostensibly running a club night and running a record label are two very different things. Is it just about making contacts, or what other advantages does having a background in promotions give you?
"Definitely the contacts made through the events - if you’re looking for music it’s the first port of call to meet and get to know the right people. Being a promoter since the age of 18, you start coming up with ideas frequently and the whole process seems to become second nature. If you start early, it helps you understand your market to ensure events and releases go out as they should.
"It took us two-three years to understand everything properly, but now we feel we’re at a stable place. All of our experiences at the start helped shape what we are now - it’s been a big learning curve for sure."
What is your 'core' business these days - the label or the events? Can you envisage a time where you might stop doing one to concentrate on the other?
"I think they both go hand-in-hand. The artists we release with feed and back up each tour, so we like to keep the two close. The music helps everything connect and makes your events relevant. So, I wouldn’t say we would ever favour one over the other, as the two work hand-in-hand."
Your most recent release was DJ Sneak's Still Hustlin' EP. It must have felt good being able to sign such a big name to the label?
"Yeah, personally that was a massive highlight. He was an inspiration to me growing up, and I’d say he’s one of my idols to this day, so to have him on the label is unbelievable.
Do you feel like Kaluki is moving up in the world when it comes to the calibre of artists you can attract?
"We’ve definitely managed to sign some bigger names in the last two years. There was a time where it was difficult to get the bigger artists, but slowly we’ve managed to overcome it with persistence, and now we have a really strong string of releases from the likes of wAFF, DJ Sneak, Prok & Fitch and many more."
You're based in Manchester... what other up-and-coming artists/DJs/labels/nights in Megacity 0161 should we be keeping an eye on?
"Our new resident Calvin Clarke is really talented. He’s just come through and is turning plenty of heads at the minute."
Finally, what else is going on for Kaluki Musik right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
"We’re just about to start our new residency at Vista Club in Ibiza. We're putting on six parties throughout the summer, with some amazing collabs in the pipeline. Solid Grooves are among the names involved, so we should have some really solid line-ups.
"We’re also at Elrow at Amnesia in the next few weeks, and we have our own stages at Parklife, Hideout and Forbidden Forest which we can’t wait for."
Words: Russell Deeks