Soundesc is a Danish event promoter and label at the heart of a thriving national scene. The two young men behind its multiple activities schooled us with a good line in positive hustle and some musical tips for here and now

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN BITCHSLAP No.20
INTERVIEW: FERGUS MURPHY
PHOTOS: ABDELLAH IHADIAN

 

So it’s March 2014 and everyone is really busy. What are you up to?

Right now we just entering the new year with a low profile, scheming in the corners and taking a moment to digest all the vibrations of 2013 which was a real dope year for us.

Who are you two anyway? 

Sean aka Inspired Emcee, booker, promoter, label manager. I’m a happy guy who’s got a temper and is easily nervous about the next show or event. Open minded and very curious! And then Anthon aka Stack. I’m a producer and Dj, booker, promoter, label manager, and I own a fucking gallery! I’m very down to earth and have an infamous amount of patience. I’m the guy behind the GSM label.

When did you start working together?

Stacks wrote me on myspace in 2008 and asked if I’d be down for busting on one of his beats, and I was like, Hell Yeah! At the time I was living in Århus, so I came to CPH and we went in the studio and got things done. During our session it became clear that we were really digging the same kind of stuff and both tired of the linear way of doing Hip Hop jams, and the lack of focus on the beat side, since there was this post-Dilla thing going on, we decided to fuck with that.

How and when did you realise it was something you were going to keep doing?

Probably right around after the first or second gig in Copenhagen at Stengade with an all exclusive Danish lineup. The venue was packed and we were stoked! We quickly realised that the music was right there, all it needed was an output, a base from which new cats could emerge and international acts could play, so we kept on going.

What are the various elements that make up SOUNDesc?

Concerts, live shows, club nights and releasing good music. Passion, drive and love for the music and the people making it!

 

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As artists (mc and dj/producer) in your own right how do you balance promoting others with your own potential career?

Right now we are not in a rush, we both got different projects of our own. I just finished up two EP’s before Feb 1st and Stacks is having stuff released on Cosmic Compositions as Nahm-Sayn and also got a debut EP just laying around. We’re not in a rush at all. If we are working with an artist we have a responsibility and put our own projects in the background. It’s always harder to define the value of your own music, so we’re not as business oriented when it comes to our own music, but we’re not just doing it for laughs, but because we got maaad passion and love for the vibrations that make up music. But hopefully our own personal projects will see the light of day in 2014, if not – we hope we can make some timeless stuff.

Did you consciously develop such a broad inclusive agenda regarding artists and acts? Are u a charity?

No, this just happened over a period of time. We don’t like to define ourselves as beat experts or nothing like that, but we recognise good music when we hear it. And Lotte Rose for instance just stoked us hard. She has so much nerve and a very unique approach when it comes to production. We don’t perceive ourselves as nerds of any genre or style, but music in general. We’re not a charity, but we can’t expect to make big bucks either, when working with niche styled music. But there’s always a way, and we will find it!

We think of you as an axis or crossroads for a completely new community of artists and producers, labels and promoters in Denmark. What do you think?

Word up and big ups for that! In retrospect is not hard for us to acknowledge the foundation we paved out, but it ain’t something we remind ourselves with on a daily, on the contrary, we’re more like “what can we do next to make it even doper for everybody?”

And since we launched our gigs in May 2009, other people and crews have been just as important for the Danish beat-scene and international focus on it as SOUNDesc. Big ups to whataboutthebeats, Lost Dubs of Denmark, Greased Up, Strøm, Phono, Århus Lydfestival and much more!

Is it possible to build such a community more easily because no one is making any money anyway? 

Money should never be the motivational factor when it comes to creating anything! The community emerged when all the cats came out of their bedrooms, all it needed was the frames, that’s what we provided! We don’t think it has anything to do with money when it comes to building up a community. First we never intended for that to happen, it just happened as a result of surprisingly few events so the community was already there, just no one knew each other.

Why do you still do it despite the lack of money?

We got small gigs on the side but of course we want to live from this music shit. Sean is working with facilitating concerts and club events at B//Huset ved Institut for (X) in Århus, plus he’s doing the Spot Off Festival and is a part of Århus Lydfestival. Stacks is running the gallery space Palmspree in Stefansgade, Nørrebro. It’s a daily grind, but it took Low End Theory 8 fucking years to achieve the level of recognition that they have today! So we can’t really talk about money like that. Money ain’t shit to us. If that’s what it’s about, it’s not a cultural movement anymore, it’s just commerce!

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In terms of promotion and booking how do you manage and what do you see happening in the future?

We just wanna book something fresh off the bat, could be anything form Snöleoparden to Who Are You People to Eprom. We just wanna work with good music and balanced and honest musicians, not all that cream and sugar. Sean kills his coffee with that shit, so we don’t need it on our stage too. Promotion-wise we try and keep it DIY 100%. Working streets hanging up posters, passing out flyers. We make sure to be on it daily. And the Danish media has been good taking us in, the more we’re mentioned, the more attention.

How do you handle the increased fees across the board even from artists who are completely unknown (beyond blogs and media) and won’t ever sell anything close to the physical tickets at the door required to break even?

When we’re dealing with agents, it’s mad important for us to make them understand what the scene looks like over here, different premises for different territories and it’s absolutely absurd to pay 100,000 kroner for an act in this genre then we’d have to sell out a fucking stadium, and there’s no way that’s going to happen right now. Of course we could always fundraise the money, but we don’t want to contribute to this preposterous tendency. Artists are selling less units, so it all comes down to where they can cash in the revenue. It’s live shows right? So of course there’s going to be some kind of unbalance when it comes to fees for upcoming artists.

What’s your experience in dealing with agents and festivals?

We’ve established a real good relationship with agents in the UK and in Germany, which is vital if you want to be able to negotiate or making the agent understand your point of view. It’s just always dope if there’s good vibes rather than complete business minded intentions. We’re just people working with music, and so are they. However some of them are a pain because they charge percentages of the artists fee for work they make the promoter do. Book flights, hotels etc. We’re not complaining but a lot of times we’ve wondered why there is an agent to begin with, cos we would much rather pay the artist the full amount instead of percentages to his or her agent. We’ve worked a bunch with Jazz Club Loco who we did DJ Krush with. They always invite us to join the party at CPH Jazz Festival and Vinter Jazz, but we’ve done stuff with Strøm, Wündergrund Festival and having showcases at a bunch of other events in Denmark. Festivals can be tricky, so keep yourself together and make sure you know what you are doing!

Any major changes worth noting since you first started booking and putting on shows?

One thing you get to know when dealing with music in Denmark is that the musical taste of the masses can change over 6 months and before you know it people hate the music that they blessed on minute ago. So you cant really count on shit. On the positive side a lot of new acts are coming out of the dark every month. When we started doing the shows we didn’t think we could fill out every show with some brand new stuff, but now it’s not our biggest problem. Also people are getting more and more aware about how they want to present their music and we think this really helps people come with their very best.

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Favourite gigs you have put on?

The Gaslamp Killer show with Analogik and Oh Boy showcase.
The Onra & Buddy Sativa + Illum Sphere gig
The motherfucking DJ Krush gig WAUW
Al Benedicts set at the Tokimonsta gig. He killed it!
The 2 day ordeal with Ras G, Mike Slott, Gifted and Blessed, Om Unit and Onra & Buddy Sativa. Big ups All City!
Both Teebs shows with SamiYam and Jeremiah Jae
Our Vinter Jazz ordeal with Jazz Club Loco at Stubnitz was off the fucking charts

Favourites old school Danish inspiration?

In our book they would not count as old school, but we got to give it up for Nobody Beats The Beats for putting instrumental hip hop on the map in Denmark.

Current favourite Danish artists ?
Okapii
Nappion
Al Benedict
Keis Khatib
Who Are You People
Latex Laxen
Natal Zaks
Addis Ababa
The Works
Damp
Baba T
Arosei
100%Max

Local and international Acts to watch in 2014?
Brrd
Al Benedict
Jagan Mai
Bwoy De Bhajan
Jongpadawan
Okapii
United Vibrations
Electric Jalaba
Flying Ibex
Knowledge
Lapti
Nappion
Phloq
Ben Da Miracle