After a couple of months off (the festive period left quite a hangover over heads of both TMB and the people answering our questions), Label of the Month returns with a spectacular choice: Slow Dance. Born from galleries, the label are one of London’s most exciting collectives who put the focus on esoteric, cutting edge art. Thanks to their forward-thinking approach, they’ve worked with a diverse roster of artists such as art-pop auteur Martha Skye Murphy, production prodigy Glows, hazy dance group Pet Grotesque and excellent oddballs Great Dad. We caught up with Darius from the label to talk a dystopian future, dangerous loft situations with Black Midi and boat parties with Sorry.
For those who don’t know, who is Slow Dance?
Slow Dance is a music and arts collective, label, events and T-shirt production group comprised of designers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians and promoters. This question always throws us as we tend to do whatever project floats our boat at the time. Music has always been the centre and we have fallen more into being a label as of late.
Where are you based?
When did you realise you wanted to start a label?
We started just by putting on weird gallery nights, but so many of our friends were musicians that we decided to start releasing compilations of their music. From there we sort of fell into being a label. Too much talent around to not be!
How did the label start?
It started as a zine in 2014 and we threw a boat party for the launch where Sorry and the now defunct Dead Pretties played their first show. We started doing multi-media warehouse parties and putting on London-based solo musicians and producers for the next few years and released our first compilation in 2016. Since then it’s always been about releasing our friends’ music – there’s always some personal connection to the tracks.
Where does the name come from?
Isobel’s (who we started it with) mum said we should start putting on old-school slow dances, in big ballrooms, playing slow soul. We originally always ended the nights with a short collection of slow-dancing music. It does sum up the sort of music we release also.
How do you decide who to work with?
It is almost always people we already know somehow. We are always open to people sending them their music and have released a few people this way too. We are pretty much against the competitiveness of running a label in this saturated market, so we never try and poach any artists. It has to feel natural, we love to work with people who are really excited about the creative world and their work. We love anything weird, personal or experimental that blurs genre lines.
If anyone would like to send us work, do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s the hardest thing about running it all?
Separating work and social life. Music and art is all of our lives – we don’t really stop. It’s pretty hard as a small label to navigate the scary pit of the music world and to not take any of that personally too. As soon as it starts to feel like a job or too buisinessy, getting caught up in the nitty gritty, we have to take a step back and reevaluate why we do this. It’s always like ‘oh yeah, for the art.’ When its all meetings and emails, you can forget. Trick is meditation and looking at bodies of water as often as you can.
What are some of your favourite Slow Dance memories?
Our night at the Royal Academy of Arts was pretty special. Our autumn festival also, we had Black Midi doing an improv, seated set in this smoked-out loft. The power would constantly go out every time anyone would touch this cable, so it would just be Morgan, drumming like a madman with no other audio – I think people thought it was intentional. Anything where it feels like things were bursting at the seams, with us frantically running around. True DIY.
If you had to pick a favourite release, what would it be?
Any one of the yearly compilations: Slow Dance ’16, ’17 or ’18. These are the most fun to release and compile as they can really show a massive range. We ask people to submit some of their more experimental tracks from their catalogue, something they might not be able to release normally due to label commitments, etc. We end up getting some really out there and amazing stuff, often usually just through Facebook Messenger. It’s pretty funny how chill it can sometimes be. It makes it always a really positive communal release.
What does the future look like for Slow Dance?
Bleak – flames in the skies, people starving, wailing vagrants on the streets of a fallen London. Donald’s face projected in blood against Big Ben. And also a vinyl release of leftfield club music this summer, a night with Ukraine label Muscut later this month, flying to New York to record a collaborative Slow Dance alumni album in September, more gallery shows, and a few new singles!
Finally, what’s the dream for the label?
Hopefully opening a shop in the next 3 years. Keeping it very DIY and fun.
Keep an eye out for Slow Dance’s Take 5 later in the month.