Welcome to the latest edition of our series of interviews and mixes affectionately titled Talking Shopcasts. The majority of media and fan attention gets showered on the artists who create the music we love to listen to/DJ with/dance to, and for good reason. But without the hard work, keen ears and business savvy of label staff, we’d be stuck only streaming tracks on their websites. For today’s installment, we focus on Yore Records of Cologne. If deep house has been one of the big stories in recent dance music, Yore has surely curated some of its finest and most lasting moments, doing so with an eclectic range that defies narrow definitions of “deep.” Spearheaded by Andy Vaz — the man behind the Background and A Touch Of Class labels, and a formidable producer in his own right — Yore aims for timeless sounds. Putting out records from all-time greats like Rick Wade has been a big part of the program, but so has Vaz’s keen ear for new talent. Tracks like Kez YM’s “Washing My Soul” and Trackleton’s “Traditional Folk Song” could masquerade as beloved classics twenty years deep, but their fresh approaches and distinct voices transcend imitation or even homage. In the interview below, Vaz discusses Yore’s goals and values, minimal and deep, and the potential value of adding friends on MySpace. To “deepen” your understanding of the label, we’re extremely pleased to host an exclusive mix from Kez YM, featuring music from Yore comrades, influences, and contemporaries. Want more Yore? Be sure to turn back to LWE’s very first podcast, an exclusive mix from Terrence Dixon, and check back soon for further spoils of our talk with Vaz.
Yore isn’t your first record label. As I understand it, you launched Background partly as a response to a problem: Terrence Dixon suddenly didn’t have a label to release his music. What inspired you to found Yore?
I was getting bored of the so-called “minimal” sound — precisely what the bastard people had turned “minimal techno,” which I was interested in, into. It got pimped and killed, little by little, until it was dead and empty-hearted. The minimal of the past few years had little do to with what we intended with Background, which was a mixture of the deep, the radical, the repetitive, the musical, etc. — all of that. Yore’s approach was to try and bring the soul back into the music — electronic music really being music, rather than just percussive loop-sounding stuff — a druggy sound — but something with a musical message. I also wanted to focus on the “timeless” factor. A good record with soul and musical ideas will hold up and stay in your shelves or DJ bags for years. Yore goes against the trend of silly “beaatch” type DJ Tools, one-hit wonders or any form of whatever the hype of the minute is. Yore will provide like-minded heads with unique deep sounds — not more, not less. The feedback the label gets from people around the globe proves that we seem to be accomplishing our goals. Through the messages we receive, we know we aren’t alone!
The name of your label suggests a reverence or maybe nostalgia for the past. How did you settle on the name “Yore”?
My girlfriend, who is a native English speaker, came up with it when I started thinking out loud about the name for the new imprint. I am so thankful for that. I think the name fits perfectly. Oldschool, Timeless, Classic. In days of yore…. Yeah.
Yore is a joint venture with Alessandro Vaccaro. How are duties shared and decisions made around Yore headquarters?
Very simple, I am A&R’ing Yore and handling the promotion while Alessandro handles the administrative side of things. We are just about to launch a new label together called Self Defence, where it will be the opposite model. Alessandro will be the upfront person and A&R for SDF, while I will mainly keep running Yore.
What kind of music will Self Defence specialize in?
You’ve emphasized a “timeless” sound for Yore, as opposed to just an “old school” one. What separates these, in your opinion?
Well, I did grew up on Detroit and Chicago sounds. Started listening to it when I was 15 — I am 33 now. I think the music had such an impact in its early days! It was so strong, so raw and sexy and, yes, minimal — true minimal! I will always love that sound and I still am a heavy collector of US-flavored house music. However, Yore’s approach is not to sound old — it’s not about that. We cannot ignore that we live in the now and make use of what’s possible now. However, like I said before, I care less about these hundred new “all sound the same,” empty-headed records released each week. We want to put out quality music that will stand the test and be with you for years, just as my record collection will stay with me forever! I am serious! I play my 12″s every day! We want to make records for the lovers, the collectors and the tasty peeps out there — music from heads for heads. And we don’t want to put out a record just to be played for a month and then forgotten. Not an easy task at all, but we are working on it constantly. I have been running labels for eleven years now, and I think I can spot a hot artist or release by now.
Are you at all interested in reissuing older records?
No, that’s not my intention at all. Yore will hit you off with the new. If you want nostalgia, Discogs will be your partner. And that’s the best option. I dig Chi-house classics there on the daily. If you want the old and rare, there will be a price tag on it. I don’t see anything wrong with that. If you love an old record, go get it.
Over the last couple years, you’ve been a vocal critic of “soulless” or “arbitrary” music riding the minimal wave. Do you see similar problems in today’s resurgence of deep house?
Yes, it’s happening already. House gets pimped like they did with minimal, and they will be able to destroy it, no doubt! Now every week there’s tons of plain percussive wannabe house records adding one deepish sounding tone over tons of percussion, and people call it deep house — while it’s basically the same minimal techno with just a hint of a “deep.” Deep, however, is not a genre, it’s a feeling — an emotional energy.
Maybe this is a tricky question, but how would you define that feeling?
That’s the point — you can’t define it. You feel it or you don’t!
Speaking of people who do feel it, I have a couple questions about the Yore family. You’ve known Terrence Dixon for a while. How did you guys first meet?
Oh yeah, we go way back. I met him around 1997 or 1996. He used to stay with me numerous times each year, and I made quite regular visits to Detroit and stayed with him back then.
Yore has hosted a couple big returns — .xtrak and Memory Foundation each broke long silences, and chose Yore as the place to do it. Were those records that you pursued?
Oh yes. I have also known Todd since 1996, so that was an easy one. I’ve always been a fan of his early .xtrak stuff, and he came to mind first when I planned the launch of Yore. He fits right in! I had also admired Memory Foundation’s M-Plant stuff back when it was released. Feels like ages ago and that stuff still sounds fresh. Which proves my point — timeless stuff last forever! So I searched them down and talked them into getting involved again. I also see that as a strength of Yore. Reactivating talent that should not R.I.P yet, and making a new generation aware of some talent that they would have never stumbled across. I think that’s a very valid aim of a record label, rather then signing the latest hype of the month and sharing the “artist” with fifty other labels until the hype is over. That’s not what we stand for.
Of course, some fresh faces in the Yore roster have enjoyed some buzz this year. How did Trackleton and Kez YM first come to your attention?
Kez YM was a total coincidence. He added Yore as a friend on MySpace, and I clicked on the profile and got blown away with the deepest of the deep. He had to be signed. In fact, I believe in his talent so much that it’s the first exclusive signing to the label. We have a three-year exclusive recording deal, and I’m putting a lot of effort into making people aware of his music. It needs to be heard, and the first release did really well for us. Next one is currently being pressed. Warning! It’s so deep, it might change your world as you knew it when you hear it, so get your head right first!
I understand you were fairly hands-on in picking the tracks for Rick Wade’s The Good, The Bad And The Deep record. Do you often select the tracks that end up on a record, or do artists come to you with a package in mind?
I hand pick the tracks — always! If I don’t feel it a hundred percent, I will not put it out, regardless of who made the music. The label reflects my personal taste — just how it should be.
My assumption is that Yore depends more on vinyl sales than, say, Background did. Has the business model changed much from one label to another?
Yes, its definitely focused on vinyl. That’s also because I am such a vinyl addict. I’d eat vinyl, if it had to be. And Yore has already managed to become a collector’s imprint. Again, we make music from heads for like-minded heads. The true heads collect records, play records, love records — just as I do.
What role do digital sales play in Yore?
It’s slowly picking up, but its still kindergarten stuff, sales-wise. Enough for me and the artists to get some fresh sneakers once in a while. But I see tendencies for it to increase. I wish people in rich countries would stop downloading our music for free off the internet — that shit ain’t fair. Speaking of digital sales, though, in about three weeks we’ll open our own digital and vinyl shop!
Do you have a particular favorite release on Yore?
Tough one. Terrence Dixon, Train of Thought? Kez YM? Probably those, but they all sound sweet to me.
I see there’s a new Derrick Thompson record on the way. What else can we expect from Yore in the next year or so?
There’ll be “A Work in Progress,” a new Detroit-based talent co-produced by Chez Damier, and an Above Smoke EP, both on the way. Then the new Kez YM 12″, and my next EP right after. Thanks to everyone for reading and all the positive feedback we get! It’s you who is giving us the motivation to do what we do!
Talking Shopcast 06: Kez YM (60:00)
01. Rondenion, “Storm” [Rush Hour Recordings]
02. Kai Alcé, “Feeding” [NDATL Muzik]
03. Loco Dice, “Black Truffles In The Snow” (Mike Huckaby’s The Jazzed Out S Y N T H Remix) [Desolat]
04. Lerosa, “Sketch” (Sad Mix) [Uzuri]
05. Vakula “Change The World” [*]
06. A Made Up Sound, “Late Drive” [Philpot]
07. Black Art Music, “Keepin’ The Groove” [Third Ear Recordings]
08. KiNK & Neville Watson, “Inside Out” [Hour House Is Your Rush Records]
09. Chez Damier, “Teach Me, Keep Me” [Mojuba]
10. Rick Wade, “Shamballa” [Yore Records]
11a. Ray Valioso, “You’ll Never Be Mine” [Deep Vibes Recordings]
11b. Patrice Scott, “Nuonce” [Minuendo Recordings]
12. Gherkin Jerks, “Acid Indigestion” [Gherkin Records]
13. Kez YM, “Butterfly” [Yore Records]
14. 2nd Avenew, “It’s The New” (Dub Mix) [Alleviated Records]
15. Kai Alcé, “Decay” [NDATL Muzik]
16. M. Pittman “Obession (Datsallivdatsalliv~`^*!!)” [FXHE Records]
17. DJ Qu & David S., “Nite Ride” [Strength Music]
18. Kez YM, “Natural” [*]
19. The Kings Of Late Night, “Fly Away” (West End Lounge Mix)
[West End Blue]
* denotes unreleased tracks