Not content with racking up releases on Metalheadz, Critical Music, Symmetry, RAM Records and more, talented producer Xtrah is thinking outside the box and launching his very own label, Cyberfunk. To celebrate he’s recruited the likes of Dillinja, Break, Skeptical, Hybris, Fre4knc, Mako and Simple Technique to round off a London launch party of epic proportions.
Renowned for his precise ear for quality and for pushing new talent, having Xtrah behind a fresh new label is an exciting prospect. We’ve heard the first EP and it is pure fire. We caught up with the man himself to chat about the motivation behind starting the label and what we can expect at the launch party…
Big up Xtrah! Thanks for chatting with us today! Where have we caught you?
I’m actually on the way to the studio to finish off some music! Always a good journey. Listening to an old BBC mix from Stakka and Skynet.
Vibing out no doubt! You’re launching your new label Cyberfunk in London next weekend with a monstrous line-up! What’s the ethos behind the label?
Thank you, yes indeed we are. The ethos behind the label is to make/sign and release the type of drum and bass that I love, and through which I’d like to TRY and bring back some of the original vibe of the style of d&b that got me hooked on the genre with modern techniques.
You’ve had releases on a number of big labels yourself, but have never been signed to any of them exclusively … Is there a reason why you’ve chosen to pursue your own brand rather than set up a firm pact with any of the big labels you’ve worked with over the years?
Yes, the reason is purely because I’ve never really been offered the type of deal I’d be happy committing to for a year or possibly the rest of my musical future. Starting my own label just gives me the freedom to do what I want, when I want. It doesn’t mean I’ll never sign a deal, it just means that for now this is my main focus and I think more artists should give it a try. It’s what this scene used to be built on, but I guess signing to one of the bigger labels is a secure platform which I also totally understand and don’t blame artists for wanting to do so!
Have you had any useful advice about running a label from the folks over at Metalheadz, Critical, Shogun, etc.?
Not really. I’m sure if I asked I could get some, but from signing music with bigger labels in the past I kind of just worked out I could possibly do what they are doing myself, or at least try. It’s the same as anything really, once you know how it works you just go for it I guess. Obviously this isn’t something I’ve only just decided to do, it’s been on my mind for years. It was just waiting until the right time to make it successful that was the tricky part, and we still have to wait and see about that!
Must be a daunting task to settle on a label name… How did ‘Cyberfunk’ come about?
I had a different name that I was set on and found out there was another label called the same thing as that a week before mastering our first release! They spell it slightly different so it wasn’t until I spoke to another artists who had tunes on that label that I even knew there was a label with the same name we came up with. Long story short, I had a week to make a name up and cat number, so I looked into styles of art that I like and came across ‘Cyberpunk’ which pretty much represents everything I love. I turned it into ‘Cyberfunk’ which I guess you could say is using futuristic technology to its full potential, but also trying to capture the old feel of d&b and funk. I could go on but I think that sums it up for me, that’s the concept and hopefully that will translate in the music.
It has already! The first release on the label – The Existence EP – is coming up in April and showcases some up and coming new talent. Have to admit I couldn’t wipe the filthy look off my face while I was listening to it. It seems the label will be a perfect platform to introduce new artists. Do you think there is a gap in labels pushing new talent? For me it sometimes feels like labels invest so much in their ‘tried and tested’ artists, and up and comers have a much harder time getting noticed…
Yes to a degree I do. Obviously it’s great when someone new comes through and blows everyone away, but they are quite few and far between. To be honest at this point the label isn’t in a position to ‘sign’ artists as such, but if someone sent me some music and I believed in it and liked it, I would put it out whether they are known or unknown. It doesn’t matter to me. I’d like to think that we live in a world where the music can still do the talking, regardless of the amount of Facebook likes or Twitter followers that person has. I really hope this is true!
We can only hope! Speaking of new talent, tell us about Simple Technique, who appear on the EP with ‘Cold Steppin’. The track is simply badass…
Thanks! They’re a pair of hairy guys who love making music and growing beards, and I think you can hear that in their music. Shouts to Fred and Dan! They will be dropping a Drum&BassArena podcast for you guys real soon too, so as long as they don’t clang it up you should enjoy that! 😉
Wicked! I knew there was something distinct about their sound… Had to be the beards. Back to the launch… You’ve got a helluva line-up in store for the London show next weekend! What approach did you take when curating the event and why did you settle on the names you did in the end?
Simply because I have huge respect for all of these artists and for their individual sound. Dillinja is a huge influence not only on my music but life in general. He’s one of the main reasons I fell in love with d&b and that’s the truth. Break is a huge influence on my production and to be releasing music from him on my label now is just mental to think about. If you’d have said this is what I’d be doing to me 10 years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face and told you you were a liar! Haha! Skeptical is a lord, as are the rest of the guys I have booked for the night. As I say it’s about what I love and want to push and these guys all represent that.
What are you most looking forward to on the night?
Everything! Going to be a mad weekend. I get back from Noisia invites in Amsterdam that day then straight from the airport to the venue for sound-checks and to make sure it’s all good to go!
Woah, proper rockstar vibes! Watch out for those Noisia lads, don’t miss that flight! 😉 What have you got in store for your own set on the night? Any exclusives?
Lots of new bits, of course. My own and other peoples. Looking forward to seeing the reaction to the music.
Can’t wait! You’ve got shows planned in Brighton and Bristol as well – will this be a regular event do you think?
Yes we’ve got quite a few launch parties planned for this year in the UK and Europe. I’m so pleased at how people have reacted to me starting this. Nobody has heard the music yet and we’ve got quite a few nights already planned, looking forward to each of them equally. The one at Fire may be a regular thing, we will have to see!
Fingers crossed! Will you be pressing new releases on vinyl or keeping it digital?
I would never start a label if I couldn’t do vinyl! Had to be done, so yes to both.
You recently teased us with a collab with Foreign Concept… When can we expect that to see the light of day?
Will you be releasing your own tunes via the label?
Artists you’ve got your eye on at the moment?
There’s lots of great artists making music known and unknown! Shouts to Young E, Simple Technique and Incognito!
What’s coming up next for you as an artist?
I’ve got lots coming this year! Stuff on Noisia’s Invisible imprint which I can not wait to show people! Obviously the stuff on my label as well, and an 8-track LP on Dispatch. It’s not an album, it’s not an EP, but something in-between that I can’t wait to get out there. Huge shouts to Ant TC1, not many people would allow an artists to do what he is allowing me to do in terms of doing the videos and artwork and everything in between and just saying ‘do what you want’. Hopefully I won’t lose him too much money! Haha!
Shout out to everyone who’s supported me in doing this, and everyone who’s involved with the label and nights. Special shouts to John Weeks for helping out with the artwork/graphic design, he’s a very good friend of mine and such a talent. I honestly couldn’t have started this at all without his help so big ups to him! Also Wayne, Break, Fred, Dan and all the promoters who are helping push the label. It’s a great feeling knowing people want to help build something new. And shouts to Drum&BassArena for having me 🙂
Catch Xtrah as he launches Cyberfunk in London THIS Saturday. Tickets available here.