Menu

Search anything and hit enter

<2 months ago>

Whisky Kicks

LABEL SPOTLIGHT

Label Spotlight: Yamatai

NOW READING •

Label Spotlight: Yamatai

Who are you? 

Hi, I’m James Williams and I own and run Yamatai Records which is an underground-focused drum and bass record label.  

What’s your ethos?  

Our ethos as a record label is to nurture and help promote new and upcoming talent in drum and bass. Numerous talented artists often find themselves overshadowed due to the industry’s challenging barriers. Hence, our goal is to serve as the bridge that helps them garner the recognition they deserve. We like to promote all kinds of D&B and we are very invested in the journey of our artists through the genre as well as their music. We have created an amazing community of signed producers and DJs who all help each other get to that next level. 

Tell us your origin story…  

It was an idea curated on a night out in a pub but the overall decision had a lot of backstory on it. So the name Yamatai comes from ancient Japan, it is a mystic city that was ruled by Queen Himiko (who was also a Shaman,) this was first discovered by myself through the Lara Croft Tomb Raider games. I’ve always been a fan of Japanese culture and history and just the aesthetics, so it just made sense. When you dive into the whole back story of the ancient Yamatai ruling it is incredibly interesting especially when you look into Queen Himiko herself, it ends up taking you down a long rabbit hole!  

Where are you based?  

When this publication goes out we will still be based in the South East of England in Kent, the D&B scene isn’t very big here. However, we do have small pockets of events in places like Canterbury and Maidstone. I am moving the whole imprint to Bristol this year in July which I see as a spiritual home for the genre. We have a lot of projects with artists and labels down that way so it made sense to make the jump and move. 

Do you have a specific sound or vibe? 

 As a label, we don’t limit ourselves to just one sound or style as I believe this would hold us back. Personally, I love every kind of D&B subgenre but I’m a big fan of minimal tech and sofa sound vibes. You can see this a lot in the label with our artists such as Leks, Kalane and R3idy, but you can also see the experimental new style D&B from the likes of Ewan Bristow, XAETIS and BEDDY. I also like supporting the liquid scene and audience with artists such as Pine, Chamba and Nautika. I ensure Yamatai has variety so that everyone can enjoy the movement. 

Do you have a regular artist roster? 

 Yes, we do! I am very very proud of the residents that I’ve recruited to the label, all of them are incredibly talented and have a bright future ahead. I have mentioned some of our resident producers above but to name some more we have Niallo who is a master at unique sounds, Yatuza who is known for being an absolute menace on the DAW, newly added Brazilian-based Dizrupt who has an outlandish EP coming this year, Altered Concept who is extremely underrated and needs more spotlight and finally Rue who has been producing for 10+ years and is only releasing his music now and it is

Tell us about you’re A+R process…  

We have a pretty standard A+R process I believe, when we look for new artists and music we don’t want it to seem like a transaction we want to get to know the artist in depth, we ask about their background in music and what spurred them to make the said release. 

I go through SoundCloud looking for new emerging artists. This has been highly successful, it’s what I did for the ‘Genisis VA pt.1 & pt.2’, but we also have a high volume of submissions which myself and Kalane (Label Manager) are always reviewing. 

My method to approaching artists is sending a voice note, this has led me to be nicknamed ‘King Voice Note’ in our Yamatai Residents’ chat. I think that voice notes are a lot more personal than just a message and it seems to work. Once we have got an artist on board we will hop into a Discord call with them to have a chat and break the ice. Like I said nothing too special- but it’s the process that works best for us. 

What makes you different from other labels?   

There are a few points which I believe make us stand out. We have some amazing partnerships with other labels such as Transparent Audio which has opened so many doors for our artists, this has come in the form of regular events for them to play at as well as artist collaboration opportunities. Being able to offer sets to my artists is important due to it being so difficult to get booked as upcoming talent and I know they all enjoy DJing live which is why I’m happy that we have residency slots at some clubs in Bristol for this year and the foreseeable future! 

We have become good friends with some European labels which has given us opportunities to put on shows abroad! We are very excited to announce these, there’s basically a mini European tour in the works. 

We are a label that isn’t tied to a particular sound, so there is 100% creative freedom for all who are involved. I think this is such a key point as there is so much music out there that has blurred the lines between subgenres, I believe it helps creativeness massively. 

We also have plans to run our Foundations project again in 2025 which opens up the opportunity for an established artist to remix one of the tracks on the label, which after this year has gone down really well with our residents as they have had some of their idols remix their tunes! Other than that I think the most important thing is that we have an amazing support network, we have some of the most talented people in the upcoming scene ready to help and offer support! 

What does it take to run a label in 2024?  

I’m not going to sit here and say I know the answers or mastered it, because Yamatai is still a very young label. Running the label over the years I have picked up on things that I do believe have helped us get this far. In a world controlled by social media, I think labels need to be active on all platforms to stand out and progress. It’s insanely taxing but so crucial especially now, to get on the map.  

Keeping up a consistent scheduled social media plan is what I have done with Yamatai. The label has developed a great social network presence which has helped get the word out with our releases and events. Another massively important thing is networking, getting involved with the scene, going to events, chilling in the smoking area and chatting, you never know who you’ll meet! There have been many times that myself and Josh ‘Kalane‘ have been at raves talking to people and have ended up either getting the Yamatai name out there to new fans, meeting up with existing supporters or meeting up with producers who are now really good friends of ours and are releasing on the label.  

I was never really a social person and it can be incredibly daunting, but once I had eased myself into doing it I have seen nothing but benefits for the label. This also applies to meeting your favourite established artists and DJs, meeting them at events or messaging them with your new releases helps you get noticed, not only this but if you do find it hard to be in social settings or find it nerve-racking to talk to your favourite artists- I still am very much like! Then you can send your music through Promo services like Inflyte. Tools like this are so crucial to get your label tunes out there into the events world and hopefully be played.  

At the end of it, you just need to have a pure love and drive for drum & bass or what ever genre you wish to set up a label in. It takes a long time to see any results. There will be multiple times where you may think “Why am I doing this?” but you’ve always got to remind yourself as to why you started it and try not to overlook the current progress you have made already. It’s an insanely tough game but it’s so worth it. 

What have you got coming up that we should look out for?

2024 is looking to be an even bigger year than 2023. We have lots of exciting projects returning such as our ‘Genesis Series’ which is a project dedicated to non-Yamatai producers who we are rating in terms of their productions and who we feel should be getting more spotlight within the scene. We also have a very exciting MC-focused project coming out in the middle of this year. We wanted to do this release because we feel that there isn’t much around that highlights and promotes MCs, which is crazy. After all, they are such a fundamental part of the drum & bass culture. Other than that, we have many known residents featuring again such as XAETIS, R3IDY, Pine, and Rue to close off the year. Plus a very exclusive release from Kolectiv. Lots to come in 2024 and I am so excited! 

Follow Yamatai: Soundcloud/Instagram/Bandcamp

More Like This

WORDS

Q&A

In Conversation With El Hornet

In Conversation With El Hornet

WORDS

Q&A

No Lack of Substance on Channell’s first TNQ EP

No Lack of Substance on Channell’s first TNQ EP

WORDS

WORDS

In Conversation With goddard.

In Conversation With goddard.

WORDS

Q&A

We Need To Talk About Spectral

We Need To Talk About Spectral

WORDS

SCENES

UKF Tour Returns To New Zealand

UKF Tour Returns To New Zealand

WORDS

Q&A

We Need To Talk About ShockOne

We Need To Talk About ShockOne

Popular

Pilot.
PLAY

Set Sail

Set Sail

UKF
PLAY

Drowning Mind

Drowning Mind

WORDS

Q&A

No Lack of Substance on Channell’s first TNQ EP

No Lack of Substance on Channell’s first TNQ EP