Despite the global uncertainties brought on by a pandemic which has decimated music industries, musically drum and bass is in a healthy state as new labels continue to emerge and add their own ideas and new artists. From 1985 to Sofa Sound to Overview to Context Audio the scene is alive with a wave of new labels coming in and showing there is always room when coming up against the seminal brands.
Now we can add Midas Touch Recordings to that list. Founded by Belgians SVB and Scepticz, the new platform is dedicated to pushing forward-thinking music, mostly within the drum and bass field, showcasing the very best in new and established artists from around the world.
Drawing on the knowledge the duo have picked up through their personal releases working with a plethora of labels, as well as a deep-rooted passion for deep, dark minimal beats, whether they’re coming from their beloved homeland or further afield, the label has already received support from figures such as Doc Scott and DJ Marky. Alongside the music, they are also looking to collaborate with graphic designers, giving them the opportunities to showcase their talents, as well as helping craft a distinctive, personal aesthetic for the label.
The debut release landed late August and saw the two label bosses join forces for three tracks, perfectly representing the sound the duo have become synonymous for over the past decade. Collaborating on one track with fellow Belgian talent MC Mush, the EP, titled Spoko, is a perfect representation of the sonic direction the label will be moving towards. Deep, powerful rollers, with incredibly clean drum work and raw, bass-fuelled depth, they’re set to be one of the most exciting labels in the scene! We caught up with Stijn and Tom to chat about their plans for Midas Touch Recordings…
A new label. Exciting! It seems the next step for artists who’ve had successful careers as DJ’s and producers. What made you think now is the right time to get the label up-and-running?
Stijn: First, I don’t think I’m close at all to having a successful career as DJ and producer haha! It has always been, and still is a work in progress. But that doesn’t mean you cannot start a label and support the music you like. It’s very exciting but definitely challenging as well, but it’s also kind of needed. Artists are struggling, and as artists ourselves, we want to give a helping hand by keeping the music alive.
Tom: It’s something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time. Stijn has been a good friend for a lot of years and he once told me he had this idea for starting a label. One evening when we got together, we drank a couple of Grimbergen beers and discussed the idea. The same evening we made the decision to start the label together! Our vision has always been the same on how a label should work, so it was the right move to do this together. We set a launch date and didn’t hold back!
What are your plans for the label?
Tom: Yeah we’ve got a lot of big things lined up for Midas, setting the bar from the start! Over the years we’ve met some pretty cool artists who have become close friends and getting the chance to work with them for our label is really nice.
Stijn: We have some really nice music and artwork lined up so we see big things in the long run! We are a bit limited in what we can do right now because of the weird times we are in. However, this gives us more time to prepare ourselves for what is to come.
Between the two of you, you’ve chalked up releases on the likes of Dispatch Recordings, Flexout Audio, 1985 Music, Lifestyle Music and Commercial Suicide. What have you learnt from working with these brands that will help you moving forward running your own label?
Tom: I’ve learned a lot from working with labels across the years. It’s always important to keep your artists updated in what’s going on! Keeping them involved with every step of the way and working for the benefit of your artist. They gave you a piece of their soul and it’s our job to give it the respect it deserves, whether it’s an upcoming artist or a name that’s been around for a while.
Stijn: I agree with Tom. It’s all about having respect towards each other. Finding that balance between a professional relationship and a friend. We are all family in the scene.
On your social channels you say that you’ll be ‘mostly’ focused on drum and bass. What other genres have you thought about putting out on Midas Touch?
Stijn: True, we are mostly focused on the drum and bass genre. But our love for electronic music is wider then just in the 170 bpm spectrum. So we are open for putting out anything we like as long as it’s forward thinking and matches the standard we want to put out!
You’ve just had your first release, a collaborative EP between the pair of you. How’s the response been so far?
Stijn: Absolutely great! I personally didn’t expect it to have this impact so soon. Some big names in the scene already know we are here. I’m excited to keep going!
Tom: We got some good response from it and seeing Doc Scott playing one of the tracks was really nice. It helped to get the word out because Stijn and me have been around in the scene for some time now.
I think my favourite out of the three has to be Spoko! Dark, minimal, deep, explorative, with a growling, guttural bass! A perfect representative of the music the pair of you are known for, right?
Stijn: Exactly, I couldn’t describe it better!
Tom: Yes, both our styles go quite well together and Spoko was one of the results. We made this track just before Belgium went into lockdown. Nothing better than doing a weekend session together in the same studio!
Stijn: We wrote another collab that same weekend which is set to come out on the next release. If you liked Spoko, you will like this one!
You’re also looking to collaborate with graphic designers, giving them a platform to showcase their talent as well. People seem to forget how important cover art is on music releases! You seem to value it though!
Stijn: Definitely! I think if you don’t have professional, good looking artwork, the music gets lost behind it. Both definitely go hand in hand if you want to achieve the results you want. There is a lot of talent out there and it’s not only in music.
Tom: I’ve met a lot of graphic designers at gigs all over Europe and I’m quite exited about the plans we have for the future. Like Stijn said, the music and artwork go hand in hand so we want to give them the same respect we give our musical artists.
Certain labels such as DLR’s Sofa Sound have such a clear visual concept that contributes so much to their releases. What direction do you want to take your aesthetic?
Stijn: I love their artwork, it’s unique and really stands out. We want to go a similar direction with Midas and give our graphic designers a chance to add their style to our story.
Tom: King Midas and the whole story around it is really cool to work with. We want to see different graphic designers doing their interpretation on this, and of course give them the freedom to do what they do best.
Stijn: Special shoutout to our artist Chrissy, Grizzlyarts Illustration, who we think is doing an amazing job already, combining her style and artwork with the story of Midas.
Moving away from your label specifically, what’s the drum and bass scene like in Belgium right now? For so long it has been predominantly jump up-orientated, but over the past couple of years we’ve seen the continued growth of artists such as yourselves, Bredren, Phase, M-Zine etc….
Stijn: Sure, they put a kind of ‘jump-up stamp’ on us, but I don’t see it that way. The Belgium drum and bass scene is always evolving and the quality and talent is growing. Bredren, Phase and M-Zine are perfect examples of this! We want to get rid of that ‘stamp’ and let the world know that there’s more than jump up in our drum and bass scene.
Tom: We have a really healthy scene and we’re all one big family, pushing each other to new heights. Plus, there’s loads of new talent stepping up lately! We, as Midas, are on the lookout!
What’s the situation with nightclubs in Belgium regarding the current pandemic?
Stijn: Well it’s all pretty much down. Our event and cultural sector are really struggling and our government isn’t really giving them the right answers and support at the moment. Not sure how long it will take before an actual club night can happen properly, but some brands are managing to organise some outdoor events that are in line with the needed safety measurements. We are seeing a lot of livestreams pop up too.
You’ve got one of the best events there, Star Warz. Do you have plans for your own label nights moving forward?
Stijn: Star Warz to this day is still my favourite event to go to, but it’s not the only concept out there. Personally I cannot wait to start doing label nights in Belgium and all over the world!
Tom: I agree with Stijn, the pandemic has had such a negative effect on our nightlife. But I think Belgium has made its stamp on the whole drum and bass scene, there are a lot of parties that are running packed nights bringing all sorts of vibes. Star Warz, Ampere, Bredren Invites in Fuse, What U On About, Steam, Mentality and Rampage to name a few. Like Stijn said, it’s just a matter of time before we can start talking about doing label nights.
Moving towards the future, what releases do you have mapped out?
Stijn: Well, we can say that the next release is our new Various Artists series called GOLD, a selection of tracks that showcase the sound of the label. It’s scheduled for the end of September.
Tom: Yes, the VA has got some really well known artists on it who we are lucky to call our friends as well. It’s something we’re proud of and we can’t wait to show it to everyone. You can get a sneak peek into the future of Midas Touch in my latest mix for my agency, BPM.
Stijn: More previews will follow and are already featured online in podcasts and radio so keep an ear out. We don’t want to reveal too much already, but you are in for a treat!