Deep seeds take time to grow…
When Mitekiss launched the Goldfat label back in 2015 it was simply as a vehicle to release his own music. He had no idea it would become one of the most exciting and diverse platforms in drum & bass five years later.
Home to the likes of Pyxis, Athena, Winslow, IYRE, Telomic, Shiva and many more exciting and forward-thinking new-gen names, Mitekiss’s name as an artist is barely in the label’s discography – but his fingerprints are all over every step of the operations from the rich, soulful sound to the thriving community focus behind everything they do.
Run with good friend, family member, fellow kindred community spirit and occasional MC Mr Porter, since the label re-launched in October 2019 with a posthumous release from the late great Andy Skopes it’s been a monthly slew of freshness from across the globe and musical board. The album’s first VA album Full Fat 1 is the best testament to this so far. Released earlier this month, it captures both the Goldfat spirit and the current musical and meaningful vibe of drum & bass during these strange, no-dancefloor times. We called Mitekiss and Mr Porter to find out how they arrived at this point… And where they’re heading next.
Goldfat is interesting because you feel very new and have the energy of a young label but technically you’ve actually been around since 2015…
Mitekiss: It’s a weird one isn’t it. It started in 2015 and the idea was there, but then I got signed to Shogun and then to Hospital, so that took up a lot of my focus. But now I’m settled at Hospital and they are comfortable with everything I do so we are in a much better position to give Goldfat a proper push. So two years ago Grant and I chatted and agreed to do it properly and get it up to a release per month, which is where we’re at now. You’re right, it did feel very fresh last year. We had a different energy, we were speaking to lots of different artists and it does feel very new.
That new energy started with the Andy Skopes single Where I’m From didn’t it?
Mr Porter: It did. We basically took a year out after Johnny released his debut album so that could be the focus. Then things accelerated; a few months later we released music by Pyxis, then a Winslow release and things snowballed from there. Along the way we’ve fine-tuned our vision a bit and know what we want to do.
What was the vision before and what is it now?
Mitekiss: Well originally it was a platform to put out my own music. I had no intention of being signed to a label and wanted to put out my music on my own label.
Mr Porter: Six years later and he’s still only been on it with two tunes and a remix!
Mitekiss: I guess the label started as a selfish thing to be honest, but now the vision is almost the opposite. It’s very community driven, I want to build towards a situation where every artist controls a part of the label. That’s the end goal. Something the artists are proud to be part of. So when we rebooted the label we were very active in finding lots of talent from all over the world and we’ve built a great community of people already who speak every day. It’s become a friendship group with everyone supporting each other. When it’s time to announce something, all the other artists on the label get behind it and push it too.
Yeah! That’s the sign of a strong label collective. Audioporn and The North Quarter do that too. The artists are at the forefront rather than the label and drive the label’s character and vibe rather than a particular label sound, which has been the traditional way for years…
Mitekiss: Yeah I think so. And I think that comes with diversity naturally. We’re not trying to pigeonhole ourselves as a liquid label, for example – we just love music with soul. That could be a deeper track, hip-hop or anything. Even darker. So hopefully the label will never have ‘a sound’ – I want the artists to have their own sound.
Soul describes Goldfat perfectly. What are your thoughts on soulful / liquid D&B being the next dominant characteristic in D&B? We’ve been through a neuro phase, a jump-up phase, a fog horn phase, I’m convinced the soulful / liquid sound will be the next predominant sound in D&B…
Mr Porter: Possibly. In terms of Goldfat, I think we’re quite a serious version of liquid. It’s not pitched up vocals, super happy or overly positive music. I think because Mitekiss is predominantly liquid then he attracts those type of artists. I personally come from a very different side of drum & bass as a host at Technicality. We meet each other in the middle. But in general terms you might be right; the more musical sound is more accessible for most people.
I think the most important thing to note is that soul doesn’t have to be fluffy. It’s something inexplicable. You can’t define it. It’s the feeling, an intense feeling, which is what we’re trying to get from our artists. We’re never looking for a particular sound. The art always comes first and I’ve been turning down a lot of amazing demos because I want to focus on the artists we have really help them develop their art. Sometimes I see labels like it’s musical chairs. The minute there’s a space, a new artist comes in. It’s like releases are treated like a commodity and there’s no long-term relationship between the artist and label. So, like what Johnny said, we want to create much more of a collective and community.
I think the Full Fat album does that on a whole new level. It’s a very comprehensive snapshot into the label’s future. And when you talk about the darker side of soul then let’s talk Auris’s Alturist. That took me massively by surprise!
Mr Porter: It took us by surprise too! He’s a jazzy guy, he likes his dusty hip-hop so when I opened that one it took my face off. It’s those surprises I love from artists and helping to encourage them. We’re not working with seasoned artists here, we’re working with people who want to grow.
Winslow’s the perfect example. His music would always rise to the top anyway but he’s said in interviews that it was the Goldfat release that tipped him over
Mr Porter: For sure! There are a series of events which have helped us over the last year. Johnny doing his Twitch projects created a community that people wanted to be involved in. Even the pandemic itself helped. A lot of people froze up at the beginning of 2020 because things had been set in their ways for so long and people didn’t know how to do business without the usual structure of live performance. But Johnny was already on this type of way of engaging with fans online. So we continued on this community theme. It’s great, it’s become a label that people want to be part of and feel happy to be part of it.
Community is at the crux of all this and a reminder we’re a small niche and that should be celebrated.
Mitekiss: That is part of the modern marketing angle too. Other than DJing, if you don’t engage with fans on social media, where can you? I think younger listeners expect engagement from artists, too. It can’t be one way. It all really leads back to your music and your core fans. The core fans are the most important – once they’re on board, they tell a friend and it passes on. You require your own mini army to spread your word because there’s so much music out there. That puts you one step ahead. But the initial intentions are never for that reason – the Discord thing and Twitch thing are both a lot of fun to do and inspiring to chat and share tips.
Didn’t IYRE come through your Discord activities?
Mitekiss: Yeah he was lurking on there for a while and eventually sent in tracks. I was encouraging people to send in things, but I don’t know why he approached us over other labels. I think he was watching the feedback sessions and felt comfortable with sending them to me. Our roster is very diverse – different genders, different people from all over the world.
People feel more comfortable when they can see people like them involved…
Mitekiss: Yeah. That’s the whole point. And we were really happy to see his debut going up on UKF.
That’s his debut!?
Mr Porter: Technically it’s his second. He was on Heads Bass with a track called The River. He sent that tune over with Fragments and I loved it but it wasn’t quite right for Goldfat so I sent it to Marisa AKA Pyxis who runs Heads Bass. So it’s his second release but he made the tracks around the same time. We’ve got another release from him coming up later this year, maybe around August, and it’s sounding wicked. He’s drawn from a lot of his cultural background and influences, being Sri Lankan. I love it. Knowing he’s not experienced the classic jungle influences we all have in the UK fascinates me. He came through Pendulum and the big dancefloor smasher route. A lot of people knock that but it’s the gateway. Before I learnt about real hip- hop it was MC hammer.
Oh for sure! You need an entry point. You become an active member of the community when you start digging. That’s when you’re not scratching the surface any more…
Mr Porter: Yeah that’s a really good point. But imagine it from an artist point of view. You’re thousands of miles away from where the main heart of the scene is, you really want to get involved but how the hell do you even get inside it? I think that’s something Duncan Winslow has experienced, being all the way out in St Louis. But that’s the power of community and the power of the internet.
Amen! So what’s coming next from the community? And are you the type of label that plans waaaaay in advance?
Mitekiss: I think we got to about 9 or 10 months ahead of ourselves at one point, which was great. We know what’s coming up for the next three releases but if something comes in, we’re not averse to moving things around.
Mr Porter: The release we’ve got after the Full Fat album is a two tracker from Athena who just got her debut release on Shogun’s Points Of Origin 4. We’d signed her before she got involved with the EQ50 project and she was successful with the mentor program. Flight is her mentor and she’s working with Shogun which is all very exciting.
Her track Next Door Reality is amazing. A proper nod towards the autonomic vibes but in her own way. Sick track!
Mr Porter: Spot on! That’s what I said when I heard it. It took me back to that time and what dBridge was doing in Exit. It changes the pace nicely on the album as well so I’m very happy about that. So yeah, Athena has a release coming and beyond that there’s vocalist project which I can’t give anything away about right now.
Is it you?
Mr Porter: It’s not me, no.
Nice to hear you on the Winslow tune, though!
Mr Porter: I like to be organic. I don’t have the driving force to be an artist. I’ve been involved in music a long time now and there’s been times when I feel it and times when I don’t, but any vocal things I do now are because I want to. If something excites me I’ll get involved basically. So Winslow sent over that track and I’ve been encouraging him to do more with his vocals and he did some rapping for Marisa’s Heads Bass. He’s singing on this one and he plays viola too.
He plays viola! His wonders never cease!
Mitekiss: He plays it on City Angels, my track on Hospital, too.
Mr Porter: He’s so talented. That actual track we did together was in incubation for a very long time. He said he envisioned a rap in it and I was inspired, so I wrote a few bars about being free from mental oppression. This was before we had had an incredibly oppressive year, so I sat on the track for a long time before I eventually pulled my finger out and finished it. That’s how I am, though. I also started writing something for Athena too, actually, and came up with some rhymes about surgery. It’s something we’ve both been through it a lot and have shared experiences with. So we might explore that. Everything is organic for me though, I know it is for Johnny too, and that’s the main focus on Goldfat; keeping it natural and complementing each other. Johnny is an incredible musician and has this great gift of knowing how to operate online, I bring my musical knowledge and experience to the table and we’re both pushing together. I don’t know what lit the fire under us so much to push things the way we have, but it’s well and truly lit and we’re only just warming up.