You know you’re onto something when you’ve been nominated as a Best Newcomer Label after two paid releases.
You know you’re definitely onto something when you’ve been credited as label of the month in DJ Mag and even cited by one of our editorial team as a label of the year within months of launching.
You know you’re doing something seriously special when your parties kick off like this…
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Such is the case with Invicta Audio, a project that started as a series of parties in Bristol pre-lockdown, launched as a label during lockdown giving new talent a platform to showcase their music, and has exploded out of the gates post-lockdown, capturing this new rave energy with some of the vibiest, most high energy looking events you could imagine.
Now, one year, 19 releases, three mad looking freshers shows, a house party with Turno and slews of free downloads deep, they’re getting ready for an even bigger 2022. With their latest release from Jam Thieves still bumping fresh in our ears, we called up the label founder Anton Bailey… A man so busy we had to interrupt his lunch break!
You’re chatting to me from Lakota… That’s your day job, right?
Yeah I’ve been working here since May/June. I was resident DJ here as a student and fell into the marketing team, working here in the day and doing the nights in the evening. I’ve landed a good job let’s put it that way!
Awesome. Now you’re eating sleeping breathing music and events 24/7 with the label, your DJing, Lakota…
Literally. It’s what I dreamt of. It’s why I came to Bristol and have wanted to work in the industry beyond being a DJ or anything like that. It was lockdown on my final year, that’s when I started Invicta and I was prioritising Invicta over my dissertation but didn’t feel guilty, I want to work in music full time and do it for the rest of my life. To have this job straight after uni is unreal.
That’s how I ended up doing what I do. The plan was to be a DJ to begin with! You just immerse yourself, find your path as you go…
That’s it! I never wanted to work in a job I hate. I want to work in something I love.
What’s the shittiest job you’ve ever had?
Oh man. Working in cafes, then working in Wilkos. I was working the weekend but cut my hours down and down and down. My brain wasn’t stimulated by it. Those experiences are enough to make me work hard in music to not go back.
Amen! So with your role at Lakota – you were part of that crazy freedom night rave that kicked off at midnight on that Monday, right?
Yes! The Rave Returns. That was a huge project for us. There was a 10 second countdown when it hit midnight. The liveliness was unreal. I did the closing set and the energy was full-on. Then we had the Summer Of Love Festival which was mad. I’d just started at the club and got dropped deep into it from the off.
Amazing. And it’s not like you’re not just running the label ‘on the side’ if you know what I mean. Invicata is properly smashing it. Those freshers events looked off the hook…
They’ve been beyond expectations. We only did events in Bristol and a sitdown thing in London and we wanted to do a big UK tour, I certainly felt like the brand was ready to roll out like that, but I also didn’t want to do too much and not deliver my all into every show. So we just focused on three proper solid shows. Cardiff’s round the corner and I had some connections in Nottingham so we put everything into shows in those cities and Bristol. They were amazing. We didn’t realise the following the brand has in other places.
We know what we can do in Bristol, but in the other cities they told us they’d not experienced a night like ours before. It was cool to bring underground artists to those cities where things are locked off by the big brands. We’re working with a lot of underground artists – the people pushing 10k on Soundcloud. The people who are making the tunes we’re rinsing. And because I’m the target market myself at the age of 21, I know who I want to see.
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Bringing through the new gen as you are new gen. What a time to catch people; their first rave post lockdown. Maybe first rave ever.
Yeah! Because the lockdown was over a year – so many people have turned 18 and never been to an event before. We’ve got that social media presence and we’re showing them how we do things with our footage. So when people could rave, they’re like, ‘okay, we need to go to Invicta.’
It’s mad footage. There’s a bit of a free party vibe with your pink high-viz waistcoats, too. It’s a new benchmark. Raving 2.0!
Industry reset! We stayed relevant during lockdown, we came out of it feeling powerful and it’s been great to have our DJs playing out and to be out there, being the face of the brand and meeting the people supporting us. We’ve developed a real thing. Before we were just releasing music from any up-and-coming artist who we’re rating, but that’s turned into something very exciting and solid.
You got nominated in the Drum&BassArena Awards after only a few paid releases. It’s been a consistent rise since then!
Yeah we’ve got our 19th release coming out, which was a year ago tomorrow. So it’s been bang on a year since our first paid release.
Did anticipate the support you’ve had? Things like the awards and DJ Mag’s Best Of British…
These were things I didn’t know could be a thing! I’ve never run a label before. It’s like, once you go through one door, a new one opens. It was funny – I didn’t realise the DJ Mag thing was nominated by themselves. I did a video thanking people for voting us, but it’s not how that one worked. It was quite mindblowing that DJ Mag would be paying attention to us. Then you had us as one of your top 20 labels. I didn’t know what to say.
During all this time, you guys went in musically. It’s like you’ve been fine-tuning the Invicta sound…
It’s what we said from the get-go: We don’t care what size the artist is, if the quality is there, we’ll release it. We love our liquid as much as our jump up. We love it all. I guess we’re more high energy because our dancefloors are high energy and we want to keep the events and the releases linked. High energy partying, high energy music. But now we’re more careful with the music we sign.
It’s a pretty vast range of styles under the Invicta umbrella. Like the first year album recently…
Yeah, that’s a sound in itself – being able to do all styles and keep that versatility going. We’ve got a liquid VA coming out, for example, which will be interesting and a chance to do something different. But at the end of the day, we do everything, we don’t care. We’ll release what we like.
Love that! So I think Jam Thieves is the most established name you’ve had so far. But generally, you guys rep the new gen.
100%! We will always work with artists of all sizes. If it’s good and we’re properly vibing to it then we’ll release your music whether it’s your first download or you’re established. And if one or two of them come through and be the next Turno or Bou then we’ve given them that platform. We want to grow with our artists.
And also be that platform and be that place where someone got their first break. Even if they go on to be signed by another label. It’s playing a role. And I think passion recognises passion doesn’t it? There’s loads to be said for DIY culture but what you’re doing is a perfect example of where labels still play such an important role in this game and how you find, incubate and elevate talent…
100%! I couldn’t agree with you more. If you’re pushing something special and you’re capturing people’s attention, then people pay back with loyalty. We’ve given so much away for free. Since the one year compilation release we haven’t done many paid releases because we’ve focused on the parties and giving music away. People need to be heard so we’re getting their free downloads out there and building up their followings on Hype Edit which builds up our following too. Everyone wins.
Isn’t that what Invicta means?
Haha, kinda – Invicta means undefeated and unconquered. The reason that name came about was because it started as a uni project and, in the first year of uni, I was trying to get involved in the DJ scene and I was doing repping work for blue mountain. I’d get so many people through the door and had a network of people going to events and I’d get a pound a head. I started thinking maybe I could do this for my own event and get the full ticket money. In my course I was in a team called Invicta. I asked if I could use it for a one-off event and here we are.
I actually made a loss of £400 on it. I’d used my savings and my mum wasn’t happy about that. But I’ll never regret it; the experience of it, the buzz of it all, the stamp we put on the scene here, I wouldn’t have met the Lakota guys and we wouldn’t have started building up this community.
It was an investment!
That’s it. Then we did our first show as Invicta Audio last year, a sitdown event in London, and I made that £400 back and sent it to my mum and said, ‘There you go!’ It was more than worth it.
Completely! So next step for you personally must be productions?
Maybe not man. I’ve binned off the Viatic name and I’m just playing as Anton. Anaïs has beee my best friend since year 10, she joined me to Bristol and is smashing it now and we’ve started a duo called Antics. We kept playing as a duo anyway and people were really vibing with us and the energy, it’s going down really well. So I’m already trying to push Invicta, I’m working at Lakota, now I’ve got Antics. I still play solo but it’s not something I’m pushing as much or getting into production-wise as I’ll spread myself too thin and burn out completely.
You got all the time in the world man!
I look at production and it goes over my head. My brain doesn’t work that way – I like organisation and business. I have an ear for music and could give someone feedback, but none of that feedback would be technical. So I’d rather DJ with Anaïs. It’s a weird one because the DJing was the first thing I wanted to do and how I got into it, but that’s the same with you isn’t it?
Totally! You find your own groove and your own things that make you happy and you contribute the best. Life takes you on these cool twists. So what’s coming up next?
Jam Thieves just came out. The USBs are going out now and we’ll do another paid release in November and a few free downloads before winding down until January on the label side. Party-wise we’ll be doing a big show at Lakota on December 10. A high energy, full Invicta send-off. We’re doing a full visual live recording as well with all the lasers and the alien inflatables. We want everyone to rewatch the sets and see what Invicta is all about!
Amazing! So final shouts…
I just want to big up my team behind the scenes – Will Davis, Lewis Fowler, Daniel Christie, Hugo Taylor, Ieuan Lucas and Matt Lampitt. And also sending love to Anaïs and T-Lex. They’re smashing it and they’re at the forefront of what we’re doing. So I want to shout them out and make sure people know how they’re carrying the brand and celebrating diversity in our scene and in our crew. We cover and represent a lot of groups across our team and collective and people have picked up on that and respected that in Bristol which is great. So yeah, just big up my mates and big up everyone who’s supported us. This is the beginning.