Whilst busy showcasing to the world the wonderful ways that dark d&b can be both perceived and created, Phase Records is rapidly proving itself to be the new home for developing underground artists. Founded and run by French drum & bass DJ and producer, Gifta, the label is centered around family vibes and growth. They have cultivated something special, and with the help of the Hospital Records business development scheme, they’re quickly carving out their own legacy within the scene.
This is not just a tale of dark steppers and community spirit, though. We have seen an influx of female DJs rise through the ranks over the past few years, yet female run labels are still few and far between. Gifta, along with long standing label bosses such as Rupture’s Mantra, are great examples of women going against the grain, running labels and pushing the scene forward in their own way. Their hard graft and resilience is an inspiration to all, but most importantly, to young women watching them break down barriers in music.
Off the back of Phase resident Intention’s two track EP, we thought it was about time we jumped into conversation with Gifta herself to get the full Phase story.
How are you today, Gifta?
I’m good, thank you! I’m tired. I woke up at 5am to be in the office early and then I had a very long commute home. Lots of opportunities to work on Phase admin today though. We had a release out this week so we’ve been busy, busy.
Grafting hard as always. Let’s go right back to the start of Phase Records – what’s the story?
I was made redundant at the start of the first lockdown. I had nothing to do and the entire drum & bass scene went online. I did what a lot of up and comers did at the time and I decided to become a bedroom streaming DJ. Through doing that I met quite a few people. I met Premonition, Shelli B, S.W.I.D, Lucidik and loads of others. I created a platform at the time called Elevation, which was originally just going to be a Facebook page, giving the opportunity for people to stream from their bedrooms. I wanted to create a community. Eventually, Louie and Laurence from Premonition were like ‘You’re really good at this managing stuff’ and from there, it turned into a label. We rebranded to Phase Records. We started doing events first then free downloads and for the past year, we’ve officially been releasing music.
Amazing. Talk to me about where the label is now, what artists are involved and some of the achievements you’ve had so far.
The biggest achievement to date has definitely been getting the Hospital Records Business mentorship this time last year. It has catapulted everything we do. To be recognised by arguably the biggest label in drum & bass has given us so much confidence. The year we’ve had has been insane and we’ve achieved things I didn’t think that we would, or at least not this quickly. Our first EP by Premonition, which came out in January, hit number eight on Beatport. It was only our second ever release. That was a huge accolade. Doing this interview too, UKF is so important to us and the scene. The UKF premieres, the radio features, featuring on BBC, Kool FM. Support from Dave Jenkins. Feedback from big names in the scene through promos. Hearing artists who aren’t part of the Phase gang play our tracks is always amazing too. There’s been so much.
Hard work pays off… Talk to me about the Phase gang! Seems like you have created quite a home for your artists.
The crew! I love how diverse we are as a group of people for a start. Men, Women, people from all sorts of different backgrounds and ages too. I think age is really overlooked sometimes when it comes to diversity. We’ve got myself, Charis who’s the Shogun audio mentee this year. We have Che, Artillery, Yours Truly, R3IDY, S.W.I.D, Premonition, Lucidik, Dapreme in Austria, Xyde who’s based in Italy. Wilkz, Ana Crusis, Shelli B. MC’s too; Big G and Sabre who are a duo, Boonie, a young guy from Reading, our star girls on the mic, Savvy B and Vispera. It’s a big crew but it’s a good crew. So many talented people and it’s like having 14 children and a lot of them are older than me.
Crew mentality is important and is less common these days with artists being independent and relying less on labels. It’s nice to see you guys repping those family vibes.
I think it’s important because something I’ve noticed as I’ve entered the scene more is that it can get lonely sometimes. Not in the sense that you feel alone but sometimes there isn’t someone that can relate to things not going your way. There’s a lot of rejection in music and it’s easy to get lost and lose your head a little bit. To have that core group is really grounding. I say it all the time but if anything bad happens to me and I know I’ll be alright because I’ve got my gang. I think it’s really important to have.
Love that. Gifta – what’s unique about Phase Records?
For a start, it’s female run and when I say that I mean female run built from absolutely nothing. I started this with nobody knowing who I am and I’m still building a name for myself in the scene today. I’m very hands on with my artists. We do feedback sessions where they give me feedback on how I’m doing, they tell me things they want to see in the label and then we talk about how I can support them. We come up with development plans, not just based on how I can help them with Phase but how I can help them elsewhere too. Can I get them opportunities on another label? Can I shout their name louder when they are not in the room? That attention to detail across the board seems to be appreciated by our artists. That’s not to say other labels don’t have similar ethos to ours but it’s definitely something I know our artists like about Phase.
What big lessons have you learnt so far running a label?
You’re going to get things so wrong. Not everything is going to do as well as you want it to, no matter how badly you want it to. You can’t control everything. You can’t control how things are perceived, nor how well a piece of content performs on social media. I’m still learning how to accept it. I’ve learnt loads about the legal side of things and publishing. I’ve learnt how to have patience. I’ve learnt that I’m relentless and I’m stronger than I realised. If I really want to make things happen then I can, it just might take a long time and there might be a few tears on the way.
So many great takeaways, and I’m sure many to come to. We have to be the change we want to see in the world – what will you be doing with Phase to create positive change within music?
That’s a hard question to answer. I like to think that everything I do is positive but I have and will make mistakes, because I’m a human being. That aside, I hope that somewhere, a girl can see what I’m doing and know that she can do it too, because she has somebody to emulate. There are so many fantastic female DJs now, they’re absolutely killing it and they inspire me every day, but there’s not many of us running labels. I think it’s important for girls to see that it’s possible and that we can exist in this space. We can do it, and we can do it well. If that’s a positive change I can make, even just to influence that one person, I’d be very happy.