Born in Iran, raised in America, Grammy award winning talent Ali Shirazinia has had a bigger impact on club music than almost anyone, and has seen incredible success thanks to his work under the guise of both Dubfire and Deep Dish.
Early Dubfire productions such as ‘Emissions’, ‘Ribcage’, and ‘Roadkill’ are still considered as some of the best techno has ever seen, and inspired an entire generation of producers and DJs throughout the late 00’s.
Fast forward 15 or so years and Dubfire is now a veteran of his craft, constantly touring the worlds best dancefloors and festival stages to crowds in the tens of thousands, and has grown his SCI+TEC imprint into a commanding force which has released music from names like Klaudia Gawlas, Guti, and Wigbert.
Ali joins us for this months edition of our Label Mates series, where we chat about the early days of SCI+TEC, how he approaches the A&R process, and who else we might see on the label in the coming months. Get the full discussion with Dubfire below.
You first launched SCI+TEC back in 2007, do you remember your initial reasons for wanting to start a label?
The original intention all along was for it to be a vehicle for my solo works; after the split with Deep Dish, I didn’t want to have to shop my new sound to other labels. I wasn’t sure what the reactions to the material would be and didn’t want to face any potential bias or rejection.
But after the first few releases garnered a lot of attention, I started to gradually receive quite a few exceptional demos which simply needed a home. And even though it was a difficult period of transition for me as an artist, I felt a strong need to get behind and help develop this emerging young talent.
And what were some of the biggest difficulties you faced in the very beginning?
Initially it was setting up the structure of the label; making sure that all aspects, except for the A&R, were outsourced to the best, most creative, and professional people I could find. Even despite my nearly 30 years in the industry that still proved to be a monumental challenge at the time. And the other major hurdle was in honing my new sound via the label, while also trying to find a core group of like-minded artists who could help create the label’s sonic identity and aesthetic.
The next release on the label will be your own debut album, EVOLV, why is 2022 the right time for you to finally drop a full album, and what is the main message you want to send with this one?
EVOLV is a more focused, personal musical statement, yet aimed squarely at the dance floor. It’s celebrating the darkness and beauty of our modern times and not necessarily easy to categorize. And the collection of tracks feels as if they are coming from the same creative space so it just made sense to present them in album form.
Since 2007 you have released music from the likes of Booka Shade, Klaudia Gawlas, Carlo Lio, and many others, do you look for anything in particular when it comes to signing new music?
I’ve got a simple A&R philosophy: if I can fit it into my DJ sets then it’s got the potential to get signed, whether that is the ambience of Kazuya Nagaya, or the minimalism of SHADED. I rarely look for a specific genre. And I’m always looking for an artist who’s got something unique to say. Perhaps with a new twist on an old formula; someone who’s got an easily identifiable sound.
And who else might we expect to see on the label in the coming months?
We have some incredible music forthcoming by Iranian artist Rebeat and Alisa Andreeva, who’ve successfully released on SCI+TEC before. And funny enough my current tour manager EMITR happens to also be a great, new producer and will make his debut on the label soon, with a couple of tracks which have been a highlight of my recent sets.
Do you run SCI+TEC completely by yourself, or do you have a team handling different things in the background?
My focus has always been about the creative aspects which involve the A&R and setting the vision for the label. And while I have the exceptional !K7 handling distribution, I would be nowhere without my amazing label manager Marina Zakharevitch, who single-handedly took on the tedious day-to-day affairs. Running a label with a busy release schedule is more work than most people realise.
If I’m an aspiring artist and I want my music to be released on SCI+TEC, what’s the best way to go about it?
Over the years we’ve tried to set up demo submission platforms but that has proved to be unsuccessful since I’ve always believed it to be more of an organic process; that somehow the music would find its way to me. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone handing me a USB stick in the middle of a set, or via a cleverly worded email.
Do you have a favourite label, besides your own of course?
I think Len Faki’s Figure label, or Ben Klock’s Klockworks, have always been quite consistent in quality over the years.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own label in 2022?
Well, if that someone happens to be a busy globetrotting DJ then make sure you hire a good label manager to run things while you are away. Especially in setting up the administrative aspects of the label like managing the legal affairs, release schedules, and royalty accounting. Having a correct and streamlined structure will go a long way in how efficient you are as a label. And it’s not a race, take your time and release the best possible music you can find because that will be the legacy of the label, quality over quantity. And finally, always give honest, constructive criticism to the artists who get your attention.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything else you want to mention before we go?
Thank you for the support!
Dubfire – EVOLV LP is out October 14th on SCI+TEC.