Label Mates: Kenny Summit / Good For You

Kenny Summit is a name that’s directly connected to authentic, back to basics house anthems, with his roots reaching back to the early days of New York house culture.

Fast forward a couple decades and Kenny’s Good For You Records has brought us music from the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Terrence Parker, Todd Terry and Joeski.

We welcome him to the site for this months edition of Label Mates, where we discuss everything from the challenges of launching a new label to what the future might have in store. Get the full interview below.

Good For You first launched in 2011, tell us about the hustle of putting out your first releases?

It was uncharted territory for me, not only was I new to production but I had zero experience on the actual business side of running a label. I started DJing full time in ’94, was always sharing bills with one superstar or another, so I think I got a bit cocky by 2010. 

By that point, I had also opened a number of nightclubs that had all become incredibly successful, so I had no reason to believe running a label would end up being the most difficult undertaking of my life.

Thankfully I got some solid advice early on from Mike Weiss (Nervous), Scott Wozniak, Eric Kupper and of course Frankie (Knuckles) was a tremendous help in guiding me through the early stages of launching the label.

And what is your typical day to day regarding the label, do you manage it yourself or is there a team behind the scenes?

These days I have the luxury of focusing on my music production, any art related to the label as I like to keep a certain image, and I spend as much time as I can sourcing new releases for the label. Earlier this year I partnered with Paul from iMusic and he’s basically running the day to day stuff with the help of Simon and the rest of their team. 

Like any business, you’re going to do much better if each responsibility is handled by someone who is an expert in that specific field.

Juggling a dozen different responsibilities and wearing too many hats has been my daily norm for so long; now with Paul and Simon on board, I can’t express how grateful I am to have most of that weight lifted off my shoulders.

What is the hardest role in managing a label that people might not know about?

Dealing with the egos of producers is by far the most challenging. I’ve been told that my abrasive New Yorker demeanour is often not very well received, so that sometimes makes life a little harder. Because of that, I’m always working on softening my approach with basically everyone in this industry. This is a ‘business’ at the end of the day, and that means having to bite your tongue from time to time (something I am not good at).

You have put out some physical releases, how have you found the transition to digital?

It’s all the same shit to me. Vinyl is great, you get to touch it, read the liner notes, have that physical attachment to the song, but if I can’t have the vinyl, having a digital copy is a nice second best. We are releasing a lot more vinyl though. Can’t argue with the customer; they want wax, we’ll give em’ wax!

And we live in a time when there are thousands of new tracks coming out every day, what has been the key to keeping Good For You above water?

Quality control helps. Being authentic and original. Marketing is obviously key; I think we’ve proven time and time again that Good For You’s marketing is top tier. Because of our artwork, design, and the way in which I’ve approached marketing Good For You from the start has given us a pretty big advantage over those labels who either do not know how to market properly or just don’t care about that aspect.

Being original has it’s downfalls though. I mean, how many labels are using my worn vinyl texture look now? I shared that ‘worn vinyl’ texture online in the early 2000s as I was using it for flyer designs and at least 50 labels that I know about have used it since. If I wanted to be an asshole I could issue takedown requests for every release that’s used that texture as it is my intellectual property, but the way I see it, if people want to copy what I’m doing, that probably means I’m doing something right.

What record on your label are you most proud to have put out?

The Paradise Garage compilation, more specifically the Lou Rawls remix that Frankie Knuckles and I worked on. It took 5 long years of negotiating with Sony and the Lou Rawls estate just to clear that record for release, and then another few years to solidify my deal with the GMHC for use of the PG trademark.

And who can we expect music from in the near future?

I kinda started the label solely for my own projects. But it’s turned into something that a lot of producers want to be a part of, and I’ve come to enjoy releasing music from both established and up & coming artists alike. This year you’ll see a heavy focus on projects from Loves Last Episode.

Lastly, where do you hope to see the label in a few years time?

Well, if club culture ever bounces back from this virus situation, with the help of Paul and Simon, we have plans to take the label to new heights: maybe some more Billboard No.1’s, definitely more Traxsource and Beatport No.1’s, some TV and film sync deals would be nice, as well as a steady stream of wax for the collectors to sink their teeth into.