Spanish techno two piece Pig&Dan and their ELEVATE imprint have been dealing out some serious records across the past half decade or so, their roster boasts a hugely impressive string of names including Victor Ruiz, Spektre, Kaiser Disco, Rob Hes and Mark Reeve.
We caught up with the guys for our Label Mates series to discuss the early successes of ELEVATE as well as the modern accessibility to music and what negatives or positives it might behold. Keep reading for Label Mates with Pig&Dan and ELEVATE.
ELEVATE first launched in 2012, tell us about the hustle of putting out your first releases?
There wasn’t really much of a hustle at the beginning because ELEVATE is actually the sixth label we have started and run together during our career. So, we had plenty of experience already with the in’s and out of label management and also had a great relationship with Beatport.
The first release was a Pig&Dan one, which luckily did quite well although we had no expectations ahead of the release. I think it was the track ‘Savage’ which ended up being a top 10 release. That’s always great for a new label starting out.
And what is your typical day to day regarding the label, do you manage it yourself or is there a team behind the curtain?
The first few labels we started, we pretty much did everything ourselves, from organising the pressing of the vinyl, uploading the tracks to the Beatport server and dealing with distribution and the artists ourselves. The A&R was also done by ourselves, and that’s something that hasn’t changed and will never change, because it’s our taste in music that basically the releases you find on ELEVATE.
Now-a-days we have a wonderful label manager Scott, who basically does everything for us (bless him) but the A&R is all us – we listen to the demos, select releases and decide on the schedule dates with Scott. We now also have Bibi who is our graphic designer, and the person that designed the label logo, and takes care of every single release cover artwork.
What is the hardest role managing a label that people might not know about?
I wouldn’t say something is hard, if that’s what you are most passionate about, however, this industry isn’t easy, and I think the hardest thing you have to deal with from day 1 is having the patience you need to succeed. Being consistent and not giving up are important, because it’s a very tough industry to work in and many times you want to throw in the towel and do something else.
I guess what is hard nowadays is to find really good music, sometimes it takes hours and hours of going through demos until you find a little gem, but those moments make it all worthwhile, especially when you discover a new artist that writes phat tunes!
You have put out some physical releases, how have you found the transition to the digital age?
Our first label which was called Submission was only physical releases, and only Pig&Dan tunes, so a lot has changed since then. I would say the transition was quite organic because we were one of the first techno labels on Beatport, so we were kind of a part of the whole experiment that now has become the norm. It’s pretty much the same thing now, just that the format has changed, but you still have to deal with distribution companies etc. Going digital only is actually simpler because you don’t have to deal with the production of vinyl.
And we live in a time when there are thousands of new tracks coming out every day, what has been the key to keeping ELEVATE above water in a sea of mediocre music?
We would say that it all comes down to experience and taste. The problem with digital is that there are no filters, so anyone can open a label without any experience whatsoever and release whatever they want, even is its badly produced. This also happened in the vinyl era, but much less because of the cost to actually press the vinyl, so labels were much more selective and careful in what they put out. Also, producing music was less accessible than it is now, you can produce a track with Garageband which comes free with your Mac without practically having a clue how to produce and engineer. You could even maybe get away with releasing it, if you have a bit of cash and the courage.
It’s great that things are accessible, but it’s also sad that people don’t really spend the time to actually learn and develop their own style, taste and ear. It can take many years to develop those things, even if you have studied the theory, you still need hours of experience and time in the studio to develop your style.
This takes us back to the question, because that is what we look for, we want artists that have their own signature sound or element to their tracks, and that have experience in their productions, and who can make their own music. You can hear it in their music, because they are consistent in their arrangement and vision.
What record on your label are you most proud to have put out?
Wow that’s a hard one to decide as we are proud of all of the releases but we will choose Aitor Ronda – Tweezer because it hit number one on the techno charts and it put a great producer like Aitor on the map.
And who can we expect music from on ELEVATE in the near future?
Music, music and more music. We have some great new artists coming up on the label such as Mark Broom, Ambivalent and Popof joining the family and some of our regulars such Victor Ruiz, Aitor Ronda and Hobo coming back with some free music.
Lastly, where do you see the label in a few years time?
The best thing is to not have expectations and live one day at a time which is what we try to do, we are happy we have gotten this far. Let’s see what happens in the future.
Pig&Dan just celebrated their 100th release on the label, where they joined forces with Mark Reeve for their collaboration EP ‘Give’. Grab it on Beatport now.