Label Mates: XYZ / When We Dip

Launched back in November 2018 by the same crew behind Montreal-based tastemaker and artist management company When We Dip, the XYZ imprint has already released seven EPs, with tracks coming from names like Budakid, Paul Nolan and Ian O’Donovan.

As the label approaches its one year aniversary, we welcome label manager Guthrie Drake to our label mates series to discuss the past, present and future of XYZ, including the vision behind the project, what’s coming for the one year milestone, and how things might look a few years down the road.

Hey guys, thanks a lot for taking some time out to chat about XYZ! How are things?

Pleasure to be here, thank you. It’s been a jam-packed couple of months, with lots of exciting projects moving along on all fronts. There’s no better place in the world then Montreal in the late summer, so things are good!

The label is still quite new, what brought on the decision to add a label to the When We Dip family?

Since its inception, When We Dip has always strived to provide a platform for up-and-coming talents to showcase their music. We love giving the ‘little guys’ a boost through interviews, features, and premieres on the media side of things.

As we began our exploits into the world of artist management, we noticed a lack of labels with the right intentions – releasing quality and innovative music from exciting artists, while ensuring they receive their fair share of profits. By launching our own label, we have the opportunity to better educate up and coming artists about the business end of releasing music.

And releases have come from Budakid, Ian O’Donovan, Paul Nolan and others, tell us about the demo process, how’s it typically work?

We operate with an artist-first mindset. While unique and top quality music is always a requirement for label releases, we look for artists that are doing things a bit differently both in and out of music. Paul Nolan, for example, has an incredible background in sound therapy and mental health. Having him release on the label was also an opportunity to shine a spotlight on his terrific work for the dance music community and on his incredible productions.

We are always looking for new characters to join the XYZ cast, and have a thorough system in place to ensure each demo we receive is considered. Once an artist releases on the label it is our intention to continue supporting and guiding them on their journey as a musician.

Can you share any details about what might be coming up in the next few months?

In a few weeks we are launching our Diversions series – a collection of remixes that we’ve been collecting from the XYZ catalogue. We’re very happy to have Fake Mood and DSF join the XYZ family on this one.

Esteble are amongst our favorite producers, and their remix of Hosini shows their quality. We also have a fresh face on the Montreal scene, Maaruo, revisiting our first ever release with Budakid. We’re stoked on all four remixes.

Later on, we have EPs lined up from both label stalwarts and newcomers alike. Stay tuned!

And the 1st anniversary is approaching in November 2019, are you planning anything special for that?

I can’t believe we are already approaching a year, it’s been a quick one! We’re putting together a special edition of the When We Dip radio show on Ibiza Sonica for the anniversary. It will feature tracks that have defined the label thus far and some exclusive upcoming releases too.

What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learnt from running a label?

Things can change quickly, both for artists and labels. It’s important to stay true to the label’s principles and creative direction, while also having the ability to adapt in a rapidly changing industry. Running a label is a delicate balance between paying respect to sounds that have shaped dance music as we know it, while also pushing the envelope to create space for emerging talents to showcase their ideas.

And before we go, where do you hope to see the label in five years time?

On the musical side, we hope to be doing the same thing we’re doing right now – providing a platform for new and exciting styles of dance music, and supporting the artists and producers making it.

We’ll be developing a series of XYZ showcases over the next few months. We had our first label event in Montreal over the summer at Piknic Electronik, and will be taking the show on the road very soon! In five years, we hope to be hosting XYZ showcases and festivals amongst the incredible dance music communities that we know and love.