Techno Tuesday: Fur Coat on the right time to start a label, the state of melodic techno, and their future
Techno Tuesday is a feature on Dancing Astronaut documenting the culture of underground dance music. We’ll bring you exclusive interviews, tracks, and narratives from artists within the techno, tech house, and deep house world in an effort to shed light on some of the best talent outside the world of mainstream dance music.
Sergio Muñoz and Israel Sunshine are two kindred spirits when it comes to dance music; they both prefer house and techno of the darker, more melodic variety. They were brought together a decade and a half ago over their mutual interests in their home country of Venezuela, where together, they eventually transformed into Fur Coat. Their journey hasn’t been without its obstacles; the two spent quite a long time cutting their teeth on the local circuit and honing their brand of house and techno into something that would stand out from the pack. In 2012, their debut in the international spotlight came when Damian Lazarus picked up their Space Ballad EP for Crosstown Rebels. It wouldn’t take much longer for them to become the juggernauts we know today, as their music was well-received by the masses and they soon found themselves on labels like Suara, Hot Creations, and Last Night On Earth. More recently, they’ve notched a Balance series contribution onto their belts.
There’s more to Fur Coat than their own artistic career, however; the duo have now ascended to the point of success where they can not only take their own music into their own hands, but also begin looking after others under them. In 2017, the deciding moment to start a label arrived, and thus Oddity was born. It’s still in its fledgling state, making Fur Coat excellent candidates to quiz on the trials and tribulations of being an independent label owner in the current dance music climate. We got them to divulge on the process of forming their label, tentative plans for the future, lessons learned, and more. They also gave us some exciting looks at what’s to come from Oddity in the future — including a new track that one “wouldn’t expect” from them.
Listen to their brand new EP on Redimension (order a copy here) whilst reading on about their time as Oddity head honchos.
You were in the dance industry for over a decade before establishing Oddity. What was “the moment,” or what were the factors that led to you deciding it was the right time to start your label?
FC: Yes, we have been in the industry over a decade, even before Fur Coat. The moment to launch our label just came and felt right in 2017, although we had for over 6 months before been working on designs and forming what we really wanted to do with it. The motive behind this was that we could showcase a bit more from us, not only music wise but also art-wise. As we are doing vinyl, the physical copies have great artwork that we would curate and work on. This platform not only lets us decide if we want to put an EP or record out from us when we feel its right it also meant that we don’t always have to deal with the scheduling of other labels and also we get to decide fully the tracklist of each EP, V.A or whatever we are thinking putting out. We can also showcase new talent that we get music from, and get people on board to remix or even provide originals. So far we have had original music from us, Natural Flow & Mathame, and remixes from Slam, Roman Poncet, Dubspeeka, Locked Groove & Cassegrain!
Over that decade we discussed about having the label, but I think we were focused on other achievements and thought this wasn’t our main priority or that we didn’t have the time to do it right the way we wanted to. At this point in our career we are more established, our sound has evolved and this all came at a time when we felt it was right. It’s a label that each release has to be 100% as we want it with no rush, we don’t want to compromise by running on a super tight schedule, things happen when they are ready, so that is also a privilege we have.
Is there a specific sound/ethos you’re trying to promote with Oddity?
FC: Oddity is not only about Fur Coat’s sound which leans more towards a techno, groovy sound sometimes with melodies or more experimental; but also focuses on music we play and the music of artists that we like. We try with most of the music that we sign to have at least 1 track that is something that we would have in our sets, but also leave free space for the artists to experiment, not only focusing on dance floor oriented material. Each EP has to feel complete, thats why we also spend a lot of consideration on what remixers to bring onboard. Genre wise, of course it leans to techno, but we are always open for variations, although it has to fit in with us, what we play and what we like. By this we mean we aren´t closed to sign an ambient record as part of an EP for example.
On that note, where do you see the “Fur Coat sound” going in the future? Trying anything new/fun?
The Fur Coat sound has evolved since its beginning. We come from a background of house and techno. We never want to be put inside the box, so we are always in the search for new things, always trying to stay on top and keep it fresh. The past 4 years our sound has shaped more into melodic but groovy techno. We always try new things, there is a track from us coming on Oddity 004 that you wouldn’t expect from us, not dancefloor oriented at all. Although as we said before it would be a complete EP and a great remixer on board!
Who are the artists inspiring you the most at this moment?
Our inspiration doesn’t come directly from electronic music artists when we produce. But in terms of artist we like and that we like playing their records we can name a few and also some we have had on the label. We like a lot of Dubspeeka’s work, there is always space to have a track from him in our sets, the same with Roman Poncet who has been doing great work. ANNA has been doing killer stuff, and a remixer that we always try to play or that probably releases music that we always like is the great Radio Slave.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned and challenges you’ve overcome thus far in being label owners?
Well, first of all we are two guys deciding what we sign to the label. Sometimes is hard to get to a concensus on what we want to sign, but the good thing between us is that we understand each other, and we can compliment one another. Sometimes I (Sergio) may find a track from an artist, and then Israel might suggest a remixer, so we discuss on this and try to make it as a team work. We always put on the table which names we want to have on the label, based on the music we have been playing and that fits our musical style.
On the art part, (Sergio) has good connections with some designers through a friend in Barcelona and we went through all the designing process with them.
So basically the most difficult part is pulling all of the details together to be ready send the distributor and arrange the release date. Usually our mastering guy (Xergio Cordoba) when we have the music ready masters the EP in couple of days but you have to have an appointment. Then the designer has to arrange all the titles, artists and remixers names etc. When all this is approved by us, and the artists are happy with the masters, we can deliver to the distributor and start the whole process. Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of time and back and forth, sitting down and listening and seeing that all is correct, to finally deliver it how we want it.
Sometimes you can have a schedule in mind, but due to certain factors and the fact we want to release on certain dates to get the promotion right this can get difficult! So if you are going to start your own label prepare for this!
Tell us about your biggest goals for the label – artists to sign, vinyl-only releases, label showcases/festivals, etc?
Well our format is Vinyl and Digital and we always have a vinyl only track. In a way it makes the vinyl more special to have you know? People who are supporting Oddity have come to us and given us great comments about the music, artwork and it feels nice that they have something extra when they are supporting the label.
On artists to sign, we have many names we want to have on the label, either as remixer or releases, or maybe in the near future a V.A so we can showcase a little more you know? But we don’t seek music directly based on artists, we seek music based on how it sounds and if we like it, specially for people who send demos. Basically we can reach out to a producer we like or just receive something from upcoming artists and combine it with an established remixer.
On the future the idea is to do Oddity showcases, first in clubs to grow the brand and expose the artists we are working with, in key cities with promoters who we usually work with. After that we want to organically expand and really see where things go!
How do you feel about the role of a label in today’s music sphere? Sometimes it feels like there’s a growing gap between “mega labels” monopolizing things, and then streaming and such threatening the smaller labels. It seems hard to balance!
We can for sure see this gap growing but we feel that the role of a label is still the same as it always has been.. to find and release great music. To be fair the big labels were once also little labels and have worked hard of to get where they are at. Big labels on which we release have artists that have been working with them since the beginning but they also sign new talent, so working with them is about having the right music and having the patience for their busy schedule.
There is also the other side of the coin with smaller labels, the internet and all the tools available to people has made setting up and starting your own label fairly easy. You can see in Beatport so much music, and probably a lot that is very badly produced or makes no sense. So we feel hat the role of labels in todays music sphere is to actually really focus on quality rather than quantity.. Its very easy to pump out lots of tracks but you need to ask yourself weather you are a big label or small label weather or not your truly feel the music and this is something we focus on heavily with Oddity.
What are some plans you have for Oddity in the near future? Releases you can tell us about, etc?
Oddity 004 is the next one we have planned for this year which is an EP from us with a remixer that we really like and respect! After that we don´t have anything clear yet, as we are always receiveing music, but we probably want to do a V.A or maybe do an EP from an another artist. First thing on our mind currently is putting the final touches and recieving the remix for Oddity 004 to send to the distributor and start the whole process. As we said before, we take it very different from other labels, so we aren’t running on a super tight schedule, we just do our thing and aim to release the most complete EP no matter what time it takes.
Controversial question: do you agree or disagree that “melodic techno” is, in a way, trance reborn? Why?
We disagree that it is trance reborn, although it has elements that might feel ¨trancy¨ but we feel they are more like a journey or trippy. There are different structures, different sounds. Although we might have melodic stuff in our sets and in our productions, melodic techno really feels different than trance.
Not only there is a difference in BPM, but as I said before, classic trance is more raw and the production is different. In melodic techno you can find a bunch of different vibes, not only that with a “trancy” feel. Definitely producing it, making it interesting and getting it to stand out from the pack is not an easy work though…