Our first blog article starts as we mean to go on. Working closely with Throne Room Records, we felt a good way to kick things off would be to get inside the head of label chief Oliver Carloni on what it is like setting up a label, and his journey so far in the world of music production. As an artist, Oliver Carloni produces deep, ambient, big-room techno, and with signings to Respekt Recordings, Funk’n Deep Records and Konneqt Records, he was named in the Top 200 artists of 2016 by Traxsource.
The support list for Throne Room grows by the month, with industry heavyweights such as Maya Jane Coles, Mark Knight, Hot Since 82, Groove Armada, Sidney Charles, Richy Ahmed, Huxley, Cristoph, Riva Starr, Sam Divine, Return of the Jaded and Third Son to name only a few. A man modest of his talents and achievements, it was a pleasure as always to sit down and talk music…
Lets start with what is arguably one of your strongest achievements in the industry so far, Throne Room Records. How did it all begin?
The label actually started off as a cocktail of ideas, with music, live-streams and even a clothing brand all mentioned. Over the course of a few meetings between myself and my business partner (Liam Armstrong) we refined the concept down into Throne Room Records. It seemed the right thing to do since the pair of us were both DJ’s and were looking for something to inject our creativity into.
Some of your artists have been known to praise the work ethic at Throne Room, would you say that is the key to the labels growing success?
Definitely. I treat every release like it is one of my own. We put aside proper funding and a plan for each release to ensure the artist(s) get the exposure they need. Taking shortcuts with anything, from mastering to promotion, can seriously affect the performance of any given release, and is something we try to avoid at Throne Room.
If all goes to plan, where do you see Throne Room in the near and distant future?
I would like to have regular label showcases, both nationally and internationally. This is something we are doing at the moment from time to time, most recently a party we hosted in the French Alps at the Meribel ski resort, and currently we are putting together the final touches to a party in Amsterdam for later in the year. Long term, I would love to see the Throne Room brand develop into other industry sectors, particularly artist management and promotional services to help other labels. One long term goal we are currently in the process of completing is Throne Room setting up its own dedicated merchandise, which we have schedule for late 2017.
When signing music to Throne Room, particularly from new artists, what is it you look for in a track?
Good question! For me personally, I like to hear new sounds that aren’t ripped straight from sample packs or the same drum loops you often hear in the current Tech House “gold rush”. That’s not to say I dislike Tech House, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a unique sound in the genre. Artists that aren’t afraid to push boundaries with their music are the ones I’d most likely sign to Throne Room.
Any advice for those looking to create a label of their own? Is it worth all the hard work?
With the explosion of new labels over the past few years I would say it has never been easier to start your own label. This is both a blessing and a curse since it is so hard to stand out without a large budget behind you. My advice to anyone starting a label would be to make sure you either have deep pockets to push yourself financially in the initial stages, OR, have some strong connections within the industry already who can help open some doors. Other than that, I would just say to be original, it is not a crime to be inspired by other successful labels, but make sure you are writing your own story and not simply re-writing theirs! The pioneers in the label industry are constantly developing new ideas to set them aside from the competition.
What can we expect to hear coming from Throne Room Records in the next few months?
I know I probably say this about every upcoming release (find me a label boss who doesn’t) but the next few releases on Throne Room I am really excited about. One from a pair of fast-track artists on the rise with previous signing to Elrow and Twisted Fusion, not to mention a remix that seems to be getting played everywhere at the moment. Following that, I will finally be bringing my personal productions to Throne Room on an EP with Leo Lippolis. I am both excited and nervous to be putting my own sound to the label, but the remix we have accompanying this is huge, so I am looking forward to announcing that.
Apart from the sounds coming out of Throne Room, are there any other labels that are doing it for you at the moment, or any you aspire to emulate?
I am loving what Truesoul are doing at the moment. Their whole image and sound is a work of art, something I would aspire to own. Also, labels like Funk’n Deep and Voltage Records are two techno labels who I admire, mainly due to their solid release schedule and regular artist support list.
I suppose that leads us on to yourself as an artist. Your personal release history leans toward big room and melodic techno, are you ever conflicted by the music you release and the music Throne Room releases?
In some ways yes, I do see a clear difference in my personal tastes and Throne Room’s taste. However, I think the wide range of sounds being brought into this label from both myself and Liam will only strengthen the brand and prevent it from being a “one trick pony” so to speak. I would like to think we are a very ‘current’ sounding imprint, with ties in Techno, Tech House and Progressive House. Variety is the spice of life, so the saying goes, and I feel it is important as a label to have both variety and flexibility. Success in this game is about adapting to the industry trends.
Was there a moment where you suddenly decided music producing was the career for you, or did you just always know?
Like many DJ’s, that first real gig is when you know. I played to my mates and a handful of strangers in my home town Bishop Auckland, and the buzz has stuck with me since. While getting your DJ career off the ground you do try other things, and I was the same; I read once how Calvin Harris worked on a fish market! My side career was a little more glamorous than that thankfully, as I trained as a fitness instructor. Nothing has given me the sense of achievement and satisfaction like music has however.
Often moments of the opposite effect can play a big part the success of an artist. Where do you look or who do you turn to when you personally are looking for inspiration?
I would say it is rare I ever lack inspiration, since I am always scouting other people’s tracks and labels to see what else is out there. If I do hit a brick wall however, I usually switch genres and listen to stuff like Trance, or music from other cultures like Latin or Reggae, which we often see play influence on modern house music. I think a key part to maintaining regular creativity is to keep your mind open to areas you don’t specialise in.
Is there a stand-out favourite gig in your career to date?
There has certainly been a few, especially with Throne Room. On a personal level however, it has to be an event at The Tyne Bar. 1000 people crammed under a bridge in Newcastle, away from the hen parties and stag does, everyone was there for the music. Patrick Topping, who needs no introductions in Newcastle, made a surprise appearance and took things to another level.
Is there a gig or event that you dream of playing?
Easy. Awakenings. I would love to play for those guys. It is not just the size of the event, or that it is my favourite genre of music, but it is the crowd. You just know every single person in the crowd is there for the same reason, no pretenders, just a love for real techno.
Finally, if you had to name only three producers that are ticking all the boxes for you at the moment, who would they be?
Firstly Cristoph. Mainly because he is from my area and is a true example of a very humble, yet hugely successful artist. Durtysoxxx also ticks many boxes, most notably due to his constant release schedule. He churns out bomb after bomb and shows no sign of stopping. Finally, Reset Safari. Anyone who knows Throne Room knows how highly we regard him. He helped put the label on the map with our first release, and has since returned to the label with a huge remix, and his iconic EP ‘Voicebox’. Everything he touches is a masterpiece, I implore anyone interested to check out his social media to see the videos of him at work in his studio and you will understand.
Volcano EP – Throne Room Records
San Francisco Bar (Amsterdam) – Throne Room showcase @ ADE – October 20th
Throne Room Records