Eager ears are always looking for the latest and greatest in any genre. Bass music has fallen especially victim to this phenomenon, with unreleased tracks often becoming old before they get officially released. As the sounds have spread from the heart of the UK, the constant quest for new, unique sounds has proliferated to the edges of the artistic capitals of the world.
A couple of weeks ago, my attention was directed towards a promo email I received from Belgian label Stainage Records, featuring their newest release, Floatin' / Treasure Isle. The release credits three artists, Dusk Creator, Hush, and KLB, with the whole trio on "Floatin'" and solely Dusk Creator on "Treasure Isle". I was immediately impressed by "Floatin'", a smooth and thoughtful track incorporating a warm and full bassline beneath garage percussion with the modern twist we have become accustomed to from the artists redefining the garage genre for the next generation. "Treasure Isle" is the much darker flip side to "Floatin'", with drum patterns more synonymous with current dubstep production. Carrying the same soulful vocal cuts and soft synths as the a-side, "Treasure Isle" brings the drums to the front of the track, exploring a fusion sound between 2-step, garage, and dubstep.
I was thoroughly impressed with the sounds that Floatin' / Treasure Isle explored, and looking to hear more, I perused the Stainage Records website to see what else they had to offer. After hearing samples of their past releases, I was a bit confused. Floatin' / Treasure Isle was starkly divergent from the previous sound that Stainage Records was putting out. Out of curiosity, I was able to reach out to label co-founder Yoann Janssens, otherwise known as KLB. Alongside fellow artists Dusk Creator and Hush, Stainage Records has established itself as a bona fide party in Brussels and more recently as a concrete platform to launch a Belgian-inspired sound vision. I was able to have a quick chat with KLB, here's what he had to say:
All photo credit to Kino
EARMILK: How and when was Stainage Records started?
KLB: Stainage started out as a party concept in October 2006 in Brussels. At that time dubstep was still unknown around Brussels, so we started bringing over artists out of the London dubstep scene like Plastican, D1, Youngsta, and Geeneus.
EM: What were the major factors into starting up your own label?
KLB: We were promoting a couple of local artists that played more or less the same genre as the artist we were booking. In 2008, most of the local artists we were booking also were producing tracks, so we decided to build a label that could release tracks from Belgian and local artists from Brussels. Since then, we’ve had seven dubstep-oriented releases to date. In 2011, we started a local radio show in Brussels that showcases the music that everyone at the label likes with a theme show for each artist. For future releases, we’ve decided to focus mainly on music from Dusk Creator, Hush and KLB, and we’ve also decided to stop exclusively digital releases.
I suppose vinyl still stands for a kind of quality touch, and we still seem to have a crowd that buys vinyl. People still like to have an object when they buy something.
EM: Interesting. You said that you would not be releasing any digital exclusives anymore; I'm assuming that means you'll be releasing vinyl as well? Is this a response to the vinyl-oriented trend that is rising especially from the bass music scene, or other factors?
KLB: In our past exclusively digital releases we noticed quickly that the tracks didn't gain as much attention as vinyl releases. I suppose vinyl still stands for a kind of quality touch, and we still seem to have a crowd that buys vinyl. People still like to have an object when they buy something. That's why we always try to work with a new design for each release. For example, the patterns we use in the album art also returns in the visuals at our parties.
EM: How do you feel about the movement towards physical releases and the importance of the visual artwork associated with labels?
KLB: Since the beginning of the parties, we tried to work with an image that was made around patterns. A good friend of ours created a program in which he could make patterns that changed repeatedly to the beat of the music. The patterns worked really well at the parties and started to become a trademark for Stainage. We decided to use them in our releases as well. Stainage is now easily recognizable trough the use of our patterns, and each release has a different color that corresponds to the mood of the tracks. We thought it was logical that when you choose to make a physical release you also invest in making the object interesting and beautiful as well.
EM: How has Stainage changed to complement the expectations of the fans and artists alike as the scene moves forward?
KLB: Stainage already changed their musical path in 2010 when we programmed artists at our parties like Pearson Sound (Ramadanman at that time), Joy Orbison, Deadboy, Ikonika and XXXY. The newest release is following that trend. We felt a change in our personal music taste and thought it was more relevant to continue on the path we supported ourselves. We decided to focus on three artists that explicitly chose the route of garage-house. It was first apparent in our weekly radio show, where we immediately noticed that this was the kind of music we were playing the most. Changing the artistic direction seemed to be the next logical step. The fans that followed us through that period will definitely supported the change, and at the same time we'll be able to touch a new crowd that didn't yet know us.
Here's an example of the artwork from their latest release, Floatin' / Treasure Isle. As you can see, it goes a lot farther than the typical album art that most releases get these days. I applaud the thoughtful typography and design. There's no denying that in a record store, we do tend to judge a record by its cover, especially if we are blindly searching record crates for that diamond in the rough.
EM: Where do you see Stainage moving in the future? Is it bringing foreign sounds to the local parties, or is there a focus on developing a distinct sound within garage-house from the artists you sign and support?
KLB: We have a couple of releases planned that will follow the same line as the Floatin' / Treasure Isle release. At the moment we'll keep concentrating on our own artists, but that doesn't mean we aren't keeping our eyes open for other interesting music. We are planning on bringing out another vinyl release around September and focusing on the festivals during the summer. We have a couple of bookings for festivals where the whole label will be represented.
It was nice to hear from KLB and get a better understanding of how Stainage Records is moving forward. It's inspiring to hear how a couple of friends can pull in outside talents and nuture the growth of their own local talent. Their focus on both visual and audio artwork is a growing trend in the bass scene, and a welcome movement from the fans and artists alike. Based on the level of production from Floatin' / Treasure Isle, we can expect more smooth garage fusion with a Belgian twist from the label in the future. Fans of vinyl will also be excited to know that Stainage Records plans to continue both at least physical release of future music to come. If you liked what you heard, scroll to the links below to buy the digital or 12" of Floatin' / Treasure Isle.
- Floatin' / Treasure Isle on Boomkat
- Floatin' / Treasure Isle on Juno Download
- Stainage Records on Twitter