Despite both living in Los Angeles, we meet Redux Saints on a weekday afternoon in Amsterdam, both here for the yearly appointment with the industry’s biggest conference of the year, Amsterdam Dance Event.
During our chat we discuss everything from the role of ADE, his work as Redux Saints as well as his work with Krafted, the label he has been spearheading to great success with the introduction of the Deep Tech Los Angeles concept, a collective based out of LA that focuses on the deep tech sound that is so popular in the SoCal city.
We also take the opportunity to exclusively premiere his remix of Paul Sawyer’s Change, scheduled for release on December 4th as part of an EP by the same name on Krafted Digital.
Thanks for joining us on this busy ADE week! I guess, you know, first things first. Is this your first time here and what do you think about Amsterdam Dance Event as far as what it means to you as an artist?
This is the third consecutive year that I’ve attended the conference. If you compare ADE to other dance conferences/festivals, I believe this is one of the few that remains authentic. BPM festival as you know had its issues last year, and honestly, Miami (Music Week) is just not same due to Ultra.
I used to go down to Miami to throw parties– and the weekend festival party culture in my opinion has destroyed the conference. So, this is one of the few conferences left along with Brighton Music Conference that I feel still has kept its authenticity in terms of great underground music, proper breakout sessions for industry and production learning, all while the business side remains as important as ever. It’s like what Miami used to be back in the day.
Right, and most of the industry is actually able to network…
Yeah, I’m actually attending several meetings and events which you tend to meet industry minded folks looking to form relationships.
The funny thing is all the people in this room right now, we’re all based in LA and here we are in Amsterdam…
We have to do what we have to do. That’s why we’re here.
That’s right. So let’s talk about Redux Saints, your artist alias. Obviously 6AM has featured a compilation, Deep Tech LA, and it’s getting mentioned with great reviews and the launch party went very well. Can you talk to us a little about how Redux Saints connects to your label and what is the ultimate vision, that you have going in with this project?
This is a really long answer. I developed a strategy since the beginning of year. I released the Boundaries EP which was intended to build momentum for the next EP (DTLA). In the meantime, i was also developing the concept of Deep Tech Los Angeles with Toolroom Academy. This in turn was to build on previous momentum to lead us to the Krafted Underground Deep Tech Volume one compilation.
The Deep Tech Los Angeles compilation was a way for me to say “Ok, how do you I elevate Redux Saints to a well producer and/or player in the Los Angeles music scene?” The other thought was “How do you expand the Krafted brand in Los Angeles?” and I was thinking to myself, “Well, I can try to throw parties, and lose, lose, fail…” but I then thought how about leveraging what is already out there and successful. So that’s how I pitched this concept to Chris Nalbandian known as Mr. Bootsauce and Shanto Karlubian. These guys were already throwing decent size successful parties. Shanto was also great at suggesting other people to come onto the compilation. I also leveraged my connection to ICON Collective Music Production School whereas I was a recent graduate this last October. I thought, “Ok, w I want the school’s support as well too!”, so I can start pulling instructors and students into the mix. So, it was a culmination of all these different parties, and decision to leverage them instead of reinventing the fucking wheel.
It’s like you were new to the city and yet really understood what the right route was to take. A lot of times you come into a new city and do all this and that and if you make the wrong move…
And I’ll be honest, I have done that to often; I used to throw yacht parties in Miami particularly on Wednesdays, but when Ultra came into the mix I lost my shirt the last two parties so I said it’s not worth doing it any further.
I had made those mistakes and tried to do something different hoping my business background would help me not make the same mistakes. Hence, I was really interested in creating a lasting brand.
One thing I don’t like is I noticed a little apprehension from people to be aggressive in the music industry, where I feel exactly the opposite. If someone’s the best at something, I’m like “Hey, why the fuck can’t I use them?” It’s like with meeting you guys too. I said to Shanto upfront, “Who are the best people to talk to?”, he gave me your name, as well as couple other names. I then reached out to you and others and that’s why we’re here. if I have a conversation with a party and I realize there not someone who’s just bullshitting, and you’re legit. Then I will invest my time into that relationship. I’ve actually got a game plan to foster and build relationships for success. Everyone wins in the end.
That’s the way to do it. How long have you been actually making music or been involved in this scene?
Yeah, I’ve been involved since 2010. I started DJing in 2012 and after time you finally realize that you need to produce to actually differentiate yourself from everyone else… because you know “there’s a lack of doctors in LA but everyone’s a DJ!” (laughs)
Right, in the world even!
I originally learned how to DJ in the Scratch Academy in Los Angeles, It was a good experience but they pushed you to be a lounge and Top 40 DJ. This was so not me. It leaves you with two paths; continuing to hang out with those people that fall into categories you’re not or building your own path. So for me there was the ability of saying,”‘Ok, I recognize you’ve got to fight to get noticed and that was where I saw branding working for me. From my perspective branding is everything and I doubt I can tour forever, but the brand can live past my ability to tour.
Cool. Take an artist that’s going through your journey right now and… what advice would you give them if this was their day one right now?
Never stop learning or looking for ways to improve.
A lot of activities around releases were focused in UK did not provide massive gains for me in Los Angeles area. Part of my focus for the DTLA release was to partner up West Coast based or US based entities. Lesson learned is to understand your geographic area and listeners.
Awesome. It’s very interesting to know that your background is in software consulting. What made you make the decision to go into the path of music and really going in head on with running a label, being an artist, doing all of that?
It’s really simple for me and in order for me to stay sane, I had to balance work with my passion. I’ve always loved music and I was working maybe 80 or 100 hours a week on IT stuff. I wasn’t receiving the same fulfillment from IT work. It’s a different fulfillment from someone coming up and patting your back and say, “nice track” or you emotionally affecting someone on the dance floor. It’s a totally different feeling. In consulting I can close a huge deal and just be like kicked out of the client six months later because they found a cheaper consultant to do it. So, the music stuff is more lasting and fulfilling.
Now, if you were to ask my parents, they would say to me “When are you gonna give this hobby up?” and I can tell you I’m not working this hard to give up music anytime soon.
Definitely, and it’s always great to have like your spouse’s support, it’s important in this industry.
I can tell you one important thing in this industry is finding the right people to work with and support you. This is so important. It’s not about the right person for the moment, it’s the right person long term, that’s why I’m very happy to meet Krafted Underground label partners and you guys because it’s already cycled through the short-term people.
What kind of qualities do you look for just generally with people to work with in this industry?
One thing I really try my hardest to be is a man of my word. If I’m going to tell you I’m going to do something, I do it, whether it’s show up at a gig or if I owe you five bucks. You can quickly judge someone who is going to be a long-term interest or business associate based on how authentic they act.
We can relate one 100 percent.
So, I would say probably the biggest quality is the authenticity and it’s really just doing what you say you’re going to do.
I get enjoyment out of seeing other people gain successful or overcome their fears. Some producers on the Deep Tech Los Angeles had some initial fear of releasing their first track it and when we had our listening sessions they came out of their shell. They got the first track out and now it’s like a waterfall. They have 20 tracks ready and want to conquer the world. And to give you some context, with working with Shanto has been great. His connections run deep into the LA scene and has been super helpful in bringing Deep Tech Los Angeles to life.
Already just doing the party on a Sunday is quite a big deal. I used to have a residency there.
Trust me, I mean I didn’t make it into work that morning
That’s right. I had seen Shanto around and I agree, you know he was part of it but he knew that he needed to step away a little bit and kind of do his own thing and stuff and work with the right people and I think that’s what has now happened with him.
His enthusiasm has been amazing, so we decided we’re going to do a collaboration together, so that should be coming out next year. But I do agree with you, I think Shanto, when I look at him he’s definitely the guy I want to be working with and I would love nothing more to see him like be successful.
That’s a cool feeling to say, “Hey, I was able to help that happen and I’m not taking credit because they’re doing the work but I was there to help them!” You are a part of their journey, like they’re part of yours. There’s definitely that sense of fulfillment there. It’s an accomplishment to see the people around you accomplish something big in this industry, I can definitely relate.
I will say it flat out, ever since our first conversation over the phone I saw you had the right mindset, that you want to help others and the industry as a whole and I love that. In the end we get it, everybody wants to succeed, you know, either as an event organizer, promoter, artist, whatever, but if we can all cohesively work together, that’s when the magic happens.
it’s like the show Entourage. “it’ll be great if I’m just successful, but who the fuck am I gonna be able to celebrate it with?’ You’ve got to bring the people who helped you along the way.
Exactly, that mindset is so important. Now, one last question, what have been some of the challenges you’ve faced as the head of the label?
I think one of the things just for me personally is to understand that it does take some time for you to get brand exposure, it doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes I get a little frustrated if someone doesn’t answer quick enough or doesn’t even respond. So, it’s a little bit of self-growth within myself, just saying “Ok, have some patience here’. In reality, because I started in 2015, I’ve had tremendous growth, and now I am moving stuff along faster, I just have to be patient that eventually stuff will come as long as I just continue to put in the work.
Things take their time and it’s also I think good that you’re able to give things time to develop at the right pace instead of rushing things, doing things properly, with due diligence and everything.
Here’s a good example, so I launched the Deep Tech LA website, did the compilation, got all the press ready for it and did the video, and then I’m also creating a radio show that I’m going to do every other week. I was supposed to be releasing it last week and I’m just saying to myself, “Why the fuck am I putting this much pressure on myself? I want do it right but when I have the time; I’ve got ADE coming up, I’m going to work next week for half the week and what’s my real goal?”
I want to get a track on Toolroom Trax or Toolroom label, that’s what I’m working toward now because that’s a big accomplishment coming out of the academy.,
It’s about building the momentum and capitalizing on it. Good luck with the whole Toolroom project and goal you have in mind. If there’s anything we can do to help you at 6AM feel free to let us know!
Absolutely. So, I definitely want to work with 6AM as the next couple of events come on, I want to work closely with your team. I realize that you need to put in some effort behind this, with promotions and brand exposure.
While this is music and is art, it’s also business. I think a lot of artists don’t treat or see themselves as a business. There’s the importance of branding, the music is your product, and if you’re a DJ or producer you offer a service. It’s a business and a business mentality is important, including investing in your business.
You have to reinvest back in yourself. One way I did this was by enrolling in the Toolroom Academy. They offered guidance in a few areas I knew I was weak in. I sat in Miles Shackleton who oversees the brand and we went through an identify mapping exercise to help develop the brand characteristic of Redux Saints and Deep Tech Los Angeles. We also developed a social media schedule and release assets to make everything look as professional as possible.
It’s very cool to have someone to bounce questions off like who is doing it correct in the industry. I didn’t even know how to create a YouTube channel the other day. it’s a great program because they are personally investing in me. When you go through the Toolroom program they treat you like family over there, so I can just pop in there like we’re doing next week. They’ve been super cool. I do A&R for tracks with Pete Griffith and he’s been doing it for some really great acts, so I know I’m working with the best.
Going back to the DTLA release and everything we have just talked about. What has contributed to the success of this release compared to some of the others you have done before? and what would you advise other label owners and artists to who are looking for similar results when releasing their music?
What is intriguing about the DTLA Volume 1 compilation is the story behind it. The story of an emerging music scene and the events that brought together some of it’s well known DJ/Producers. Having a story that interest people is key to gaining a following. I think Deep Tech Los Angeles has it, and we’ll continue to draw people to that narrative.
Another key element was lack of egos present in developing the compilation.
Every producer was excited to be on the compilation and eager to help promote it. There was as sense of community to make the release a success. This was essential to promote it and the net results of 2 places in top 10 album releases and 4 top 50 placements on Beatport was a result of everyone’s’ efforts.
I may have said this this previously but picking the right team to work with is essential. The concept of Deep Tech Los Angeles was conceptual mine, but a team of people helped make it reality and I am very thankful to have meet and worked with everyone in the process.
With the momentum from this release, can we expect a DTLA vol.2? and if so can you share what you can regarding some of the artists who may be included into this compilation?
Deep Tech Volume 2 is already in construction and were shooting for release prior to Miami Music Week. To build on the successes of volume one we have a goal to increase the number of tracks from 12 to 25. This will give an opportunity to everyone who was on Volume one and some several new producers for Volume 2 to release tracks.
The second Deep Tech Los Angeles Party is returning to Sunday Sanctuary January 7th, 2018. The first party was a huge success so we look forward to packing the house again. Were also in discussions to throw our next release party in Miami, during Miami Music Week. Stayed tuned for more info.
Finally the last question, for real this time, what are some tips and advice you can give future ADE first timers specifically people in the industry?
ADE in my eyes is the place to be to network for underground house music. I used to think Miami was, but Ultra has kind of taken over and made it more a festival than an industry networking event. My tip for first timers is reach out prior to whom you wish to meet well in advance. Come prepared with tracks if you’re looking to sign any. Arrive with an open mind set with the ability to take constructive criticism. If you can’t – you’ll never make it in the industry.