Well Industry Insider, it’s been a while. But we are back and joined by one of the freshest additions to the Scottish music scene this summer, Dealt With Records. Donald Shields heads up the independent electronic record label and after falling in love with the label’s debut release in August, we just had to find out more.
Tell us a wee bit about how the record label came about and the inspiration behind it?
”The label came about from a wishful thought to a “why the hell not?”.”
‘‘I’ve always been rhyming names off for imaginary bands or clubs or albums or something. I was on the phone to my partner explaining the phrase ‘Dealt With’ (which I’d overheard somewhere) and thought that sounds like a cool name for a record label.”
”The inspiration behind the label is to help emerging artists. To help the multitude of talented producers who are making music but not being heard. It’s hard to get your foot in the door in this industry so hopefully we can pry it open a little for them.”
What experience did you have in music prior to the label?
”I’ve always been a fan of a diverse range of music, when I first got into music it was mainly dance in the charts. Tracks from the likes of ATB, Positiva Records, Fatboy Slim, Moloko, Oliver Helden, Daft Punk, Roger Sanchez, Mr.Oizo, Basement Jaxx. I could go on and on. 1999 was a good year for dance music. I’ve been clubbing for the past 15 years and can remember fondly – times in The Arches. Other places like the Sub Club are special as well as Berkeley Suite and La Cheetah. Fabric in London and Berghain are worthy of note. I’m surprised I even got into Berghain to be honest.”
”I fell into music writing through my friend Claire. I ended up writing for The Skinny first and then my university magazine, reviewing E.P’s, albums and festivals and interviewing DJ’s for the former and writing on club culture for the latter.”
”I’m still writing now having interviewed Free Love for the 1st birthday edition of SNACK magazine and I’ve just finished an artist highlight piece for Manilla Co on a really talented remixer/producer/DJ called Tech Support from Brighton.”
At the end of summer you had your debut release with DJ/producer Ros T’s EP ‘We’ll Make Way (which we love). How did the release process go and what has the response been like to the EP?
”Ros T reached out to me on Soundcloud a few years back with some of his productions. This made it quite fitting that he be the first to release on DW records. We’d had a bit of back and forth listening to tracks and tweaking things here and there. We clicked immediately over our love of music and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with him. ”
”Once we had settled on the tracks, I followed a process of; drawing up contracts, artist photography, getting the tracks professionally mastered, having artwork created, registering the E.P with collection societies, and selecting a distributor who would be responsible for getting the E.P on all reputable digital platforms. When we could see the light at the end of the tunnel we settled on a release date and got to work on a small marketing and promo campaign. This included sending a press pack out to blogs, DJ’s, radio stations and other media outlets. The E.P has had some great feedback so far being played on NLive radio, Electric Ladyland on Subcity Radio and also at the Sub Club Soundsystem. We’re continuing to work hard to promote the music, we’re confident in the quality of the release so will always bang on about it. It should be said that none of this would be possible without Susan, Claire, Ross and Örvar. Thank you.”
In the age of the ‘DIY’ era where artists can self-produce, market etc, what role do you think record labels, especially independent ones, play in today’s industry and are they still essential to an artist’s success?
”I look at Dealt With as having a D.I.Y ethos in that we’re a small label doing it ourselves, independent of any major funding or larger organisation behind us. I think it’s imperative that small labels exist to support artists at a grass-roots level. Also that music should be the focus of the musician and the rest of the stuff can be left up to us. You focus on the music and we’ll get it out there. It’s about sharing the workload and ultimately helping the artist. Our role as an independent label means we provide a more personable approach, our artists aren’t just names on a roster. Although we may not have the same advantages as the major labels, we provide vital opportunities for up and coming artists.”
What criteria do you look for in an artist who you would considering adding to the ‘Dealt With’ roster?
”The artist can be whoever they want to be, being nice is a good start. As long as I like the music, that’s all that matters. I will get feedback from friends because I value their opinion and then thoroughly ignore them if it’s not what I want to hear. Just kidding!”
From the perspective of a label owner, what personal skills do you think are required to run the label?
”Dedication is required. Many like myself are doing this on the side while working another job, or two. You’ve got to be dedicated to work on the label even after an 8-hour shift. You know its a real passion when you can still do that instead of crashing out and watching Netflix. Communication, time management, adaptability and humility are all essential. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help either.”
What’s your opinion on the current state of the Scottish music scene? In particular the electronic scene?
”The Scottish music scene is fantastic. We punch well above our weight for a wee country of 5.5 million people. Glasgow for me is the best city in Scotland for electronic music but maybe I’m being biased. We have the best electronic artists from all over the world play our clubs and festivals regularly and the dance music community in Glasgow is thriving with local DJ’s and promoters. We have festivals in Scotland like The Riverside Festival, Subby Sound System, Skye Live, Terminal V and Fly Open Air to name a few. There are educational institutions in Glasgow to help nurture the next Gary Beck like the SAE, Soma Skool, Skapade Studios and the Academy of Music & Sound. We also have some vital music networking conference’s like Resonate, Wide Days and the Dumfries Music Conference. Not forgetting the Scottish Album of the Year awards (SAY) and the Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA’s).”
What are your future plans for Dealt With Records?
”We plan on releasing another E.P in the short-term. With the amount of good music we get sent I can’t actually see a time when there won’t be a Dealt With release lined up. I think it’s really great what the Huntley + Palmers label has done with the Clyde Built compilations so I’d love to do something like that eventually. It’s such a privilege hearing amazing music, sent from all over the world. ”