Standouts in the local indie-electronic-label-with-a-devoted-following category include L.A. beat scene stalwarts Alpha Pup, Friends of Friends and WeDidIt. The latest to rise out of the internet is Soulection, a label whose artists are producing some of the most engaging and soulful electronic music in the scene.
Co-founded three years ago by Joe Kay and Andre Power (third co-founder Guillaume “96” Bonte left the label), Soulection is an outgrowth of Kay's weekly radio show on Cal Sate Long Beach station KBeach. Highlighting Soulection artists and affiliates, the three hour program has hosted guests including Dam-Funk and Alpha Pup founder Daddy Kev and has 164 shows to date.
Combing sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud for what they call “the sound of tomorrow, Soulection has had roughly forty releases by more than thirty artists and DJs. The label recently set up vinyl and digital distribution and is planning tours in Japan and the UK. This Saturday, Soulection hosts their three-year anniversary party at MadAve L.A. More than a dozen DJs and special guests will spin during the celebration. We spoke with Kay about the label.
WCS: How many submissions do you get a day?
Kay: I don't even know. The number of submissions through our site and through our Soundcloud is just stupid. We have different e-mails for PR or bookings, and they'll send links to [every e-mail] to make sure it gets to somebody. I'll be on my personal Instagram and I'll post a picture of my daughter and someone will be like, 'Hey man, can I send you a track?' It's like, 'Can I just live? Can I just enjoy my daughter for one second?' (Laughs). They don't even say she's cute, just, 'Hey man, can you check your e-mail?' I understand though, so I don't get too mad.
Do you find most of your artists through submissions?
We're all diggers. Everyone on Soulection is on Soundcloud all day finding music… Honestly, all the artists that we've found have been people we found on our own rather than submissions… [We'd] rather dig. Not to say that we don't listen to submissions, but overall we feel we find the better artists on our own.
How are your relationships with your artists?
We have a good relationship with our artists. We started this together, and I feel like they were growing with Soulection before we even blew up. So everyone feels like they have a stake or investment in Soulection, you know? A lot of the artists don't even care to go anywhere else because they feel like Soulection is home. We're good friends, we hangout with each other. It's not like, 'Hey, do you have this release? This is your submission date.' It's never like that. It's personal, and I think that makes us who we are… I want my guys to get good placements with rappers and singers and to get good features and get noticed more.
What's the response to the radio show been like?
It's way bigger [than when it started]. It's been great. It's been home. I'm thankful for the resources they've provided. In the future I definitely want to have my own network, a Soulection radio network where it's not just me doing the show but [any of our artists or friends]. I want to program this whole block, 24 hours of a Soulection radio. It would probably be a Sirius XM type of thing, but you wouldn't have to pay for it. It would be Internet based.
The Soundcloud has [also] brought so much love. The playback [of the radio show] gets way more listeners than the live show. The playback will average about 25 to 30,000 plays in a week. The radio show is really being heard and people are really looking forward to it.
[What's the response been like for the three-year compilation you guys just put out?
It's been really good. We did that because we have so many new supporters. We knew that they just barely started listening to our last couple releases and the Soundcloud – it's a lot of stuff to go through. So we just wanted to showcase the best single from every release that we've done and kind of educate the newcomers. For the people who've been riding with us, it's nothing new. But a lot of the new people… It's good for them to see the progression and see where we're at today.
What are you most excited about for the anniversary show?
[It's] the first 18+ event we're ever going to do. And we have a crazy 18-20 following that's always complaining about our events being 21+. So now this is their time to come out and see pretty much half our roster in one shot, including Mr. Carmack and Like of Pac Div. It's going to be about showcasing everyone with two stages.
How does it feel to have made it three years as an independent label?
It feels good, but there's so much more to be done. We want to learn how to eat off this because we all have our day jobs in our own way. We all just do this on our own time. All the music has been free, but I think we're at a point where the branding is there and everyone knows we put in our work, and I feel like we can make this official and start monetizing it.