Art Department, AKA Jonny White, is starting up two new record labels.
Since announcing that he would be taking the reins for Art Department himself after the departure of ex-partner Kenny Glasgow, White has mixed a fabric CD and continued running his No. 19 Music label with Nitin. Now he's starting two more. First up is Social Experiment, named after Art Department's own series of mix CDs and parties. He says it'll "focus on a raw, dubby industrial and brooding techno," and it'll launch in mid-November with an EP from Strength Music boss DJ Qu, also called Social Experiment. Net proceeds from that label will go to Music Against Animal Cruelty, a charity White started himself.
The other label, Sunday Money, will centre on afterhours vibes, or more specifically a "deeper, hypnotic, post-minimal sound without a care for clubland." Details on the first releases for that one are still under wraps, but White promises music from Shaun Reeves, Guti and others.
We spoke to White over email about Glasgow's departure from Art Department and the inspiration behind his new platforms.
How's life been since taking on Art Department as your own project?
Life's been interesting. Maybe a few more dull moments without Kenny, but not a ton has changed aside from the musical direction of the project. I feel like I have a ton of freedom to play and write different music now that people won't be expecting the same sound Kenny and I produced as a duo, so that's a really inspiring, natural evolution for the project. It's interesting to see the reactions from fans to the music now, as it [has] changed quite a bit and I'm really thankful that most have been supportive, because there was a risk that it all all could have gone the other way when we split. I'm still out doing over 120 shows a year so the touring schedule is the same, but there's a lot more room for self expression in the DJ sets now, versus playing records with your best friend—which, incidentally, seems to be saving my health. I'm not out there downing a bottle of Jack every night with my boy anymore. Which, I miss, but I'm starting to feel it. Gettin' old.
Why did you want to start two labels at the same time? What makes them different from each other?
It wasn't so much that I wanted to start them simultaneously or planned to take on two new projects at the exact same time. God knows it's a lot of work and money out the door, and nobody's making millions of running underground labels. I was just simultaneously inspired to create platforms for artists who are writing music that I really enjoy and who i want to support.
It's a give and take thing, running record labels. You're giving artists the vehicle and making people aware of the material. In return I'm excited by the music and inspired, which I constantly need to keep doing what I do. Finding ways to stay inspired is priceless and always worth the work. My reason for starting two new vinyl-only imprints rather than one was really because I had two ideas, or visions. This includes everything from the music to the artwork and events I plan to curate. But more than that, there are just several artists I'm digging who are making very different styles of techno. So different from each other, that I really felt they each needed their own outlets to properly showcase the music without confusing any one brand.
One of the artists who I'm referring to is called Jonathan Lee. Jonathan is an old friend from Toronto who has released a few things via compilations on No. 19 but he's now writing some really edgy, raw techno that I've been listening to and playing, and his sound really defines the musical direction for the Social Experiment label. Other artists like DJ Qu, who I'm excited to be working with, are writing stuff that fits right in line with the vision for Social Experiment. Knowing that guys like Qu were down to work with me on this really helped me make the decision to go ahead with this one.
One of the big inspirations behind the other new imprint, Sunday Money, is a girl called Morgan Hyslop. Morgan is currently working as the label manager of Rompecorazones Music and she is writing a really unique style of sort of deep, post-minimal techno and house that is leaning a bit towards the Romanian stuff (which I love as well). Morgan, along with friends Guti, Roustam and Shaun Reeves, have all contributed early releases in the same vein and have collectively cut out the direction for the label which is going to cater more to the collectors. The two labels' musical styles are so contrasting and also very different from the stuff we release on No. 19, which i guess we could call a bit more accessible. That, to me, warranted two new imprints.
You're donating all the proceeds of Social Experiment to an animal cruelty charity. Are you passionate about animal rights?
Yeah, this is something I've been passionate about for some time. Or maybe angry about is a better term. I got so angry and upset by what I was constantly seeing and reading about almost daily in the media that I finally decided I had to do something, however insignificant. We have to start somewhere, and liking a post or commenting on a photo depicting some horrible crime against wildlife isn't doing shit about it.
I recently started a charity organization called MAAC (Music Against Animal Cruelty) with a long time friend of mine, Wade Cawood, that will be working to support initiatives to help save African wildlife. We have big plans for this project and hope to raise money as well as awareness as we garner support from the music industry and fans. In the interim, I decided that creating a label that is dedicated to the cause would be a great start.
We all know record labels don't make millions these days, but even with a vinyl-only label, enough money can be raised from sales to really make a difference on the ground in Africa where additional park rangers can be employed at very low costs, or where farmers can be educated as to how to protect their livestock without a need for killing threatening wildlife. I'm no expert on the subject but I'm researching, learning and finding out just how we can help. Our industry is made up of a great number of intelligent, compassionate people who I know care about these issues and would like to make a difference. Over the past several months while working to set up the organization I've been approached by so many friends who want to get involved and have offered to help. We're going to take the legwork out of it and make it easier for people to help by acting as a fund which will in turn choose organizations and initiatives to support that need all the help that they can get.Listen to snippets of Social Experiment below.
A1 Final Call
B1 Untitled (Verbal)
Social Experiment will release Social Experiment in mid-November 2015.