Back in September I profiled a record label which, in my opinion, is among the most original and exciting electronic music labels operating at the moment: Fade To Mind. In October, the LA based imprint released Kelela's Cut 4 Me, a jaw droppingly good debut LP from the solo artist which capped a brilliant 2013 for experimental RnB. The production on the album, with elements of grime, techno and hip-hop, melded to form a distinct sound both innovative and accessible, making it difficult to foresee anything other than some crossover success for those involved. Label boss Kingdom was good enough to answer a few questions I sent his way.
What else is Fade to Mind other than a record label?
Fade to Mind also creates club nights and a clothing line. Both of those areas will be expanding soon, and we are working on a music festival and and purikura app for 2014.
How did grime first travel across the Atlantic and into your world? What were your first impressions?
In 2004 a friend of mine in Boston passed me a big pack of low quality mp3s he had downloaded, some full tracks but also a lot of pirate radio rips with live MCs. I was blown away and instantly drawn to the sound. When I first heard it I heard elements of dancehall, Timbaland, and techno.
How did you hook up with Kelela on Bank Head?
We met through Total Freedom aka Ashland in LA. I saw her perform live at one of his nights. Soon after I passed her the "Bank Head" instrumental and the rest evolved over the course the past year. She worked really closely with Prince Will developing her writing and creating demos.
What was the last record you heard that made you stop dead in your tracks?
Probably "Enemy" Kelela's collaboration with Nguzunguzu from "Cut 4 Me", and Jhene Aiko's part on Drake's "From Time".
What are some of your non-musical influences?
Reality TV, Natural disasters, rural isolation, survivalism, and psychedelics.
What are your feelings looking back on the first three years of Fade to Mind? Have you ended up where you thought?
I've always wanted to do a vocal album so the Kelela project is certainly a dream come true in that sense. Also seeing the newer Fade artists break through and the whole crew joining forces makes it all seem like its going the right direction. I think people are starting to understand us better too, even though there's still a lot of misconceptions. People seem to not know that we are based in Los Angeles.
Tell us a bit about an underrated producer / artist we should look into.
Neana is a new producer out of the UK that both Fade to Mind and Night Slugs will be working with, he's great. Our intern Guy discovered him and pushed his stuff to us actually. For vocalists it's all about Tink, she's still a teenager and can rap, sing, and write like a beast.