Launching a label based on such an integral human right as the Freedom of Expression might be daunting for some, but Jonny White from Art Department seems to have pulled it off in style. Named after article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, No.19 Music has risen to the top of the underground’s ranks in the four short years since launching in 2008. We caught up with him after Sonar to discuss the label how he keeps everything moving forward.
Has it been fun to build your Social Experiment Parties at gatherings like Sonar, WMC, BPM and DEMF and help give your artists exposure while building a family? I get my artists and friends together under one roof for a night of madness, while showcasing their talents and giving people a very true sense of what the label is all about – LIVE, so people can actually feel it. Doing the events is as interactive as we can really get with our listeners, the closer you get the more personal it all becomes and so…yeah its fun!
Tanner Ross says that his record, B Side was probably his biggest record. How does it feel to be responsible for one of an artist’s defining moments? That’s about as good as it gets. I sign music that I’m in love with and artists whom I enjoy as people. Tanner is a good friend and I’ve loved his music since I first discovered him so it was really special for me to be able to release his first-ever solo record.
One of the biggest records to break at this year’s BPM was Maceo Plex’s “Under The Sheets.” It’s one of those records that gets better upon repeat listening, what was it like hearing it for the first time? I got “Under The Sheets” from Eric (Maceo Plex) nearly a year before we released it. The first thing I thought of when I heard it was one of my favorite records of all time, Knights Of The Jaguar. At that time record sales were the last thing on my mind but, of course, it didn’t hurt the way things worked out.
As your own career continues to pick up incredible speed, what’s essential to staying connected with the label’s output and its growing footprint as a brand? No.19 really is my baby still, so I try to find time to be as involved as I have to be. We’ve got a team of talented people who really love being involved and hold it all down together. My two partners in the label, Nitin and Teeloo, are two of my best friends from Toronto and are really the keys to keeping things running smoothly while I’m traveling.
There’s always been a fair bit of interplay between artists on No. 19 and those on Crosstown Rebels and Hot Creations. What’s the secret to retaining your own identity while having such an open door policy? Focus less on having a specific sound or staying away from a sound and use every avenue of marketing you have available to you to create an identity that isn’t related to a genre. I always use WARP as an example because they put out interesting music and it’s been really cool since day one. You know it’s going to be a good record because they put it out but you don’t know what it will be-that’s the model.