Hi Wil, thanks for taking the time to come and see us. We know you as the figurehead of one of the most exciting brands in the dubstep scene. Can you please give us a bit of background on FKOF and how it all started? I started FKOF during my final year of a Biomedical Science degree at King’s College in London, initially as a way of documenting my life and experiences in the city and the brands, artists and musicians I was following at the time. I started the site on Tumblr in March 2010 as a streetwear and bass music blog; with mixes, interviews and write ups of stuff going on. I moved to a proper website in November of that year having started running a Facebook page alongside Twitter, SoundCloud and Mixcloud accounts.
I’m still kind of doing that today, four years later, just with a bit more of a focus on the music side of things – and with a global community following us and a team around me helping me keep things rolling!
How important is the role of the blog in making FKOF what it is today? The blog acts as the main content hub, but it’s a small cog in the otherwise relatively large FKOF machine. I try and get a few posts up a day, but that depends on what else I’m up to. I write the majority of the content (with help from a few contributors) and edit everything prior to publication. The SoundCloud, Mixcloud, Twitter and Facebook pages are probably where you’ll find the majority of our non-written content though. That’s where I spend most of my time!
In a recent post on the site, someone wrote about Benga and his retirement from the scene, can you tell us why Dubstep ISN’T dead? It’s a funny one, this whole dubstep’s dead thing. The 140 sound went global and ended up in stadiums with the likes of Skrillex and the tearout lot when the money came in, but things have started going underground again (maybe as the money starts to slow up again?) – which people see as the sound dying.
Pretty ridiculous in my opinion, given we wrack up around 5,000 streams a day on SoundCloud, reach 150,000 people a month on Facebook and have nearly 20,000 followers across the world who follow us for dubstep…! If you think it’s dying, you’re not trying hard enough. Your opinions don’t affect us though, we know it’s alive and well!
Dubfreq’s FKOFd001 EP was your label’s first release, which in retrospect seems to have been a bit of a spring board for his fledging career. Was it always your aim to launch talented upcoming artists? We’ve always worked with upcoming artists, mainly because they’re hungry to learn, hungry to get out there. The label is a way of us giving back to everyone who’s supported us across our history – but I see it both as a spring board for the newer guys and also a platform for the more established producers to release on. All of the artists we’ve released so far have come through from the FKOF SoundCloud account or in interviews or features we’ve done with them in the past.
We know that the label has hosted club nights across the UK and Europe, what are the plans for FKOF live events over the coming year and where can we expect to catch your artists performing? We’re looking to step the events side of things up again this year. I’ve struggled with events in the past, mainly down to the financial side of things, but we’ve got some really exciting plans in the works at the moment. There’s pretty concrete talks of a US tour later this year through a partnership with the Brooklyn-based label TUBA NYC and the guys at Sub.Mission (keep an eye out for #BridgeTheGap) and we’re hoping to do a few more European events throughout the year.
Events here in the UK are still pretty tough to pull off, unless you’ve got decent backing and a venue willing to believe in you. Venues aren’t willing to risk the newer promoters and attendance for the smaller events doesn’t generally tend to cover costs. But that’s not the same across Europe, with the events we’ve done overseas they’ve always gone off! We’ll see. Hopefully we can get a few London gigs going in 2014…
The label must be the most successful digital only label in the scene, where do you stand on the digital vs vinyl debate and do you plan to release on wax in the future? Haha thanks for the kind words! In my opinion, one I seem to share with quite a lot of people, dubstep – or bass music in general – is made for vinyl. There’s nothing quite like hearing a tune on wax playing out on a decent system. But digital is definitely a more approachable medium for newer labels. There’s less risk involved which in the current economic climate isn’t a bad thing. The response to our digital label has blown me and the rest of the team away, having reached #2 or higher on the Juno dubstep chart with every single release we’ve had so far. The hunger’s there for digital and people are willing to spend which is brilliant.
Everyone running a label wants to press vinyl though. That has to be the goal! We will be releasing something, we’re not quite what sure yet though, on vinyl before the end of 2014. And I set out to fund a FKOFv label with the FKOFd digital one; so everyone buying our digital releases is putting their hard-earned towards us reaching that goal – thank you!
You’ve released three artist EPs so far this year and it’s only March! What are your plans for 2014, and how do you plan to top the past 4 years? We have a pretty packed release schedule, that’s for sure! The concept of the FKOFd label is a four track EP once a month – so we’ll have done 12 EPs by the end of the year. We’re almost six months in and we’ve not yet missed any deadlines (although it’s come close!) but we’re slowly getting to a point where we’ve got the next few releases ready to go. We actually have artists lined up pretty much until the end of the year, so we won’t be slowing things down any time soon!
Our aim this year is to get FKOFv off the ground. And keep FKOFd ticking along as it is now! I’ve also started a live streaming business with one of my developer friends, so we’re looking to tie that into the events side of FKOF as well.
The label is starting to build quite a roster of artists. How many releases have come through you trawling SoundCloud, compared to say, sent demos and hook ups through friends? Every artist we’ve released so far has come from demos or SoundCloud somewhere down the line. The FKOF team get a fairly healthy amount of demos on a daily basis, so we do our best to check everything we get sent (although we can’t respond to it all) – and what we like usually leads to a conversation and in most cases a SoundCloud upload or a feature in some way. And nine times out of ten we keep in touch with everyone we work with, so although it might start with a demo we’ll all be friends by the end of it lol.
You have been kind enough to offer Juno customers an exclusive free mix and free track for the takeover, what can they expect to hear? The free mix is from the Nanobyte boys, celebrating their smashing FKOFd005 EP with a new studio mix that signals their current musical direction. Hope you enjoy that one!
The free download is from a young Japanese producer called Shiken. We’ve not worked with him before but after hearing a few of his new bits we got him on board for a FKOF free download. Enjoy!
Click to DOWNLOAD (WAV; 81MB)
The FKOF Review:
“Although the intro may remind the listener of Goth-Trad’s minimalistic percussive patterning, it is in from fact another Japanese producer called Shiken. His ability to hold the listener’s attention is truly inspiring, as he plays with the periodic intervals the listener will experience in Future Existence. The samples’ organics keep the journey fresh while maintaining a surreal vibe that will be remembered in time to come. This blend of solid low-end and mid-range extravaganza is a memorable combination; defining an extremely promising future existence for the young producer.”
You can find the track list and download info for the Nanobyte mix on SoundCloud here
Thanks to Nathan and the rest of the Juno Download team for having us on the takeover – and supporting the label over the last six months!