The last time we spoke to Seven, just over a year ago, he was gearing up for the release of his debut long player and touring extensively, he spoke reflectively on his many years spent in the industry and the impressive back catalogue he had to show for it; so it fits well that the same themes be present in this, our second interview with the London-based producer/DJ. Not exactly the same though, as this time around his specific focus is something different; whilst continuing to work within the music industry, making plans for tours, and putting out a string of quality releases are all still part of the day-to-day, this time however it's based around the new label founded by Seven just a few months ago: Uprise Audio. Having quickly established a wide and passionate fan base - as evidenced in the results of this year's Dubstepforum Awards - the label has been taking strong strides, branching out comfortably into running label clubnights up and down the country whilst simultaneously sending each of its first three releases climbing the various singles charts. What's perhaps most clear, however, is the enormous amount of passion with which the label is run: it seems that this is the driving force behind Uprise, embodied in Seven himself, and has come to define the impressive levels of quality control and attention to detail which can be noted in all of the label's various exploits. It's this same passion that comes across in the interview below, and that can be heard throughout the mix which accompanies it; so all there is to do now is enjoy it, and share in it...
Hedmuk: Since you've already introduced yourself to us once before, can you tell us a bit about your record label and the sort of sound that you feel it represents?
Seven: My label is called Uprise Audio. We are based in the UK and we have a team of exclusive artists from the UK and all corners of the world. The label is run day to day by myself and my partner Verity J, with valuable input from our press manager Joe and art director Cimm. It's a vinyl and digital record label representing the future sounds of deep, dark and dangerous dubstep. The sound of the label is a serious one: there is nothing cheesy about it. It's all about forward-thinking music, intelligent grooves and serious bass weight and I have chosen tracks to release which I feel have theme and relevance to one another.
H: What was the inspiration behind the label? Was it a case of wanting somewhere to put out your own music and retain full creative control, or more to do with the amount of good music you were being sent and talent that you were discovering? Even the label's name, 'Uprise', would suggest a mission of bringing plenty of new names and material to the forefront.
S: You pretty much answer this question in your question: firstly it was a case of having some fantastic talent sending me music and seeing huge potential in them, like diamonds which needed cutting into fine stones. Originally the plan was to hand the tracks to Black Box or Wheel & Deal in hope of getting them signed and looked after, but there wasn't an opportunity for that at the time and i didn't wanna let the guys down so I decided to start a label and put the tunes out myself. I realised how much creative control I could have over it all too: I could really shape the sound of the label by putting the effort into the artists I signed; and I have a serious team of individuals now, each with their unique sounds but all relevant to the sound of the label. I guess the name does suggest a mission, I never really thought about that when I named the label but it's kind of fitting to the rapid progression of the artists and the label though. 'Onwards and upwards' seems to be our motto at Uprise.
H: With the label already on its third release, and having brought forward two relatively unheard of names, are there plans to extend the label's roster further or are you comfortable moving on with just the four or five already signed for now?
S: I've been building quite a team of artists. I have signed new people which have not even had a release yet, who absolutely blow me away with every track they send me. I can confirm my team of artists as the following: Dubtek, Chewie, Asylum, Nanobyte, Wayfarer, Spec, Taiko and Quantum Soul. All these guys will be featuring tracks on the label this year. They are all set to make some serious waves too, I have been overwhelmed by incredible music and they make it difficult for me to choose which tracks to put out because the level of quality is so high.
H: We spoke previously about how you go about balancing your time between producing and DJing all over the world, how considerably have you had to redress this balance now to include label work?
S: I've taken a lot of time out from deejaying since returning from Outlook. This period from then until now is actually the longest I have been in the UK for years, I realised I had been constantly touring all over without really regrouping. When the label was conceived I knew that I needed to focus on it for a while and live in a normal time zone, so I have been putting every other spare moment into the label, the artists and the management of my own key area, which is A&R. Once things started to become formulated and in a system I knew I would have some time back and that I needed to get back in the studio too and make some tracks so I could lead by example. I did all of the above and it's done me the world of good, I reinforced my sound and production techniques, built up a good sample library and all that combined with this new vision I have has improved my tracks a lot. I have started taking bookings again now so I guess the true test is yet to come but, being a libra, balancing life is my forté.
H: Do you feel that your experience as a DJ, and constructing sets which can traverse a series of different moods, has helped when it comes to thinking of the overall impression of the label and the diversity of sounds and approaches it can represent?
S: Yeah, no doubt: I wouldn't put out music I didn't feel confident playing in my sets. The tunes my artists were handing me initially were relevant to my own productions and I felt my sets were more rounded as a result of that. I had already started building the Uprise Audio sound in the sets that I was playing, and even more so now: 70% of my sets now are UA tracks. I feel so blessed to be playing such wonderful exclusive music and being able to share that with you all and confidently tell you that it will be released, because it's me who is releasing it and makes those decisions.
H: How important is it to you, particularly considering your own extensive back catalogue, that the label be considered a well-respected label, whose direction the fans can trust? Is releasing on vinyl as well as digital a part of this too, would you say?
S: It means everything to me for the label to be well respected. I strive to make sure we do everything how it should be done: no corners cut and above all tight quality control, both in the music and the physical product itself. We master our music with Beau at Ten Eight Seven Mastering, we press at Optimal in Germany and we distribute efficiently through SRD. Like I said: no corners cut, quality control is everything. It costs us more, but we believe it's worth it.
I think there is more to running a record label than just putting out music too, at Uprise we have created a brand, a collective and an interaction with our fan-base through club night events, radio shows and merchandise. We manage our artists and also manage any bookings they need attended to. I think these things are the very least a record label can be doing.
The vinyl releases are a big thing for to me too. I think it's what sets labels apart from each other nowadays and also what makes people have faith in what you put out. It costs a lot of money to press vinyl, and especially for such small quantities like we do now - compared to, say, 15 years ago. So people know if you're going to be putting that much time and investment into a release then you're going to make sure it's worthy of the time, money and effort and the fans will then have faith in what you do.
H: Despite only being a few months young, you've already put on a selection of label-based clubnights: is this live aspect of the label something you consider to be particularly significant?
S: We started off with the intention of running just two launch parties to establish the brand and label and put it in public focus. One being in Verity's local area Nottingham and one in London, my usual playground. We considered it as advertising and all part of the start-up budget, but we had such an amazing reaction to them and people kept asking when the next one will be, so we decided to carry on with the momentum. It's proved to be really worth it, it solidifies our following and gives people a night out to remember us by. I think it also shows yet more depth to the label and what we have going on too, so we decided it's a positive thing for us to continue doing and as long as people demand them then we will keep doing them. We have had so many promoters asking us if they can use our brand and book our DJs to throw UA-themed parties so we will announce all those dates in the near future as it's now almost become a UK- and Europe-wide label tour. All of my artists are actually good DJs too, which I think contributes massively to the atmosphere and vibe on the nights we put on: no line-up fillers, just good DJs. We try and keep the costs of entry to a minimum too, as it's not about trying to earn money putting on the night. Our first two events were actually free entry and the one following that was only a pound.
H: Take us through how you approached the mix you've put together for us.
S: I've done so many mixes lately, but I saved some killers for this one. All of my artists feature on this mix, so it's an introduction to us, who we are and what we do as a collective. I have also included tracks by friends in the scene who are also making some incredible music which is blowing me away right now. It starts of really energetic, and caters for a full spectrum of listeners: my definitive journey through the deep, dark and dangerous sounds of dubstep.
H: Finally, what can people expect from Uprise in the near future: any forthcoming releases or label nights on the horizon that you'd like to put the word out on?
S: The latest release is by myself and is 'Walter White' backed with 'Medievil'. It went straight to number 1 in the vinyl chart and has since conquered all the digital charts too, hitting the number 1 spot everywhere. There's also a digital bonus track with the release called 'Tension Builds', included for free if you buy the vinyl or the whole release as a digital bundle. I decided to do that as a thank you to everyone who buys the vinyl and never gets a bonus track, but naturally I honour the same deal for people who buy the digital bundle too.
The following release UA004 will be a 2 x 12" double-pack consisting of 5 tracks: 'Go To War' by myself, 'Shaman' by Wayfarer, 'Underworld' by Quantum Soul, 'Primitive' by Chewie and Dubtek and 'Lost Souls' by Klax and Disonata. It's highly anticipated and has been battered by Youngsta exclusively for the past few months now, creating some very special moments at events like System and getting numerous wheel-ups on Rinse FM too. It will be available late April/early May.
We also have another UA event on April 27th at The Volks in Brighton. The line-up is Youngsta, myself, Quantum Soul, Nanobyte, Klax, Occult, Sibla, Duku, Toast MC and Joe Raygun. It's going to be a good night, and we are bringing in a 30KW sound system!
I'd also like to give a massive shout to Youngsta, Verity J, Cimm, Joe Raygun, Dubtek, Chewie, Asylum, Nanobyte, Wayfarer, Spec, Quantum Soul, Taiko, Toast, Truth, Klax, Disonata, Genetix, Nicole Submission and all the fam, Calico, Ken and Ryan, SRD, Beau Thomas, and last but not least my mum and everyone else I forgot to list here. To book UA artists or events just contact Verity at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download: Uprise Audio - Hedmuk Exclusive Mix: Mixed by Seven
Seven - Tension Builds [Uprise Audio]
Wayfarer & Taiko - Sanka [Uprise Audio Dub]
Spec - Mad [Uprise Audio Dub]
Chewie & Dubtek - Primitive [Uprise Audio Dub]
Chewie - Inferno [Uprise Audio Dub]
Asylum - Salvage [Uprise Audio]
Truth - I Belong [Forthcoming Tempa]
Seven - Morning Light (feat. Alys Be) (Chewie Remix) [Dub]
Juss B - Ritual [Dub]
Dubtek - Kuiper Belt [Uprise Audio Dub]
Perverse - Hamba (Spec Remix) [Dub]
S!CK - Fatboy - Nomad (Artikal Remix)
Myrkur - Dancing In The Dark (Artikal Remix) [Dubsludge Recordings]
Seven - Medievil [Uprise Audio]
Truth - Devil's Hands [Forthcoming Tempa]
Spec - Aggression [Uprise Audio Dub]
Taiko - Bubishi [Uprise Audio Dub]
Dubtek - Extension [Uprise Audio]
Nanobyte - Hidden Code [Uprise Audio Dub]
Youngsta - Destruction [Tempa]
Seven - Go To War [Uprise Audio Dub]
Dubtek - Plus Ultra [Uprise Audio]
Wayfarer - Lapse [Uprise Audio Dub]
Genetix - Sequence VIP [Biscuit Factory Dub]
Seven - Walter White VIP [Uprise Audio Dub]