Get Twisted Records... In The Groove: "True house in all facets..."

Words by: Benny Maths
Posted: 5/7/16 11:53

In The Groove with Get Twisted Records... Interview with bosses Tough Love's Alex and Stef

Get Twisted Records is the brainchild of Tough Love's Alex and Stef. Born out of the London underground in 2012, the label has gone from strength to strength through a string of quality releases, including from the likes of Todd Terry, Roger Sanchez, LiTek and Clear Six. We caught up with them recently to talk about what it's like starting a label from scratch, their upcoming debut for Cream at Amnesia, their experiences of clubbing in Ibiza and plenty more besides.

At the time, we were running a successful London party called ‘Twisted Disco’, so ‘Get Twisted’ became an extension of that built around the same vibe and ethos of the night...You came together as Tough Love back in 2011 through a shared love of music, and it wasn't long until you set up Get Twisted Records in 2012. What was the impetus behind setting up the label so soon after you'd started working together?
At the time we were unknown, we didn’t fit into the cliques of other labels, so we had no voice. We were fortunate that legendary labels like Nervous gave us a voice so early on, but we had so much music that we believed in, not only of our own productions, but also from other artists.  At the time, we were running a successful London party called ‘Twisted Disco’, so ‘Get Twisted’ became an extension of that built around the same vibe and ethos of the night. It took away any political struggles we had trying to find a home for our material and gave us an outlet.

What's the ethos behind the label? Has it changed any since those nascent days?
We’ve always maintained that the label is an extension of the Tough Love brand. We have to be confident in the music we release on the label, and it has to be something we believe can comfortably fit into our sets. The records are tried and tested in club land, and they all bang, even if some have a more radio friendly or commercial edge. We try to ignore current trends and sign acts that we believe in; since the launch till now we’ve been extremely consistent with this ethos and it's not going to change any time soon!

London is a real hub for great house music & always has been... How influential was the London underground scene you were operating in at the time? Was it the perfect climate in which to get the label up and running?
London is a real hub for great house music & always has been. The scene was developing so fast when we set up the label, with so many new artists popping up every day The scene was developing so fast when we set up the label, with so many new artists popping up every day, many who have gone on to have a big impact in the dance world.

We were very fortunate to be well settled at this time, and our early releases include artists such as Hannah Wants, Chris Lorenzo, Denney, all from the UK, as well as acts such as Amine Edge & DANCE, Prince Club, Thee Cool Cats, which shows the early strengths of the label in the wider world.

We were spending countless hours, investing heavily in our artists PR and promotion...It can't be easy starting a label from scratch these days; what were some of the difficulties you encountered along the way?
One of the hardest things was getting noticed and building the labels profile. Not so much by DJs, but to get the recognition from the online stores. We were spending countless hours, investing heavily in our artists PR and promotion, but in the early days we wouldn’t get a look in at editorial positions at stores. It definitely had an affect on our earlier releases! Key positioning makes a huge difference, not only to awareness. but also to the labels profit and loss!

And what were some of the early stand-out moments that made you realise you were on to a good thing with Get Twisted?
We sold out our first two parties in London and people became more aware of the brand. Our releases were regularly charting on specialist stores, such as Beatport, and picking up amazing support on national radio, such as Radio1, Kiss and Capital. It wasn’t long before the label was not only attracting extremely talented new artists but also some more established acts and some legends, such as Roger Sanchez.

The success of ‘In The Name Of Love’ and ‘So Freakin Tight’ really opened a lot of doors...The success of ‘In The Name Of Love’ and ‘So Freakin Tight’ really opened a lot of doors. Our next party was at Ministry Of Sound in London, which again was a huge success. Since then the label has developed a lot and we feel it’s carved its own lane, which is extremely important to us.

You've said that you're looking to build “a sustainable label that looks after its own.” Is that still possible within the modern music industry?
It is possible; no one said it was easy though! One thing a few artists misunderstand is it must be a two-way relationship. The best labels in the world have grown together with their acts. You look at the likes of Hot Creations, Spinnin, etc.; they all have core artists who continually come back to release with them in the knowledge that the label will do all they can to support them. We now have a core group of artists who release consistently and also tour with us when possible. Get Twisted is a “family”, and we’d like to keep it that way.

You've partnered with a few major labels on projects; what do you gain from this collaborative process?
Each situation is different, so it’s hard to treat them all the same way. The most obvious advantage is investment and understanding of the wider market. Many of our singles have had huge investments in terms of promo, videos, mixes and more. You also get a dedicated team working on pushing the record as far as it can go, ideally globally! It doesn’t always work out that way and we don’t get all the records over the line, but there is always a plan in place to deliver the record the best we can. The major process is a huge eye opener and we're learning so much every day. 

We’re music lovers and we can’t turn down records that we feel will stand the test of time!..The Tough Love records with Island have gone really well. We’re into our fourth single with Island now. We also signed ‘Hot Source’ to Island, with the second single due out this summer, and Hardsoul and Dirty Freek had a big record last year with MOS. Last year we partnered Get Twisted to Sony/Columbia. Columbia was the perfect fit for us; the team is amazing! Their understanding of an extremely fast paced industry combined with their love and history of dance music makes them a great partner.

Get Twisted has a fairly distinct sound; what is it you look for in the tracks that you release?
The majority of the time it’s a record that bumps. Most of our releases are really strong club tracks, but from time to time there will be a record that offers something a little different, sometimes a little more soulful; there are some records you just can’t say no to! We’re music lovers and we can’t turn down records that we feel will stand the test of time!

Last year, you enjoyed a successful summer residency at Sankey's 'Redlight'; how was that? Any particular highlights for you guys?
Ibiza is amazing, so it was great to be out there almost every week. We mixed and compiled the official compilation for “The Redlight” on Get Twisted and it hit the iTunes album top 40. We made some good friends as well. Playing with the likes of Matt Jam Lamont, Todd Terry and EZ was great, especially when we grew up watching them.

This year, you're making your debut for Cream at Amnesia on 25th August, playing on the Terrace; how do you feel about that?
We honestly can’t wait; it will be our debut for Cream and our debut at Amnesia, arguably two of the biggest brands on the island! We love the Terrace and everything Cream represents about dance culture, so it’s going to be a great night. Not to mention sharing the Terrace with Duke Dumont and Pete Tong.

There’s so much more competition out there now than there used to be; people are spoilt for choice... Whilst this may be your debut behind the decks, we've heard that you've enjoyed partying out on the dance floor there a fair few times before. What have been some of your favourite memories of clubbing in Ibiza?
There are so many, we’ve both been going on and off for over seventeen years now, which shows our age! Last year, something that really enraptured us, was Solomun’s street party in the old town. Giving back to the locals that have followed him for years is a fantastic thing to do. Alex has fond memories of his first time in Pacha fifteen years ago; dancing to Flower Power and watching DJs play extended sets, something we’re going to do ourselves for a one off show later this year!

How has the island changed for you over the years, both as clubbers and DJs? What do you make of the current clubbing climate out there?
The changes are vast. There’s so much more competition out there now than there used to be; people are spoilt for choice. Fun and feel good vibes, exactly what we're about as an act and a label. It's definitely hurt the bigger venues; you rarely see them open up all rooms, which is a shame. But it has given the opportunity for so many new acts to break through and a multitude of sub genres and scenes which provides some amazing music and brings together an unexpected mix of people. 

Fun and feel good vibes, exactly what we're about as an act and a label.The sound most associated with Get Twisted carries a strong 90s garage and R&B influence. Why do you think this works well in Ibiza?
It’s not so much of the sounds used, but the feel of the music. Fun and feel good vibes, exactly what we're about as an act and a label. The 80s/90s played a pivotal part in our musical journey, and, arguably, some of the greatest music was released during that period of time, especially in the dance world. Ibiza brings together people from all over the world and music is a powerful thing. That free and feel good aspect is exactly what draws people to the island and we try and encapsulate that in the music we release.

Interview with bosses Tough Love's Alex and Stef

Your currently working on the 'Get Twisted presents: ‘Sessions Volume 1 compilation, which is out in July. Can you tell us a little more about that? What are you looking for in the tracks you decide to feature in the mix?
Well, there will be 30 plus tracks, some big records from the past six months and some exclusives never heard before. It’s a really good listen for house lovers and a great buy for DJs looking for solid material for their sets. It’s the start of a new venture for us and will hopefully see Get Twisted make its own stamp on the compilation market.

The label continues to go from strength to strength. We’ve got some really big releases coming... What else have you got lined up for the rest of the year, both for the label and yourselves as Tough Love?
The label continues to go from strength to strength. We’ve got some really big releases coming. Next up is a collaboration between No Artificial Colours & Catchment, featuring Alex Mills. It's called ‘Sweet Release’ and it looks set to be a big record this summer. We’ve also got releases from Essess, Leon Lour and LiTek that we’re really looking forward to.

For us, we’ve got a pretty heavy touring schedule, we just released a new EP called DLNW (Dance Like Nobody’s Watching) and we have another record called ‘Friday Night’ coming out late July. There are two more collaborations with Roger Sanchez and one in the works with Man Without A Clue still to come. On top of that we’ve just done a remix for Years & Years which we’re pretty excited about! And we start our debut USA tour in October, which we’re really looking forward to.

A couple of fantasy questions now. Who makes it on to the lineup for the ideal Get Twisted night and where would you host it?
Well there’s a few legends left on the bucket list we’d love to work with: Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Armand Van Helden to name a few. Seeing as Armand is from the States we’d love to throw the party over there. Maybe at the Standard in LA, or something; do a daytime party and then do a secret after party in Vegas.

It's moving at such a pace that there are new artists making good music all the time...Who out there that hasn't already released on the label would you love to sign up?
Oh, there is too many to mention. It’s always gutting when you go for a record and the artist goes with a different label and you watch them not deliver the record well! It’s happened a few times now. The thing with dance music is, it's always been here and always will be here. It's moving at such a pace that there are new artists making good music all the time, and artists are constantly re-inventing themselves.

If you could pick anyone to remix your next release, who would that be and why?
It would probably have to be one of the legends we grew up listening to: Fat Boy Slim. What Norman has done for dance music is absolutely incredible; his music and sets are full of character. Definitely a huge inspiration and without a doubt it would be an honor to have him remix a record of ours!

Catch Alex and Stef the 25th August at Cream Ibiza,  Amnesia Terrace

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Get Twisted Records &  Tough Love Online
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