Today 10 years for a records label is a milestone; Dogmatik Records created by Alex Arnout in 2006 has been instrumental for developing artists such as Maya Jane Coles, Dusky, Stojche, Samu L & Kuba Sojka... With strong ethics, the imprint focuses on quality electronic music and has built a strong reputation with some of most respected DJs on the scene… I Voice caught up with Alex Arnout to find out how Dogmatik goes about discovering new talent and to discuss the history and the future of one of the UK’s leading lights in the underground scene.
The ethos behind the label was to find new talented producers & build a stable of quality artists...Hello, thanks for sitting down with us today! 2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of Dogmatik records, congratulations! How did you hook up, why you did initially started and can you elaborate on the label’s overall ethos?
We’d been friends for years before I started the label, I’d been running it on my own for a couple of years and Daren and his brother Spencer got involved and have been ever since. I started the label because I’d worked in the industry for a while with various labels, such as Arthrob in the 90’s, and had always wanted to have my own imprint. The ethos behind the label was to find new talented producers and build a stable of quality artists without going down the usual route of using the same producers as everyone else.
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards from running the label so far?
The biggest challenge was getting the label and my artist’s traffic, as well as pressing ourselves and walking them into the shops, as we didn’t have any distribution at the time. The vinyl climate had slowed to a trickle in those days and distribution companies weren’t taking on any new labels. So we literally walked them around all the shops in London.
The biggest highlights would have to be the success Maya Jane Coles, who was our first artist at the start of her career...The biggest rewards was seeing the label grow from strength to strength after a few releases, it solidified our belief in what we were doing. We were receiving demos from as far as Japan, South America and America, and our records were being distributed in these territories too.
What are some of the highlights for you as a label over the years, any cool stories or anecdotes?
The biggest highlights would have to be the success Maya Jane Coles, who was our first artist at the start of her career and acts like Dusky who exploded after releasing on Dogmatik. Also being able to re-release some of our favourite Peace Division tracks courtesy of our very good friends Clive Henry & Justin Drake, as well as work with house icons like Jovonn. We’ve also found great new artists along the way such as Stojche and Kuba Sojka, but to be fair, the label is a constant highlight, we get to release music we really want to release.
What’s your A&R process with the label, do you have a core set of artists you work or want to work with, or do you simply release what you’re receiving as demos from various artists across the globe?
It’s a little bit of both actually, we have a stable of artists who we work with as well as injecting new ones in between, I really like the balance, it keeps things fresh and interesting.
It’s actually a little harder these days, there’s definitely a vinyl revival...10 years is a long time in the industry - you must have seen many transitions, from vinyl to digital to the domination of social media and the rise of streaming; how easy is it to remain financially stable running a records label?
It’s actually a little harder these days, there’s definitely a vinyl revival but with so many new labels starting up and all the majors re pressing albums and soundtracks, it takes longer to get releases out.
The vinyl industry needs more investment in new technology to manufacture vinyl.
I’d like to see both labels & artists rewarded for their time & creativity, rather than being treated unfairly...I’m not really into streaming, I’ve been told time and time again that this is the way forward but the label and artist shares are so low, it kind of feels like a bit of a scam. I’d like to see both labels and artists rewarded for their time and creativity, rather than being treating unfairly.
The social media thing is a beast in itself. We used to operate on being quite aloof, but with the explosion of social media, we’ve had to adapt to move forward. It’s definitely the future of all business so you have to invest time on it.
Looking back over your time within the music scene, would you do anything different if you could?
For me nothing is a mistake, it’s all experience you can learn from, and that experience got the label and myself this far.
How has the label evolved since 10 years? Where do you feel it’s going and do you think the next 10 years will move as quickly as the last?
It’s evolved in the sense that it’s a reliable go to brand for quality music, but the ethos is the same. We get sent a lot of demos by artists saying this track is perfect for Dogmatik or this track has a Dogmatik sound. Truth be told, the artist bring the vibe to the label, we really don’t know what’s coming next. But that’s the exciting part.
Truth be told, the artist bring the vibe to the label, we really don’t know what’s coming next. But that’s the exciting part...You’ve had many supporters over the years - would you like to give a shout out to any people in particular?
We’re lucky to have had a lot of support from all over the world; to name a few would be unfair to the others. So we want to say a big thank you to everyone that has supported us over our 10 year existence.
What is your perspective on underground dance culture at the moment, in terms of its strength or weakness?
The underground will always be strong, for every 2-3 mainstream club/events there’ll be a backlash to that in some basement/warehouse/back room. The mainstream feeds the underground, not everyone is programmed :)
Would you say with the increased ease of making and sharing music that too many producers rush their productions these days and don’t have them mastered properly before sending them out?
I can’t speak for others but we won’t sign content like that, I believe you do become a better producer with time, so it’s worth learning your craft first before sending out demos.
And finally what does the immediate future have in store? Any more releases, Dogmatik events or projects you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes, our latest release, The Wait EP by Jovonn is in all good shops and selling out fast, we’re also going to be announcing a string European events that celebrate 10 years of the label, as well as special releases and giveaways. We have a couple of albums in the pipeline as well and releasing on our sub label DMK.