Since March of 2017, Dansu Discs have been fostering unique talent to create first class releases for house aficionados. Following their initial release from Paradiso Rhythm, they have treated listeners to a first class spread of sounds, with representation from Anthony Fade, Big Miz, LUZ1E, Subjoi and xxxy, just to name a few. Givers at heart, 100% of donations from their last release, Dance for Mental Health, will be going to The Mental Health Foundation, a cause dear to Max and Nick’s heart. We had chats with the boys to learn more about how Dansu came into existence and they see it going from here, and lucky for us, they compiled some of their favorite releases of 2018 for your listening pleasure.
Nick: Nick Howsley from Manchester, Currently in final year of university in Leeds.
Max: I’m Max Wyatt also from Manchester, 22 living down in London at the moment working part-time in Phonica Records.
What were you both doing prior to starting Dansu Discs?
Nick: We were both pretty much doing the same thing really and playing out for different events. Max got into the music industry a little earlier than I did, having run his own events around different northern locations.
Max: Like Nick said started running some small events with friends before Uni and then yeah I guess began producing and DJ’ing throughout our time in Leeds together.
Why did you decide to start Dansu Discs?
Nick: We get asked this one a lot! We lived together for 2 years at university and we knew we wanted to get into the music industry in something together. We looked at events and other options. I think the similar interest we had in different artists and labels kind of brought together the idea of setting up Dansu.
Max: Yeah for sure. We shared the same musical output which meant starting the label felt really natural! I guess it was also the factor of listening to so many unheard artists and growing a platform to share that music with as many people as possible. Knowing and living the struggle of an independent brand/musician for sure drives us to try and work with as many others as we possibly can.
You've swung between individual releases and multiple VA releases, each branded in a different fashion. How do you approach each release?
Nick: I’m sure Max will agree that we approach each release with a completely fresh mind set. I think with the VA’s we always look to show the music we appreciate across a broad spectrum. I personally really enjoy VA’s as it offers the freedom to have a more open mind on tracks. With vinyl releases we always have an idea of the kind of sound we want to approach but again one thing we always try to ensure is that the sound is switched up slightly just to bring a variety to the label.
Max: Yeah exactly what nick said, we both like pretty much every genre you can imagine so by doing the VA’s is ultimately us expressing that within a release haha. The other branding aspect can also be down to the help by our designer Liv Beck. She’s my girlfriend and also a best friend to Nick so she’s helped curate the Dansu image since day 1. I guess we have a lot to thank her for!
Does the podcast series play a particular role for your label?
Nick: The Podcast has been a bit too quiet over the last 12 months or so as we have been busy with other factors within the label. We have actually just relaunched it with a great mix from k2k. We plan to continue to put out monthly mixes, so we are definitely looking forward to that!
How do you source talent?
Nick: We source tracks in different ways, some come from people we have constant contact with and some come from artists who we just want to get in touch with. We always have an idea of what we would like to do next with the label pretty early on.
Max: Yeah for sure and some of the best stuff we have signed to date has also been random demos dropping in our inbox from people we have never heard of!
Is there a particular sound that you believe defines the label?
Nick: Definitely not. We both like to ensure that we release different tracks on Dansu and that’s what we enjoy the most is being able to express our different musical preferences on the label.
Max: If we stuck to a sound I guess it would ultimately become boring for us. There’s just so much good stuff out there it’s always made sense to have a huge variety.
What advice would you give someone who's looking to start an independent label?
Nick: Enjoy it! I never thought In my first year of uni that I would have set up something like Dansu and had the opportunity to be able to work with artists we were buzzing over and sharing with each other only a couple of years ago!
Max: Yeah having fun and remembering why you’re doing it is definitely key. Some people can become fixated on just looking for the ‘big’ record and forget about why they began doing the label in the first place. Be patient, kind to absolutely everyone and overall show as much love to the others trying the same thing as yourself. Having peoples support will only push your brand further and further.
What's the most important lesson you've learnt thus far in managing the label?
Nick: I think taking the next step from digital to vinyl releases and understanding the pressing, distribution side of things and so on. But again, we enjoyed this as we saw it as a step in the right direction for Dansu. We would like to think we did alright.
Max: I’d probably say getting to understand the industry on a professional scale. It’s quite hard trying to reach a next step when you’ve had no one showing you the ropes. We struggled in the early days of setting up Dansu with a variety of things we just didn’t really know anything about. Now I’d for sure say were on the right track. Don’t think we’ll ever be able to say were ‘professional’ at what we do, but we don’t care. It’s more about just putting out good music, respecting our artists and having fun doing it!
What are you most excited about for in 2019?
Nick: Musically, just continuing to release records that we both love. Hopefully some Dansu Discs showcases and just overall continuing to enjoy what we’re doing. I have a pretty busy few months ahead with graduation in July, but I am looking forward to celebrating it at Glastonbury before I go traveling in Asia for just over 5 weeks later in July!
Max: Musically, I would say just continuing with what we’re doing and putting out some of the wicked records we have lined up. Won’t drop any names yet but be sure to keep an eye out, got some amazing material in the works. Oh and definitely spending my 23rd birthday at Love International I can’t wait for!