As Schedule One imprint continues to move from strength with a series of heavy-hitting releases across the board, from the deep and progressive vibe of the Czech-based Mole on through to the twisted neuro-funk of the Florida-based Holohedron, we touch down with label boss Scott Thomas aka Fonkah for a glimpse into the past, present, and future of the imprint that continues to flex on all fronts every day.
Schedule One originally began in 2011 in San Diego. Take us back to those early days…
Schedule One indeed began in those days as a concept between myself (Fonkah) and partner Garva in San Diego. We’d been hosting Drum & Bass events in the San Diego and Southern California area for several years prior to that but the idea of starting an imprint had been talked about between the two] of us, and in 2011 we finally pulled the trigger.
The label originally began as an outlet for myself and a network of friends to share our music on a global level and to do what we could to advance this sound that we all loved a bit further into the future. At the end of the day, we really just consider ourselves a forward-thinking collective of Drum and Bass producers who represent a range of styles and influences who come together to shape the future of electronic music.
This “Controlled Substance” EP you just released is rammed with heavy bits!! Talk a bit about how the EP came together, who’s on it, what kind of vibe and how the heads can get ahold of it!
Yes! This was an exciting project. The idea came out of a conversation I was having with HammerZz one day…we had just finished up “Rigid” together and were discussing different release strategies when he brought up the idea of doing a free album featuring some of the different artists from the label. We had worked on a few features previously with EDM.com and had been really happy with how dedicated their network of listeners were and how impactful the features had been, so I reached out to them with the idea of doing an exclusive free release and they loved it.
The album became sort of a sampler of the label. We took the opportunity to share some brand new dubplates and unique collaborations we had recently finished as well as a sneak peek track with Holohedron’s “Liberators” nodding towards his forthcoming full-length album of the same name. Additionally the album includes a collaboration from Alerstorm and myself on “Afterdark Empire”, another collaboration between Pish Posh and myself on “Primitive” a third collaboration with HammerZz on “Rigid” and finally a really fresh tune from Liminal featuring Elijah Divine on “Wide Eyed”.
The 5-track album can be downloaded from EDM.com, DrumNBass.net, or directly from Soundcloud.
The EP seems like a family affair with loads of familiar faces from the Stateside crew – is that part of the vision of the imprint as well?
Honestly? Not necessarily, no. Let me first say that at Schedule One, it is a family affair. There are quite a few of us and we all communicate and collaborate often. Everyone is really supportive of one another and we just really have a special kind of vibe going on. We often do get caned as a ‘Stateside’ label and in a lot of senses we are, but we’re actually extremely wide spread and varied in terms of our team and structure.
I suppose I sort of set the tempo as a digital vagabond who was born in Orlando, raised in Atlanta, started a label in San Diego then moved to the Virgin Islands. While we do have tremendous talent in the States and North America, we consider ourselves a label that shares global Drum & Bass and electronic music. We enjoy bringing together sounds and inspirations from all over the world and the wide-ranging collaborations that come from it.
This new bit on there from you and Alerstorm “Afterdark Empire” in particular is a massive dirty bit! I know Alerstorm is based out of Spain and you are out of the Virgin Islands – talk a bit about how you guys met and how the dynamics of production work between you two even though you’re oceans apart?
Alerstorm and I met several years ago when we were hosting a remix contest through the label for my “Higher” album at the time. Alejandro turned in a couple of incredible remixes for different tunes on the album and I was immediately drawn to his sound and technique. We ended up releasing a few of his mixes on that album, he and I kept in touch and began to work on a lot of projects together.
At the time, I was still in San Diego and Aler was in Badajoz, Spain. We had this unique dynamic where because of the contrasting time zones, we found ourselves able to work through a high level of projects quickly, trading off ideas in a fairly continuous cycle. Aler has since become one of my best friends and is honestly one of the hardest working guys I know. He now handles all Mastering services for the label and has introduced us to some of the most amazing talent in both Spain and Europe.
Holohedron is another name that has been really stepping up to the plate for you guys recently. Introduce us to him, how you linked up and why you no doubt agree he’s another one of those slept-on artists who will no doubt be making even bigger moves soon.
Absolutely, yes! Loren (Holohedron) is the man. Also one of the hardest working guys I know. I seriously get a new tune from him like every single day. And they are always…friggin…sick. Always. Ha! But yes, we’ve got so much on the way from Holohedron. We are ramping up to the release of his full-length album “Liberators” on the way in May which will feature 12 brilliant and widely varied tunes, a few which you can catch out now as singles, including “The Opener,” which we just posted a video of with visuals designed and edited by Holohedron himself.
We are always impressed by the quality of the mixdowns and engineering on Schedule One releases. I understand you guys also have a mastering division of the label correct? Talk a bit about that side of things and if there are any tips that you can share with all the bedroom producers out there before they begin submitting music to labels they are interested in.
Well thank you! We work really hard at our sound but we are always learning and refining our tools and techniques. We do in fact have an in-house mastering division of the label and at this time only take on label projects but we are considering opening up our services to the public in the near future. We are a hybrid analog / digital studio, utilizing analog tools in stages like distortion, eq, compression and limiting while working digitally in areas like stereo width and multiband dynamics.
The knowledge that I come across in most young producers these days is astonishing so I’m not sure how deep of an insight to share but a few things that are very important…On the programming side, write interesting content that grabs people’s attention. Find a way to inspire people or make them want to move. On the sonic side, it should go without saying that excellent mix quality these days is critical. Do your best to construct well-balanced mixes that render with sufficient headroom.
Because tools and mix environment can be one of the biggest struggles when getting started, one of the best tips I like to share with up and coming producers is the Pink Noise mixdown. In professional studios, we use Pink Noise to calibrate monitors to rooms all the time; this trick takes that same theory and tunes your individual songs to your mix environment. Check out this brief video if you’d like to learn more:
Speaking of mastering and mixdowns – give us a glimpse into your workspace – what kind of setup do you have and are there any special weapons that you use to shape and refine your own personal productions?
Personally I work inside of Ableton Live 9 as my central workspace. I have a Virus Ti which I use heavily; it’s incredible for just about everything and its ease of programming and lack of CPU strain makes it my main weapon. Inside the box I use Serum (Xfer), Raw (Rob Papen), Razor (Native Instruments) and Superior Drummer (Toontrack) just to name a few. In terms of mix tools, I use primarily Izotope and FabFilter plugins although on rare occasion I have been known to let Dada Life fatten my sausage.
This latest label mix from Rebellion has received loads of love from the heads in the know. Introduce us to Rebellion, tell us how you linked up with him, what kind of heat we should be expecting when we check out the mix.
Charles (Rebellion) and I have been very good friends since my early days in San Diego. He was one of the first guys I met in the scene when I arrived out there and he and I have worked on several projects together over the years. The two of us had been part of one of the earliest online Drum and Bass outlets – DNBTV.com since it’s very beginning back in the early 00’s and so when I arrived in San Diego, we linked and would occasionally do guest appearances on each other shows as well as play dozens of live shows out together as well.
Rebellion has always been like family to us so this year we made it official and rolled out the inauguration with this incredible label-exclusive mix. Inside you’ll find an hour-long journey through the diverse sound of the label. We’ve showcased a bunch of unreleased and forthcoming sounds as well as a lot of the new releases to recently hit release. And as can be expected they’ve been meticulously curated and mixed with precision like only Rebellion can do.
You guys have had a massive run and seem to just be knocking the tunes out left and right. What are your plans moving forward for both the label and with your own productions?
Everyone at the label is really energized and is working so hard right now. I think we can all feel the momentum that the label is gaining and we all really enjoy working with each other. There are tons of fresh and unexpected collaborations on the way as well as quite a few new artists coming on board. We’ve got huge releases on the way all year long from artists like Signalfista, Raze, Knoxz, AnnGree, Edub, and Rusty Mustard just to name a few as well as massive tuneage from the more seasoned S1 roster.
As for my personal productions, I’ve been cranking away like mad, finishing a ton of new projects for Schedule One but also signing some tunes to a few other labels like Mindtech (Belgium), Histeria (Spain) and Cymbalism (USA). I’m gearing up for some personal touring starting in Puerto Rico next week, back up to the States in spring and over to Europe later this year. In the meantime, we are in the midst of planning a label tour for Summer 2015. At the moment, we are primarily focusing on North American dates but we may do a few dates in Europe later this year as well. Interested promoters, give us a shout!
Big up and Bless all Drum and Bass heads Worldwide! Respect!