As you might have guessed, this interview is about one of dubsteps most prestigious labels and the mastermind behind it. Infernal Sounds launched as a label only two years ago and already prides itself with a dozen of top-notch releases featuring talented artists from all over the world.
That being said, I think Infernal Sounds is the living proof that even young labels can make a huge impact in the scene if they never give up and always keep their goal in front of their eyes. Let’s see what Drew, the front man behind IFS has to say.
Roland: Greetings Drew!
Drew: Greetings Roland, thanks for having me.
Roland: I would like to begin with the very start of Infernal Sounds, from way back with the creation of the YouTube channel and the idea of promoting music unconditionally. What was the drive behind this idea?
Drew: Yeah, so basically it was just a random thing that kind of happened really. I first got into dubstep around 2010 after being shown some of the ‘golden era’ tunes, and progressively over the course of a couple years, I got really into the music. I started to go to nights and in turn began listening to Rinse FM, particurly Youngsta’s mixes. This led on to me wanted to personally ID tunes and consequently starting a Youtube channel. Thus IFS was born.
Roland: When did the thought of starting a label appear and what were the difficulties you had to overcome to make that happen? These kind of things don’t happen overnight so I guess it was a long journey from the first thought of owning a label to the first release.
Drew: Well, it’d always been something I’d thought about in the early days with the YouTube channel. Obviously, through featuring music on there I managed to source some info off a few label owners and started researching some of the ins and outs of releasing music. I then went to Australia for a year where I kind of disconnected with 140 and maintaining IFS, had a little time to myself. On my return though, it made me realise how much I missed the music and I soon met Jens and we started work on our first release.
It took a little time to muster up the funds on my side of things, but once the initial fee for the pressing had been met, we put 001 forward for production.
Roland: Tell us something about IFS001, your first ever release alongside Perverse, how did it come to that collaboration and how was the feedback at that time?
Drew: So 001 was always going to be Perverse for me. They’d been a duo who I’d loved for ages, and featured on the channel umpteen times. They were very responsive to these uploads and I’d chatted to Brett quite a lot in the years building up to our first release. ‘IO’ was uploaded as an ‘Untitled’ rip onto the YouTube, and one day when we had everything lined up I hit up the guys up and they were down for the plan. We then made tracks towards getting ‘Aye Aye’, ‘Rustic’ and the artwork sorted and we had our 001 ready to go.
The response to the release was better than I could have imagined to be honest. I think because we already had a small fan-base, it made it easier to reach more people when announcing the cross-over from YouTube to label and to be honest, the music spoke for itself.
Roland: As I recently acquired myself an IFS T-Shirt, I must say that the quality is exceptional. But T-Shirts are only one of many merchandise that are available on the labels Bigcartel store. Is there anything cooking in the kitchen regarding some new winter merch?
Drew: Ah thanks man. Appreciate the feedback on the T’s. The high quality texture and fit is something we definitely do strive towards, as I wear enough label merch to know what I like and what I don’t, so it’s all about the comfy fit.
In regard to more merch, unfortunately we’re at a time in the year where things are a little tight on the bank and although we had plans for a winter merch range, time has slipped by. However, Emily is going to be rebranding the IFS logo early next year and we’ll be having a big, brand new merch range launching sometime between spring and summer, so keep your eyes out for that!
Roland: Infernal Sounds quickly became a strongly recognised label in the underground, with artists wanting to release under your name. Until now you’ve had 11 releases under the label. What do you think is the key for this success and how much further do you want to push it?
Drew: Ermmm, I’d say if I was to pinpoint anything that has lead to the success I’d mainly say the sick work Jens has done on A&R, and the fact Emily has made a strong brand for the label and managed to incorporate her unique artwork into our releases. It’s made it something a little different to your every day label, perhaps. But I’d also say being transparent and paying your artists properly is a good way to maintain success. I hear too often about labels not paying up and being sly about things and I think something we try to pride ourselves on, is being honest and upfront with anyone who signs to IFS.
Otherwise though, that’s a pretty hard question. It all kinda happened pretty fast and we just went with the flow. We’re just lucky enough to have been able to release music from some really talented producers, and I’m grateful for the fact they gave us that opportunity. I’ll always kind of brush that off though, cause for me we’re not really doing anything special, just something we all love and enjoy.
Roland: As the Infernal Sounds family is growing by the day, with more and more talented artists joining the roster, can you shed some light upon the direction you are heading, and what could be expected for 2019?
Drew: Well, 2019 is going to be an interesting one for us. We’re aiming to increase our output from 4 releases annually to 6 releases, in which we’ve pretty much got all of them lined up from 013 – 017.
We’ve got various new faces joining the label with EP’s spanning across a load of different flavours and we’ll also be welcoming back some old faces to the fray as we move towards the 020 stage. We’ll also be releasing a spicy couple tracks for our second white label release, IFSXXX002, so there’s plenty lined up.
Roland: Lets not forget about Infernal Sounds sixth birthday since its official rank as a label, and a party of proportions, which I had the honor to attend, was held in London. The vibe was excellent, the music pure fire and it really felt like being in a community there. Is there anything funny you want to mention about that night? I know that I had troubles finding the exit sometimes, something on my way there was confusing as hell, but I forgot what it was, haha.
Drew: Yes mate, was a sick night to be fair, glad you managed to make it. The Shitty guys pulled out the stops and it was a proper community vibe start to finish, showcasing a variety of the IFS roster and the man of the hour, Joe Nice of course. Yeah, I’d say there were plenty of funny moments in and out, but I’ll keep them sacred to the night itself. You are right though, the exit and toilets are always a confusing one at that place though, it’s definitely an interesting venue overall, like most London venues…
Roland: If we are already at the “massive parties” category, let’s not forget about Hit & Run: VS Series Part 4, where you guys went up against V.I.V.E.Ks “System”, and to be honest I am a little bummed by the fact that I can’t make it this time, because it will definitely be one for the books. How did it go, and what were your highlights of the event?
Drew: Yeah this was a really special event for me, probably one of my favourite to date. The line-up was absolutely stacked in both rooms and the event really didn’t let down in any way. The turnout was wild, but most of all the general vibe and music on display was the highest calibre. Every single DJ and MC’s in both rooms owned the dancefloor and from the people I’ve spoken to, everyone had an incredible night. It’s all thanks to Rich Reason and Hit & Run though. He’s the real hero of Manchester, consistently putting events on in the city, which range from different genres but always carry a real special feeling about them. So shouts to Rich.
Roland: Changing the subject and talking about digital releases, your first digital release, called “Origin” will see the light of day. How did the idea of digital releases come to be? By the way, very strong selection of tunes from one to ten.
Drew: Yeah, this has always been something we’ve sat on the fence about. IFS was created with the idea that we’d stick with vinyl-only releases and the only access to digitals would be via people coming and grabbing the plate direct from us, as an extra thank you and a bit like a loyalty scheme. However, digital has always been something we’re asked about week in, week out.
Having released our first 10 though and having most of them sell out, we thought we’d give people a sample of the catalogue but find a way of maintaining the feeling for the people who own the plate and the additional digital files which weren’t released on the Origin LP.
Roland: Do you have in mind more digital releases over the time? We know that putting music out quicker has a bigger impact on the scene and with strictly vinyl releases, you get to be more selective but also many good tunes might deserve a release under your label even if only on digital. Do you have in plan to also release albums, not just compilations?
Drew: We do plan on branching out digitally, that’s for sure. This is something me and Jens are talking about very closely at the minute. 015 is a very special release for us and I think from then on out, we’ll be changing the business model of the label and distributing the releases both physically and digitally (with a delay) for every release.
Otherwise though, I don’t think this is something we’ll be investing too much time into, especially in regard to digital-only releases as I’d much prefer to focus on the main label and not spread too thin.
We do have some other compilations and albums in the works, that’s for definite. But they’ll most probably be released physically as well and in due time.
Roland: And last but not least, a very important question that require your maximum focus. If your five-year-old self suddenly found themselves inhabiting your current body, what would your five-year-old self do first?
Drew: Hahaaa, tricky one. I’d probably say go to the shop, buy the most amount of sweets as possible and sit there eating them all whilst playing on Pokemon on the gameboy. I was a sucker for a sweet tooth when I was younger and who didn’t like shredding Pokemon?!
So yeah, pretty shit answer but I’d say probably that.
After getting some behind the scene info from the man himself, I personally can’t wait to see what IFS has prepared for 2019 and I’m sure you share the same feeling. To not miss out on any news, follow the label on the links below. Peace!