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Switched On: S.E.F

On the back of a well-received debut release, namely Alex D££mnds‘ ‘Credentials’ EP, we spoke to the man responsible for Switched On Records, S.E.F.

Switched On Records stands out from a lot of young, London-based labels in the style of the music it pushes. It isn’t doing anything new or different – just pushing quality, and importantly, timeless house music. Definitely a label to keep an eye out for.

We have an exclusive track for you, one which perfectly demonstrates the label’s sound. Alex D££mnds‘ track, ‘Rick & Dust’ is of the same mould as his release, creatively sampled and of gentle pace. We discussed the idea behind Switched On, plans for the future, vinyl and London – read on and be sure to grab the exclusive download below.

You were formerly half of Deep Teknologi Records, with T.Williams, and ran Subversive Sounds before that. Is Switched On Records a drastically different idea to both of those?
On the face of it no, as all of the labels mentioned were about putting out good house music at the time, Switched On Records is about exactly the same thing – promoting good house music. However behind the scenes it is completely different as I’m now in a position to do what I feel is correct as I’m running Switched On Records solo. I have advice from close friends but ultimately the direction of the label in all aspects is down to me. Running it by myself comes with it’s own pressures, as the success or failure of the label is solely down to me.

Aside from your own forthcoming EP, who can expect to see release on the label in the coming months?
There will be more releases from Alex D££mnds for sure, he is a long-term project. I’ve also signed a producer called Rob Lee, whose material is a lot more laid back than Alex’s or mine, but he makes some killer bass lines. There’s also a collaboration EP from Urulu who’s from LA and Chaos In The CBD from New Zealand. That one is a certified hit and it’s a release I’m really excited about. I also hope to release material from up and coming producers Lost & Found, Ricky Torres and a few others over the course of the year.

Your ‘Autonomy’ EP will be your debut release. Why, after so long in the industry, have you finally decided to start putting out music?
I’ve always wanted to make music, even before I started DJ-ing, however I never found a platform that I could make sense of. I dabbled on Logic but never really felt that I could get the track I could hear in my head into a reality. About a year ago I finally found a method of producing music that I’m comfortable with. Producing my own material is important to me as it gives me the chance to really express what I’d like to think I’m about musically beyond DJ-ing. Before I didn’t have the time or patience to sit down and actually learn how to properly how to use the programs or hardware. A lot of it also came down to the fact that I was also pursuing a career in my other passion, film and television production.

Which other labels do you see pushing a similar style to Switched On’s at the moment? And which other producers would you want to categorize yourself with as S.E.F?
There are loads of really good labels about at the moment, pushing great house music. The first one that comes to mind is Hypercolour as they consistently release quality house music. In terms of myself and other producers, I know it sounds a little cliché, but I never follow anyone else’s path in anything that I do. There are many producers who I really admire, however when I decide that I want to make a track I actually stop listening to music altogether so as not to be influenced too much by anyone else’s work. The production side of thing is still fairly new to me and I’m trying to find my own sound.

Did you hear the Alex D££mnds EP and start a label to release it, or start a label and find an EP that suited your plan?
Switched On Records was always on the cards. I’d had the idea of the label for quite a while as I wanted to tie in my video and music work and have it all under one name. Alex wasn’t the reason for creating the label but definitely was the catalyst. I’ve known him for some time and he would always send me through his work. When I listened to his DJ sets I knew that he had something different about him. I was surprised and intrigued about the maturity of his sound. When he sent through Credentials I must have played it over 50 times that day! I was really blown away by it. I put to him that I’d love to start off the label with an EP from him and within a matter of months it was all sorted out.

Is there a specific label position regarding the vinyl format, or will it differ between releases? How do you personally see the health of the vinyl format at the moment?
The aim is always to release vinyl and hopefully in the very near future I will be able to find a distribution deal that makes sense to both sides. Ideally every release on the label will also be on vinyl. My own perspective on vinyl is that is an essential part of the music industry. I used to work in Uptown Records and have seen first seen first hand just how vital it is to people who have chosen music as their living. When it all dried up it put a lot of people out of business including where I worked. Recently there has been a resurgence in vinyl sales and production which is fantastic. However you cannot discount the digital age and just because a release isn’t on vinyl that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad one.

Is London the best home for a sound and label like yours?
Without a doubt. I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled a lot and from what I have experienced there is nowhere else that is as culturally diverse as London. This has led to a very unique sound coming out of the city over many years from bands like The Rolling Stones to genres like Jungle, Dubstep, Grime etc. London is a trendsetter when it comes to music so there’s no better home for Switched On Records.

You’ve been kind enough to give us an exclusive for our readers, Alex D££mnds’ track ‘Rick & Dust’ Talk us through the track itself.
I’m hoping it gives a good introduction into the style that Switched On Records will be putting out in the future. The track is a slice of mature, quality produced house music. It’s all about promoting music that people will hopefully listen to for a while and not just as part of a passing fad.

Stream ‘Rick & Dust’ below or download by clicking on the player

Richard Akingbehin