London-via-LA producer, Sinden, recently celebrated the second birthday of his label Grizzly. Graeme Sinden, and his label alike, are known globally for their inimitable style of dance floor music. Neither operate with any limits on genre; Graeme DJs, produces, and releases anything from house, techno and garage, to US rap music and grime. The unifying characterisitc between what Grizzly and Sinden do is, instead, in the uptempo, party vibe of the music.
We recently caught up with Graeme and had a chat about staying ahead of the curve, the international sound of Grizzly and betting on Mario Karts whilst on tour with Melé…
If I’d asked you, the day you started the label, where you thought it would be two years later, would that be somewhere similar to where you are now?
I feel that whilst the label’s come a long way since the start, I feel there’s so much more to achieve. I don’t feel the label is close to fulfilling its potential just yet, especially when you look around to see how far you can really take things with an independent label. To do this in just 2 years is a really big ask though – competition is stiffer than ever, we have to continue to strive in a really saturated market. Every artist is starting a label but not a lot of them are doing it right. Musically i’m really proud of what’s come so far, we’ve put out some outstanding releases, took risks, was ahead of the curve early in a lot of aspects, some of our artists, SBTRKT and Brodinski went on to become bigger artists. I’m excited about the new wave of artists from the label too, young talent like Brenmar, Melé, 5kinandbone5, WAFA etc. They all offer so much potential.
Are you just hoping for more years of the same, or do you have a new direction in mind?
No, to continue for more years of the same would be sufficient for some but the label has to grow and expand. I can’t settle for that. We have to be more ambitious – more label parties, to potentially reach more people, create a bigger awareness. I’d love for the label to become a bit more ‘lifestyle’, without ever compromising the music. I want us to be more inclusive.
Your last single came out on Mad Decent, is that a label you see as having a similar ethos to your own?
In a way, yes. Musically its a little different, some crossover in some areas. Mad Decent have been an inspiration since they started, love their attitude and how they’re releasing music they believe in. This maverick approach is what I’m trying to do with Grizzly, you have to set the trends and forecast the sounds of the future one step at a time. We also share a similar kind of eclecticism and diversity that i’ve always tried to push, to not get caught up in this classification of music genres or follow what is flavour.
Which artists are you really feeling right now? Who would you ideally love to release on Grizzly?
Artists like Kink, MMM, Lando Kal and Mosca are doing some great things. Everything that Green Velvet is doing now is excellent, Relief / Cajual are killing it right now. I love the Auntie Flo album, for me that’s my favourite electronic release this year. There’s a lot of great club music out there right. I’m looking for a rap artist that some of the artists on the label could all pitch in with production for, but its so hard, as you can imagine. Rap music’s important because it binds all of the artists on the roster together.
Aside from your ‘Keep It 1000’ single, about to drop, what else does the label have forthcoming?
After this we have Melé‘s 2nd release on the label. He’s teamed up with Kano to vocal this popular instrumental he had called ‘Beamer’. It was the one that all the DJ’s loved and the crowds reacted to, even on first listen, a slower rap tempo track but it has mad energy that Kano really destroys, he knows when to be restrained and when to attack. Brenmar steps up after this with a nod to Chicago’s Trax label – modernising a classic house sound. Its his first track recorded with a female vocalist and his most ambitious yet, just a dope song that works really well on the dancefloor. That will take us into Autumn.
I wouldn’t say Grizzly pushes the typical ‘London’ sound. Is that something you agree with? And if so, is that a deliberate move?
I’d agree I don’t think the label is very London at all, it’s not bass music or house music or new directions in garage, rap music etc. If anything its more International or something more global. I’d never want to deliberately buck trends but as i’m travelling I realise that it isn’t any particular city that really dictates the releases, it’s more about uniting dancefloors and selecting releases that cross over to all types of DJ and listener. I look to London for inspiration but I can’t get caught up in its scene.
What is the highlight of the two years of Grizzly? Do you have a favourite release?
The 2 releases with SBTRKT were special – 2 tracks on each release, no remixes. My first solo release was a high point. Also I gotta say I loved the 5kinandbone5 tracks with Def Jam‘s YG (a really really buzzy rapper from L.A), Bernie Worrell from Parliament and Fred Wesley (JB’s) on one of the jams. Having Basement Jaxx‘s Felix Buxton recording as Jon Giovanni was awesome. It went full circle from when I was releasing on Atlantic Jaxx years ago.
Tell us about the European tour! There must be some stories…
Yeah the European tour was a tons of jokes. It was mostly Melé and me travelling which was wicked. He’s a good dude to travel with – a lot of ‘in jokes’, going back to back playing rap records and having stupid Mario Kart bets – loser has to wear a pink cowboy hat on the tour, loser has to do a southern rap remix of the Rainbow Road level – geek shit! Hahaha
Finally, what’s next for you personally? An album perhaps?
Maybe if it happens naturally but I’m not in any rush to. It’s a bit of a cliche isn’t it, I always joke because everyone’s always working on an album. Haha. I just want to put out more club records and do more productions for singers and rappers. It’s exciting because there’s a load of things about to get finished off and it’ll be interesting to see where they’ll end up.
Interview: Richard Akingbehin
Sinden’s single ‘Keep It 1000’ is out now. Buy it here.