Around the world in 80 labels: 22 Digit Recordings – William Welt & Pete Bartram

Newcastle, so much to answer for. England’s largest city north of Yorkshire has been around the block and then some when it comes to beats, giving rise to its reputation as one of Britain’s most enthusiastic homes of electronic music.

And it’s not just generation-spanning institutions like Shindig that are responsible for keeping this town on the country’s clubbing map. Though still in relative infancy the logically titled all-digital imprint 22 Digit has been reliably putting out quality release after quality release since 2008, with names such as Matt Tolfrey, Ruthit, Tom Ellis and Suade all getting involved either by way of original tracks or remixes.

Meanwhile the esteemed bossmen steer things in the right direction, and with praise for their own production work and A&R skills coming from names such as Terry Francis and Tyler Stadius it’s easy to see why William Welt and Pete Bartram are two pretty happy guys right now. Obviously there’s no smoke without fire, and so we hand it over to the founding father in the hope of ascertaining exactly how he has stoked these early flames of success.

22 Digit (UK) – William Welt


Describe your imprint’s output.

22 Digit was originally a solo project I set up when I was 22-years-old as a means to release digital music, hence the name. Originally I just signed my friends and a few people that I met through the now outdated medium of MySpace, and as a result the first few releases on the label ranged from deep house to hard techno. But over the last two years we have narrowed down the music policy to reflect what me and my new label partner Pete Bartram (Pete Weasel) do as DJ’s. As we both get bored playing just one genre we share a broad taste in music, but we have tried to centre things on deep, tech house as this is where me and Pete share our common ground.   

What would you say makes it different?  

That’s a hard question to answer as being different is something that neither I nor Pete set out to achieve, but much of the feedback we get indicates that there is something individual about what we are doing. We have never set out to follow trends but on the other hand we don’t go out of our way to avoid them. We just stick by our motto: ‘if we would play it then why not sign it?’

The only thing that we’ve always tried to do is avoid being boring and only sticking to one narrow subgenre of music, because in a DJ set both of us will play everything from deep house to industrial techno, ignoring genres and just playing what we feel fits. And that’s something both Pete and I have tried to incorporate into 22 Digit Records.

What is it that makes you keep looking for new talent to expose?

Nobody these days is getting rich from digital music and in many cases we are lucky if a release breaks even.  So one of the most important things for us is that new artists are passionate about music, and they understand the commitment we put in supporting their music, both in terms of money and hours. For us it’s not about being the next big thing or trying to jump on the bandwagon in case we get left behind. 

The most important thing that we look for in a new artist is that their music has personality and they love what they’re doing. We try to find artists that explore more than just one genre of music, and who aren’t scared to experiment with blending different sounds, rhythms and melodies from the genres they are in to. We also like artists who are forward thinking, but not afraid to look to the past and present for ideas and inspiration rather than those trying to make carbon copies of what’s in the Beatport top 10. 

What’s the label’s pinnacle achievement so far? 

We are still a relatively new label so our achievements to date have been relatively minor compared to others, but one of our biggest achievements was signing original material from Tom Ellis. Since long before the label was set up he was one of our favorite producers and, personally, I would even go so far as to class him as one of my main musical influences. With that in mind we’re very excited and grateful to have him as part of the 22 Digit Family. 

If people were going to hear one release from your camp, what would you prefer it to be? 

This is a very hard question to answer because the sound of the label has changed so much over the last few years, and some of the early stuff we put out no longer reflects the direction in which we are taking the label. But I think anything by Michael McLardy, Ludowick, Melos & Kyber, Alan Svartr and either myself (William Welt) or Pete Weasel reflects where we are going as well as where we have come from. All of those artists have released either their debut or one of their early releases with us, and have continued to work closely with the label ever since. 

All being well, skip forward five years, where would you like things to be?

In five years we would like to still be working closely with the core group of artists that have now formed the foundation of the 22 Digit family, and continue to establish 22 Digit Records as a label that is known for releasing a high quality of music no matter what the genre. We also have hopes of starting to throw parties and putting on events across the UK, as well as making our first vinyl pressing before this time next year. 


Recent Stops 

Canada – Jared Simms, James Teej, and Voytek Korab – My Favourite Robot Records

Serbia – Toby Svetlana – Svetlana Industries