God bless America. Whilst news the U.S. Government is spying on its citizens smacks of Orwellian nightmares, that great land mass across the pond still gave birth to this thing we call house music. And, although up until recently it was a far bigger export than domestic scene, since the mid-1980s the States have been central to the development of the sound we love.
Of course Touch Of Class Records is far more fresh faced than all that history. Established this year by Michael Tello (of Pillow Talk fame) and Ray Zuniga, who partnered up under the Signal Flow moniker for the label’s first release, the combination of youthful enterprise and experienced players is pretty exciting to say the least. Originally a Los Angeles crew, movements north and east now mean bases in San Francisco, New York, and Berlin are fully operational. Something of a multinational cottage business then, keen to hear what their future plans are we decided to invite the founding fathers in to answer those same six questions. This is what their responses look like.
Michael Tello and Ray Zuniga – Touch Of Class Records – USA / Germany
Describe your imprint’s output.
We have our upcoming release schedule set for 2013. The music covers an eclectic range of house and techno, even some disco funk. There are some dancefloor intentions with the label of course, but there are also some releases in our schedule that were selected for a specific mood and environment. The approach we are taking with the label is quality over quantity.
What would you say makes it different?
[MT] What we’re building is a family business. A home for our artists that extends beyond just the music. As a new label we want to try new things and learn from our own mistakes, that’s why we decided to do non-exclusive distribution. It’s harder to sell records when all your eggs are in one basket. Plus, we love our product so much that we don’t mind having some extra copies for our friends and family.
What is it that makes you keep looking for new talent to expose?
[MT] “New Talent” is the driving force behind the music industry, keeping things fresh and innovative. In the earlier days, coming up as a producer-artist, sending demos and being discovered was the hardest thing to accomplish. Now we have YouTube and SoundCloud, which put the power in the hands of artists.
Jonny Cruz (A&R) and I are on tour a lot around the world, whilst Ray holds down the label in Berlin and tours Europe as Signal Flow, that gives all of us the opportunity to find these amazingly talented producers that you would never see or hear, unless you went to their hometowns. It’s taking A&R to the next level and developing these artists with love, respect, care and giving them a home.
What’s the label’s pinnacle achievement so far?
[RZ] Setting up our Limited Liability Company and getting our first release out on vinyl and digital, on our own, worldwide.
If people were going to hear one release from your camp, what would you prefer it to be?
[RZ] TOCR001 Signal Flow – Dirty Hands EP - featuring our label artists Jonny Cruz, Navid Izadi and Aquarius Heaven. As previously mentioned, we’re a family.
All being well, skip forward five years, where would you like things to be?
[MT] We would like to see artists have more freedom and to not get bound by exclusivity contracts; that’s bullshit. I’m an established artist and I feel that what we do as musicians is art and should not be controlled. If you don’t like a song or it doesn’t fit your release schedule then let it go. If you want to remix for this no name, up and coming artist or label then fine, have that freedom. This ain’t no Gangster Rap, Death Row shit and I’m from Compton. It’s dance music, were making it for the people and ourselves. Life is too short, let’s have fun and relax.