Behind The Label: Skalator Music

Hey guys! Can you tell me how and why Skalator Music started?

Hello! Thank you for inviting us to talk a bit about us. The whole thing with the label started back in 2014 as a platform to release Gil [Skalator]’s own productions but it has since moved to become the nest of upcoming producers and a platform for established producers in the scene, both Portuguese and foreign.

You are 4 people (at the moment) working for the label, how do you divide that work between you?

Gil [Skalator] is based in Lisbon and handles with A&R, sales reports, contracts, press releases and makes some music sometimes, when and if a spare moment arises!

Hugo [Y.L.S.] is based in Portimão and deals with the mixing and mastering process as well as A&R and always on the lookout for new talent to join the label.

Al:X is based in Singapore and our ambassador in Southeast Asia, reaching out every month with new beats and dubplates and hosting our podcast called “Decadance” on Portuguese Rádio Quântica.

Last but not least, Gonçalo Incendiário is our art director and responsible for our social media content.

What’s your background in the music scene?

Most of all, we’re all ravers for a long time. We all share a live music and Djing background for quite some time; Al:x is also a guitarist and former member of Portuguese band Macacos do Chinês.
Both Gil and Hugo have worked as sound technicians in the past doing live sound and studio mixing for bands, across several different venues and events. Incendiário studied Fine Arts, but he played guitar back in the days. He also makes the sound design for his video art works.

You didn’t release as much as you used to in 2018 – what happened?

We had a difficult year in 2018 as we used to be together pretty much everyday at the studio in Lisbon, making music and running the label but due to parenthood and family relocation, for both Hugo, Incendiario and Alex who also moved to Singapore, it took us a while to adapt to this new way of working together, further in distance than usual.
We didn’t change the label’s core & ethos though, we just didn’t manage to release music with the same consistency as in the previous year.

What’s the hardest part of running a label?

The hardest part is that people, in general, don’t buy music. We need to have other jobs to pay the bills, as the label itself doesn’t generate enough income for us to solely dedicate our full time to it (although this is what we should be doing, all four of us, in an ideal world)
Despite all the marketing techniques and social media input to improve the label’s visibility and presence, it is an ongoing job of persistence and resilience and we are committed to continue pushing the scene forward as this is something we really really love.

What has been the best parts?

We used to organise a few parties around in Lisbon up until recently as we had a residency at a local venue, and we have built a good following ever since which helped us getting into the map, Lisbon is having regular Drum and Bass parties with some big names in the scene and it makes us proud to see our DJ’s also on those line-ups; having had our music played on BBC Radio 1 and Noisia Radio and having the support of some of the legends in the scene and unknown people around the world, it’s very rewarding.

How do you decide what tunes/artists to release?

We meet regularly via video call and sometimes in person, and then we go through all the tunes we get sent; we discuss our personal opinions about each one, and then make a decision whether it has potential to be released or if doesn’t meet the sound criteria that we want to have on board – deep, bass, breaks, “techy” stuff.

How’s the dnb scene in Portugal?

It all started back in 1997 in Porto, pioneer in showcasing the now part of the oldskool gang (Fierce, J Majik, LTJ Bukem, Hype, Ed Rush & Optical, D.Bridge, Zinc, Mampi Swift, Marky, among others). The scene has since then grown steadily with memorable events but suffered a considerable blow with the arrival of Hardcore Drum and Bass. A lot of people stopped going to raves because the sound was just too heavy and repetitive and they couldn’t feel the vibe anymore. There was a natural split between the “hardheadz” and the “metalheadz”. We followed the latter as we like that deep bass music; then we began to link up with old friends and people that had given up on the scene because of the above and we started doing parties again and took care of bringing back the good vibes. I think the scene is growing well again, as the promoters are bringing good names in the scene and people are coming out to venues much more.

What is the goal with Skalator Music – where do you want the label to be in the next few years?

The aim is to continue releasing new music that showcase what inspire us but we are also in the process of creating a sub-label soon to push for the more experimental side of things; we also would love to continue playing out in gigs to spread our sound far and beyond.

What’s the plan for the label for this year?

We have a few releases lined up for the near future, including an EP, a single, a remix E.P and a VA compilation E.P, watch this space! :)

To strengthen and nourish our back catalogue is a priority for us, later in the summer we will unveil Al:x’s 1st E.P on the label. Our second free instalment was released via Hypeddit on the 23rd July, a deep searching track by Incendiário called “Sonder” – very exciting times!

Any famous last words?

Big shout to you Jenny for the invite, big ups to everyone that follow and support us! Support the artists you like, buy their music and go to their gigs, especially those who are your friends.

For more information, head to their website. You can follow Skalator Music on Facebook, BandCamp, SoundCloud & MixCloud

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