Label Spotlight: R.I.S. Labs [Interview & Podcast]

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In the world of today, you need to go the extra mile to stand out, and this is doubly so in electronic music. Rock It Science Labs (RIS Labs in abbreviated form) is one such label that may be on the newer sides of things but it is rising to be the cream of the crop.

I discovered RIS Labs with their Les Professionnels release in my nu-disco & indie dance curation. I heard a sound that was more artistry than entertainment. Keeping up with label, I found this was no fluke, it was in fact a consistent quality of their music.

RIS Labs is a collective of producers in Los Angeles that are devoted to moving things forward musically. Freshly rebooted last year, and already moving boldly into the new year with passion, talent, and a group focus, RIS Labs is poised to do some big things in 2015.

I put some questions to Eric Sharp, one of the label founders, and not only did he give me answers, but he gave me a recent set of his he did live from Sound Night Club in Los Angeles! So, press play on the mix, it's a perfect soundtrack to a great little interview with one of my favorite new labels.


Magnetic Magazine Guest Podcast: Eric Sharp of RIS Labs by Magnetic Magazine on Mixcloud

How was 2014 for RIS Labs?

We are all quite pleased at the reception to our work this year. We just relaunched in July, and have seen tremendous growth in interest for our collective and the artists involved. Having our first new project (Give In) get a track out on dirtybird was phenomenal. Not long after signing Les Professionnels they released a tune on the legendary Nurvous Records and also remixed Karl Kling of RAC. We've gotten coverage from many publications that we have great respect for as well. It's exciting watching our little fan base start to grow.

Care to give us some hints as to what lies in store for 2015? Another big year?

We have 2 big artist debuts lined up this year, starting with Whitney Fierce. In addition to those, you can look forward to a solidification of our identity as a collective with more releases and local parties in the least. We definitely have some cool collaborations between our artists coming as well.

How would you describe RIS Labs as succinctly, simply and beautifully as possible to a new fan wanting to know more?

RIS Labs is a collective of like-minded music producers headquartered in LA. We are friends inside and outside of the club. Each of us devotes our lives to pushing this music forward in our own ways.

How is the latest Hernene release being received? Can you tell me a bit more about this well rounded and damn fine release? It’s got a lot going on!

Having personally worked the PR for this release, I literally didn't have to pitch any of the tracks more than once. That is a very rare experience which made me really happy. The release is seeing serious DJ support from around the globe from people whom I look up to.

Bystander brought Hernene into the mix very early on in our discussions of rekindling the label and when he delivered these tunes we were quite impressed and jumped on them. We did our best to round out the release with remixes to appeal to slightly different audiences.

What is the RIS Labs philosophy? If it exists or if you had to define it.

I'm not sure if we've codified this yet. We are all very passionate about music and are working hard to constantly adapt to the ever-shifting landscape of how sounds are presented and consumed. We are approaching this endeavor the way we would approach a start-up app: building an engaged audience first and worrying about monetizing what we are doing later. Perhaps this is a bit of a gamble but most worthwhile things in life are.

Why did you start RIS Labs? How is it going in its second year and into the future?

I started RIS Labs in 2010 alongside DJ Fame to give myself an outlet for my original music because I don't like shopping tracks to labels. I did a lot of things wrong for 2 years and then back-burnered the project when I moved to LA in 2012. A lot has changed for me since then so we've approached re-launching the label in a very different way.

This isn't meant to be about any one person, it's about raising up a community of talented artists and building a platform to get our music heard. We are all helping each other wherever possible, and it's great to see the artists cross-pollinating and collaborating. We can't predict the future but if the response to our early works is an indication I'd say we are in for a fun ride.

What do you hope to achieve with this label?

We hope to evolve into a community of successful, self-sustaining artists who make music together and perform together. We also hope to show the world that it is worth developing artists from the ground up. Having a spark inside of you that impels you to make a meaningful contribution to the musical lexicon has nothing to do with your ability to market yourself.

How are things with your own artistic pursuits as Eric Sharp? Different beast entirely with its own struggles and adventures? Or are RIS and Eric Sharp forever fused, one in the same?

Definitely different, and this has been a bit difficult to get across. I've been fortunate of late to have some serious attention put on the music I'm releasing on larger outlets like Win Music and Brooklyn Fire, which is humbling and inspiring. I also just did my first major label remix project, which I'm very proud of.

These accomplishments, coupled with the fact that part of my role in the collective is to garner press, has people referring to RIS Labs as *my* label, which it isn't. I have my own artistic arc that I am following. Artistically things for me are going the best they've ever gone, and I hope to continue building upon this in the new year.

Aside from you and the RIS talent, who should we be listening to? Or who have you just been loving lately?

I polled the crew on this for you:

Eric Sharp: I'm watching Worthy really come into his own, which is very exciting. I recommend checking out his Disbehave album and his new remixes for Odesza and Loveweights.

Give In: "I've been way into Cherushii, Mario Basanov, and Ishome lately. Three people clearly doing exactly what they want to be doing."

Les Professionnels: "Been listening to Justin Faust, Theo Parrish and Jungle."

Whitney Fierce: "I'm listening to DKDS. So yeah."

Hernene: "I'm digging Max Graef, Pomo's stuff.

Bystander: "KIll Frenzy, Eelke Kleijn, Edu Imbernon, &ME, Cristoph"

What are a few select words of wisdom you would like to share with creative types? Aspiring and established alike.

Dig deep inside of yourself and make art, not content.