Sian Talks Octopus Recordings and How Commercial EDM Leads Fans to the Underground

"It's like a gateway drug, you know? Kids get into the entry level kind of music and then they grow up. Their tastes develop… And they find us. So the EDM scene is bringing more fans into the underground music scene."
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"It's like a gateway drug, you know? Kids get into the entry level kind of music and then they grow up. Their tastes develop… And they find us. So the EDM scene is bringing more fans into the underground music scene."
Sian

Sian

Think: Modern Techno.

One of the labels that definitely comes to mind is that of Sian’s Octopus Recordings. His personal style is as unique as his music. And just a few weekends ago, he and his label hosted a showcase after party in Detroit following the first day of Movement Electronic Music Festival.

Born in Dublin, raised in Spain and now living in LA, Sian has dabbled in many Techno scenes across the world, bringing a diverse background with him to Detroit.

During Movement weekend, we had a moment to sit down and catch up with him—chatting about Octopus Recordings, Octopus’ Showcase, his history with the festival and the “Commercial” EDM scene raging throughout the country.

With two Movement after parties already under his belt, this year at Movement was a pleasant return to Detroit.

“I played the Beatport Stage last year and I played my own Showcase two years now running. This is the third year. And our Showcase was on Saturday night this year.”

The iconic Detroit festival has been one of the top places “to be” for himself and his label, as well.

“Basically, we just feel like Movement was somewhere we needed to be each year. We do label showcases at all of the calendar events, like BPM, etc. So this one was a festival where we wanted to show off our vibe, because we are a predominately Techno label.”

As for Movement itself, it's truly a unique experience to be a part of.

“I love it. It think it is the best, most carefully selected festivals. It is just all underground music. No commercial acts as a draw. So people are here to see quality stuff.”

And that's what Sian has chosen to be a part of for the past three years. Coming from the Techno scene in LA, he has noticed some pretty huge differences between there and Detroit. Primarily—the crowds.

“I think there is a big difference in the crowds for sure. LA has a massive Latino population that is all about rhythm and groove. In Detroit, you’ve got a huge history of really experimental Techno. So the crowds would be really, really underground. LA, even in an underground clubs, you still find an element of the mainstream rolling over a bit. There are also the warehouse parties in the Arts District which are very, very underground.”

The biggest difference?

“LA always feels a bit more glamorous, in a way.”

Octopus Recordings, established by Sian in 2008, was a way for him to cultivate his own, unique Techno sound. One that he has found to be a happy medium between the bigger, more mainstream sounds and the deep Techno roots.

“I was releasing for some other, bigger labels. And I felt like the music I was making didn’t fit anywhere. I also wanted to develop a specific sound that was our own. So, rather than piggybacking on someone else’s brand, I focused on our own brand. If your sound doesn’t fit anywhere, it is kind of logical to learn how to run a label. And to find your own niche.

"We have fans that come from both camps—underground and mainstream. I came from the very underground stuff. But I also play more big room parties, like Exchange, which is normally an EDM club. But they have artists like me or Dubfire for Techno nights. So, we definitely have a foot in both camps.”

Sharing his label’s sound here in Detroit has been a real pleasure for him over the past few years.

“We have a slightly different, kind of slower and darker sound that I think people respond to. Our Showcase sold out, really good fun.”

It is clear that Detroit welcomed his original sound with open arms. Now, as one of the Top 5 Selling Techno Labels on Beatport year after year, he knows they are doing something right.

“We are in the top five every year. The other ones would be like Drumcode, etc. It’s really great because we are super new, in that sense. The other guys have been around for twenty, twenty-five years. And we’ve got like six or seven.”

The success? Comes from sticking to their original goal of cultivating and promoting a new sound.

“I think it's a combination of doing exactly what we want and also sometimes catching new artists on the upswing. There are a lot of artists that we’ve worked with that have gone on to develop big careers. We were just listening intently and spotted them.”

Now, with a label that is truly entrenched in the Techno community, Sian has no ill words about the commercial “EDM” scene.

“I try to stay positive about that stuff. The good thing is that it is feeding loads of new fans into underground music. It's like a gateway drug, you know? Kids get into the entry level kind of music and then they grow up. Their tastes develop… And they find us. So the EDM scene is bringing more fans into the underground music scene.

"It's not a big jump from these kind of commercial acts. Those guys are starting to play our music and kids are getting introduced slowly to our scene through them. So it's great that they are doing that!”

Reflecting back over his weekend, Sian’s favorite part of the festival was just being outside surrounded by great music.

“I would say, just sitting in the outdoors especially down by the Beatport stage by the water was really nice. And the fact that this is one big huge festival that is solely focused on underground music. I mean, that is really special. There are not many places that can do this without using the commercial fan base, too. Movement also gives back to the city. They are helping Detroit and this culture pocket in America.”

Growing up in Spain before making the move to LA, Sian has had time to develop his own sound. It was a delight to have him and his distinct blend of music here in Detroit for Movement and we look forward to having him back in the future!

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