UK house producer Low Steppa is gearing up to celebrate the 100 release on his label Simma Black (man how time flies), and in honor of the label, we asked him to put together some sexy content. Each release is like your baby, but he has made the painstaking decision to decide which of those 99 (the 100 hasn’t arrived yet) were the most significant. In addition to that, he also gave a quick guide to starting your own label.
Two of the tracks are from Low Steppa, but there are some breakout records from others as well. Some of the tips for starting a label like “think timeless” and “make sure you will play the music” may seem obvious, but it isn’t always so. Go to school with Low Steppa.
Get ready for the 100th release on Monday, his new song with Alex Mills, "Karma."
5 Most Significant Simma Black Releases:
Scott Diaz - The Shakedown
Always playing this one, a real authentic feel to it, skippy US garage vibes, and the breakdown in the middle is just wow!! Goose pumps every time! Scott Diaz is a sick producer, I could have easily picked any of the tracks he has released with us.
Low Steppa & Marc Spence - Quarantine
This is the original Simma Black record, I remember being sat in the studio with Marc talking about the label, he's a great producer and a great friend and I'm so glad he has been a part of the family since day one.
Mezzo - Need U
I think this was a bit of a slept on record due it being from unknown Mezzo, but for me it’s a Simma classic, I've torn up clubs with the second drop on this record, absolutely goes off!
Low Steppa - Drums Rockin
Kind of have to pick another one of my own records but its definitely a bit of a Simma Black classic and a record I have played a lot, had some great moments playing this and sure there will be more in the future too.
Full Intention & Dennis Quin - I'm Not A Freak
This track brings back the same kind of feeling I used to get around 18 years ago when I first heard Full Intention, they are dons and when I was sent this record hearing their sound plus the sound of Dennis Quin I knew I wanted to sign it even before I pressed play, what a vibe!
Five tips on starting a label:
Make sure that you will play the music!
Simma Black was started because no one was releasing the sort of music I wanted to play. I collaborated with friends and associates to produce a sound that we wanted to play, release the records and made sure we were actually playing them in our DJ sets. For us, the A&R policy was and still is very simple: 1. Would we play the records? & 2. Would we be proud to release them on our label? If the answer to both of these were "yes" then the tracks were signed.
Have a clear music policy:
Know your sound. Some labels believe in diversifying from one sound to another. There's nothing wrong with this if you have a clear music policy. For us, we were originally synonymous with a very UK centric Bass House vibe and for many, we still are. However, as true as it is that we love a bassline, we are true House purists as well and some will say our sound has evolved over the past 4 years, yet still able to be played by the same sort of DJ.
For us, we love happy House Music with a bassline and energy. That's the music policy for the most part. As a DJ, this has helped my booking from everything from SW4, V Festival, Made Festival, We Are FSTVL, Defected In The House to some of the Worlds most real nightclubs.
Stay in your own lane and remember your fans!
Similar point to above but don't follow the trends. If you've committed to a music policy, stay in that lane - don't jump on the latest trend; don't follow the sheep. You want to keep your fan base and community, not lose them! Do your own thing and your fans will stay loyal; and loyal fan bases deserve rewards - don't forget to communicate with them and treat them from time to time.
It's very easy to get caught in the moment musically, but try to think ahead and think "would I have liked this 5 years ago or in 10 years time?" - if you are sure the answer is "yes" that will go a long way to ensuring your music lives on!
Understand that there is more to life than one store:
When it is time to release, don't put all your eggs in one basket with one store. If one goes into administration or the music format changes, you want to be ready to adapt. If you've given any one store more love than another or you are doing exclusives, it affects business. Focus on a general release date - this way, when you make noise about your release people will consume it via downloads or streams at the store of their choice regardless. No point alienating the masses.