"Don’t focus on fame or glamour. Focus on the music. Fame, money, and success are consequence of a good work."
Recently, and seemingly out of nowhere Maceo Plex announced a brand new EP under his alias Maetrik, on a mysterious new label called Clash Lion. It had been 5 years since Maetrik's last record, and with his Maceo Plex project laying waste to the competition, new music didn't seem likely. Now, that's all good and well, but who is behind Clash Lion? How did such an event come to take place? What does Clash Lion even mean? To answer the first question, Clash Lion is the brainchild of Daniel Watts, Shall Ocin, and TERR. Each of them is a respectable force to be reckoned with, and together they seem to be even more fierce. Because lions are fierce...duh... As for the other two questions, I'll let them answer those in the interview below. All I can say is that this is certainly a label to keep a VERY close watch on. And, as a bonus, they provided not one, but THREE key bits of advice for those trying to make it in the scene. Bless them.
These days, some would argue that there is too much music being released, and too many record labels to go along with that. Who’s idea was it initially to start this project? What was the specific moment that you all agreed to create the label?
Well, the idea was always up in the air. We had always talked to each other about starting a label and working with other artists and their releases. Every time a friend played us a track which we loved, the first thing we all thought was “I’d love to release that if I had a label”. So I guess that was the moment when we looked at starting a label more seriously, as we had so many good tracks ready and waiting to be released, we felt like the time had come and said: “Let do it!”
Building off the first question, how did you even come up the name?
One night we were playing with anagrams and we came up with a lot of good words and expressions, we took a note of them and saved them for when we maybe needed a cool name for something in the future. Clash Lion is an anagram for Shall Ocin. When we decided to do the label we pulled out the list of words we jotted down and the three of us were drawn to that one immediately. It’s a strong and beautiful name. It's a bonus that we also all happen to love The Clash and lions as well! Ha ha ha.
The label is brand new, but you’ve all been around for some time, so I’m curious about how what each of you brings to the table, and how the dynamic works between you to prevent one of those “too many chefs in the kitchen” type situations. What specialty does each of you have that will make this project work?
Clash Lion is not a democracy, like “two votes against one wins” - we won’t make a decision if it’s not unanimous, we talk until everyone is happy with a specific idea and go from there. In fact, it’s easier than it sounds, things fit naturally with the three of us. If we need a designer, someone says “I’ll take care of that, I know a great one”. If we need a website, someone says “I can take care of it”. A label is like a child, everyone takes cares of it, nobody wants to leave it alone. With regards to new artists and releases, we always have our antennas on, there is good music and new artists with new ideas everywhere, you just need to stay alert and hunt for them! If one of us discovered something really good, we share with the whole team and get into a discussion about how we can take the next step.
Wasting no time, Clash Lion has hit the ground running with its first release from Maetrik, to many people’s surprise. How was it to announce this was going to be the first for the label?
We are really happy debuting our label with this EP. He is one of the most talented producers in the scene, and we couldn’t be prouder and happier than we are now and couldn't think of a better way to start a label. We have a very deep and true respect for his music and his career so to bring that support for us, we can only say – thanks!
It was mentioned that the label has plans to release everything from Techno to vintage Electronica. If you could expand a bit on this, what is it that you look for, or are looking for when signing releases?
Well, we try to look at electronic music in its original terms, like a vanguard form of art and experimentation. When they began techno in the 80s, this spirit was also alive, people wanted to make the music of the future, with no boundaries, using all kinds of ideas and possibilities. That’s our aim: We don’t want to release a track that’s going to be “old” in two months when the next trend arrives, we want to release music that makes us proud. We prefer the word “art” to the word “industry”. We may release pure techno one month and an old-school electro EP on the other. There is so much good music in the world it would be a pity to listen, play and release just one specific genre or style. Things are always changing, merging, splitting and we prefer to think about a philosophy of art and work than about a dance music genre.
How many releases will Clash Lion be doing a month and what can we look forward to in the next 6 months?
Our initial idea was to release six releases a year, but on the first day, we announced the label we got so many demos that we decided we should release more often, and probably some compilations as well. We really had a lot of impressive demos within the first few days, I wish we could release everyone! But at the same time, we want each release to be special, we take a lot of care with the cover, the press work, the vinyl making, the distribution, etc… And this takes time and energy, so we’ll try to find a balance. Not too much, but as much as possible.
Speaking of releases, each will be available on vinyl as well. Many people might see this as unnecessary, so why do you find it important to do so?
Well, as I said before, for us each release is a work of art. We took a lot of care with the cover, for example. And there are still a lot of people that like to play and collect vinyl, and we feel that's still a very important part of the dance music culture. There will always be people who prefer to read real books than Kindle, for example… People that still have the pleasure of “the real thing”. People can listen to vinyl, MP3, waves, Spotify… It’s up to them.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. To finish this interview off, what is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a new DJ/producer trying to make it in this world?
Actually, I have 3 pieces of advice;
The first one is to: please do not try and produce or play some kind of music just because it’s trending right now. Do your stuff with love and patience, and someday you will find your place.
The second: Don’t focus on fame or glamour. Focus on the music. Fame, money, and success are a consequence of a good work.
The third: Always listen to your inner voice and don’t listen too much to what other people think or say. Except, of course, these words of wisdom.