Specialising in deep, trippy techno and lifestyle-house, Turbo Recordings package each imprint they release with love and affection for detail. This is beautifully modern music for frenetic living.
Tiga and his bro Tom founded Montreal-based, hard-edged club imprint Turbo Records back in ’98 when neither had much else on. Skip forward over a decade, and the duo now front a quality roster which lines up talents to the tune of Gesaffelstein, Jesper Dahlbäck, Jori Hulkkonen, Renaissance Man, Brodinski, Boys Noize, Sei A, Clouds and Crowdpleaser next to dancehall dons Chromeo, Proxy and Azari & III. Turbo has no A & R department and engages their loyal and international following entirely through their brave ethos, which prioritises beats before business. i-D online caught up with the lads behind the label to find out more about their universally objective high standards.
When did you first begin the label? Tiga started the label back in 1998. I got involved when the label re-launched in 2005, after the release of Tiga’s debut album.
Why did you decide to name the label Turbo Recordings? Tiga named it. If there was any clear inspiration, it might have been that he was super into cars. He still is. I just checked.
What distinguishes Turbo from other record labels? For a label that is deeply steeped in Techno, we are very diverse. There aren’t many labels that branch out from Tiga, Chromeo and Azari & III to Proxy, Gesaffelstein, or deeper and more stripped-down stuff like Terence Fixmer and Sei A. I see it as a positive even if it makes for a marketing challenge.
How do you discover the majority of the new music you sign? Most of the new music still comes from unsolicited demos on Facebook, though lately a lot of our new artists have been doing A&R work for us and finding new records, so that’s been a shot in the A&Arm. That always gets a big laugh among other A&R guys. I hope you enjoyed it.
How do you define what you consider to be good music? If we like it, it’s good. I think it’s extremely complicated and ultimately useless to come up with any universal or objective standards. Although the less jazzy, the better.
Who are your strongest musical influences and references? I think the influences that really mean something are the things you listened to as a kid. In my case, that’d be stuff like Depeche Mode and Billy Idol. Technotronic if I’m being completely honest. And Ya Kid K’s solo stuff if I’m being career-damagingly honest.
What are some of the up and coming D.I.Y record labels you tip for 2012? Look out for a new label out of Australia by the Bang Gang gangmember Gus Da Hoodrat. He’s signed some really cool artists (Jagwar Ma) and is generally a great A&R guy. There are loads of great little labels out there… I love Comeme.
What are some the major labels you aspire to build Turbo to the calibre of? Kompakt and Warp for the scope, but all in all I guess R&S, for the simple reason that they’ve managed to sign such amazing music and seemingly have never made any compromises.
What is the strongest band or artist you have signed to the label? That’s like asking me to pick a favourite stepchild, to single him – or her – out for a special day on the tire swing while the others sit at home and wonder what they did wrong. Proxy or Gesaffelstein maybe. For what they do, Azari & III are pretty hard to mess with as well. Clouds are developing a lot as well and are ones to watch out for.
How do describe the aesthetic and ethos of the label? With so much diversity in the sounds we release, this is difficult to pin down. We release hands-in-the-air festival bangers, deep, trippy techno and lifestyle-house with equal passion. We package everything with love and attention to detail and affection for detail and try our best to make beautiful products with modern and elegant design.
What have you got coming up for the label in 2012? Proxy’s debut album. Loads of NEW JACK TECHNO by our core young artists like Duke Dumont, Clouds, Locked Groove, Nautiluss, Gingy & Bordello, Gesaffelstein, and more. ZZT & Renaissance Man remix albums. We did 35 releases in 2011. I don’t think we’ll do quite that many, but there will still be a lot!
Describe a typical day at work at the label? Go through a hundred emails before noon, eat a bagel at noon sharp, listen to tons of new music (post-noon), plan releases, have some Skype meetings and script some phone calls. Then I go home and have intense lucid dreams about the future of the music business, where I and other label heads forage for food and ammo in burnt-out record warehouses. Strangely enough, we still have to answer hundreds of e-mails.
Text: Milly McMahon