Late last year, London-based artist Ceri launched her label Find Your Records with a sterling EP featuring two of her own original tracks and a stunning Fred P remix. Since then the label has received widespread praise from some of the scene’s most respected tastemakers; Ben UFO, Move D, Midland, Mr. G, Paranoid London and more supported the first release.
While Ceri continues to work on pushing Find Your Own Records forward, DJing around the world and getting busy in the studio, we managed to persuade her to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule and talk to us about her latest sold-out release ‘Life Holstee’, so we hope you enjoy the interview below.
Electronic Groove: Hi Ceri, thanks for your time. What was the catalyst behind starting Find Your Own Records?
Ceri: Thanks for having me. It’s something I have wanted to do for many years, although the main catalyst was speaking to labels I really wanted to release with. After sending them some tracks, I was getting great feedback on the music, but they were asking for more similar sounding tracks, rather than wanting a mix of slightly different sounding tracks I sent them as part of that package I intended for them.
I understand some labels have a ‘sound’, but I really like different types of house and techno, so wanted my releases to reflect that, rather than be a bunch of tracks that all sound very similar. I think it’s boring when a release is just 3 – 5 tracks that sound the same. I thought if I have my own label, I could show all the different sides of me and have full creative control of everything.
EG: And what was the very first thing you did once you decided to start your own label?
Ceri: Work out which tracks I was going to put on the first release, which is easier said than done! I also put a lot of work into thinking of a name. The name I originally had in mind was already taken, so I had to come up with something else when I realized I couldn’t have the one I liked. And wanted to make sure it was meaningful to me.
EG: Starting a new label is challenging, quite a big risk and potentially very stressful, how are you preparing yourself for all of this?
Ceri: I don’t see it as that challenging, risky or stressful! Yes, I’ve had stressful moments don’t get me wrong, but that’s just part of life and I would rather have stressful moments doing something that I love than something that I hate. Paying for my own pressing rather than going down the P and D route was a risk I suppose, but I knew I wanted Rubadub as my distributor and they don’t offer P and D, so I wanted to make sure I could get them on board to help me get the record into the right shops. I did consider self-distributing too, but I’m really happy I went with them after many people recommended them to me. They are amazing, they’ve been around for ages and really know their stuff, that risk definitely paid off.
EG: What’s been the most challenging aspect of starting the label?
Ceri: Probably getting it out there at a time when the scene is so saturated and there is more music out there than ever. And also making final decisions, I can be indecisive and overthink things, so it can be hard to give the final approval on things.
The A side of the first release ‘Life Holstee’, I actually changed about 6 times in the weeks leading up to pressing, having to pay to get it remastered each time I made changes to it! I worked on that track on and off for about 6 months! The B side ‘We Do’ I made in just one day! Sometimes I give up on a track if I’m spending too much time on it, but I knew ‘Life Holstee’ should be finished and am glad I did those changes because it made it flow much better than the previous versions. Hopefully I’ve also learnt a lesson, to not send stuff to be mastered until I’m 100% happy with it.
“I understand some labels have a ‘sound’, but I really like different types of house and techno”
EG: And what have you found easy/rewarding?
Ceri: The first most rewarding thing for me was when Fred P agreed to remix the first release. He really knows his thing musically and is, in my opinion, one of the best house and techno DJ / Producers out there, so for him to like the music enough to take a chance on an unknown label was really rewarding for me. I sent him four tracks to choose from to remix, and he chose the one I had in mind for him anyways, which was amazing.
It’s also been really rewarding to see the music being played by people whos music has inspired me for a long time. Just today I had a message from K-Hand saying she played ‘Life Holstee’ on the radio in Berlin, as well as really nice messages of support and plays from people like Ben UFO, Midland, Or:la, Move D, Paranoid London, Mr.G and many others. To hear people I musically love and respect supporting the music means the world to me.
EG: Did you ever have a low moment where you wanted to give up? If so, how did you get through this?
Ceri: It was kind of the other way around. I experienced some health issues last year and it was quite a low and dark time for me. Luckily I am recovering now and almost back to normal. But during this time I would say the label was one of the things that helped save me! I knew I had to finish the tracks and get a remix ready by a certain date, to meet the pressing and other deadlines. So that forced me to push myself through and make sure I got everything done so the label could be born without any hold-ups.
In a way, the label helped me get through a tough life and health challenge. Rather than feeling I wanted to give up on the label, it was quite the opposite, the label helped pull me through and not give up on life, if that makes sense.
EG: What’s the ethos and music policy?
Ceri: The ethos is simply to express myself musically, and put out records and remixes from people I love and have a strong musical connection to.
The music policy is just to represent all shades of house and techno. I am hugely influenced by the old school Detroit and Chicago sounds that first gave birth to this scene, as well as the music coming out of Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and London right now. It’s a mixture of all those influences. I also like the music to have a personal meaning for me… Sometimes I will share this meaning and other times I will leave it up to the listener to decipher it, or create their own interpretation. I also want to only release music from other producers that I have a strong emotional connection to their music.
EG: You told me that the people you used to sit in your bedroom and try to emulate musically are now your friends, have any of them given you advice and, if so, what are the main things you’ve applied to launching the label?
Ceri: Yes, it’s crazy to think that the people I was listening to and trying to emulate in my bedroom are now my friends. And yes i’I’veeen lucky enough to get advice from many amazing people over the years and lots of suggestions for running a label too.
Simon from Phonica and James from Juno Records both gave me some amazing advice regarding the logistics of running a label before I started, which was invaluable to me. They gave me some great pointers that I might not have realised on my own.
Tristan Da Cuhna and Mr. G were also really helpful to me during the time I was setting up the label as well as Ralph from Mixmag and Quinn from Paranoid London. Quinn recently moved into the studio next door to me and is an amazing positive ray of sunshine whenever I see him and gives the best advice ever!
Also, some advice Jamie Jones gave me feedback at an afterparty in Ibiza a few years ago, it was invaluable not just to running the label but life in general. And I always try to remember it when I am stressed or trying to solve a problem;
1: Don’t care about what other people think.
2: Don’t feel bad about it, DO something about it.
It’s so simple but so true and helpful. Also, he helped me learn to trust my instincts and intuition and go with the flow, living from the heart rather than the often crazy mind.
This is crucial when running a label, because you have to stay true to yourself and do what you believe in. That way, even if some people are negative about what you’re doing, it won’t matter, because you are doing what is true to you and the right people will get it, and those who don’t understand probably don’t belong in your circle anyways.
Loads of other people helped me too, too many to mention but I love and thank them all. You know who you are guys! (And if you’re wondering if it’s you, it isn’t! lol)
EG: You worked your way up from being a bedroom DJ / Producer and hardcore raver, to Djing at some of the worlds best clubs like fabric and DC10. You must be proud that you did it organically, at a time when part of the scene seems to be more influenced by social media than music, this really stands out. What are your views on this?
Ceri: Hmm, that’s an interesting one. I guess I never thought about it much but I suppose it did happen quite ‘organically’ as they say. It was a dream come true for me to have amazing people support my music and help get it out there to more people which led to further opportunities.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with social media. I do feel like now you have to be a DJ and Producer and Label Owner and Social Media Marketing whizz to get noticed. I’m not that great at social media. I don’t have a strategy or pay someone to do it for me like a lot of people do. I just try and post things that mean something to me or I find funny or whatever or just music geekery.
An old agent of mine told me he wanted me to buy some likes to help me get gigs, but I told him I didn’t want to do that because if a promoter was booking me on the number of likes I had rather than the fact they liked my music, I didn’t want to play for them anyway!
EG: As someone who’s been collecting and playing records for a long time, what are some of the key attributes that have drawn you to your favorite labels?
Ceri: Consistent quality outputs, classic timeless sounding music, and a mixture of well-known names and young up and comers.
EG: And what labels would you say have inspired you the most?
Ceri: Rekids, Rush Hour, Hessle, Numbers, Dungeon Meat, Voyage Direct, Acacia Records, Phoenix G, Hotflush, Constant Sound, Holic Trax, Perlon, 20:20, and all the Phonica labels, are all imprints I have loved for a long time and put out consistently amazing music. If I could end up running a label half as good as any of them I will be very happy.
EG: We hear the label’s name is open to interpretation, what are some of the most common things people have said with regard to that?
Ceri: Some people think it’s about finding your own sound, some people think it’s literally about Finding Your Own Records, like it’s a dig at DJs who don’t do their own digging for music and just copy others by Shazamming their sets or using the identification of music group. I like that it is open to interpretation and I want people to draw their own meanings from it. The real meaning is personal and makes sense to me, but it could mean something totally different to someone else which is cool. I like the fact people can take their own meaning from it.
EG: How important is it to you to release the music on your label on vinyl?
Ceri: It’s quite important to me because it’s more tangible. As a surprise gift or my label launch party, my mum got the label’s first release framed for me to put on my wall. You couldn’t do that with a download!
EG: Any large project like is a learning process… What have you learned about yourself through starting Find Your Own Records?
Ceri: That I need to set myself more deadlines, be more decisive, procrastinate less and jam more. Don’t we all?
EG: And, on that topic, what advice would you give to someone who’s considering starting their own label?
Ceri: Just do it. Don’t wait for a right time, just get out there and do it. And make it about showcasing what you love and you can’t go wrong. Don’t try and stick to a trend or do something because it’s ‘cool’. Anyone who’s been in the business long enough knows that trends come and go, so if you just stick to what you love it will always be there. But if you try and be cool or ‘on trend’, then that trend will pass and you will have to start again or go down a different route to keep up with that.
“To hear people I musically love and respect supporting the music means the world to me”
EG: Who would be your dream artist (or artists) to release on the label?
Ceri: Mr G, K-Hand, Marquis Hawkes, Moodymann, Tomoki Tamura, S.A.M., Dungeon Meat, John Swing, Fumiya Tanaka, D’julz, Moodymann and Alex Arnout. All make consistently amazing timeless music and I love everything they do and have done for many years. So hopefully some of them are reading this wink wink nudge nudge… 😉
Fred P set the bar high with his remix for 001. I have loved Fred’s music for a long time and when he agreed to do the first remix I did a little dance of happiness!
I only want to include people who make me do dances of happiness, and all the aforementioned would. They may all be slightly different stylistically, but they all have amazing talent in the studio and I play a lot of their music in my sets. I would also love to showcase the talents of lesser-known artists who are doing amazing things too, like Thom Bulwer, Anna Wall, Ed Kane, Jamie Funk and Al Bradley who are hopefully all going to be making big waves soon!
EG: What are your hopes and dreams for Find Your Own Records?
Ceri: To release good house and techno music, and have it supported by the names I love and respect musically. Also to get my music and the one I love out there to new people who may not have heard it before.
EG: And what’s the next step?
Ceri: Making and sourcing more music to put out, and maybe even launching sub-labels in future for weirder, left-field stuff. I would also love to get into making binaural beats and meditation music too, but not for my label!
Ceri’s ‘Life Holstee’ EP it’s only vinyl. The record has sold out now and there will be a very limited repress going on sale in March 2018. Click here for more info.