Started by friends Steve Parry and Dave Seaman back in 2013 and at the forefront of club culture for the last decade, acclaimed independent electronic music label Selador Recordings announced details of its landmark 10th Anniversary celebrations, which includes an exciting array of releases (vinyl & digital) featuring all-star collaborations, plus a series of events with the main event at Studio 338 in London.
The celebration event was held on Easter Sunday, with the first digital EP released on March 24th, 2023, and the follow-up vinyl EP released last week. Now seemed like as good a time as any to drag Dave and Steve away from their celebrations to chat about the label and the last ten years, which is exactly what we did.
In our latest Cover Story, read about their initial ambitions for the label, who they admired, their advice for up-and-coming label starters, and their thoughts on the future of the music industry….
So, thanks for your time, and congratulations on the anniversary. How does it feel celebrating such a milestone?
Dave Seaman: “Overwhelmingly, out-of-control busy seems to be the overriding feeling right now. Hahaha. A general “And you may ask yourself, My God, what have we done?!” David Byrne-style scenario! But aside from that, I guess we’re just really happy to have built an imprint we’re very proud of. It’s been a long ride, with many ups and downs along the way, but we wouldn’t change any of it.”
Going back ten years, what were your initial ambitions for the label?
Steve Parry: “Originally, we wanted to build an outlet for our own productions, and a label that had a reputation for consistent quality. One of those imprints you see a new release from and instantly know it’s going to be worth listening to but aren’t entirely sure what it was going to sound like.
“We didn’t want to get pigeonholed as a label that only put out one sound. Both Dave & I have quite broad musical tastes and, given the opportunity, enjoy playing Cosmic Disco sets just as much as driving Techno sets and everything else along the way. We set out with a mantra of.. ‘from House to Techno and all flavours in between,’ and we haven’t really deviated from that.”
What prompted you to start a label, and what were the biggest challenges you faced?
Dave: “When Steve told me of his unfulfilled ambition to have his own record company back in 2012, I knew instantly he would be a great partner to run a label with. We had a long-standing friendship, a similar musical outlook, and an unquenchable thirst for discovering new music, so I knew it we’d be a good fit. I’m a firm believer in collaboration, but finding the right partners is not always the easiest.
“Running a label is definitely not a walk in the park. It’s time-consuming hard work, and, certainly initially, there’s little in the way of financial reward, so you really have to be doing it for the love first and foremost and also in it for the long game. Most of the big, most respected labels around have been operating for a long, long time.”
“We set out with a mantra of.. “from House to Techno and all flavours in between” and we haven’t really deviated from that.”
What were the labels that you respected around that time, and were there any you aspired for Selador to be like?
Steve: “Labelwise back then, I liked all sorts (as I still do), so labels like Innervisions, Kompakt, Cocoon, Suara, Sincopat, Tronic, Poker Flat, Knee Deep In Sound, Circus were all imprints that we admired and looked up to. I could go on and on, though. How long have you got?”
Dave: “I’ll add a few to that list. Crosstown Rebels, Diynamic, Mobilee, Get Physical, Systematic, Bedrock. Einmusika, Freerange, LNOE, Rekids, Stil Vor Talent. Then there are all the newer labels that have sprung up since, like Sum Over Histories, Monaberry, Watergate, Atlant, Pampa, Multinotes, Truesoul, Ritter Butzke, Frau Blau, Siamese and probably a load more we’ve forgotten. The are so many great labels around that we hold in high regard. It’s a really healthy arena.”
Which release are you most proud of and why?
Steve: “I always come back to Jaap Ligthart and Alice Rose’s ‘I Know Change.’ Jaap originally sent us an instrumental track, and we suggested it could be improved if it had a snippet of vocal to add character. What we didn’t expect was for him to get Alice Rose on board, who turned it into a full vocal track. From there, we tried and tried to get remixers, and it was the most difficult of any track we’ve ever released to get a remixer for.
“We asked about 20 or more artists, and everyone kept turning us down. So much so we nearly gave up on the release. But we kept asking and asking and eventually had a breakthrough. Since we’d launched, we’d been asking Show-B to remix for us, but could never find the right track, so we kind of reluctantly sent the I Know Change to him, fully expecting another ‘no,’ and to our surprise, he agreed.
“I remember clear as day, the mix landing in my inbox. I pressed play and was mesmerized! I actually remember getting up to dance around my office, and texting Dave to say, ‘Whatever you are doing – stop right now and listen to this remix’
“We knew we had something special. And then the DJ support just exploded – Sven Vath, Dixon, Ame, Tenaglia, Solomun and many more kept on playing and supporting it. It was the release that so nearly never happened, but we just persisted and believed, and we’re so glad we did.”
When choosing artists for the label, what were the criteria for an artist to be considered as suitable?
Dave: “We didn’t, and still don’t, have many criteria other than that both Steve & I have to really love the music. As Steve said before, we have quite varied tastes, and most of the time we’re on the same page, but there will be odd times when I really love something, and Steve’s not feeling it or vice versa. In that scenario, no matter how much one of us might absolutely love something, we will pass. We have to both be 100% behind the music. Oh, and of course, the artist has to be a nice person to deal with. We’re too long in the tooth to deal with any difficult primadonnas. Other than that, we tend not to have any restrictive rules or boundaries.”
What was the response like from the artists?
Dave: “Incredible, really, we have around 40 artists involved now, and pretty much everyone we approached jumped at the idea. I think there’s something quite seductive for a producer to work together with another artist they admire. A little mutual respect can go a long way. We’re currently looking at a series of 4 EPs, each with 4 collabs on them, but the way things are going, that could yet turn into 5 EPs!”
How has your relationship as friends and business partners changed over the 10 years?
Steve: “Well, we’ve known each other for a long time, and always had lots of music-based chats pre-Selador. But working together has made us realise each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we’ve tried to play to that. We help each other out. If one is snowed under with stuff, the other can pick up the slack, and that’s been great from day one. We both have families and now know all about each other family’s ups and downs and almost know each other’s ‘dad taxi’ schedules! We’ve brought our wives and families to gigs and festivals, and in fact, when the wives are there, they are usually the messiest nights!”
Fast forward ten years; what do you think the music industry will look like in 2033?
Dave: “Oh lord, that is a big question; who knows where we’ll be? Things are changing so fast with the advances in technology that it’s hard to predict what the landscape will look like in 2033. I really hope that we will have found a better balance in terms of the distribution of wealth amongst artists by then, though. It’s good to see a platform like Bandcamp really getting a foothold now and others such as Amplifyd springing up where artists have greater control and take a bigger share of the profits from their art.
“There are still a lot of big companies making serious money from other people’s copyright and not being fair in the way that profit trickles back down to the artist. I think the direct-to-fan model will only grow bigger, stronger, and more robust as we progress. That is, of course, presuming all music will not be made by algorithm-driven AI by then! A very scary thought!”
“Things are changing so fast with the advances in technology that it’s hard to predict what the landscape will look like in 2033. I really hope that we will have found a better balance in terms of the distribution of wealth amongst artists by then though.”
When you were looking at the anniversary, how did the idea come together for the collaborations?
Steve: “It was something that we did for our 5th birthday and was really well received so it seemed an obvious opportunity to do it again. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and all that! It’s a great way to get as many artists involved as possible without ending up with a 40-track compilation or something ridiculous that would just be too much for everyone to digest, and also, we think it adds an extra layer of excitement. When you see two artists you admire are working on music together, that anticipation of what they’ll come up with just brings an extra allure to proceedings.”
Tell us an interesting fact about each other…
Steve: “Even though Dave says he has retired from breakdancing, if you get him drunk enough, in the right environment, and ask nicely at just the right time – you will find that the retirement is only for public performances, and what follows is a thing to behold. A real feast for the eyes. Ha!Ha!”
Dave: “Off the back of that, my one would be that Steve is not always a trustworthy source. Don’t believe everything he tells you!”
What advice would you give somebody looking to start a label in 2023?
Dave: “Don’t do it!! If you do, you better be prepared for a lot of hard work and don’t expect to get paid for it! It’s a labour of love.”
Steve: “Yes, it’s tough to survive. I think if we took the idea of the label onto a TV programme like Dragons Den, they would kick us out after 10 seconds!! But yes, it is indeed a labour of love and long may it continue.”
Finally, thanks again for your time, and again congratulations. Over to you to sum up the last ten years of your life, your experiences, and what Selador means to you…
Steve: “Well, when I started Selador with Dave, I’d already been in the industry for a long time (as of course had Dave) and I thought that I knew a fair bit about the music industry… little did I know that every day is a school day running a label! Things evolve constantly, and if you don’t embrace the change, you get left behind.
“But the benefits have been us encouraging each other to get back in the studio (and we’ve both delivered some half-decent tunes, I think!), plus we’ve made many friendships along the way – from DJs and producers that we respect and admire, to all the new friends we’ve met on the dance floor. And that’s priceless.”
Both the Selador Decade EP 1 and EP 2 are out now, featuring collaborations between Dave Seaman x Hernan Cattaneo, Steve Parry x Renato Cohen, 3D x Robert Owens, Argia x Jepe, and many more.