Ahead of the release of our new WOLF collab, we touch base with label owners Matt and Stu and reflect on this year’s collective sombre – just slightly. We discuss creative pivots and all the positivity that sits on that there horizon.
First up, let’s cover some ground.
Wolf Music Recordings took shape in 2009 after a lucrative opportunity had been presented to rerelease a cult Jazz-Funk record. Done deal. With a mutual musical affinity, the boys joined forces and the label was born. That, is the slice of bread that sits at the bottom.
Over the following decade, WOLF has gone from strength to strength with each consecutive release of disco-infused-house, house-infused-disco and everything in between. They throw parties, they make cool clothing and they pull together an incredible roster of regular collaborators which reads like a who’s who for the heads of the European scene – Medlar, Fritz Wentink, MR Fries…
So that’s the filler, the cheese and ham of it. Which takes us nicely to the top slice.
And what a slice it’s been! Whilst everyone else has been perfecting their sourdough starters, WOLF has navigated 2020’s curveballs à la – concoction of tough decisions and empty club spaces (what’s known as the bread and butter of the industry) with a masterful sleight of hand. Rather than sandwich releases back to back, they’ve read the room and suitably given that needed space for each release to breathe without the face covering.
So, let that digest whilst we discuss what’s for dessert.
Hey Matt, Stu! What’s for dessert?
Sup Adam! We’ll take the cheese board please. Thank you for speaking with us. I guess it’s a perfect time to mention our new collab.
Let’s get the SEO in gear here – tell us about record bags. What’s so great about our new collab? ;)
Wayward has been on our radar for a while – love the concept, design and production quality. We saw the bags out and about and recognised a gap in the market had been filled.
As record collectors and DJs that play vinyl we are always lugging our selected stash of wax around with us. Sometimes you need the big chunky record boxes, but it’s always good to have a more lightweight bag option that still has capacity to cover a broad selection of records.
In the type of gigs we play we will be presenting music from many genres, so we need enough space to bring a selection of records from each. Totes just don’t cut it. So this bag is perfect either as an accompaniment to the bigger boxes, or as your main bag in its own right.
Most gracious of you, I’d like to segue slightly and offer up a compliment in return to how you guys do things. It seems all too common for record labels to bang out vinyl releases and then ask what happens next? WOLF lands differently, there’s a lot of substance and careful curation to each record. Tell us about the last few releases and everything that goes into making something that connects to people.
WOLF is a label of love. We aren’t prolific in regards to our schedule because we don’t want to play that game and we are set up so we don’t need to. There is a frenetic demand for constant newness these days – that only suits the technology platforms – it’s not a comfortable place for those dealing with artists and their art. We put music out that we think will stand the test of time. That means each release is something we are passionate about and we take our time to get our part of the process right. That means giving the release the time and attention it deserves. Let it breathe; why rush it?!
What’s been keeping you both busy during Covid-19, any highlights from the year?
Stu: Been keeping pretty busy with work. I recently moved to Camberwell & I’ve never lived South so it’s been nice discovering a new area, plus I’m closer to the Baron of Beckenham himself, Matt. Rat Records is also around the corner so I’ve been cutting my cuticles in the bins on the reg. My WOLF x Wayward bag has been getting plenty of use, schlepping that black gold to the flat!
Matt: Working hard on my business to keep the wheels turning, and keeping my 2 year old son entertained and happy whilst stuck in the house. Both jobs are full time and both very rewarding. It’s been a difficult year no doubt, but as I write this I am healthy, happy, and I have developed a greater appreciation of really what is important to me. You are forced to take stock when change is forced upon you.
It’s also been a good year for the ever growing Nu-Beckenham scene. I’ve connected with lots of very knowledgeable music heads here now (like your good self Adam), and that is a great pleasure. Only a matter of time till it becomes the next hype spot.
"That personal connection is very important to us. We’ve always tried to stick to that ethos and we’ve never tried to chase trends or go after the next big thing."
Aside from your own releases, what other labels are you admiring at the moment?
Stu: In Dust We Trust (shout out Sable), Heels & Souls Recordings (nicest guys in the biz) & also keep an eye out for new Michael J Blood, self released business.
Matt: College Of Knowledge (Coburg doing it right). Mr Bongo (I am well and truly biased here).
I’d like to ask each of you for three releases which find a way into your records bag from seventies, eighties and nineties?
Great proto record from ’77 by Eddie Grant. Nothing better than hearing this on a proper system to get lost in it.
Absolute vibes on this one from ’83. Boogie is seen as a bit of a dirty word but for me this track is the perfect example of the mid tempo groove.
House music doesn’t get any better than this. Blaze, nothing more to say.
A tremendous stepper. Soul music at it’s best – hits you deep, short and sweet, leaves you wanting more.
Wycoff sang backup on Stevie Wonder’s album ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ and you can certainly hear the Stevie influence on this track.
The masters doing it like only they can. Beat programming on this one is incredible. Deep house done right.
In a sense, these form the framework of the WOLF sound, has there always been a goal – a sound which you are seeking to bring light to? Or is it more organic?
I don’t think there has been a set goal although we’ve tried to align the music we release with our personal tastes as well as working with artists who we not only admire musically but someone who we’d like to hang out & have a few beers with. That personal connection is very important to us. We’ve always tried to stick to that ethos and we’ve never tried to chase trends or go after the next big thing.
Initially WOLF was an outlet for the core artists on the label (Greymatter, KRL, Medlar) and although we don’t work exclusively with those artists anymore we try and keep to a similar ethos where we want to build and maintain long term relationships with artists.
What can we expect next? Any crucial pivots for these uncertain times?
It’s really business as usual for us to be honest. Heads down, working hard to maintain a solid release schedule. We have the Velour album dropping next month which is possibly our most ambitious project to date from an extremely talented German jazz not jazz band. We were obviously hoping to be able to tour the band around the album release date but obviously that’s not possible so we’ve needed to come up with different ways to work the release that can be equally rewarding.
We also have scheduled releases from Gene Tellem and Medlar for next year as well as a repress of a WOLF release from Red Rack’em before the end of the year. We’re also in the process of finishing off our next round of merch designs. Oh and we’ve just sponsored a Football team…