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Speaker Cone /\ Eskimo Recordings Label Manager Nadiem Shah

In our latest episode of Speaker Cone, we catch up with A&R / label manager for one of Belgium’s landmark record labels, Eskimo Recordings, to talk about the music scene in Belgium and the challenges in running a record label in 2015.

Speaker Cone /\ Eskimo Recordings Label Manager Nadiem Shah by Cone_Magazine on Mixcloud

Nadiem Shah from Eskimo Recordings on Cone Magazine

Since the 80’s, Ghent (Belgium’s second largest city, and culture capital) has been swept up in an innovative cross genre rave culture, spawning such labels as R&S records, Soulwax, and Eskimo Recordings. Borrowing elements of dance culture from neighbouring Germany, combined with the acid house influences of Chicago & the UK, New Beat was born.

Quick to the mark, R&S records paved the way for a whole new dance culture in Belgium during the 80’s, showcasing revered artists like Lone, Aphex Twin and Joey Beltram. And with the 90’s, came the birth of Soulwax and 2ManyDJs, directing a new focus on post-grunge dance.

“There’s this feeling that you know pretty much everyone in this city” Nadiem Shah

On the turn of the century, The Glimmers (then The Glimmers Twins) starting putting on their own parties in warehouses and intimate nightclubs, leading to a series of mixtapes that would later be picked up by NEWS records. There was a media frenzy and Eskimo Recordings was born. When I asked Nadiem about this time, he says how the Culture Club (the venue where their events were held) became so popular that there were queues running around the block. “The club was so popular that it became hard for people to get in”When asked if it was a bad thing for events to be cliquey, he said this is the nature of popular events- you cannot control something that has a lot of momentum.

“Lindstrom fans will dance to whatever he plays regardless. But on the main stage, to a wide crowd, you may win some new fans”. – Nadiem Shah

Since the 2000s, the label has gone on to represent revered artists like Aeroplane, Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, Trulz & Robin, Satin Jackets, NTEIBINT, This Soft Machine, Blende and Horixon. However, speaking with Nadiem, I get the feeling he’s really trying to focus on balancing the mainstream artists with the more underground acts. I get the impression, his sights are set on nurturing new, undiscovered talent.

“Some artists want that one big hit but what they don’t realise is that once they get that one big single it’s very hard to get a follow up to that. They get signed to a big label, get brought to big festivals and then realise they can only perform two hit tracks” – Nadiem Shah

Nadiem goes on to say It’s more about trying to stay relevant on the long term but to keep surprising”. I asked him, for new budding bedroom producers out there trying to get signed, what advice would you give them? He respectfully replied, “Do not follow trends. I have not signed a deep house track in the last year. Because deep house is everywhere”. I really sensed that it was important for him to avoid riding a bandwagon.

You get stuck up with 400 records that nobody’s interested in buying. You have to put out the record once the demand is there” – Nadiem Shah

I also wanted to go into the operations of running a record label with Nadiem. When I brought up the topic of Record Store Day, and its hotly debated benefits for small labels, Nadiem jokingly replied “Everyday is a record store dayRecord Store Day did put the spotlight on independent record labels but once the majors took over it was no more about the small labels. There’s lots of re-issues of big artists, but that’s not really the goal of the day. For us it’s not really too important”.

I don’t think I will ever release a song I don’t like, even if it will sell really well” – Nadiem Shah

After closing the interview by speaking with Nadiem about the future for Eskimo, we part ways, and I get a new found sense of respect for Eskimo. An organisation which has ,for over 15 years, continued to redefine genre, culture, alongside survive a global economic meltdown. Eskimo Recordings is one of very few cornerstones in the Belgium music landscape that has remained true to its roots amidst this dance culture, unlike any other. Their integrity is evident in their releases, and their ability to shy away from what’s hot is a tribute to their ongoing success.

Feature by Peter Malla


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