For the latest episode of Ask The Label Manager we catch up with Juan Pablo Torrez to learn about his unique vision behind Clubsonica Records.
1. Thanks for joining us and giving us some insight into your life and daily label manager duties. So let’s start with the obvious, what label or labels do you manage and where are you based?
Hello, thanks for having me. I currently run Clubsonica Records, which is based in Colombia where I live.
2. Where does the name from your label(s) comes from? Is there a story behind how it/they came to be?
I was a DJ resident back in the day in a place called Clubsonica which I fell in love so deeply that my heart broke up once I found out that Clubsonica will close forever. I talked with the owner, who was one of my closest friends as well, and he agreed that I can take the brand to a next level which was doing events in Cali, Colombia. After some time he passed away and I decided to give him some tribute by creating Clubsonica Records and letting the world know our statement and our musical taste.
3. Does your label(s) have a distinct sound? How would describe the labels vision and sound?
First of all, I pursue great quality in music. I have a really open mind when it comes to listen to various genres as it connects me deeply. Clubsonica Records is my vision of music, I will only release what I see I can play, with tracks I fall in love. Sounds have to be or melodic that transmits happiness or deep and groovy that makes you move in every place that you heard it. What I pursue most is tracks that fit in Progressive House, Melodic Techno and Melodic Tech House, but not exclusively attached to those genres.
4. We would guess you probably receive a lot of demos, how many would say you receive in any given week and what percentage would you actually consider releasable and do you reply to every submission?
I’m receiving around 50 demos a week. As I release each month or each 15 days, I have become very strict accepting demos. I would say less than 1% becomes a release in the label. I do reply to every submission, I think I owe an honest response to the artist.
5. How long is the wait from when you sign a project to when it will actually get released?
Well, sometimes it takes from 2 months and maximum to 6 months.
6. Who would you say are your core label artists? And do you think it’s important for a label to build a roster around a few key artists and develop a distinct sound in the process.
I do consider that a label is like a family. This is not just entirely for business, but a bonding of people with similar taste of music.
I will always have these artists in my mind for every project endeavour I commit to: Soluna, Nicolas Petracca, Kamilo Sanclemente, Rick Pier O’Neil, Dmitry Molosh, Erdi Irmak, Symmetry Obs, Robert R. Hardy, Loquai, Monojoke and Jonnas B.
7. What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?
At first time, I thought that 4 remixers it would be nice, but then I realized that this were too many. I guess that a perfect EP can come with maximum 3 remixers and ideally with only 2. The process is really heavy, with the sounds I heard from the original I try to see which artists can complement nicely, and I set up a playlist with tracks that are suitable for them and let the artist pick. So in fact, in almost all Clubsonica releases you will hear a different approach to the track that you wouldn’t expect, making it complete.
8. Do you sell merchandise and if so what do you sell, where is it available? and do you think it’s important to have merchandise?
This is a project for this year. I think it is important to start exposing the brand to new markets.
9. Where would you say the majority of your fans are based? And does that correlate to where the majority of your sales come from?
I think majority of Clubsonica Records fans are located in the following order: Argentina, United States, Russia, Colombia and Mexico. About if it correlates, some of them they do, our major sales are in United States, Colombia, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Argentina.
10. What has been the most successful track or release on the label? Both from a sales perspective but also support or live / radio play form established DJs?
Definitively it has to be Dmitry Molosh – Eclipse released in the ADE 2016 Sampler
11. What artists would you love to have on the label?
Matan Caspi, D-Formation, Sonic Future, Mattia Pompeo, Jelly For The Babies, Subconscious Tales, Stan Kolev, DJ Tarkan, Solid Stone, 16 Bit Lolitas / Cubicolor, Yotto, Darin Epsilon, Kosmas, Ziger, Blusoul, Khen, Jamie Stevens, Chicola, D-Nox & Beckers, Guy Mantzur, Guy J, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Muir, Soundexile, Nick Warren, Sasha, Henrik Zuberstein, and a lot more.
12. Where do you see the label in 5 years? And are you pleased with where the label is now since its inception?
My target was first to be the best progressive house label from Colombia. Now my target is to be a breakthrough label in the worldwide progressive house scene and to be amongst so many great labels out there. I’m very pleased, people are becoming more in love with the brand, and results are very outstanding.
13. Living off the earning of a small digital imprint is unlikely, how do you supplement your income? Do you have a job outside of electronic music?
Yes, in fact, I have two jobs, both of them in the Systems Engineering field. Also I go out for dj gigs. These works helps me to invest in the Clubsonica Records project.
14. Do you pay advances or remix fees? And is it reasonable to do so in your situation?
Clubsonica Records was meant to always pay tribute to the artist. I do pay advances or remixer fees in case if it is necessary. It is complicated of course, but if I see there’s a win-win then it can be considered.
15. Who is your distributor and have you been with them for the entire existence of the label?
Symphonic Distribution. They have been very helpful since last year about building the brand and support. They are in skype and I can always chat with them.
16. Are you or have you done label nights and if so how have they contributed to the label’s growth?
Yes, I have done in Cali, Colombia. It had had its ups and downs, but for sure I have invested all money earned in the label.
17. What’s your favourite thing about running a label?
Making new friends and of course listening to new unreleased tracks that blows my mind and fell in love dramatically.
18. What advice would you give to anyone trying to get a release on the label? How do you suggest they approach the demo submission process?
I always recommend sending the demo with a short presentation of the artist. This is really outstanding and got my attention when I know who he/she is by just opening the email. Try that your sound fits to the label and that it sounds relatively good. I think a good mix is mandatory. I don’t care about the master as we offer mastering at no cost for our artists involved.
19. What if a demo is good but needs refining? Do you have time to help the artist and give them some tips?
Yes, I do reply when it needs refining. Mostly are because of some lack of mixing or because it becomes flat as it evolves.
20. Who does the labels mastering? and do you ever have tracks mixed down by an engineer for better results?
Sometimes I use Symphonic Distribution engineers and soon an engineer from Cali, Colombia. Sometimes when a track is too good but the mix needs to have improvements I do have an engineer based on Cali, Colombia.
21. This is tough but if you had to pick your five favourite releases or tracks on the label what would they be?
Well, we have a small amount of releases so far, so yeah it is really tough. But it will be these ones in no particular order
Release: Dmitry Molosh – Glow
Track: Dmitry Molosh – Eclipse
Track: Paul Deep & Martin Gardoqui – Alliance (Soluna Remix)
Release: Michael Gin – Lost In Yourself EP
Track: Symmetry Obs – The Red Knot (Nicolas Petracca Remix)
22. Lastly, what advice do you have for someone just starting a label?
As for the artist path, it is also a hard path to choose. You have to have your concept and vision really well-formed. It is really difficult but it is necessary that you invest in your label (branding, marketing, mastering, paying well-named artists to do remix duties, etc). Also, pick a good distributor, I personally recommend Proton, Ampsuite and Symphonic. Pick release dates carefully if you’re not planning to release each week, giving time to create expectation of each release. It is mandatory to have social networks where fans can approach you.
You can check out the full Clubsonica Records catalog: here