For the latest episode of Ask The Label Manager we catch up with Tripp Baronner to learn about his story and unique concept behind Yin::Yang.
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?
My name is Tripp Baronner, physically based-in Martinsburg, West Virginia and Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S.A.
Going on two years ago, I created two separate but deeply interconnected record labels called “Yin” and “Yang,” with the help of an egoless partner-in-crime, Twelve Around One.
2. Where does the name from your label(s) comes from? Is there a story behind how it/they came to be?
With TAO, I came to some epiphanies while we were in college, such as exploring ideas like the illusion of separation and nature of vibrational reality. Concepts with this much weight and the waking bliss you feel thusly, i.e. Gerald Heard, are what gave inspiration to our projects.
However, I could not do it alone. On a whim, I wrote to Jacob Henry from Silk Music back in 2013. He gave me some weekly tasks, simply enough. Getting to know Jacob felt like one of the purest friendships I’ve been fortunate enough to experience. I will always truly owe him for the happiness, life music has given me through the years.
He introduced me to Jason Wohlstader, the mastermind behind Proton, circa 2000, and therefore most of the music that captivated me. (Once you go progressive, you don’t go back is truth) Jason also gave me some opportunities of a lifetime, which lead directly to where I am now, writing an interview for Release Promo and microCastle’s Mitch!
3. Does your label(s) have a distinct sound? How would describe the labels vision and sound?
The sound of our labels has no boarders. We’ve signed artists from fully opposite genre fields, but this is the concept of our project, although that could make many uneasy.
By context of their names and the interconnectedness through SM along with the seeming separation in stores/streams, light and dark, male and female & sun and moon are just a few of the ways you could describe the sound of “Yin” and “Yang.”
There is only one definition but there is also none.
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 probably receive just a few demos a week through our SM hubs, but Proton also sends their managers a demo reel of unreleased work. That probably contains over 30 demos each week!
Yin :: Yang does not sign original work as we repurpose already gleaming specimens. (I plan to release original work in the future on a separate label, part of the same family)
I pride myself on treating everyone like a human being, having conversation with them, all while trying to build up their image, in terms of respect, support, sales, in that order. All my artists know that I will chat with them whenever I can make the time, and not just about music.
However, I will not respond to submissions that are copy + pasted. We look for artists that have intention, a reason to read up on our mission and want to be a part of it while we perpetuate each other’s growth. High quality only operates in this manner.
5. How long is the wait from when you sign a project to when it will actually get released?
As we expand the team here at Yin :: Yang, by 2017, the answer to this question will be ideally just 2-3 months. Previously, it has ranged from less than one month to over one year, but throughout that time, we have learned best methods and only need to fulfill our prior agreements to work toward said goal, while perhaps releasing less frequently.
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.
As a label manager, you MUST have two-way relationships in terms of growth with your artists. My core artists have helped us get to where we are, simple as that. We owe everything we’ve achieved to the creators.
Katrin Souza, Uvo, Kaban, Rick Pier O’Neil, Janno Kekkonen, Embliss, Dousk, Ri Za, Huminal, Ezequiel Arias, Derek Howell, Anthony Yarranton, Hot TuneiK, Biologik, Dark Soul Project, Andrea Cassino, Kobana, Jelly For The Babies, Alex Villanueva, Tim Penner, Erdi Irmak, Exoplanet, Desaturate, Marcelo Paladini, Hexlogic, Silinder, Weird Sounding Dude, Ad Brown, Mitaric, Rodrigo Cortazar and Di Rugerio have all appeared on multiple releases in original/remixer capacities. I consider them all my friends even though we’ve not met in person 🙂
As for the question on sound, the concept of our dueling labels displays an adherence to the only two dichotomies that exist. I believe this is essential, although Yin and Yang adhere to it in the broadest sense possible. There should also be well-thought-out reasons when doing something with so much passion, I believe.
7. What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?
We can go through a lengthy process to match an inspirational original mix with a remixer ready-made for its sound. My partner TAO and I make time to brainstorm our editions this way. Sometimes the process is more spontaneous, like an agreement to help build each other up through your brands. Personally, in both instances, it feels like forging a friendship although its a digital one.
I love remixes, evident by the labels. However, I think more than six of one original track is overkill. We have one or two original mixes from Proton Music that were remixed that many times, only because of their “deservingness” to be; that is also a factor in how far you can stretch one, HQ song.
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?
We don’t currently sell merchandise but that is certainly a goal for 2017, on a future website, all SM, etc. Our creative designer Laurent Sadeg, who is known as *caption – followthecaption.com – has created prototypes based on his artwork for our labels.
Of course, it is very important to a brand’s image to have the word of mouth that merchandise provides…Imagine someone in the city calling you out by the record label on your shirt, much less owning it!
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?
The majority of our sales and streams come from within the tight knit, underground community, especially from the ones most closely involved in any capacity of progressive. From simple listeners to the producers to DJs to mastering engineers to managers to designers to promoters to artists of all kinds, all supporters are welcomed and highly valued.
Geographically, there is no way to pinpoint a mass of our followers and supporters but I believe those with the underground mind state end-up connecting organically.
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?
This is a tough question because, to me, success is a very subjective ideal. The last edition that’s support felt a little surreal at times was Miusha & Poison Pro – Alien (Van Bellen Remix) [Yang]. It felt like a HUGE success to earn the respect of an artist who had been making progressive music that would sound fresh today since the mid-90s!
The flip side Yin was the brainchild of Ezequiel Arias and was a very equal success, indeed.
11. What artists would you love to have on the label?
Hernan Cattaneo, Above & Beyond, Guy J, Coyu, Nick Warren, Nicole Moudaber, James Grant, Robert Babicz, Cosmic Gate, Shingo Nakamura, Cid Inc, Estroe, Talamanca, Petar Dundov, Max Graham, D-Formation, Sasha, Gardens Of God, Jody Wisternoff, Kenji Sekiguchi, Ruben de Ronde, Seb Dhajje, Martin Roth, Brian Cid, Wellenrausch, Sundriver, Michael and Levan & Stiven Rivic, Just Her, Vinayak A, DJ Ogawa…
…I could probably write this list until the day I died, or at least ran out of musicians.
12. Where do you see the label in 5 years? And are you pleased with where the label is now since its inception?
In less than two years, we have lots of room to grow. With more expertise, passion and manpower, in five years, anything could be possible. I hope to someday have an established, well-received podcast series, put on live label nights with those that I work with through Yin, Yang and otherwise, collaborate with even more prestigious labels like Anjunadeep, Sudbeat, Lost & Found, etc. (here’s another endless list!) and meet the friends I made through music for the first times.
With everything thats gone on in my personal life, since I began the labels before graduating college until the present, all facets of life considered, I am very pleased and grateful for what we’ve accomplished at Yin :: Yang. Many thanks are necessary for all those who helped make it possible!
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?
That’s the goal for my life I had just decided; to not have to do anything that isn’t related to music.
For the time being, I earn a modest living by working as Web Master, Producer for a local television station that serves the States of Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and my home one of West Virginia. It is called WHAG-TV and those interested in our work should visit – your4state.com.
14. Do you pay advances or remix fees? And is it reasonable to do so in your situation?
I was certainly at a point in life, working as a server, where paying advances/remix fees was probably NOT reasonable.
However, I operate on vibes and to imagine not supplementing some of the most-renowned artists I had worked with seemed simply wrong. I wish I could provide each of my artists a payment for their time and efforts. At this point in my life, this is of course not possible, but if it ever is, Yin and Yang will be dishing out the dough to the world’s finest sonic alchemists.
15. Who is your distributor and have you been with them for the entire existence of the label?
As I said before, we owe where we are now to Jason and Jacob, both who currently work full-time for Proton. I have been with Proton since our labels’ inceptions and will be until the day I die. There’s absolutely nothing else I could ask for in a distributor, as friends and role models – in many facets of life and not just music!
16. Are you or have you done label nights and if so how have they contributed to the label’s growth?
We have not had live events at this stage in our labels’ existences. We have explored the idea for the future with Hookah, Soundteller, Yomo and more, jokingly and *hopefully* 😉
As I said before, this is one of the ultimate LONGTERM goals for Yin :: Yang, especially since I currently live one hour plus from the closest big city, Washington D.C. But once our team expands globally, this will be a much more realistic venture.
Another goal would be to honor the live artists by warming-up for them as Tripp Baronner, proving the art of the warm-up set HAS NOT BEEN LOST with this new generation.
17. What’s your favourite thing about running a label?
It is certainly the music…& the people you meet thusly. I have always done this for the music. The opportunities hard work can provide are just incredible bonuses.
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?
It is essential an aspiring musician do some work into learning about the family they wish to be a part of. They should also have reasons that they want to sign with a label; and good ones at that.
If someone can prove just how much being part of our labels means to them, through their knowledge, professionalism and quality of work, they will be much more likely to be signed than someone who obviously copies + pastes their submissions to multiple labels and may not even have an appropriate sound.
19. What if a demo is good but needs refining? Do you have time to help the artist and give them some tips?
Like I had said, Yin and Yang do not accept demos for reasons explained above. However, I will ALWAYS encourage an interested artist to send me their demos for feedback. There was a point in my life where I scrambled to discover the deepest underground cuts. Today, I sometimes have a hard time keeping up with my promo pools, but I can’t ever forget where I came from!
Nevertheless, it is much more productive to offer advice or simply feedback on their demos, which will surely set you both up for cooperation in the future, if its warranted or desired that is.
20. Who does the labels mastering? and do you ever have tracks mixed down by an engineer for better results?
Early in our labels’ lives, Cid Inc – cidincmastering.com/ – did some of our mastering as well as my aforementioned partner Twelve Around One. As TAO continues to create a sound for himself, trying to be part of *that* special musical family I spoke of, we enlisted Ri Za aka Just Hear Audio – http://www.justhearaudio.com/ – for several, very HQ masters.
Hanga SoundLab LTD – http://www.hangasoundlab.com/ – by London-based, Hungarian-bred Ben Hanga made a royalty-based deal with us for several masters as well, always providing highly-educated work.
As of recent, Rudolf Brajkovic of Pacco & Rudy B – https://www.facebook.com/RudyB.Trumpet – accepted an offer to make a similar deal. In fact, the other day he offered to do mixdowns of our remixes, obtaining an optimal sound. So yes, we often times do have a professional engineer mixdown our editions because audio quality is paramount for us at Yin and Yang, above much else.
AO Mastering – https://www.facebook.com/AOmastering – by Chaty has done some masters of our favorite Mexican compadres as well.
Other than the aforementioned engineers, many times, the remixer will opt to mix and master their own tracks. Early in the labels’ lives, I learned this is a very subjective aspect of releasing music, as it seems it’s all based on the EAR and NOT the gear!
21. This is tough but if you had to pick your five favourite releases or tracks on the label what would they be?
1) Tim Penner – Ride Til Dawn (Dmitry Molosh Remix)
2) Royal Sapien – Drive (Eyal Cohen Remix)
3) Cid Inc – Shake Before Use (Ezequiel Arias Space Mix)
4) Fran Von Vie – Road To Los Angeles (Uvo Lost Remix)
5) Huminal – Pocket Universe (Rick Pier O’Neil & Desaturate Remix)
1) Poison Pro & Miusha – Alien (Van Bellen Remix)
2) Nick Stoynoff & Ad Brown – Nebulas (Alex H Ad Brown Tribute Remix)
3) Scotty.A – The Way She Smiles (Blugazer Remix)
4) Derek Howell – Laughing It Up (Alex O’Rion Trance Remix)
5) Mango + Kazusa – Asphalt Lines (Sunny Terrace Remix)
22. Lastly, what advice do you have for someone just starting a label?
Remember that running a label is a process that you will be continually learning throughout the duration of. When I began Yin :: Yang, I remember not knowing where to begin. With a little guidance from Jason and Jacob, it became much less scary of a journey. I recommend talking to people within the scene you want to be in, even going out of your way to contact them and offer any assistance possible. This is exactly how I got here.
Just like in life, its best to remain in the present and flow with the inevitable Yin and Yang we experience, learn from it and implement what you learned in order to accomplish what your heart desires.