As an new writer for 5 Magazine, I’d like to say that all styles of House Music excite me and I’m a bit of a glutton when it comes to the colorful palette that this genre of music has to offer. I’m in constant search of all things, deep (very deep), soulful, tastefully vocal, sometimes dark but, always warm, a bit edgy peppered with tech and, my favorite, lush, sonic melodies that tug at my heart strings. Oh, and I must NOT forget those funky beats that make me move my feet and add funk to my trunk!
In my relentless search for the perfect beat, I can become quite a bit of a label whore! And, I’m not talking about Gucci, Prada, or Chanel. I’m especially fond of those labels that push boundaries of conformity, doing all things innovative, experimenting with new and interesting artist collaborations, and writing a damn good track for the head, heart, and yes, dat booty!
I’ve had my eye on a particular label that combines flavors of two of my favorite cities, Chicago and New York. Liberate Recordings has been making some noise lately and with the label’s 5 year anniversary coming up, I caught up with label head-honchos, Doc Link (the Chi-town flavor) and DJ Eman (New York’s House Music poet) to see what the buzz is all about.
How did you guys link up to start the Liberate label?
Doc Link: Me & E met back in 2002, we were at a loft party in Brooklyn. We decided to make music together in 2004.
Eman: Bad record deals brought us together. The key to a suscessful partnership of any kind takes both partners having enough respect for each other to listen to one another.
Bad record deals? Do elaborate!
Eman: Doc, Lorie Caval and I were recording and shopping to different record labels and the labels weren’t coming correct with the right offers to put the tracks out and that’s when liberate was born. We wanted to liberate ourselves creatively and put out what we wanted to and the rest is history.
What’s the key to a successful partnership? What are the most rewarding parts of being in a partnership?
Doc Link: The key to our partnership has a lot to do with us communicating with each other. Well, we have to even more than others because we are in two different states. The most rewarding parts of a this partnership is being able to be in more places than one at all times. The not-so rewarding part I guess would be for another partnership. I think me & E are pretty happy with what we’ve done together.
Eman: The key to a suscessful partnership of any kind takes both partners having enough respect for each other and to listen to one another.
I’ve heard both of you talk about mentoring and how it’s important to instill knowledge of the music and educate the younger generations. Why do you feel that this is so important as you both look to the future of the Liberate label and music in general?
Doc Link: A lot of people are using the groove or sample from something old. I think that depending on the DJ or producer, it makes you wonder what the original sounded like and what else has that artist created. The digging never stops for me… With the label, we are going to continue to release all sorts of music. We love old and new and in between…
Eman: In order for this music to flourish and thrive it must be embraced by and listened to by the younger generations.
Who were your mentors and/or influences throughout your musical journey that really inspired the path that your on?
Doc Link: There are so many! I was doing records with Roy Davis Jr. prior to starting Liberate Recordings. In 2001 we did the record “Dance Shake” together. That was the first record we did together. I did a few remixes for Roy that were linked to other labels as well. I was traveling with Roy when he DJed. I learned a lot!
Eman: David Mancuso, Strafe, Monica Lynch, Dave Morales…
Very interesting choices of who you listed as your mentors. Care to share a quick insight on anyone of your choices listed?
Eman: Before David Morales had a grammy on his mantle, he was a pretty good dancer. We spent a lot of time hanging out at The Loft. Then he started gigging all over the place at spots like The Ozone Layer, Bilmore Ballroom, Zanaibar, The Inferno – becoming a superstar! He showed me a lot of the inner workings behind the music industry.
I never knew any one more fearless in their musical programming than David Mancusco. He became my hero!
Do you have your eye on anyone of the younger generation that you think can really flourish and take his/her talents to great heights?
Eman: The Martinez Brothers. They were born into the game, and have musical knowledge far beyond there years. Their destiny looks very bright!
Liberate has been buzzing quite a bit lately with several tracks being charted on Traxsource by some pretty big names in the industry. Can you tell us about any forthcoming projects, collaborations, releases we should be putting in our shopping carts?
Eman: Yeah, we have some nice releases coming very soon; We have a release coming with Stephanie Cooke, Angel-A & myself called “Shine”, a release called “Vocalease” with Eman & Doc Link, we’re also working on releases with AudioWhores, Easy Mo Bee, Wayne Tennant, Lorie Caval, Angel-A, Walter Stallworth and many, many more.
Doc, I recently recall a conversation that we had and you mentioned that since you’ve been playing out more lately here in Chicago, most people had no idea that you were even from here! You’ve been in the game quite some time now. Having just moved here, I know it’s cold but, what gives?? Have you been hibernating in your long underwear or WHAT??? Why are you recently just making waves out here in Chicago?
Doc Link: I don’t know really! I think it’s mainly because I don’t get out as much as I would like to. Also, the label is making waves and getting good feedback in Chicago as well. I think it took a while for people to associate the label with me for sometime.
Eman: BECAUSE THEY NEED A LATE PASS! Chicago is sleeping on one of their hottest DJs!
Doc, why did it take people to so long to associate the label to you? What was the label associated with prior to you if you have been behind it since the beginning?
Doc Link: I don’t think a lot of people knew about Liberate. The label really started through collegues playing our records. That’s how it started. We still haven’t released the all the tracks that we started with. We are still looking to release the those same ideas but times are changing and ideas change and the tracks evolve in different ways. Some weren’t developed from a musical standpoint – it was more of a label stand point. They usually associated the label with either Eman or Doc Link [individually]. Now its become more associated with both of us. I would hope that at the end of the day, when we come back, we come home to liberate.
What do you consider to be “the Best” when searching for musical talent that you want to collab with?
Eman: The best situation for me as an artist is that I only prefer to write vocals for those who’s music really moves me and that connect with.
You both seem to be have some really great success via internet radio stations, such as Cyber Jamz Radio and Sobel Radio. I personally have been enjoying them on a weekly basis! I’ve noticed that you both have a very unique style in your mixes. You both keep them interesting. Any rhyme or reason to your programming or is it more organic flow, play what you feel type of thing??
Doc Link: I play what I feel… I feel a lil different in my lab than I do at the venues (obviously). On the radio I try to play mostly the promos that I receive. It is a good way for me to get acquainted with a record before I play it out.
Eman: I know I’m playing with Doc, so I know to bring the heat and keep the show interesting and full of energy because I know that he is going to bring it!! We feed off of each other’s energy. We just record our sets and rotate our mixes every week.
OK, I’ve got to ask! US House Music vs. Overseas House Music?
Doc Link: I tend to gravitate toward things overseas but, you really can’t sleep on the states. Anyone that has a computer nowadays is able to produce. It’s coming from everywhere, not just overseas. There are people in the states that are pushing the agenda and the sound and that are not to be overlooked in the scene.
I don’t listen with any prejudice. I listen then look at the name. Some people are just playing what is popular rather than playing what they really may like.
Interview by The Baraness