I don’t know if fortune favors Will Azada, but I do. The Proper Trax producer is one of the most interesting figures in American electronic music, and aside form his own untamed genius on records, there are always interesting things popping up in his wake.
Not long after I last wrote about Azada, I heard from another Will – Will Morrow, who told me he’s founding a new record label that will feature Azada’s productions (among others). Called Ten Trax, Morrow’s label was founded with the idea that there’s great music being made in the Southern sector of the United States, and will bring this “dirty, raw sound which characterized OG southern rap into club-ready techno stompers.”
Founding a regional label in 2019? Based in Memphis? With multiple Will Azada releases in the pipe? Sign us up.
Hi Will, thanks for getting in touch. So when is Ten Trax launching and with what record?
The label is launching April 5th with a six track compilation titled the Street Justice VA. All tracks come from Memphis-based artists.
Who are the people behind it and associated with Ten Trax?
As far as the label goes, it was founded and is run by yours truly in my spare time between school and my jobs. Regarding the VA, tracks come from Will Azada, Ben Bauermeister, Z72.52, Michael Kuntzman, and myself, as well as an anonymous group called the Tanglewood Boyz.
Ten Trax has a local, or rather regional, focus. Why?
Yes, the label aims to highlight artists from the South, as well as those producers who I feel are pushing a sound that possesses the elements which I associate with the South – the reason being this area has had a significant influence on the current landscape of aesthetics and production techniques, but is hardly credited or recognized.
Also, there are some exceptionally talented artists here who, to be blunt, should be acknowledged.
It’s been said so much it’s kind of a cliche at this point, about the internet making everything sound same-y and the demise of “local sounds.” Dan Curtin says it all gets turned into one generic sound: “the scourge of tech house.” Are you operating in reaction against that tendency?
I think art is inherently reactive, and the internet has just caused us to have to react to more and more. I intentionally surround myself with people who I feel look inward as their main source inspiration, but obviously nothing is created in a vacuum.
At the end of the day, I’m most attracted to labels that push a specific sound, and, more than anything, that sound has to come from an authentic place. You can tell when someone is trying to either emulate or fall into the current trends of the day.
It’s both weird and oddly beautiful to see a label from Country Y release a VA with artists from Countries A, B, C, and D, spanning like 7 different genres and styles, not really grounded in anything other than the A&R person going “Yo, this is dope.” That’s not a direction that I’m interested in pursuing, but there are a lot of really interesting releases that have come about this way.
What format are you releasing music in?
The original plan was to press each release, however I didn’t want to wait on a pressing plant and physical distributors for this first one, so it’s going to be exclusively digital and will be available via all streaming platforms and select retailers.
We will be pressing all further releases.
What connection does a label have to its community these days? or does it need one?
I guess it depends on what you consider to be a community. If you’re referring to one’s geographic, physical community, I’m going to have a different answer than if you’re referring to the idea of community more generally. I’ve seen strong communities develop over the internet between strangers, culminating in strong releases, tours, collaborations, etc. Take the Facebook group Our Houz; despite the fact that most of them haven’t even met in real life, they interact on a more consistent and personal level than I do with a lot of my homies here.
I think the only connection that a label needs to have to its community is for its respective community to serve as a source of inspiration. For example, Alex Hall has done all of the artwork for us thus far, but he’s located in Manchester. Although he isn’t from my area of the world, he has a remarkable grasp on the principles and vision on which this label was founded – showcasing underground, under-credited artists in an unapologetically corrupt light. So I consider him a part of my musical/artistic community despite the fact that he’s several thousand miles away.
Personally, my vision for the label is inherently tied to my experience in the South, both growing up and residing here now.
What releases do you have coming up? How many releases do you have planned in advance?
We have the aforementioned release coming out April 5, a 12″ coming out later this year with the A side coming from myself and the B side repping the Tanglewood Boyz, and finally we have a 12″ coming out a good bit down the road from Will Azada exclusively.
There’s so much music I want to release, and I really need to graduate to be able to legitimately give it the time and effort it all deserves.