Celebrating their ten year anniversary in 2022, Roots Underground has established itself as a completely indispensable record label for diggers of authentic, warm deep house music.
Founded in 2012 by Marco Celeri and two partners who separated after a few years, Roots Underground quickly established a reputation for establishing the reputation of new, emerging or underrated artists. Starting with an EP from Alex Agore, Roots Underground has dragged the earth and found quality tracks from Ricardo Miranda, Miruga, Rico Herrera, Sofatalk and others in their nets.
“I have been very lucky,” Marco says. “Many of the artists who have released music on Roots have become friends. With others there is mutual respect, but with everyone there was a connection that certainly made the label grow, and I thank them for that.”
Roots Underground also boasts a sophisticated new look, an overhaul of the label’s logo, sleeves and other visual materials rooted in a kind of retrofuturistic soul aesthetic that matches Roots Underground’s style. The design is curated by Edoardo & Giulia from Weird Studio based in Florence; Marco describes the refreshed logo as “simple but impactful. An intertwining of lines that represent the roots, the ground and what comes from it.” The new look is most striking when it comes to Excursions, a 7″ series produced by Rico Herrera in collaboration with other musicians. Reproduced above, the “idea to do an analog collage with vintage magazines, to create an image that could give the idea of the colors and atmospheres of Herrera’s sound.”
To Marco Celeri, Roots Underground remains just “my love for music.” He walked us through the first ten years of Roots Underground with this playlist for our Select series.
Listen on Bandcamper / Spotify Playlist
The Tracks That Inspired the People Behind Roots Underground
Theo Parrish: Sweet Sticky (1998)
Theo is a myth, a mentor. “Sweet Sticky” is the track with which I discovered him. I think that it is unique, a mix of vibrations of happiness, but melancholy. Or at least that’s my perception every time I listen to it. “Sweet Sticky,” and the First Floor album, gave me the opportunity to get to know and explore the Detroit scene (but not only) and to expand my vision of music. This certainly gave me input, reasons, and a lot of stimulation to start with my label Roots Underground Records 10 years ago this year!
Roots Underground’s First Releases
Alex Agore: Just A Mood (2012)
In the beginning, I founded Roots Underground with two other people, whose connection was born on the web, considering that we lived in two areas of Italy very distant from each other. After brainstorming, we chose the German producer Alex Agore as the man behind the very first Roots’ release, so we decided to contact him. I remember that he was very kind to us, and he agreed to be the artist who would inaugurate the catalog of Roots Underground.
Just A Mood consists of two tracks and was released in 2012. Soulful and deep that I still love! The release was initially supposed to come out in a physical format, but it was not easy to find a distributor 10 years ago, much less nowadays, so we started a series of digital releases.
Sofatalk: Fairy Dust (2015)
After nine digi releases, and now being the only one behind the label, I decided to go a step further for the label and release vinyl. In 2015 I released the first vinyl EP. Fairy Dust was produced by Piero Paolinelli aka Sofatalk, with the support of Kris Tidjan with his voice on the track that gives the title to the EP. Since that time I have released 10 vinyl EPs, the latest being released on April 15th.
I haven’t been very prolific, but I wanted to give the right space to each artist, and I think, in my small way, to have done a good job.
Roots Underground’s Latest Releases
Arnheim: The Journey Is The Place To Be (2022)
As I said, the latest release was on April 15th, from Arnheim, The Journey Is The Place To Be EP. I found Arnheim through Bandcamp and his own label Barbara Recordings (a label that I recommend you keep an eye on.) I love his style of producing house, made of deep & warm atmospheres, sharp rhythms and the jazz touch. All these elements made our paths cross.
This release is #10, the first of the tenth year of life, and I’m very happy ’cause it identifies perfectly with the spirit of the label!
Rico Herrera: Excursions Vol.1 (2021)
Arnheim’s release followed the first volume of Excursions, published just a few months ago as a 7″ and produced by my mate Rico Herrera. In each volume of this 7″ series, there some featured artist. For the first one the guests were the Scottish singer Jane Hamilton, the producer and musician Lorenzo Morresi, and the multi-instrumentalist Filippo Guerrieri.
Rico is a natural talent, both as a producer and behind the turntables. Despite his past being mainly based on hip hop and funk and jazz, he knows perfectly well what the house feeling is.
A strong friendship was born between Rico and me. Unfortunately we don’t see each other very often cause we live in the same region but in different cities, however, we are always in touch!
[Ed Note: Since we published this piece in 5 Mag, Roots Underground has announced Cratere Centrale self-titled EP, out in September 2022.]
The Best Known & Most Popular Tracks from the Roots Underground Catalog
Alton Miller: From The Future (2021)
Every upcoming release is the best, this is what gives me the incentive to go on every time. In 10 years I had the pleasure and honor of working with some very important figures, like Kai Alcé, Deymare, Cottam and many more.
But if I really have to choose a couple of releases as the label’s best, I can consider Alton Miller’s release for sure! I’ve always been a fan of the legendary Alton Miller, and his arrival on my label was a lightning-fast event.
I remember that I already had a schedule to follow, but one day in 2020 I received an email where the possibility of a contact with Alton was opened. From that moment was born From The Future EP, three original tracks released in 2021. The EP had a lot of support from both insiders and record stores. I’m grateful to have had the chance to work with Alton and I need to publicly thank Ricardo Miranda for making it possible!
Ricardo Miranda / Reekee: Riccardo Vs Ricardo / Italia to Chicago (2017)
Another release I consider as label’s best is from Ricardo Miranda and Reekee. I had already worked with Reekee in 2015 for a very limited vinyl release, later also released digitally, with a remix by Kai Alcé. Later, we were talking about his next EP, and while we were looking for a remixer, we decided to get in touch with Ricardo.
He was very impressed with the sound of Reekee, and, playing with their names (Ricardo & Riccardo) was born Riccardo vs Ricardo // Italia To Chicago split EP. It was a lot of fun working on the guys on that record.
Deep Cuts from the Roots Underground Discography
Anthony Parasaula: Crumarjay (2018)
Absolutely: Anthony Parasaula aka Marcello Napoletano. Fantastic producer, raw sonorities. Mysterious character. These are the features of one of my favorite producers in the scene.
Crumarjay was the fourth vinyl release for Roots and it was an ace. It’s not an “easy” EP, difficult to include in a genre.
My favorite track of this EP is “Softdamn,” slow violent techno vibes, forcefully black, that slightly arise from the thick of chubby funk.
I consider this release out of a space-time conception, and I recommend listening to it, and discovering the whole story of Marcello.
Two Thou & Hobby Horse (2019)
An additional project I would also like to give light on is the union between Luca Murgia aka Two Thou and the jazz band Hobby Horse.
Maybe the first project that looks beyond the Roots’ boundaries, both musically and graphically.
Musically ’cause I had never released anything like this before. A hybrid of electronic and jazz music composed by one producer and one band.
Graphically ’cause, for this release only, there is the inner sleeve printed, like a ’70s or ’80s album, with all the info, credits and photos of all the people involved.