The 777 Recordings journey has resembled a runaway train going downhill, picking up momentum with every release. Inaugurated with a 12″ from a previously unknown quantity, the Berlin-based record label hasn’t looked back since opening its imaginary doors.
Maintaining the DIY ethos that so many find endearing, 777 has continued to break fresh talent and while individual releases feel somewhat divergent, there’s an underlying mood pervading the entire back catalogue. Where Seixlack’s jacking debut conjures images of voodoo and witchcraft, other releases are sultry affairs, defined by serene chords and nebulous, horizon-wide synth washes. Stripped back acid, perfectly crafted DJ tools or balmy house, practically everything under the 777 banner is heartfelt and richly textured.
We spoke to label owner Ron Wilson about all that is 777 and he in turn asked label affiliate Futers – whose ‘Untitled’ track features on the recent C’est La Vii compilation – to deliver a mix that captures the label’s personality, traversing house, 2-step, hardcore and jungle, with a few ambient excursions along the way;
Is there any significance to the name ‘777’?
Well, the number has somehow always haunted me, plus I decided to have something with numbers than just a name or word. The number 777 itself has a many different religious/occult meanings if you Google it and I thought that added nicely to the mysticism and different layers of the label I want to express. And just to clarify: it has nothing to do with the Afrikaner Resistance movement! Scary emblem those guys have.
Your education came at storied venues like (the old) Tresor and Watergate. How, if at all, do those early experiences inform what you do in 2016?
Everything over my lifetime has inspired me to do what I do. Not just clubs, parties, music. Watergate and Tresor don’t necessarily shape what I do with 777. It helped to get a peek behind the scenes and I learned more in the means of promoting and doing events. Being spoilt by Berlin’s diverse and colourful nightlife, I could say that this is what informs me on what I do.
What drove you to start the label in the first place?
Every time I would pick up a good record I would think “I wanna do that too,” may it be the music or the artwork or the release itself and I think it is a natural next step for people who are deep into music, produce or even only DJ to grow or expand. I started the label after I had a jam session with my friend Pablo Mateo and the result, Ossa Jams, made me confident people would actually dig this. So I simply decided to give it a go and I got extremely good feedback.
Unlike many of your Berlin-based peers, you actually grew up in the German capital. Has that impacted your development from a promoter and DJ to a label owner in any way?
I think growing up in Berlin has shaped and spoilt me in every way when it comes to electronic music. A fantastic city for clubbing and that has made a huge impact of course. I feel lucky having access to good music. Not too many cities can offer that.
There must be some degree of risk launching your label with a 12” from an “unknown artist”. Did you ever consider kicking things off with a name people would recognise?
I think the music should speak for itself no matter what label/artist and my aim was/is to deliver quality sound and not names. I don’t care about name-dropping and I thought with “unknown artist” listeners would be more inclined to give it a listen than seeing some names nobody knows anyway. Ossa Jams was something of an experiment and it worked. I don’t think it is a risk bringing out your first release as unknown. It is a risk if the music isn’t good.
What difficult lessons have been learned since starting the label?
I am more or less self-taught and all difficulties so far have been problems with printing the covers or dealing with delays from the pressing plant. Apart from that I must admit so far all is going fairly smoothly.
Like your DJ sets, Tanzmichmal dipped into many different moods and genres. What inspired you to start releasing such go in such a jacking direction with 777?
I actually think that 777 is also dipped into many different moods too since the beginning. Of course the label has a clubby jacking side on each release but I try to show the diversity of the label and artists too. I get inspired by the music I get from artists and this shapes also the direction of the label.
Many people question the merits behind lo-fi electronic music. Do you have anything to say to the haters out there?
Important for me is the idea and what is expressed with the music wether it is lo-fi or not. I dislike if lo-fi is added only because it is currently hyped or it’s the last resort to make the music somewhat interesting. But hater’s can go suck it!
Would you consider broadening the horizons of 777, or is the label’s current direction the way you’d like to continue going forward?
777 is just getting started and its direction will be held in the realms of house and techno, with each release standing for itself. I am broadening the horizon with little sub-labels – these will be my playgrounds for cheeky edits, breakbeat bits, ambient acid or some terror techno! Can’t say much at the moment.
You’ve previously mentioned that you like your music to fall somewhere between the bedroom/living room and the dancefloor. Do you think it’s important for electronic music to work in a variety of context and situations?
It depends really, but yes, I like when a record has the variety of working on a dancefloor and/or at home. It is not important or a must, just the way I like to keep each release interesting and diverse.
As a self-confessed “control freak”, you’re involved in practically every aspect of the label. How do you find the time to source new music?
During weekends I mostly DJ and Monday is my Sunday. As I don’t have a 9-to-5 job, I do have time searching for new music as I spend most of my free time listening to music anyway.
With Submarine coming to an end, do you plan to focus all your efforts on 777?
More or less. I am not much into promoting in Berlin anymore and I have new projects coming up. Plus I need to finish mixing a stack of my tracks to push my own little career. The four years at Watergate have been great being given the chance to realise certain house music bookings I love, but I rather want to finish a chapter with a good vibe and great memories instead of continuing and fading away. Mind you the midweek parties do wreck me, haha!
Like many independent label owners you seem to be driven by a “people need to hear this” attitude. How important do you think that sort of passion for spreading new music is for an underground label ?
Passion is such an important ingredient to success and happiness! Of course I am convinced that the music I am releasing is good and naturally I share this with everyone I know, but I have never been promoting 777 so vigorously via press or promo pools as my promotional platform is simply the record shop.
The new compilation regularly finds itself in relatively calmer territory than previous releases. Was that a conscious decision when selecting the tracks?
Releases with different artists can go in many ways. I am happy with the material given and I chose a certain balance between club tracks, songs and even lullabies. Sure, the compilation shows a calmer side with tracks like ‘Paradise 25’ or ‘Blue Barbone’, but as a whole it tells a story to my mind.
It was hard to select from the many tracks I had been given, so the ones that didn’t make the compilation will be released digital only via Bandcamp this summer.
Three records you’d sign if you had the chance?
Relating to 777 I’d say:
777’s finest hour (so far)?
Many fine hours at Das Haus in Zagreb with Brighton last year and just last weekend… 777 rave magik! And of course the Berlin home party at Ohm, where all come together. So as you see, I can’t be objective and give the finest hour in that sense but many fine moments! But I guess an important highlight was the 777 night at Robert Johnson last February.
The best thing you’ve heard this year?
What else does 2016 have in store for the label?
Coming up is the 08 by Futers mid May. Really excited to have this finally out! And then in September Qnete’s EP will see the light of day. Amazing stuff again! Sub-label action coming too, or has it already? And the return of Ossa Jams! Stay tuned. Thank you.
C’est La Vie is out now on 777, with Futers’ U Get Me 12″ arriving on June 27th.