In Depth
Radio Slave Discusses The Revival of Rekids

Matt Edwards has been a regular at fabric almost since we opened our doors. Hailing from South London originally, he moved first to Brighton and then Berlin back in 2007. Starting the Rekids label almost a decade ago, Edwards has been monumental in kick-starting the careers of some of today's biggest names. As a producer, Radio Slave gained recognition for an extended edit of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head', but it's his work under a number of different aliases that has reached fans of a number of different strands of house and techno music. Recently starting the Double R label has given Edwards the ability to champion a new crop of younger artists and it's this attitude of promoting new talent that is cementing him as one of the cornerstones of the scene once again. Chatting on the phone ahead of his next Room One appearance this Saturday night (18th July), we spoke about his Radio Slave alias, the slight demise of Rekids last year and the future plans for the label since it's re-emergence early this year.

So... when did the Radio Slave project begin?

Radio Slave: Radio Slave started around September 2001. Right around the time of the release of Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’. I went into the studio with a friend and did an edit of that. At the time I was really into doing pop edits. This Kylie was played by Pete Tong on Radio 1 and EMI signed the remix and from there it’s history. That’s the birth of Radio Slave.

When did you start Rekids and why?

It formed back in 2006, I was still living in the UK and I’d started touring as Radio Slave. I was travelling and visiting Berlin a lot and meeting a lot of my heroes, DJs, producers; and I guess at the time I was slightly disenchanted with quite a few of the UK labels. Some of my friends, like Damian [Lazarus] was doing Crosstown Rebels or Jesse Rose had started one of his many labels. I just thought that the time was right. I’d been involved in the industry since the early '90s so it was a good time to put it all together.

What sort of challenges did you face when you were starting the label and have those changed as you’ve progressed?

Well the major factor was the decline in vinyl pretty much just after we started the label. There were a few of the first releases on Rekids selling thousands of copies because it was still in that era where major chain stores were taking orders but then there was a huge dip around 2008/2009, when the digital market exploded, especially in DJ culture. There have certainly been ups and downs. I think now we’re in a really good place, consumers know what they want and you can differentiate between the digital market and also maybe a market for vinyl lovers and people who are just into really good music. With Rekids, what I want to achieve is to just be supplying to that market, I don’t want to get out of my comfort zone and try and do something that won’t work.

Well the interesting thing looking through the Rekids back-catalogue is that you really seem to cultivate close relationships with your artists, like Mr. G, Nina Kraviz and Spencer Parker. Is this an important part of Rekids for you?

I really like to know who I’m working with and a lot of these artists are really good friends. It’s been a real journey with people like Nina. When I first met her at the Red Bull Music Academy 2006 in Melbourne, a lot of people perhaps didn't understand her and it was, at first, a real struggle to get her into clubs and get her playing. Now though of course, it’s been a huge success story with her.

You could say that you’ve been really instrumental in that…

Well... she’s been a real close friend this whole time and we’ve really helped each other. It’s been a very natural thing. But having the Rekids label and having the reputation behind us to be able to do label showcases has really helped, because perhaps clubs are slightly more trusting of my vision. It’s really difficult nowadays for younger artists to get a foothold in clubs and I’d like to get the gigs that they really deserve. I had to really fight for Nina to get her into these places. With the other ones, Spencer’s a neighbour on my street in Berlin, we’ve known each other for years. I’m really proud to see what he’s done with Work Them. Of course with Mr. G, Colin, I was introduced to him through an old friend in about 2003. His story is another huge success story. He saw some real recognition with his stuff as part of The Advent, but he really found himself on his first releases on Rekids and people loved him. Now he’s a festival favourite, but he’s really been around in the scene since almost the beginning.

Following on from that, is there a policy you follow for A&R on the label?

Moving forward with the sort of 'Rekids 2.0' or the new Rekids, I’m trying to strip things down, we’re only working with like minded people. I really want zero stress and no egos. There are so many great producers out there and that is the number one thing, but you have to work with these people and you might be touring with them, so you’ve got to have a good relationship with the artist. I’m working closely with Jamie Fry who runs the Stablo label; we co-run the Double R label and he’s now assisting me with the A&R for Rekids. We mean to carry on as usual, business as usual.

"I think now we’re in a really good place, consumers know what they want and you can differentiate between the digital market and also maybe a market for vinyl lovers and people who are just into really good music."

A lot has been made of this return to Rekids, was it a real conscious break that you had or did it just happen?

Well at the end of 2013 we realised that Rekids was in trouble financially and the accounting was a real mess. This has all been brought to light by a new accountant who really saved the day. I’m so thankful to his company. Luckily they’ve managed to save it, but it took over a year to try to work out how we were going to move forward. It’s a common problem with a lot of labels and quite a few have been through this.

Now that you are back, have you got any major plans for the label?

Definitely, it’s re-launching. I’ve done some new singles and Spencer Parker’s back on board. We’re signing some new artists and we’re working with Phil Asher, who was one of my mentors when I was living in London in the '90s. There’ll definitely be some surprises for people as well. There’s loads happening, with so many releases planned, we’re already looking into the middle of next year. It’s been a long time coming getting the label back off the ground, but I think all the hard work is now going to pay off.

When did your relationship with fabric begin? What does it mean for you to be playing here again?

My relationship with fabric goes back to the late '90s and I was working for a company that did multi-room, multi-label events. I was involved in a night where Romanthony played live in Room One. Daft Punk were there too. I’ve known fabric for ages now. I used to go to a lot of nights there; before I started DJing there I’d go and watch people like Ricardo. I’ve been playing there for about 10 years now and it’s always been amazing.

How would you describe your personal style and musical direction to people who maybe haven’t seen you play before?

I guess I’ve always been known with my productions especially for having these long, drawn-out, hypnotic tracks – definitely for the remixes. That’s really what people know me for. I was really inspired when I was producing 10 years ago, by the disco producers from the past. Whenever I get into the studio I don’t really look at the time or how long I’ve been recording for… I think that’s what I’m known for. I’m a huge fan of others that have the same view, like Villalobos. I think that Room One lends itself to that. You can get lost in that space completely.

Are there any young artists that you’re particularly looking at, that we can expect huge things from in the next few years?

If you have a look at what me and Jamie have been doing with the Double R label, we’ve been working with some really hot producers, like René Audiard for instance – his album just came out on Double R. There are so many guys out there at the moment though. I love playing tracks by Markus Suckut and I could make a huge list for you. Having said that, now that we’ve got Rekids back up, I’d rather keep a few of them secret just for now. All these guys have also given me the kick up the arse to get back in the studio, which I really like.

Lastly, what’s coming up in your calendar that you’re getting excited about?

Among all the other things I’ve got booked, I really am looking forward to being back at fabric. It’s always a real pleasure to play in Room One. It’s probably one of the best DJ booths in the world. Also I usually play there from about 5am onwards and you can play anything! I’ve had some crazy nights with Judy where I’ve played jazz and disco and a lot of unreleased edits. It’s just the perfect listening room really. If you’ve got the right crowd there, they’re really responsive; then it totally goes off. It’s a wonderful place.


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