Label Spotlight: Skiptrace
'Originality and open mindedness'
Newly founded Manchester label Skiptrace aims to provide a range of opportunities to the 'abundance of creative talent' in around around the city. With an exciting array of releases planned for the next few months, Skiptrace hopes to use it audio-visual content to create a welcoming, versatile platform for the creative community of Manchester. Following their debut release from Shifting Spheres' Mystique, we wanted to have a chat with them to find out more about the circumstances in which the label came to be, how the current restrictions have affected the process of growing the label, and what lies ahead.
For people who haven’t heard of you, how would you describe what Skiptrace is all about?
The premise of Skiptrace is originality and open mindedness. We are all about involving the local Manchester community, be it with the producers, illustrators or videographers we use. We believe there is an abundance of creative talent in the city and hopefully we can give people a foot in the door and provide them opportunities to develop their skills.
Genre wise we aren’t looking for anything majorly specific from the outset, we want good party music across a spectrum of House, Bass, Breaks and Electro… but anything from further left-field always goes down very well with us.
How was Skiptrace created, and what were your initial aims?
Two of us that co-run the label are both DJ’s and have a background in promoting live music events. Recently, we completed a music production and business course at a college in Manchester so setting up a record label was a natural progression. Like many artists we found it difficult to break into the industry and felt Skiptrace would be an effective way of establishing ourselves as musicians whilst contributing to the Manchester music scene.
Besides releasing music on a regular basis our initial aim was to create a platform that sheds light on different artforms and promotes a culture of collaboration with the wider creative community.
You describe your content as audio-visual. Could you explain the visual aspect of the label, and why you have chosen to go down this route?
We have a project in the pipeline where we capture performances from DJs and musicians in rarely trodden on venues in Manchester. We have been able to capture Ethan Kenrick, owner of Sub Zero Sessions, playing a pumping House set in the Niamos Centre in Hulme. It is a Radical Arts and Cultural Centre in a Grade II listed building, formed in 1902 and originally a theatre, it has had many incarnations over the years. Including hosting some of music's biggest names with the likes of The Beatles and Nina Simone playing there. We feel very privileged to have been able to capture the amazing space they have there, and we can’t wait for it to drop on our Facebook page in the not too distant future.
Tell us about your latest release from Mystique.
This is our first release and we were very excited to have her on board. Redemption is a deep, atmospheric Electro song that brings back very fond memories of some early mornings we used to enjoy many moons ago. We hope to work with her again in the future as she continues to hone her craft with her productions. From the first time we heard the demo she sent through it got us excited and we felt it leaves the playing field open for our future releases. I first saw her productions on a VA released by her collective Shifting Spheres, who put together DJ training programmes for women, transgender and non-binary people. The whole release is littered with good tunes across many sub-genres of House music, and more importantly raised money and awareness for Roshni and UK Black Pride.
How have you found launching a label in such uncertain times?
Although the label was born out of the pandemic the community has shown us huge amounts of support. For example, purchasing our music, creating content for our online platforms, as well as general advice. We consider ourselves lucky because our operations have been less affected than brands that rely heavily on live events to communicate with their audience. Operating during the pandemic has, of course, restricted physical presence. However, we have been able to build a solid following, which will put us in a good position for when we are able to promote parties. We have been busy collaborating online with local radio stations, magazines and podcast stations however, we are looking forward to being able to meet all these people face to face.
What are your plans for the label going into the future, and how has lockdown affected/shaped these plans?
Our immediate aim is to promote the catalogue of music ready to release from now through to January. These include a delve into the darker and bassier side of things with Monir & 9Trane, some funky House from Marco Ono, as well as some Broken stuff from Clay. The latter has a lovely remix from Kahwe; a Manchester native and a mainstay on Anjunadeep. We feel that the lockdown has allowed an opportunity for creativity to come to the fore, and we hope this will continue. So expect to see a lot of fresh music being dropped on the label in the New Year. Aside from the releases we have the continuation of our premiere series online, but we were really hoping to start throwing label showcase day parties, which have unfortunately been put on hold due to the ever changing restrictions in Manchester. However, we have been able to book a smaller, socially distant party at The Old Abbey Taphouse in Hulme on the 28th of November. This will at least be an outlet for a couple of artists to showcase their DJing skills and somewhat of a release after we exit the Tier 3 restrictions!