rushhour records :: 10 years young
Amsterdam's Rush Hour Records celebrated its 10yr anniversary this year - and as they are one of our favourite labels, stores and distributors we thought it only fit to feature them in our final issue of 2007.
I caught up over email with co-owner and operator Christiaan Macdonald to ask him a few questions and he delivered sterling answers AND provided us with his most recent Rush Hour Techno mix under his DJ alias, All Out K. We also did our own tribute to Rush Hour mix which you can get below or through our podcast here. We also provide a link to Rush Hour family member Cinnaman's amazing Kindred Spirits mixes which we featured on this site sometime ago. Enjoy.
Richard Campbell aka Rambl
RC: When did the shop start? Were there many people in Amsterdam - or the Netherlands for that matter - into this music then? Or was there a gap in the market that you were trying to fill?
CM: The store opened in October 1997. The dance music scene has always been a relatively big one in The Netherlands, but was growing ever commercial. In 5 years time we wemt from a pioneering techno country (early ninenies) to a trend following country (late nineties). As a result a lot of the stores who used to supply good music from the States, changed their music policy and started focusing on their own, more commercial releases. We started the store to step into that void and offer the music that they didnt supply any longer.
RC: Did the Rush Hour label develop naturally from the store? What is overall ethos of the label?
CM: The store was the first step, the rest of the business grew from there, the distribution, the label, the parties, everything. The store was like honey to bees to like-minded people. Lots of music loving people were attracted to the store, including people who ran record labels, artists, club owners etc. The store became a hang out, where people could share ideas and it still is. The store is the window of our company, without it we could not exist.
The label started in 1999, after we had set up the distribution and selling other labels abroad. The ethos of the label is the same as for the store, in fact everything we do, to create a platform for music we love. Over the years, this platform has been more defined, resulting in three labels. Rush Hour for electronic dance music, Kindred Spirits for singer songwriter and jazz and Angst for bands that produce anything loud!
RC: Given that you release many international artists on the label, do you try to represent Dutch music particularly with Rush Hour? How do you balance the artists locally and internationally? Is there a particular sound you're striving for?
CM: Yes, very much. We think its important to represent the people locally and to have a local scene. Besides, its a natural process. You hang out more often with your locals. From partying comes philosophizing and creating follows. But we also release music from international artists we respect and have met along the way. Music speaks all languages, so place of residency is not the prime qualification.
Rush Hour found its origins in house and techno, so the label is pretty much based on this still. Yet, we like any type of music. So we created two other labels to unleash our diversity, Kindred Spirits and Angst. Before doing this, Rush Hour label was more diversified, but this was a little confusing for most people, unfortunately.
RC: With Cinnaman and Jay Scarlet you have spearheaded some of the new Dilla-inspired, wonky-beat artists through the Beat Dimensions series - where do you see this music developing in the future?
CM: This is really a question for them to answer as they a&r'ed the BD project and it is them who are active in this scene, not me. But it is interesting to see new beat makers pop up the world over. Although they are all inspired by American artists, I think that the power of American artists has faded, definitely as far as the underground goes. Im not heavily into the world of hip hop, but it seems that the whole platform for American indie hip hop is gone... There's Stones Throw and that's about it. The majors killed hip hop by turning it into brainless pop music mostly. It wont be long before they are done with it and turn back to rock and/or country.
RC: In your ten-year history was there ever a point where you thought Rush Hour might not survive or has it grown pretty much steadily over the years?
CM: I think everybody has their doubts every now and then, no matter what you do. But in general RH is a consistent business. Recent years havent been the easiest of years with all the changes in the record business. But despite this, we are still a growing business. Our figures are up from last year. A lot of negativity is being created by news of companies that go down. But I think a lot of these companies have fallen off, because they werent run properly as a business. They fell on hard times, because of changes in the record business and couldnt adjust to it or were just straight up badly run no matter what. We put a lot of thought is the operation of the company. Its a well organized business that will be there until the end of times. We adjust when need to and grow with our time.
RC: How has the recent trends towards the sharing and purchasing of digitised music illegally through peer-to-peer and legally through beatport etc,and technologies like Serato, effected you? Obviously a new business model - or at least a tweek on the old one - has to be developed to deal with the new market. How do you handle it?
CM: How has the recent trends towards the sharing and purchasing of digitised music illegally through peer-to-peer and legally through beatport etc,and technologies like Serato, effected you? Obviously a new business model - or at least a tweek on the old one - has to be developed to deal with the new market. How do you handle it?
Now the illegal aspect of downloading is a big problem and a risk of digital music. I think the problem is so big, because of two reasons: 1) music comes too expensive (for most) ans 2) people have been fed too much crap, so they have decided its not worth paying for and rather take it for free. I think its important to create your fanbase, because a fanbase will keep buying your music, like I described earlier.
RC: How important do you think Rush Hour Distribution has been for the local music scene? Do you see part of your role as providing an outlet for labels such as Delsin, Music 4 Speakers, Kindred Spirits, etc? How did this style of Dutch music in particular get out in to the world before Rushhour?
CM: I think it has been very important. Its where all the local products came together and were offered to the world. And yes, our distribution is an outlet for these labels, thats the function of a distribution. I think the power of our distribution, came through offering what we like and not offering anything that was offered to us. As a result people seem to expect a certain quality from us now, which is great. Like I said when we stepped in as a store, Dutch music was becoming more commercial and pushing music like we sell away. The same goes for the distribution, the labels we started distributing were having a tough time elsewhere.
RC: The Rush Hour Paradisco parties are renowned the world over. Do you see them as an important part of the Rushhour business, or is it more an opportunity to have fun?
CM: Both. We work hard, but everyone needs to relax every now and then. Parties are the perfect place to showcase to people what we work on during the week. Its also a good place to meet people and talk new ideas. We are in the dance music business and parties is what its all about, isnt it?
RC: You do parties in and release music from other parts of the Netherlands like Rotterdam - how important is that? Is Rush Hour mainly an Amsterdam thing?
CM: See my answer with question 3. Its not an Amsterdam thing per se. It just happens that most artists we work with live in Amsterdam, as this city is like a magnet to creative people who were born outside the city. But we also release music from people outside of Amsterdam.
RC: Is Techno coming back? Or did it never leave?
CM: It never left, but it keeps mutating. And I like where its going now. I hope the label reflects that.