NexGen Music is fast becoming one of the hottest sources of music right now. Based both in the US and the UK, the group amounts to three imprints all representing different sounds and styles.
Daniel Clarke, DA, heads this project and brings a fresh approach - one that is paying off. We caught up with DA who took us through NexGen's long history.
'When I started I was doing drum & bass and built some awesome traction in the beginning. But I started to diversify - I realised that if I wanted to stay in the game I needed a broader scope. Diversifying halted the momentum I had on drum & bass, I could have got the visibility I've got now in two/three years if I just focused on drum & bass. I've always had one foot inward to the scene and one foot doing something completely different. My label was always going to expand out in terms of sound'.
NexGen Records was the first label in the group, opening in 2004. Fast forward 10+ years and DA has carried NexGen up, bringing two other labels, Migration and Affectionate Grooves into the fold. Nowadays you are just as likely to hear bass fuelled garage as you are hip hop, even turning their heads towards downtempo, chill and soundscapes.
'As a label we have a lot more to offer, we now have a cauldron of music and I’m glad we didn’t get pigeon holed into one style.'
With such a broad scope of music eliminating from the group you might expect an endless stream of music coming from them, though DA focuses on quality control. Self confessed to being particular about the material he releases, DA prefers two or three mind blowing tracks than ten alright ones. This has translated to a living example of less is more - the quality of the music speaks for itself. DA looks for particular assets in productions and doesn't just follow trends.
'I think people need to start musical with it, you can make all these sounds and samples yourself. Get into the design instead of using patches and pre-made samples. Start off with a raw signal, start doing that shit yourself and make it more organic!'
His drive for excellence in the music has paid off, and this year releases from his labels has gathered big support across the board.
'We’ve had a lot of recognition from people like Annie Nightingale, Toddla T, Charlie Tee, Monki over the last couple of months, with all these people playing out our stuff and picking up on it I have a great sense of achievement! We’ve been pleasantly surprised about how good the response has been for our drum & bass releases from Sparx and Soulful Nature. Liquid, that was initially our angle, but we do all things drum & bass. But it will be done with style, so we could put out some jump up stuff but it’ll have style, a swag to it that let’s people know there is something more to what they are listening to.'
It’s been a long journey to where NexGen is now, building up to three labels with a tight artist roster doesn’t happen overnight. If it wasn’t for the dedication from DA and others the group wouldn’t be in the position it is now. One key member of the NexGen family is Rob Sparx.
'Rob had been running a label, called Migration Recordings. We met in 2008/09 in New York and straight away hit it off. I loved what he was doing. He was more of an artist than label manager and he said I have this label, but I can’t run it and make music. So we brought them together and that’s when we first formed the NexGen Music group.'
Now NexGen had two imprints under its roof, both releasing bass music, from drum & bass to dubstep.
'The one thing we were missing was house! I am as much 118 - 130 bpm as I am 175 bpm. But I never had the artists or music for it. Rob approached me and said he started doing housey, garage music under the name Kachina. When I heard it, the music was literally for my house label I had been thinking about started for years. I asked him how much of this music he had and turns out he had like eight or nine EPs worth. So I said fuck it lets do this and launched Affectionate Grooves'.
So with three labels and a host of artists with the same common goal for quality underground music, DA has a platform that he really wants to push and send shock waves across the scene both here in the UK and in the States. DA explained how the two scenes are different and what they means for NexGen.
'Dance music here in the US hasn’t yet been accepted into the mainstream. It’s still very niche, and hasn’t matured here. I got my sound from the UK and my operation is primarily there but I am really gonna start harrowing it in the US.'
'You’ve got DJs, promoters, labels but they aren’t integrated in any way, shape or form. If you think about the UK; a lot of the early DJs, the people making the music were the same people throwing the parties and running the labels. You could meet people in the mastering studios, and together with the pirate radio scene built a community. In the US that hasn’t happened, they’ve never had that. I almost wanna go back and introduce them to how it all came together and build a community around the music. People in the US hear the music and appreciate the good music, but they’re not trying to find who’s making the music. There’s a missing element in the US and there is now a chance to bring that back. Those who grew up with Skrillex and Bassnectar now have a wet palette, there’s more interest in the underground, a seed now and I’m gonna be pouring water onto this seed and watch it grow!'
Watch it grow they will, as organic growth is essentially the spirit of NexGen, everything they do is organic from their music production, to growth and sales of their music. It may be the slow route, but its one that is guaranteed to bring some of the best results and leave a lasting legacy. No matter what your musical preference, NexGen will have something in its vaults for you. Undiscriminating about sounds and styles, and an ear to the ground just waiting for the next big thing NexGen are sure to become an essential part of both the thriving scene in the UK and the growing scene in the UK.
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