‘What do you do when you get to the top?’ For most, in the hyper-competitive world of electronic music, this question is unfathomable. However, Sasha a certified dance music legend and instigator of rave culture across the globe asked exactly that. The answer? Last Night On Earth. LNOE now into its eighth year is both a platform for his own artistic expression as well as a voice for exciting, emerging talent.
Clocking up over 100 releases since its incarnation, the label has created a sound that incorporates, Sasha’s own unique style with that of other label contributors into what has become a forward-thinking, modern sonic signature. As the label has grown the pedigree of release has risen with it. Guests include Maribou State, Max Cooper and most recently James Solace aka Burnski with his ‘Ghost Town’ EP.
What is very clear from the outside is the label’s commitment to artist development. Amongst the impressive list of big-name talent that also includes the likes of Radio Slave and Nicole Moudaber, they continue to put out EP’s based on the quality of music rather than the size of the followers (or the paycheck). This approach is not always the most fruitful in the short term but shows their ‘thought for the future‘ and consideration for the scene as a whole.
The label has gone from strength to strength so we sat down with Maren Brombeiss, Sasha’s Manager and Label Boss to get a greater insight into the inner workings of the LNOE imprint as part of our label watch series.
LNOE is, of course, the brainchild of Sasha. What inspired him to make his own label? What are the advantages of having your own label compared to releasing on other labels?
LNOE is Sasha’s home for supporting exciting new electronic music talent as well as releasing his own solo productions. He wanted a platform to showcase and help build developing acts. Whilst at the same time being free to release his own music as and when he wants to. This is one of the advantages of having your own label. You are no longer bound to anyone else’s release schedules. It gives you the ability to dictate how you want things to run plus full creative control.
There are of course also advantages of releasing on other labels. A major one is your ability to reach different audiences. Mixing up the creative brains from various operations and working alongside a new team also has advantages for an artist. For an individual artist, it is important to have a balance between both – other labels and self-releases. This is the approach we take with Sasha’s music.
Traditionally Record labels used to occupy big office spaces, employee hundreds of people and have many moving parts. Do you think the relative ease at which people can now start record label has changed the quality of music?
Not necessarily. I think it’s great that people can express themselves more easily and have the opportunities to showcase their music. It is true that there are a lot of labels now. More and more are coming through but the landscape of the music industry is ever-changing. There is so much young emerging talent. I think it’s a positive thing that they can take initiative to release their own music rather than being dependent on the big majors.
What is Last Night On Earth’s approach to new artists… as a label do you try to help artists breakthrough or is it difficult to take this approach in the modern market?
We try to balance up and coming artists with established artists. If we get sent a demo that completely blows our mind, we release it, no matter the status or level of the artist. At the same time, it is important to keep the balance. The high profile releases tend to be more profitable. Without these generating revenue and keeping the label breaking even there would be no opportunity for the developing artists.
What is the most challenging thing for a record label?
Making money! Honestly, I say it jokingly but it is actually difficult to keep an independent label running at break-even let alone profitably. When you release on vinyl this challenge becomes even harder. However, even for digital-only releases, you have a lot of costs that need to be recouped. Radio, club promo, artwork, PR costs they all add up.
Running a label is more a labour of love than something that’s going to be making you the big bucks, for most people anyway. It does provide a platform for artists to express themselves. You cant look at these things one-dimensionally though. They are another piece in the puzzle when it comes to creating a brand identity and this can lead to brand extension through merchandise, events, and so forth.
How important is it for a label to define its sound? Is this something Last Night On Earth had from the outset or has it been formed over a number of releases?
LNOE’s sound is very much defined by Sasha and the style and sound of his DJ sets. Essentially, our releases have to be something he would play out himself. Sasha likes to receive demos, and test them out over the weekend. He is then in a better place to make a decision to sign something. I think the overall sound of the label is very representative of that and is what ties it all so nicely together. There will always be the occasional curveball.
Is there a track or EP which you maybe wish you had signed or had the opportunity to sign looking back?
Not that I remember off the top of my head. We usually have quite a nice A&R process where I a) reach out to artists Sasha likes and is playing at the moment and/or b) filter through demos we get sent. I then send Sasha a sort of shortlist and we make a decision collectively, alongside some other members of the team at times.
LNOE do a combination of digital releases and the occasional vinyl release. Why this approach what are the pros and cons?
Well basically we used to put pretty much all releases out on vinyl but as I mentioned before most of these end up making a loss and it just doesn’t become feasible to maintain the label. Instead, we have developed a system where we run a series called vinyl archives (vol II will be coming soon). Essentially each Vinyl Archive includes:
- the latest Sasha track
- one of our favourite recent releases,
- something special from the back cat
- a vinyl exclusive which is yet to be released.
That way people have a nice selection of LNOE tracks on vinyl without being committed to physical each time. Additionally, we also put out 1 compilation or album-form project a year on vinyl – last year it was the 100th release and this year it was Deadbeat’s, LNOE in dub.
You have started doing a number of LNOE showcases recently including one out the world-famous Warung. How do you choose the location of these? Are there specific elements that you look for at specific locations?
Well, we start geographically really. We wanted to do one in each of the key European markets. Hence we started with London, Berlin and Amsterdam. This was then followed up with our show in Warung on the basis it’s one of Sasha’s favourite ever places to play. When the opportunity presented itself, we had to say yes.
Last month we got approached by Warehouse Project to do a night for them which, given Sasha’s history with the city, was a no-brainer. We’re currently working on what’s next and looking at how the summer will shape up – I’m sure we’ll have a couple to announce soon!
Finally, what do the next 12 months hold for LNOE?
Lots of music! 🙂 We have signed some absolute bangers which I can’t wait to get out. There are also a couple of new bits by Sasha himself which will see the light of day very soon. On top of the music, we will continue our events.
As well as this we have plans to continue building the clothing/fashion side of things with some exciting collaborations. We did the limited edition Everpress long sleeve not too long ago which was really successful, so there will be more of that.
That’s it for now I think but of course, we are always open to new ideas, collaborations and anything interesting so who knows what else is yet to come?!