Tag Archive for: professional development

Using and Choosing an Alias

Artist aliases have a colourful history that goes back centuries. Long before techno, stage names and pen names were common in music and literature especially, with artists often wanting to separate their david Bowiepublic personas from their private identities. Voltaire (aka François-Marie Arouet) and Bob Dylan (born Zimmerman) both wanted to break away from their pasts. David Bowie (born David Robert Jones) wanted to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, later the lead singer of The Monkees. And many of history’s biggest musicians and authors have wanted to disguise their genders (if women) or ethnic origins. There are as many motivations as there are people and contexts.

At the beginning of techno music, virtually everyone had an alias. It was part of the culture of techno for producers to want to remain faceless, with the idea that techno was supposed to be all about the music, instead of the egos. At the risk of getting too nostalgic, it was one of the things that made techno different.
One of the beautiful things with aliases is that they allow artists to channel one musical direction into a distinct brand, which frees them to explore many different projects or genres without fear of confusing or alienating their followers.
Two of the biggest examples in electronic music are Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman moniker and Aphex Twin, each with their own identifiable sound and even logo. Some artists, like Daft Punk, will take the concept even further, donning elaborate costumes during live performances to avoid ever showing their faces.
For artists like these  — or like Bowie, who probably opened the door for these kinds of stage personas — using an alias can be a way to get around personal fears or insecurities and achieve complete creative freedom. In the 1990s, against the backdrop of Detroit’s urban decay, the city’s underground techno scene went all in on aliases, with many artists channelling superhero personas or other fictional characters to envision the future of music in a dystopic world.

So let’s say you’ve decided to use an alias. That’s likely the easy part. But how do you find the right one for you?

When it comes to techno music, there are often trends with aliases. One recent one was to remove the vowels and place all letters in caps. Another was to swap the first letters of the first and last names. But if you’re like for something more original, here are some tips for finding your own alias:

If you already have a nickname, use it. The whole idea behind an alias is that it’s something that is unique to you, and that people will quickly associate with your music. If your friends (especially those in your music circles) have given you a nickname because they think it expresses something interesting or special about you, they might just be onto something.

Use a vocal imitation of a sound (an onomatopoeia). Not many people know this, but I got my own alias by using an onomatopoeia (like swish, hiss, buzz, etc.) for a sound that I felt captured the feel of my music. There are no official spellings for sounds because everyone will hear them differently, so you can get really creative with this.

Do a random article search on Wikipedia. This might sound a bit strange, considering that I just said how important it was for an alias to be something unique to you. As a springboard to further research or new ideas though, Wikipedia can be a great resource. Just enter the first keyword that comes to mind and go from there, jumping off from article to article whenever something piques your interest.

Have fun with languages. If you’re having difficulty finding the right alias in your language, why not explore a different one? This can be especially fitting if you have a multicultural background yourself or speak different languages, or even if you just have a special bond with another culture and feel that its language speaks to you in some way.

Whether you follow one of these approaches or find your own, the important part to remember is that your alias is your brand. It should translate something essential about your music, and be striking and original enough that people will hear it and immediately think of you.

Have fun with it! The process of choosing an alias can be extremely constructive, since it invites you to explore what your music is all about.

SEE ALSO :  The next big thing? 


2016: Studio Trends and My Clients

It’s been a crazy first year for the audio services I founded in November 2015. Things really got started with the website in January, and it fired up right away. I thought this would be a good time to look back at 2016, and to share some of the year’s highlights: of the plugins I used the most, the projects I worked on, and the producers I had the great pleasure to work with.

Where to start?

Let’s begin with some numbers. With online sales alone, I completed over 300 projects by early December, though the number for all sales combined is closer to 350 projects for the entire year. This includes sound design, mixing, mastering, and training services, both online and in person. This was indeed my biggest year since 2004.

Add to that my online coaching service that reached 450 people in 6 months. It’s been a bit overwhelming to be sure, but being able to help so many people fuels me as well.

Overall, the breakdown of services offered by my studio in 2016 looks like this:

Mastering: 43%

Mixdown: 24%

Arrangements: 15%

Coaching: 15%

Other: 3%

And in terms of musical styles, it broke down like this:

Tech house/house: 24%

Techno: 33%

Deep/dub techno: 14%

Hard techno: 4%

Experimental/Ambient/Chill out/IDM: 15%

Pop: 3%

Hip hop: 7%

The most frequent requests were:

  • Rounded lows.
  • Warm bass.
  • Punchy.

I’m really happy that people have generally stopped asking for the music to be “LOUD,” as this was a common request years back. In 10 years, I’ve seen that people’s tastes have slowly evolved, and that they’re more and more into the warmer sound that analog provides.


In terms of plugins, these are some of the ones I used the most this year. In general, I try to create a different chain of compressors and EQ depending on the label or client, to create a unique aesthetic. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that the combination of various effects adds grain to the sound. It’s like combining ingredients when you cook: you can try 2 different brands of a same spice, and the results will differ subtly.

Universal Audio Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder Plug-In

This is certainly a very creative tool, as well as a nice mixing plugin. It adds saturation and will beef up flimsy parts. Anything that goes through it seems to come out in perfect shape.


Sonalksys CQ1

This is certainly the best multiband tool out there — and trust me, I’ve tried them all. You will need multiband for mixing, but you can get very interesting results if you use drastic measures for sound design. This one never fails.


Harrison 32C

This is definitely an underestimated player in the EQ world, as I rarely hear people talk about it. This year was when I started using it almost every day though. It has this little thing that makes lows so warm.



A simple compressor, but it works like a charm. Brainworx never fails to create quality products that use simple and intuitive controls. A huge help on percussions.


Space Strip

A fun little tool for sound design, it creates really cool spaces, as the name suggests. Throw it on the master and watch it craft lovely atmospheres out of so little.


Reason 9

The DAW of the year without a doubt. If you’re one of those people that has been overlooking Reason, run now to get yourself the trial and be ready to have your jaw drop in awe. Rewired with Ableton, it is the most powerful tool to get over any creative block. It also does crazy (I mean it) sound design.



This reverb didn’t get the attention it deserved. If you’re not familiar with Zynaptiq, they really make state-of-the-art products. These guys are machines. Adaptiverb is hard to explain, so I’ll leave the descriptions to them, but suffice to say that it is not your typical reverb. It’s certainly a nice add-on to your plugin collection, as it can form creamy textures out of simple pads.



One of the things that really got me motivated this year was having clients who were interested in pursuing a long-term association with me. They’d come to me for all of their mixing needs so that they could focus their energies on recording new ideas. Some wanted their studio sessions arranged around songs. It’s great to have multiple contracts with someone, because you start by working with a reference artist, until eventually that shifts and the producer starts referencing themself.

It would be impossible to list all the clients I had in 2016 whose work I loved, but here are a few of the highlights that come to mind:


From Argentina, Franco worked with my buddies at 31337 Records, producing a superb palette of ambient sounds, intricately organized into a beautiful microcosm.


Kike Mayor

Kike has been one of my most loyal clients this year, as we worked together to define his sound as something “fun and sexy,” as we both liked to call it. Kike’s style is hypnotic and catchy, and he always comes to me with projects I love.


Debbie Doe

Debbie had a breakthrough this year, as she managed to pull her very first project together and nail down a growing number of important gigs. This Lebanese-Montreal artist is not afraid of reaching into her Arabic influences to craft some exotic moods.



Another very serious producer from Italy/France who booked me regularly to handle mixes and mastering for his music. He’s a nerd collector with a massive modular set-up, and he prefers focusing on designing quirky house instead of spending time on his computer.


Andrey Djackonda

From Moldova, Djackonda was a nice discovery for me this year. The guy makes really organic techno with dub influences. It’s been a headnodder for my mastering sessions. You know you have some groovy music when you start spending time shaping the track into these groove monsters.





From Montreal, Stereo_IMG is a serious sound designer who builds weird devices to extract found sounds that are both beautiful and intriguing. Working with him in the studio turned some of his tunes into Audion-sounding gems.



A programmer and kind soul, Wiklow came to me for mentoring, and we spent the next 2 months discussing music philosophy and the mysteries of human behaviour. This fantastic trip of anything-but-music-related talks led him to create a beautiful EP that would make Jan Jelinek blush.



Ruslan runs a label in New York named Minim, and he has been one of the most supportive people for me this year. We worked together closely, talking almost daily, and it was wonderful to see him at MUTEK to dance to Barac’s set.


Dom Varela

A young producer from Laval who I’ve seen grow slowly, finally releasing his first track this year. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and work closely with him on his development.



This was my most demanding mixdown this year, but man did it turn out well. Bmind is an artist I adore. His free-jazz perspective makes his music feel like a spiritual journey through an LSD trip. Nothing easy, but never flaky.



Not to forget also 2 other clients who were super busy with me, Isaac and Luis.

These guys make albums in a matter of months, and each time, it’s spot on. Not only are they dedicated, but there’s a real depth to every song they make.

There are so many others I could mention, and I have to apologize if you’re disappointed that your name isn’t featured here. But the truth is that working with ALL of my clients has been amazing! 2016 has been an incredible year, and 2017 will be too, without a doubt.



Make Your Music Bucket List Happen

We all have a bucket list of things we want to accomplish. In a recent music production webinar of mine, I was asked:

What does an artist with 20 years of work have on his bucket list?

listIs there ever an end to new ambitions? I’d say that your bucket list changes a lot through time. I’ll discuss this a bit later. But first, I’ll try to give you some resources to help you achieve your goals (for 2017?).

What are the most common bucket list items I hear about? From the people on my coaching list, they are:

  • Finish a track/EP/Album.
  • Get signed to a label. Release on any medium (digital or analog)
  • Release on vinyl (my track, my EP, my album)
  • Get more gigs. Play abroad.
  • Play my first live set.
  • Collaborate with certain artists I love.
  • Start my own label.

You see, I’ve been there. These were all in my list of things I wanted to accomplish at the beginning too, though not necessarily in the same order. I started playing live before I thought I’d release on vinyl, but it happened. Then I wanted to do a solo EP, and then an album. At the time, they were released on CD (which was as big a deal as vinyl back then). The thing is that when you do one, you often want to do another soon after, to improve on the first. At some point, the “make it better” drive can become a bit more technical in nature, and you might want to approach your next release from a different perspective.

The direction you choose can lead you to aim for a specific label. I’ve tried to do an album for Kompakt, for example, but it led nowhere. The same for Force Inc. Basically, releasing on a specific label opens up a new network of contacts, a new pool of followers, a new territory. If you think strategically, picking a label properly can be extremely valuable for your career.

Now, let’s pinpoint some ideas on how to accomplish your goals. I’ve been in your shoes, and I’m happy to share my own experiences.

synthFinish a track/EP/album. This is the beginning, and it might be the most massive undertaking you’ll tackle. It’s easier for some, more complicated for others. And it won’t get any easier because you’ve finished one. Finishing a project can be a bit of an esoteric puzzle, as it’s evolving constantly as you go. That’s why I’ve published quite a few blog posts on the subject to help you. I’ve also posted a few videos on YouTube on how to start a track,  and it’s mostly the same approach for finishing it. If you’re feeling desperate, I can always coach you personally too. For now though, I’ll just stress the importance of setting yourself a deadline. Asking friends to help you is another thing to consider. But above all, the most useful tip I could give you is to work with a reference track to find inspiration for your tracks’ structure. I’ve written this post about it to get you started.

Get signed to a label. Aside from making music, getting signed might be one of the greatest challenges faced by producers today. There are so many producers and so many labels that it can be overwhelming, and often discouraging. Matchmaking between you and a label can be a bit of a lottery, though I’ve tried to demystify the process for you in this post. As a label owner and manager myself, one of the things I notice the most is that people just don’t know how to sell themselves or how to approach labels to get their attention. You have to see this as job hunting: be professional, try to create a real bond, build friendships, and commit to making it happen. I emphasize the commitment part, because too often people try to reach out in all directions instead of focusing on the right ones. That is a no-no. You have to spend time searching for a label, because getting the fit wrong is a huge deal-breaker.

Release on vinyl. Focus on getting signed first. After, if you can find a label that releases vinyl, this can become possible. I say this because you need to keep a few things in mind: labels don’t release you for fun, and they especially don’t want to lose money. Some distributors will refuse to carry certain releases if the artist has no profile. So if you can release digital first, create a buzz and expand your online presence, this will become more appealing for vinyl labels and distributors. Making music that’s DJ-friendly will also make it easier to get attention.

Get more gigs. This one is difficult, but following this logic could help. Clubs will book you if you bring people in, and therefore sales. If you go out a lot and have a network of people who party with you, this is a good start. Having a great Soundcloud profile isn’t enough to get you a booking. You might be great technically, but it doesn’t mean that people will show up. You need a certain buzz or some releases. Invest yourself in playing a lot, even the boring gigs, and make sure to make tons of contacts. Every extra contact has the potential to lead somewhere. I remember once I was super nice to a guy who came to say hi after one of my gigs, and it made him so happy. Months later, he contacted me for a really great gig… karma!

Play my first live set. This will happen once you understand how to finish tracks. You can then convert your tracks to a live set. If you can learn to jam, this is the best way to get started. I plan to cover this topic in another post soon. Stay tuned.

beach partyCollaborate with certain artists I love. This will sound too good to be true, but there’s nothing like trying to meet artists in person first. It’s true that with much persistence, you could make a lot of online connections through Facebook or Soundcloud. But meeting in person is the only way to know if you might really have an affinity with him/her. Imagine that your hero turns out to be a dick, for example. That’s not a great investment of your time and energies.

Start my own label. This has become easier than ever, which is why there are so many labels out there. If you dig a little, you’ll find all the details on how to get started. But here’s an important tip: don’t start a label because your music doesn’t get attention. If it doesn’t, there might be a good reason for it (ex. badly mixed or weak content). Also, don’t start a label alone. Get help at the beginning.

So, to end where we started, what does my bucket list look like?

dj outside partyActually, it’s pretty empty. I have ongoing needs and desires like anyone, but not really professional goals anymore. The things on my list are mostly related to my friends. Basically, I’m more excited to finish music and share it with my friends than to see it on vinyl or on sale. It’s weird to explain, but I feel more accomplished knowing that certain close DJ friends of mine will play it than by trying to conquer a market. It just involves so much hassle. It can take months or years for music to get out.

I still want to release music, but I’m mainly focused these days on the desire and need to share something, a story. Strategic releases still happen. But I’m more interested in working with friends. Collaborations are one of the biggest driving forces for me now. It’s this kind of special experience that takes me to the next level.


SEE ALSO : Strategic Guide To Releases Planning And Production


Photo by Gavin Whitner

Creating Beauty Out of Ugly Sounds

This post is inspired by one of the most useful experiences I’ve ever had for my personal development as a producer. I’ve made it into an exercise that you can try.

Back in the early 2000s, when Montreal’s MUTEK festival was just getting started, our community of electronic music producers was blooming. People were spending as much of their time developing concepts as finishing tracks. I remember one sunny summer day, when Tim Hecker and I were sitting outside of my friend Mitchell Akiyama’s home, and we were discussing sounds. We had this interesting debate about what made some sounds “ugly,” and what the word meant for us. We felt that maybe it was cultural, or maybe it was producers using sounds the wrong way. At one point, we got to talking about how the guys of Porter Ricks recycled ugly rave sounds into what they do best, a kind of deep, mysterious techno.


A new concept was born: how to transform ugliness into beauty. Suddenly, the art of recycling meant that anything was possible, no matter the sources.

Tim worked on some of his albums using granular synthesis. He used sources like Van Halen or other weird heavy metal sounds. He even used burps for one installation…

Mitch and I went in to the studio. We loaded some rave samples from CDs and started playing around with them. By the end of the session we had 2 IDM-oriented songs that lacked any hint of a rave sound.

It was a great experience. I’d throw out some ideas, which Mitch would then apply to what he was doing to the best of his understanding. The directives I gave were descriptive rather than technical, and there was a lot of room for interpretation. It often wasn’t what I had in mind, but whatever emerged would be great as it was.

The only references we worked with were ugly sounds and some general, non-technical ideas.

The thing is that producers will often come to the studio with their minds already full of preconceived ideas and expectations on what’s nice or not. This doesn’t leave much room for mistakes, discoveries, oddities, or for your subconscious to express itself spontaneously.

So what is the exercise?

  1. When you’re picking sounds for your track, just go for the worst, ugliest sounds you can find on your hard drive or in your presets.
  2. From those sounds, discover how you can transform them. You can use filters, pitch shifting, EQ, and any other effect that might help. Reverb, even a little, can add a dramatic feel to a sound. So try to play with these 4 elements, plus resample yourself while doing so. You will then be able to play again with the new modified sounds. Each time you experiment tweaking the sound and record it, we call that “a round.”  To create a new, beautiful sound, you will need to re-process your sounds into 2 to 4 rounds.
  3. Detach yourself from any preconceived notions or expectations you have about where the track can or should go. Just try to explore and see where it takes you. You can take a look at my recent post on experimental music too.

Another thing that can be done is to use randomizing options to see what kind of crazy results emerge.

And be sure to have fun!


EDIT: Bjork seems to share the same idea.

SEE ALSO : Create Your Own Concept Album

Music Production Webinar

It’s been almost a year now since I started this blog and began offering my coaching services. By emailing with people daily, I noticed that people felt the need to just bounce questions off someone who’s been around for a while. They would often ask for advice about technical issues, but also career orientations or share whatever is on their mind. I chat with many other veteran producers about what we do too, but I understand that someone who is approaching electronic music as a hobby often doesn’t have other people to talk to or share things with. The more you venture into production, the more you want to know… Well I hope you do anyway, because I do.

I feel that the next logical step is to create a forum for discussions with a wider audience, and to begin to form a community that could hope to answer this growing need. This will take the form of a music production webinar that will cover the technical aspects of production. It will be open to anyone who has joined my coaching mailing list.

And yes, I will do this for free, once a week.

You see, through the many casual meetings I have with friends in my studio, I’ve come to see how truly valuable these exchanges are, not just for them, but for me as well. I rely on these personal connections to find inspiration, and I think that expanding the circle can only lead to greater opportunities for achievement.

How would it work?

I’ll come up with a fixed time every week where people can drop in on the webinar. There might also be some improvised sessions based on the number of people who reach out. And don’t worry, European friends, I’ll keep the time difference between Europe and Montreal in mind.

Easy, convenient and fun.

If you’re interested, it’s not too late to join my mailing list and jump in.

Let’s catch up soon!

Getting Lost in the Sea of Tracks

Searching for music these days has become a real skill. I was in a few music stores recently browsing for new tracks for an upcoming DJ gig, and I realized just how counter-intuitive the experience had become — not only because music stores are, in general, a huge mess, but also because the noise factor was so high that I just couldn’t find what I was looking for. By “noise factor,” I’m referring to the ratio of songs I found that were irrelevant to my search.

sea of tracks, music production, crowd, vacationsWe can attribute part of this to the accessibility of music softwares today, which helped democratize electronic music by bringing production within reach for so many people. Part of it can also be blamed on the fact that launching a label has become so simple that basically anyone with the resources can start one. It might seem ironic for a music production blog to point this out, but this is the reality. I’m pretty sure that if you’re reading this, you’re someone who is dedicated to your art and is looking to really make something happen.

But how do you find your way through this wall of noise?

Consumers have more difficulty than ever finding the music they like. Scroll back in time and you’ll understand that the invention of records was to answer a simple need: to be able to play something again. Once that need was met, a lot of the innovations were centred on making the music sound better. robot, missing hubRadio appeared later as a way of broadcasting over distances. Then, at the same time as music was becoming easier to make, the internet came along to dramatically expand its accessibility and reach, leading to an overall decrease in the quality of what’s available. The sea of music out there today is the result of this over-proliferation caused by these technological advances all converging at the same time. For the consumer faced with thousands of new songs daily, it can be very disorienting. One’s community of peers therefore become an important reference.

Artists have difficulty finding appropriate labels to release their music. If you’ve overcome the technical challenges and are now hunting for a label, you might feel overwhelmed. Like I explained in a previous post, you’ll have to spend a considerable amount of time in music shops and online just trying to pinpoint which labels are a good fit for your sound. But with so little time and so many choices, finding what you’re looking for can be a huge challenge.

What seems to be missing is a hub between both parties.

So what’s the solution?

headphones, music, selectiveStop searching elsewhere, rely on your network. I have a few people who I follow attentively on Spotify or Soundcloud. These guys seem to either have a great radar or amazing connections, because they’re always finding gems. I’ve been told that a great way to keep up to date is to follow as many artists as you can, and then cut out those who are idle too long or change styles abruptly. I also ask my friends who are DJs or label owners to share their recent discoveries with me every now and then, and I do the same. Very efficient.

Find influencers. Influencers are individuals who seem to be at the intersection of multiple networks, who are followed by many people and will make waves with their track picks in charts or podcasts. Each genre has its own influencers, of course. Perhaps check a site like Resident Advisor to get an idea of who they think is trending currently.

SEE ALSO : The New Face Of Albums 

Making the Choice To Be Exclusive to a Label

You might have heard of record labels asking for exclusivity, or maybe you’ve at least heard the term mentioned in one way or another. But what does it entail exactly, and how should you approach the decision if you’re ever faced with such an offer?

In another post, I shared a personal story of mine where I had the chance to commit to a huge label and bring my career to the next level — but I refused. It’s the kind of moment that doesn’t happen many times, but when it comes, it calls for careful reflection before making a decision. In my case, it was hard to seek advice from friends, as not many of them had been in the same situation before. I followed my gut feeling, and opted to follow my dreams without considering the possible outcomes.

All and all, there are a few questions to consider:

    • Where do I see myself in 5 years, musically speaking?
    • How can this exclusivity arrangement help me reach that goal?


So that should pretty much form the basis of your reflections.

While it’s hard to imagine ourselves down the road or even to give ourselves a reality check on how achievable our goals are, it is still quite essential to develop a vision of where we want to go. There will be certain things you have in mind, and if you have a firm idea of your goals, it will make it easier to decide whether you should commit to being exclusive to a label or not.

For the DJ and producer, the label you're exclusive to should cover a lot of ground The DJ and producer

Being one doesn’t exclude the other, and while you can do both individually, the winning combination is to do at least some of both. This way you can create a great release, for example, and you’ll be able to tour to promote it, which then brings you more requests for new releases, and then more gigs, and so on. The wheel spins organically. In this case, if you commit to a label, you will need this label to cover a lot of ground for you because there will be a lot of opportunity.


The entrepreneurLabel exclusivity might not work well for the entrepreneur

You want a label, you want to do a bit of everything, and you want to be in control because you like things done your way. This is pretty much a scenario that many people see themselves in, but if you’re not an entrepreneur, it is a difficult road to choose. More power brings more responsibilities, but also all the freedom to express yourself. In this case, exclusivity doesn’t work well for you.

The studio artist

This means that you prefer producing to DJing, and that you’re not so interested in heading out to the clubs to tour. This is a tricky road. Exclusivity can be interesting to you because you will have a platform for your releases, and you can still use aliases to release elsewhere. But to make this worthwhile, your flagship label will have to be a major outlet.

Being exclusive to a music label can work well for some artists/producersBeing dedicated to a label

Some artists want to be with a label and plan all their projects around it. They will be okay not creating many releases, will want to tour using the team’s contacts, and they’ll feel comfortable with everything the label does. The great thing about this is that you’re part of the label’s brand. This can make your own image and sound more powerful in a way, because you’ll be part of a collective of artists who you admire, and who will shape the label’s identity. If you produce a bit less, this outcome might be well suited for you.


SEE ALSO :  Are online communities replacing labels?

The Day I Refused Exclusivity to a Label

I don’t always talk about things that happened in my “career.” Since this is a blog though, I thought it would be fun and instructive to share some of the different decisions I had to face, and the consequences of each of them. I have a bunch of fun stories going back to 1998, and some might interest you.

If you haven’t read my bio, I can tell you that I early on took out the standard line all artists have, where they say they’ve been into music from an early age. Instead, I will point you to 1998, to the year where I created my alias, Pheek. What really ignited the project was a performance by Richie Hawtin, who made a rare live show (back then) as Plastikman/Concept:96. It was amazing!

That inspiration was critical in my development. It took me 5 years to figure out where I wanted to go and for me to feel confident enough to send a demo to Rich, which I finally did around 2003. He loved it, and he asked me for more music for a release. What followed was one of the most creative moments of my life: I made and sent him 5 CDs full of music over a span of 2 years. He finally picked one track, “Le Plan B,” which was released on the first Minimize to Maximize compilation, on Minus.

That was a big deal for me. Well, not just for me, but for everyone in the netlabel scene. You see, in 2005, there was no Beatport, selling MP3s was a bit of a weird concept, and people releasing on netlabels were seen as outsiders, even nerds. It was one of the first times that one of the guys from the community graduated to a big label like Hawtin’s Minus. Almost at the same time, there were other artists that followed, and netlabels became more and more recognized as a source for quality music.

I wanted to stay a free artist so I could pursue my own label Archipel, which I launched in 2004.I had my own label, Archipel, that I had founded in 2004 and that I wanted to pursue. There was no doubt that a release on Minus could only mean a great push for my personal projects. I started touring more, and soon there came a big milestone for my career that I still think about often. The guys at Minus offered me exclusivity, meaning that Pheek could only appear on their label, which would have given a huge boost to my career.

I refused. Yeah, you read right. I said,


“No, I don’t think I can see myself being exclusive, but maybe under another alias?”


To be honest, when I think of that day every now and then, I wonder what would have happened if I’d said yes. It was around that time that Minus was exclusively signing big names like Barem, Gaiser, Troy Pierce, Heartthrob and others. If I’d said yes, I think I could have pretty much become someone else entirely than the person I am today. But in a way, I have no regrets.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s hard to achieve alone or with friends what an established label and group can do for you. You can build from scratch, but it will take a long time to get things to the same level. I released for labels like Sushitech and Leftroom in their early days, and I watched them grow as they became what they are now. I’m proud do say that I was a part of it at their beginnings.

If I decided to work with other labels, it was because I was producing a lot of tracks and felt like I wanted to tap into different networks and reach out to people I liked, even if that was the more difficult path.

There are two types of artists out there:

  • The ones who want to work with you for the long term. Those are the ones you connect with intellectually, and you love each other’s musical output. The connection is real and both parties feel it.
  • Then there are others who you only want to work with in the short term. Both labels and artists can qualify. Unless there’s drama, if the arrangement ends organically, then it had to be this way.


The reason labels want exclusivity is to get a return on their investment (ROI) by farming their own artists. The constantly changing branding is risky and tiring for labels. If the sound constantly changes, it can be an irritant for fans too.

I hope this helps you understand the complexities of label exclusivity from another perspective.