Interview mit Chris Ball (Metalheadz Manager)

Die Anzahl der veröffentlichten Tunes in den letzten Jahren ist beachtlich, die Qualität ist nach wie vor unbestritten. Doch die Aussagen zu den geplanten Launches der Website bzw. der Merchandise-Reihe sind immer noch mit einer Prise Salz zu geniessen. Labelmanager Chris Ball zu Glanzleistungen und Baustellen des legendären Drum’n’Bass Labels.

Metalheadz

We have a very second half of the year lined up. Firstly the massive Be True // Satellite Type 2 from Commix will be dropping in July with their debut album ready for September. Expect a remix EP featuring Claude Von Stroke, Underground Resistance and some other big names from out-side the d’n’b scene to drop in October.

Forthcoming 12’s

Meth 76 – Break – Headz Up // Combination Style
Meth 77 – D Kay & Lee – Extacy // Untitled
Meth 78 – Seba

Repress Series
Also look out for the repress series forthcoming featuring 12 of the classic metalheadz tracks from Dillinja, J Majic, Doc Scott, Adam F, Alex Reece & more. Expect them to hit the shops in July.

Rufige

After the first storming release featuring Vapour, Skitty, Outrage & Jamal expect the releases to come thick and fast. Next up we have an ep from Mutt, Wooz (Sigma), SPY & Fission with future ep’s from Kiat & Ash, Gem 1 * Skitty plus a host of other emerging artists.

Razors Edge

That’s right Razors is back. The remix label has been quiet for too many years now and we re-launching it with the massive „Monkey Boy“ remixes from Doc Scott & Generation Dub. Following up this release will be a 12″ will be the modern day classic Wax’d remixed by D Kay & Marky.

Booga: Do you remember the first Drum and Bass tune you bought?

Chris Ball: It was a Dillinja track on Hardleaders – Capone „Fusion“.

Tell me about how you became involved to Metalheadz.

Well I used to go to the Sunday session in Camden around ’99 period. The club then shut and moved to East London. I got to know Rhyan, the former label manager. I then went out with Rhyan and met Goldie at a club and it all snowballed from there. I was in the right place at the right time…

What is your daily business as a label manager like?

Well first and foremost it’s working with SRD making sure artwork is supplied, test pressings have been approved and everything is coming out on time. I also work closely with Laurence from Electric PR on the press front. And then there is sorting out the contracts and financial side of the label and more recently working on the Metalheadz website, digital downloads and shop. I also look after Goldie’s DJ bookings and day to day business.

What is your distribution of tasks with Goldie and Bailey?

Well Goldie and Bailey both A&R with myself on the Rufige label. Goldie and I look after the A&Ring for the Metalheadz label. Other than that I mostly do everything else involved with the label. Bailey is a great person to have around though. He has such a great taste in music and he’s always there to help and give his opinion.

What would you consider your biggest success as a manager?

Commix without a doubt… I’ve just watched them grow and grow. I’ve really enjoyed working with them and it’s been a massive learning curve for me & I feel it has been for them. However, the results we have achieved have been amazing. I really feel that they have created a new metalheadz sound and they’re taking this label forward.

Are you satisfied with the regularly label nights at Herbal?

Herbal is Herbal. There is over 10 D’n’B nights there a month. So it’s really hard to gauge weather people are coming there for the club or the label. However over the last 6-8 months all the partys have been rocking. Jo puts a lot of hours into the club and I’ve really got to big her up. As we’re talking about partys – We’re still always looking to do big partys. It’s just London has a lack on big capacity venues.

Who is in the roster for the Headz nights at Herbal?

Goldie, Storm, Randall, Fabio, Grooverider, Lee, Marly Marl, A-Sides, Klute, Teebee, Calyx, Frost, Loxy & Ink, Break, Silent Witness, D-Bridge, John B, Flight, Bailey, Doc Scott, Total Science, Blame, Commix, Spirit, Digital, MC Rage, Moose, Fats, Justyce, Flux, Fozz, Lowqui … with guests Andy C, Bryan Gee, Krust, Die and more… you should see how hard it is to do the line-ups.

Are there certain label DJs you are persistent in contact with?

I speak to everyone who has a connection with the label. However I like to stay in the background as much as possible. I like to think I have a good relationship with the DJs and producers.

How is your relationship to the booking agency ESP international since they run the Metalheadz Sessions in Europe?

I have a lot of respect for Mark @ ESP. I’ve dealt with a few agents and he has to be one of the best out there. The metalheadz sessions have been going well we have a massive gig in Moscow lined up for August. Once again props to Alicia and Mark for all the hard work.

Do you sign artists exclusively for Metalheadz?

Only commix so far… I already have someone in mind for the next artist album though.

Any hint?

I couldn’t tell you. Goldie would break my legs… hahaha!

I seriously like to avoid the word „stairs“…

Is that a good enough hint?!

Artist albums really do excite me. I feel with the philosophy Metalheadz has towards music lets us and the artist work really well.

What is the difficulty in getting tunes from artists mastered right? Especially what was the problem with the Commix EP?

Commix weren’t happy with the mix plus we had sold out of copies. So we decided to re-release it with „Electric“.

What was your favourite Metalheadz tune in 2006? And today?

I can’t pick a favourite… „Digital Warrior“ from Goldie’s album is sick, also „Headz Up“ from Break. I thought the „Head Hunterz“ LP was the best LP since Platinum Breakz 1 & 2. That album was pure class.

Speaking of the Rufige Kru album: How come Monsta did all the artwork for „Malice in Wonderland“?

www.dogsonacid.com! All down to that forum… big up Monsta!

Surely most of the punters expected a more sci-fi / techy design.

Goldie or Heist were on DOA … And Goldie saw his work. Monsta came over to Goldie’s place and they just clicked and Goldie decided he should do the artwork. Most punters should know that you should expect the unexpected… I’m just trying to do things a little different and so is Goldie. I think the sci-fi / techy thing was all about the nineties.

Explain a bit about the delay issues like the new website and merchandise. Are you annoyed when punters ask repeatedly for things like this?

Yes it’s been very annoying… A lot of false dawns. However we’re 2 months away and finally there. It’s very important these days to have a digital strategy in place as we move into the digital era. With the website and shop it will help with the long term growth of the label.

Metalheadz is now like a three plus one level label (Rufige, Metalheadz, Metalheadz Platinum and Razors Edge for Remixes). What is the strategy behind that development?

Well we aim to slow down the releases on Metalheadz. We now have an outlet for tunes which aren’t quite ready for Metalheadz which I feel is important. Rufige is essential for bringing through the nu skool of producers out there.

What is the edge that makes a tune ready for a platinum release then?

Well it’s hard to find them… Goldie normally picks the tracks for platinum as it was his concept. The Spirit 12″ is out next month. After that we have nothing planned. Rhyan and Goldie came up with the idea. Good music is good music to me.

Why was the planned second part of the „Drum and Bass Headhunterz“ album cancelled for this year?

Well I think we would be pushing it a little to put out 3 albums this year. So we’re going to hold off till next year. We will be putting out a mix CD around November however from Goldie.

Which will contain Headz tunes only I suppose.

It will be exclusive Metalheadz with a free digital download track from the Headz website.

You mentioned the need of a digital strategy. Digital downloads of tunes are becoming more and more regular. Where do you see the challenges and what is the benefit?

The major challenge is converting them from DAT to Digital. We have almost 250 tracks still to convert and it’s a massive task. The benefit is that you can sell to a wider audience & make your music more available to the consumer.

Could this development be the reason for the end of the vinyl as we know it?

I dunno you will have to ask me in a few years. I think people will always buy vinyl…

Do you personally care for a media type (vinyl, cd, serato, ableton live) when a DJ is at work?

It’s more about the skills of the DJ and tunes than the media type. I do love the smell of a fresh dub plate though.

A question regarding the tunes which were released on a mix CD only (The Insiders „Meltdown“ / Skitty „Warm & Easy“) – will they become a full release later?

Hahaahahaha… I don’t think they will be released on vinyl.

Another release issue is the Re:press series which will hit the shops in summer. Did you just feel the demand for it or is there another reason?

Massive demand for it… Everyone wants the tunes, so we felt it was right to let them be re-released. There is a whole new generation of DJs/listeners out there who want those tracks, who couldn’t get them the first time.

What do you have to say to those who got the originals?

They will always be the originals. However the music has it’s own value and that’s the most important thing.

Since you are busy as hell („Who the fuck is Chris?“ is a classic) and a proud parent do you have any time for attending DnB nights?

You bet I do… I’m out every weekend. You gotta be. It’s very important to be out there hearing the new tunes.

Where do you see the label in 2010 / 2020?

2010 I see the label putting out DNB, Techno & Hip/Hop // 2020 I see the label still putting out music. However I don’t know what music…

At last now to something completely different: Have you seen the Champions League final? What are your thoughts?

Was a very typical performance from an Italian team. Took all the pressure and just took the goals when they came. Rafa Benitez made a mistake taking off Masharano. He was the key man for Liverpool.

Will Arsenal catch up in the premiership next season?

Arsenal is like the Headz website: a lot of false dawns. But we should be up and running soon. We need Eto or Owen.

Thanks Chris for the interview.

Thank you.

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