This month we take a closer look to UK dance and afrobeat label Strut Records.
Originally formed in 1999, their roster of releases includes great classics and compilations from the likes of Grandmaster Flash, Sun Ra, Mulatu of Ethiopia and many more.
Founder Quinton Scott answered our Q&A giving us more insight on the label’s imprint and ethos.
1. What prompted you to start the label?
I had set up a similar compilation label in 1995, Harmless (through Demon Music) and saw the opportunity to develop a wider label under my own steam. There was a lot of interest in underground disco, original breaks and the history of dance music at the time; African rare grooves were also starting to be on the radar of DJs. So, it ended up being a great time to start up, in 1999.
2. What has been your proudest moment of the label so far?
The ‘Nigeria 70’ compilation was an incredible project to work on and hopefully it helped break open the doors a bit for the current wave of excellent African reissue labels. But helping to rejuvenate the careers of the legends has been most rewarding – working with Grandmaster Flash, Mulatu Astatke and many others on new albums and watching their profiles re-ignite and build over time is a massive pleasure.
3. Which three to five albums would you recommend to someone who maybe doesn’t know the label and wants to start checking it out?
The ‘Next Stop Soweto’ series documenting South African music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, definitely, Mulatu Astatke’s ‘New York * Addis * London’ compilation and Trevor Jackson’s ‘Metal Dance’ albums of industrial and EBM 12” rarities are good places to start.
4. If money was no object, which artist(s) – past or present – would you love to sign to the label, and why?
I would have loved to have worked with Segun Bucknor (Nigerian Afro-soul artist) and his Revolution band on a new album and touring – lovely man and one of the heaviest soul / funk artists in Lagos of the ‘70s. He sadly suffered from strokes after the early 2000s and passed away last year so we were never able to make that happen.
5. If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to start a label, what would it be?
Always follow your instincts, come with your own unique angle and don’t try and follow the pack – consistently strong releases that stand out are essential for any label. Also, manage the finances carefully – cashflow is the most common downfall of any small label so balance your risk and don’t spend out too much too early before your income starts coming in.
Republic of Music would like to thank Quinton from Strut. We love working with the fantastic team at the label and it’s an honour to work on the incredible records that they release.