Founded by Chase & Status back in 2009 MTA Records have a reputation for finding the next big thing in floor-filling music. An early signing in the form of Nero set the bar high and since then the label has picked up the likes of Moko, Dream Mclean, Knytro and Kove, all intent on setting the music world alight. And having been there themselves, Chase & Status’ Saul and Will are perhaps some of the best bosses new acts could wish for. As their new compilation celebrating five years, aptly named “MTA 5″, is released we catch up with the team behind the music to find out what they look for in a prospective artist and what really makes a great record.
With so many changes to peoples’ habits when it comes to consuming music, is this a difficult time for independent labels? What are the keys to success?
Yes, it is a challenging time, but labels and their artists are still enjoying success in many different forms. It’s more about labels adapting and recognising that traditionally released recorded music isn’t the only way to survive. Attitudes need to change, but that goes for artists too. So many young developing electronic artists we talk to still want to sign and release albums, but the album format for a debut dance producer can be suicide these days. Even the Guetta’s and the Calvin’s and more established artists aren’t seeing the album sales even of a few years ago.
What are a label’s principal responsibilities to an artist?
We set up this label as an indie outfit who could release music properly and efficiently, and I mean that as in without waste. We’ve been very lucky to work with both smaller and bigger labels and it’s hard to take all that you’ve learned yourself and not try and do it better. We want to give our artists longevity and careers, we’re not in this to make a quick buck.
What does MTA look for in its artists?
Raw talent and attitude. Not necessarily equal measures of each.
Is there something missing from the current music scene that MTA is trying to find?
As A&Rs you can drive yourself mad trying to find the newest and underground sounds and music. Ultimately we are a UK based label and the UK is well credited with breaking and nurturing a host of emerging trends. One of our biggest successes initially was with Nero, who eventually evolved as one of the dubsteps scene’s biggest outputs. The trouble with that type of genre based success, is that then you’re pigeonholed. Ultimately we’re just trying to find great music and give it’s creators a platform.
After finding success as an artist as Chase & Status is MTA records an opportunity to pass on wisdom and opportunity to the next generation of artists?
That is certainly one way to look at it although in 2009 when we started MTA we had just released our debut album “More Than A Lot” (hence the name) and the ethos was to release exceptional music and ultimately to treat artists the way they should be treated. The label should be about the artists and their music and not your own logo.
What is the most important lesson you learned as artists that you pass on to the acts that sign to MTA?
It’s probably quite a cliche to say this but really it has always been just to do you and make the music that you want to make. Don’t write music to try and get on the radio or try and make music that you think someone else would like or is what is ‘hot’ at that time. We sign artists because we love what they are doing and not to try and replicate the sound of the moment. We look for originality and something that stands out from the crowd. Another important lesson is to actually finish something you’ve started – you can have a folder of unfinished demos but actually completing them is another story.
MTA records artists toured Manchester, Leeds and Bournemouth this autumn, what was the reception like from the crowds? Are MTA’s artists most at home playing to packed out dancefloors?
We were very fortunate to have such great MTA shows this autumn as well as our regular nights at The Nest in Dalston. Everyone at MTA feels at home playing to an intimate crowd of 250 and also at a 3000 strong turnout at the WHP. The shows were fantastic and all the artists, old and new – received great reactions. It was great to see classic MTA records from Redlight to Ben Pearce to Nero and to Kove going off up in different venues all over the country.
Occasionally record labels and artists have creative differences. How much creative control do you afford your artists? Did you always have good experiences with record labels in the early stages of your career?
We give our artists full creative control. We try and facilitate their wishes and plans and hopefully we can add to them and make suggestions that they may not have thought about that we think could work well. Will and I always give our artist’s honest feedback and will assist with things such as radio edits, structure, mixes and many more things should they want that. As artists ourselves we have had a good experience on a whole with record labels. We started releasing on many independent labels from 2003 until 2009 and we were always pretty shrewd and made sure that our accounts were always in order and so on but we knew many people who had really terrible experiences, not getting paid, no royalties and a whole list of other incidents. A record label is nothing without its artists so treating them as they are supposed to be treated is the only way to be. MTA is a label started by artists, for artists.
What’s the next release coming up on MTA? Whose name should we be looking out for in 2015?
We recently signed Dimension – he’s been bubbling away in the DnB scene and has written some standout tracks. His new single “Love to Me” is out now on MTA, and he’s got some really exciting music coming next year. Another big artist for us for 2015 has to be TCTS – a brilliant house music producer with a unique edge who’s turning alot of heads – in the industry and in the clubs. Watch out for his new EP in the new year.
What makes a great album?
Outstanding music that’s consistent from beginning to end, and without apology.
Order MTA 5 here
Buy tickets for MTA Records Oval Space Fifth Birthday Event here