Constantly wishing to explore the borders of what’s being created around the globe, we talked with Rennie Foster about his sound and new label RF. Rennie has been fearless in creating a brand that tells a truthful story yet allows for cross-pollination, allowing for a multitude of creative endeavours. The perfect read for entrepreneurial music producers.
Tell us about your label; what is the signature sound and how did you go about setting it up?
RF is a “signature brand” type of label, you might say. The “signature sound” is my sound. The music can reference all sorts of eras and movements in dance music, classic house, Detroit techno, hip-hop subculture… I attempt to take those things and create something that is my own out of them.
I have been using the RF brand and logo for a few years now, and it has appeared on other label’s records. It was just a matter of time before I think before it turned into a label on its own; it was an organic move in the direction of artistic independence.
What was the back story? How long has it been in the making?
I had released a lot of music on other labels. Sometimes it was a good experience, and sometimes it wasn’t. I started making moves to reacquire the rights to some of the music I had released on different labels in the past, with the aim to re-release the work I felt was still relevant. Some of it had been released vinyl only, and I wanted to make it available digitally as well.
I was also running a small label, Dirty Works, which was sort of the aftermath of Futago Traxx, a vinyl label I ran about 10 years ago. I had released two records, in 2011, under the RF brand, through Prime Direct distribution. I decided to clear all that work off the internet and use the two “RF” releases as a starting point, and present RF as a solid, independent brand that I could really get behind. We have a stacked release schedule for the rest of the year that consists of remixed and mastered older work, alongside several brand new releases. I am very excited about it!
Why was starting a label important to you?
It was important to me, as an artist, that I take control of my destiny. I decided that always trying to get gigs, and work with bigger labels wasn’t really getting me any further ahead really, and I didn’t want to think about my art just as promotional material. I wanted to create and release pieces of art that are really authentic. So now, I am going to make some stuff, and put it out, and if people want to check it, I am happy, if not, I’m still doing it for myself and the heads that get it. There is no compromise, and no matter what trends are happening in the industry, I will do exactly what I feel strongly about on “RF”, separate from all that.
I am still working with other labels, like Derrick May’s legendary “Transmat” label, and my long time friend Noah Pred’s “Thoughtless Music”, but I am going to be a lot more selective about who I am releasing with from now.
How would you describe this “freeform project” in regards to the diverse formats that you’re releasing?
A banner that includes all my creative endeavours, from making tracks to visual art, t-shirts… anything. I want to create each thing as a piece of art, not just promotion. I don’t want to appeal to as many people as possible, or catch customers; the focus is on creating something that will mean something. I also do not care about formats, I will release things digitally, I will release different things on my bandcamp, I will give some away as free downloads, I will press vinyl, I just pressed up a bunch of CDs, I may even do a tape. Why not?
How have you found the artists for the label? What has been the common factor?
Well, I am really only focusing on my own music right now. I know what it feels like when a label just doesn’t have the means or interest to treat your music with the respect it deserves, and I certainly don’t want to do that to any other artists. I do have my eye on some up and coming creators that I am going to do my best to release some original material when the time is right.
What words of advice would you give emerging producers?
Well, my first advice would be to avoid thinking of yourself as a “producer”. A producer is something someone else calls you, a job description, something that you become, in time, as you get into the business of making and selling music. Start by becoming an artist first – a musician. Dance music doesn’t need any more “producers”, it needs more artists. Young people in dance music these days are already jumping into the relentless promotion process before they even have anything unique to offer. There isn’t a lot of importance being placed on the creation, and the reasons to create, but rather on just making content to promote. To get likes, or listens, or sales, or shares, or views, or votes, or whatever. I advise new creators to re-think that process, and be aware that you don’t need to do it like that, even if it feels like you do. Don’t choose a “genre”, make the music that is truly inside you, and let someone else try to file it. As well, don’t define yourself as an artist, or DJ, by the gear you have bought, or the format you release on, but rather how what you have created effects other people’s lives. Art is a form of communication, you can say a lot more than just how cool, popular and clever you are.
Photo Credit: Mark Oxley