Skrillex performing at Ultra Music Festival 2015. (Rukes)
Skrillex’s record label OWSLA is one of the most influential and forward-thinking electronic music brands in the world. The company currently boasts a roster that includes Jack U, Valentino Khan, Kill The Noise, What So Not, and DJ Sliink. It also helped build the careers of heavyweights like Zedd and Dillon Francis.
OWSLA was founded in 2011 by Sonny “Skrillex” Moore, Blood Company’s Tim Smith, Biz 3 Founder Kathryn Frazier, and Biz 3’s Clayton Blaha. Another key member of the team is General Manager Blaise DeAngelo, who spoke with Digital Music News about the company’s philosophy and what it takes to get signed to a label.
Whether you’re a fan of OWSLA or not, DeAngelo’s advice applies to any budding artist and underlines the importance of developing a distinctive brand. Below are the stand-out quotes from the interview.
Their goal isn’t to have a signature sound.
“People ask: ‘What’s OWSLA’s sound?’ We don’t have a sound. The unifying thread that brings all of our artists together, and I think the main thing we look for when we’re evaluating new signings, is if that person is really pushing the envelope. We look for people who are doing their own thing and building a scene around themselves.”
They discover new artists through existing relationships.
“For the most part things come to us. It’ll be someone who’s a friend of a friend. I guess a good example would be Alesia, the Parisian techno duo, came to us from Brodinski and the Bromance crew. So we’re friends with them, Sonny met those guys when he was playing at Social Club in Paris a few years ago. We’ve stayed tight with them because he recognized that Bromance is another label that has a very strong vision, and we’re interested in what they’re doing. They found the Alesia guys in Paris and they thought that OWSLA would be a good home for them, they sort of fit with everything we’re doing.”
Skrillex searches for new artists on the Internet.
“[Skrillex is] also always on SoundCloud, he’s always on YouTube, he’s always listening to stuff. He just has that insatiable desire to discover new stuff. I would say most of our A&R direction comes from Sonny or Sonny’s relationships.”
They’re interested in artists who are blazing their own trails.
“You can teach an artist how to mix better, how to make better sounds, how to work with the technical side of the audio engineering. . . . But what you can’t teach is that confidence in being able to generate and harvest ideas, and to pursue those ideas confidently, unwaveringly, without trying to follow trends.”
Related: Skrillex’s OWSLA Label Celebrates Its 3rd Anniversary