VIRPP started a new collaboration this week. The legendary label Toolroom Records is joining the platform. We talked to founder Mark Knight about new talent, Toolroom and the partnership with VIRPP: “We’re always looking to reach new people, and I believe VIRPP will help us achieve this.”
Could you tell us something about the start and legacy of Toolroom Records?
“Toolroom began back in 2003. Back then, I was getting frustrated at the job labels were doing with my own music, so alongside my brother Stuart, I decided to start my own. We were inspired by seminal labels like Subliminal and Defected – the kind of labels that when you saw a new record on the shelves, you’d buy on sight, without even having to listen. Our mantra was a simple one – we were a label run by DJs, for DJs. Toolroom became known for releasing records that DJs always reached for time and time again in their sets.
Over the years we’ve evolved and diversified as a label and a business, but I think our legacy lies in our reputation for releasing and promoting quality electronic music. Trends come and go, but we’ve stayed consistent in signing the music we love, and working with artists we admire. The best compliment I can ever get as a label owner is when someone says – ‘that sounds like a Toolroom record.’ It means we have a distinct musical identity, something that in my opinion, the best labels have.”
New talent is the lifeblood of the future of this industry, how do you guys reach that group?
“We have a very proactive approach to A&R. Our team are constantly scouring DJ tracklists, our demo submission area, social media, making sure we can see new talent emerging at an early stage. Also, we’ve established an educational arm of the label – the Toolroom Academy – where we teach the new generation how to make the music we love. If you want to learn how to make House, Tech House or Techno, we believe we are the best place in the world to learn. Through the Academy, we meet many passionate and talented new artists, and I’m pleased to say it’s become a big new talent funnel for us. Artists like Maxinne and Wheats have come through it, which proves it’s definitely working.”
What role is VIRPP going to play in that search?
“We generally avoid doing too many production contests at Toolroom, but when speaking to the team at VIRPP, we felt like it was the perfect platform to help us, and we felt confident in them to deliver a professional campaign. We’ve recently released an album by an artist called Mason – ‘Drowning in Your Love’ is the second single from the campaign, and we thought it was a great record to challenge new artists to remix. This platform will help us host all the entries, and also amplify the message – we’re always looking to reach new people, and I believe VIRPP will help us achieve this.”
What kind of artists and or producers are you looking for and what should VIRRP-users do to get noticed even more?
“I can’t stress this enough. Do you research on Toolroom before entering! Listen to our recent releases, and ask yourself – would my remix fit in with this label? In general, when new producers send us demos, and show they’ve done their homework into us, they know what we stand for and understand how they could compliment us, that goes a really long way.”
When you talked to you’re A&R department about VIRPP what was their reaction?
“The A&R team are looking forward to listening to some new talent. As I said, it’s been a long time since we’ve run a contest like this, and here at Toolroom we’re massive fans of the original track. So everyone is intrigued to hear the entries.”
Is your role on VIRRP going to be a passive or active one?
“I like to roll up my sleeves at Toolroom, and get stuck in to every aspect of the A&R process. As well as offering a raffle for VIRPP users to win some 1-1 A&R feedback with myself, I’ll be closely listening to the entries, and of course helping to decide the eventual winner.”
How are you going to promote the collaboration with VIRRP to your fan base?
“We have a large online community at Toolroom, many of whom are new producers. We also have a separate channel with the Toolroom Academy – a rapidly growing email list, Instagram page and website of helpful production content. So, we’ll be regularly promoting the contest, and giving feedback to selected entrants along the way, so that VIRPP users can understand the quality threshold for Toolroom and the type of sound we’re looking for.”
Are you working with VIRPP to find the next big thing or is this a way to support new artists?
“New careers don’t tend to come from remix contests, but they can be a great foot in the door, and also a fantastic way to practice your craft. We’re excited to find the winner of this contest, and support them with a release on Toolroom in 2021, a mixdown from Mason and a Toolroom Academy scholarship. But more than that, we’re all about supporting the producer community and offering opportunities to enter this contest. Electronic music doesn’t exist without new, fresh talent pushing through, and alongside VIRPP, we want to play a part in helping make this happen.”