Interview with TheDJStrong (StrongHouse Records)
[Conducted in January 2003]
Putting out quality tracks and running a Record Label isn't easy - just ask Mike D. We had a chance to ask some questions of the alter egos TheDJStrong and Strong, over at StrongHouseRecords.com
What's your favourite Beastie Boys release? Can you remember when you first got into them?
Paul's Boutique all the way. There is something about that album that makes it seem longer than 53 minutes, from the intro fading into the classic "Hey Ladies" track to the quick mix track then back to the same intro fading out as the outro. Just dope shit. I have listened to that album from top to bottom over and over. I wasn't really in to the Licensed to ill album just cause all the dickheads I knew liked it so I wanted something for my own = Paul's Boutique.
Both "Pauls Boutique" and "Three Feet High & Rising" (De La Soul) are prime examples of the heyday of sampling, with layers of effects coming from countless sources. What's your views on sampling these days, with clearance and creativity and lawyers getting more and more involved.
I didn't really pay attention to the samples with Paul's Boutique but since you bring it up about sampling in general I only have to say when Puff Daddy started raping all the 80's tracks that is when shit got really old, really fast. If a song is dope, then a song is dope and if the lawyers of those "samplees" want to get down and dirty with the legal ink then so be it....If the sampler and "samplee" can come to a good agreement then everyone wins and that is where my feelings lie- let everyone benefit.
Abstract Rude who released a 12" on Grand Royal ("Something About This Music") in 1995 is now on the StrongHouse roster. How did he hook up with your label?
I got in contact with Ab through Kool DJ EQ from Industry Records out in Vegas (who produced the beat). And I met EQ through Ras One randomly at EQ's shop back in the days. So it was a beautiful chain of events that led us to our new single with Abstract entitled "Got it Like That." It was just a short while after a track with Pharcyde fell through that EQ let me peep this banging track over the phone....and the rest was history. You can see what I mean now that the single has just dropped (Jan 15th)! Of course you can sample it at StrongHouseRecords.com
Yeah that download section on your site is a great idea so buyers can check out some of the latest tunes coming from the label. Does Napster (and the ilk) have any affect on your business like the major labels are all claiming.
File sharing doesn't bother us and doesn't affect our business. If you got to have it, you got to have it!
From an outsiders view, where do you think the label (Grand Royal) failed?
You know what....I have heard so many different stories about the label tumbling down and honestly I wish I knew for sure so that I could learn some shit. Make your money and run.
Brought to life in 2000, StrongHouse is still quite a young label, where would you like to see the label in 5 years time?
I want to see our shit everywhere. TV, Radio, and Internet. I want it to be BIG. I mean who doesn't??? But when I say, I mean it- that I will go broke trying.
What inspired you to start your own label? How did you go about it?
I was led to starting my own business out of my love of music in general and having the desire to do this full time. I simply formed a company and went at it! It has been an interesting chain of events after that.
Any tips for people wanting to start out there own label?
You just have to do it. Get the fire first cause without the fire to do it, you won't do it. Figure out the "why?" part of having a record label and make sure it is a good idea...then learn from your mistakes and try to make them as small as possible when making them.
What's going to be happening this year with StrongHouse Records? Any big plans in store?
We will be having at least 3 singles coming out in the same fashion as "Got it Like That" and "Youzafiend" by TheDJStrong f. Wildchild of Lootpack- Nov 02. Including TheDJStrong on his own track (planned) and definite heaters from caliber artists (secrets, secrets, secrets). We are looking for one CD project that we can release this year as well if not in 2004 (something always pops up). We hear that there is an unofficial mixtape coming out with StrongHouse cuts and other exclusive tracks this month, so we will see what comes with that.
In the perfect world, what artists would you like to see on your label?
Oooh, well....we plan to start another totally different label later this year to release some different music (more raw music) but for StrongHouse I would like to see Aceyalone, someone from the J5, one or all of Tha Liks, The Pharcyde (actually we almost were going to release a new track from them but wasn't the right time), etc.
Located in Orange County, CA just below Los Angeles, is this a disadvantage for you? Orange County seems more renowned for its Punk Rock.
No. We are actually Orange Counties #1 underground hip hop record label in terms of us being established here and having worldwide underground releases that are selling well. Although we have limited releases of Orange County artists give it sometime and the right people will pop up.
Any final words?
Yes. 2003 is the year to build!