“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Music and dancing have been fused together since the beginning. When the melody starts flowing through your veins, your body cannot help but move to the rhythm. The beat kicks in at the very least, you are bobbing your head. Every genre has their own style of dance to go along with it. Whether you are slow dancing with a lover or thrashing around at a metal concert with friends, music makes you move.

People have been dancing in clubs since clubs existed. Each generation bringing their own flair and new innovation to the dance music world. Jazz and Swing led to Old Rock n’ Roll and to Funk. Then Disco popped up in the states as Synth Pop made its way through Europe. New Wave introduced a more electronic sound which led to artists incorporating computers into their productions. Then the explosion of Techno, Electro and this girls personal favorite, House music. These genres changed the face of dance music and opened up the doors to endless possibilities. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) was born. Since then, artists have been merging styles that no one had ever imagined possible and has left a lot of old school dance music lovers confused by the whole scene. But that’s the beauty of it. The whole scene is a much bigger picture than people imagine it to be. This may not be your mother’s dance music but there are hints of it intermingled in it.

Adam Reifsteck sees the whole picture. This American composer and producer founded Teknofonic Recordings in 2015 based on one simple goal. To unite adventurous listeners with the boundary-crossing creators who are not afraid to revolutionize the electronic dance music scene. I recently had the pleasure to pick this man’s mind on what his company stands for and how he is making his mark on the EDM scene.

What made you decide to start a record label that focuses on EDM? 

The Internet and advancements in technology have become the major catalysts for change in the music industry. Music can be recorded and distributed far more cheaply these days, so the once intermediary role played by the record label to facilitate the availability of an artist’s music to the masses is no longer necessary. The downside of going the independent route to release your music is that the marketplace has become oversaturated. This makes it much more difficult to get noticed. The alternative is to get signed to a label that may promote your music but it will be at the sacrifice of transferring the ownership of your music to them limiting you’re control. Recognizing this problem myself as an artist creating electronic music, I wanted to provide a different way where artists can stay independent and explore their creativity while getting some of the benefits and support you would have by being on a record label. Artists really want a better way to get their music out there to fans and putting their interests first is what I set out to do. This really helped the label grow tremendously in the last year. Since officially launching in May 2015, we have signed over 40 artists from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Russia, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, Colombia, and Brazil.

What did you do for a living before you started your label?

Prior to starting the label, I worked in the industry as a contemporary classical composer, recording engineer, and producer. I have been blessed with opportunities to work with several internationally acclaimed ensembles, had my works premiered in major New York City venues, and received grants for my work from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, among others. While I continue to work in the contemporary classical music scene, I have found myself equally at home in the electronic music community. I don’t really see myself as a DJ, so being able to start a record label to support other artists and really see it grow so fast in the past year has been very rewarding.

What are some of the key elements you look for in an artists for your label?

We support forward-thinking artists producing genre-bending electronic dance music and give a platform for emerging talent to reach diverse audiences. At its core, the label seeks to unite adventurous listeners with the boundary-crossing creators who are not afraid to revolutionize the electronic dance music scene. So if you are making awesome electronic music that doesn’t quite fit the mainstream and breaks down the genre walls, we want to hear from you. We recommend you send your best work and have a collaborative spirit.

compilation

Teknofonic Essentials Vol. 1
Release date: April 15, 2016

In a world where EDM is not considered “popular” by mainstream radio, what does your label offer its clients in the way of promotion?

Our artists receive free promotion when we publicize our releases on our social media channels, through our weekly e-newsletter, and in targeted emails to electronic music blogs and online/traditional radio outlets. We have also created our first compilation album that released last month as a way to shine a spotlight on the musical achievements of our diverse roster. However, we understand that more strategic PR efforts are often needed to gain the right exposure. That’s why we work collaboratively with our artists to find low-cost promotion solutions tailored to their specific needs and budget. Whether it’s our DJ Promo Services that gets their releases in front of today’s most prominent DJs and podcasters, social media ad campaigns that grow their fanbase, or helping them to develop their brand identity, we give our artists the competitive edge needed to get their music heard in today’s marketplace.

How do you find potential artists?

Soundcloud has been a great way for our label to discover new talent. We also work closely with Music Xray, an online platform where artists submit their songs to industry professionals for a variety of opportunities, including label roster consideration. Dance music has always had this devoted and massive underground following.

Why do you think that the entertainment world doesn’t embrace it as popular or mainstream music?

Electronic dance music has been around for more than three decades and has evolved greatly over that time. While it has always had a devoted and massive underground following, I think EDM has actually grown tremendously in mainstream popularity due to an increase in the number of festivals, radio airplay, social media, and DJ collaborations with pop stars that shine a spotlight on the genre. All of these factors together have brought EDM to the forefront these past few years. I also think the ways in which we consume music in the digital age through services like iTunes and Spotify have made this type of music more accessible to the masses. In the early days, the only way you could hear this type of music was at the clubs.

What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to promoting your artists? 

The biggest obstacle when it comes to promoting my artists has to be a budgetary one. At the end of the day, the old saying holds true– you need to spend money to make money. Sometimes it can be challenging to keep that in balance. So we have to be creative and find new ways to reach out to more people. It might take longer than it would if we had the same budgets as the major labels, but I believe that if Teknofonic Recordings continues to release music that is innovative and helps its artists gain much deserved exposure in the process, we will continue to move forward.

What makes your label stand apart from others?

Lately, EDM has received criticism for lacking musical diversity and rightly so as the mainstream EDM is becoming a very tired sound. Just like the artists it represents, my label is anything but mainstream. We pride ourselves in only selecting artists that are creating a new breed of electronic music. We also operate outside the traditional label model by allowing our artists to maintain complete ownership over their music–which is unheard of in this industry. We want to provide an opportunity for artists to stay independent and explore their creativity while getting some of the benefits and support you would get by being on a record label.

What is your opinion on the stigma that surrounds the world of EDM when it comes to people criticizing the artists for just being talentless kids with a mac and pro tools?

Much of today’s EDM is cluttered and lacks depth which attributes to the stigma that any talentless kid with a computer and a software program like Garage Band can make it as you have pointed out. There is certainly some truth to that in some circles that celebrate mediocrity. What sets my label’s releases apart from other EDM music, however, is that it contains not only solid production but well-crafted songs. The artists on the Teknofonic Recordings roster refuse to accept the mindset of aligning themselves with specific genres of music and social norms. I believe listeners’ musical tastes have greatly evolved in this digital age and audiences are now demanding more adventurous styles of music. Through our releases, we’ve hopefully created a space for the genre-defying sounds that fall outside the mainstream to be heard by audiences craving something new.

If you had to defend this genre to a crowd of non-believers, what would you say?

Electronic dance music is not for everyone. However, it provides an opportunity for artists to explore new sounds and music techniques. There are a lot of interesting and talented artists out there. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad music out there as well. As long as you have an open mind, I believe you can find something that speaks to you. Five years ago, I was primarily a classical musician. Now I find myself in the electronic music scene because I have been fortunate enough to have found other like-minded artists that are pushing music forward and in new directions.

Where do you see your label in the next 5 years?

As our roster continues to grow, we hope to be in the position to expand to offer artist management. We also looking into producing some of our own events. A year ago, I never would have imagined going from representing 2 artists to over 40. So the next few years will be very exciting to see what transpires.

Where do you see the world of EDM in the next 5 years?

Artists are becoming more and more creative. I think we will see the genre walls come down. By launching Teknofonic Recordings, we have proved that emerging talent can craft the most forward-thinking and genre-defying sounds that fall outside the mainstream and other like-minded artists will push the world of EDM in exciting new directions.

After listening to Teknofonic Essentials Volume 1, I now have a soundtrack to Adam’s vision. Huge thanks to Adam for taking the time to share with us his story and his work. Check out their website at www.teknofonic.com.

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Extended Plays is an ongoing music series written by myself and my partner James. We listen to music, go with our gut and spill our honest and sometimes brutal opinion all over this blog. We hope you take the time to check out the artists we review for yourselves. We tend to believe that we are always right about everything but the most beautiful thing about music is that our opinion doesn’t matter to anyone but ourselves.

 

 

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