We spent some time recently getting to know International Recordings owners/executive producers Antony and Kenny.
GW: Tell me, when did you guys start International Recordings?
IR:We actually had another record label back in 2001; me and Antony were owners and had a group called the High Rollers that we came out with. But when Katrina hit it kinda split up the label, and now we’re back with International Recordings and it’s a whole new label that we just started it this year.
GW: High Rollers, is that a group both of you were in?
IR: Yes, the High Rollers actually were started back in 1997, when Kenny and I became a group, and we had another artist but he’s no longer with us. Like Kenny had explained we released an album in 2001, and times were tough back then so it was kinda hard, not like you can move now. But we did sale one thousand copies out of the trunk, there weren’t any internet sales or anything like that. And when Katrina hit we had to all go our own separate ways. We still have all of that material that we’re sitting on, and we’d like to redo the material and make it contemporary. But now we’re starting fresh off the ground with our new label International Recordings, just looking forward and never looking back.
GW: So you guys are in New Orleans?
IR: Actually we’re in Slidell, Louisiana but New Orleans is our hometown.
GW: What sets International Recordings apart from other independent labels?
IR: Well pretty much with International Recordings we’d like to bring members aboard to become part of a family, where everyone is involved, not so much with the executive decisions being made, but they have a say so with material and other things that most other labels don’t allow certain artists to do. But not only that, we’re also trying to welcome everyone that’s from different countries to come and become part of the label at no cost to them. Pretty much, International Recordings is going to provide them with everything they need, to get their music off the ground.
GW: You guys are a rap and hip hop label?
IR: Yeah we’re pretty much under hip hop and rap, but we expanding to where we can pretty much be diverse with different genres. I’m actually going to be the Spanish side of it, when I do come out with my solo and we’re going to have a little bit of rock and pop with our music. But mainly for right now we’re definitely rap and hip hop.
GW: How many artists do you guys have right now?
IR: We have two artists right now. One is Mako, he also goes by M-Kazi, and we have Southern Stray. And those are the two artists that are on the saints’ song that we just released called “We are Saints”.
GW: Are your artist’s performing and doing shows or are they still creating material?
IR:Yeah, we’re getting the material and everything together, but actually one of our artist’s has already done quite a few performances. Like Kenny mentioned his name is Mako; and he had his own record label when he came up which was Me Five Records and he put an album out. I hate to put people out there, but he had bad management and was never able to move forward with his music. So he’s with us now and it seems to me that we are moving at the speed of light and have been able to get a lot accomplished so far. So the shows are yet to come, we’re actually waiting on our material to be completely finished and mastered, so we can set up a forty-five minute show for some of the people we already have interested in having us come by and performin’.
GW: You have one album getting ready to be released, right?
IR: We have one solo song that’s just released called We Are Saints, and the main artist on that is Mako, featurin’ Southern Stray. And it will be available on iTunes.
GW: What kind of promotions are you guys doing to get the label exposed?
IR: We’ve been concentrating a lot on our website, because when we did this back in 2001 the internet sales weren’t like they are today. So we’re really making a lot of contacts and we’re going to do a lot of our sells online and we’re going to have a lot of sister websites with us. Kenny is right about the website, that’s one of the things we’re going to be doing to move our product up. But basically we’ve been doing all of the foot work. We’ve been going out to all the local Dj’s in New Orleans, ya know givin’ out promotional cd’s; letting them hear, let the people start getting a feel for it. We’ve actually been successful going to these tailgating spots, and we’ve got a lot of play time there. We’ve got it in on Bourbon Street with a lot of the club owners, to have them play the music there. So we’re getting a lot of the exposure on our own, but of course we looking to expand and do more things as far as advertising and marketing go. We’re working with a lady right now about getting some shirts and hats made, so come show time we can spread the word, spread the advertising. It’s all pretty much been done be ourselves, we haven’t actually hired somebody to go out and promote the label or our music.
GW: Is your plan to stay as an Independent Label or would you go major if the opportunity came?
IR: We would definitely go major if the opportunity was to present itself, but we like to be independent. And I notice a lot of companies are staying independent today.
GW: So pretty much you’d like to get major distribution but keep the label independent?
IR: Yes, we’re definitely working on distribution. We want to get out of just the US. What we’d pretty much rather do is become a partner or a part of a bigger label and still have our own thing. You know you set this business up, and you kinda want to establish and keep your business and make your business successful. But if the opportunity was to present to become a part of a bigger label and everything is right for what we need to better our label and better our artists, then yeah we’d definitely do that.
GW: Are you guys limiting yourselves on how many artists you’ll accept to the label or will you take as many as possible?
IR: For right now my partner and I would like to start off with a solid 10 guys, meaning men or women. And we’d like to stay with that many to see where we can go with it. Once again we’re a small independent label and we’re limited to what we can actually do, so we can’t bring on say 50 artists, because we’re not going to be able to produce for them. Say studio time, beats, their promoting, ya know all of that stuff, it would just be too much for us to handle. We don’t have that big of a group. Our family is small now but its growing, Kenny and I being the main owners/executive producers, but we have people underneath us that are promoters and engineers. It’s a long process I guess you can say.
GW: If an artist is interested in your label, what do they need to do to be a part of International Recordings?
IR: Pretty much if they don’t have anything ready like a finished album, the first thing is they need to be an independent artist, we’re really not trying to step on anybody’s toes and take somebody that’s already signed to a label, but if their a non-exclusive artist for that label then we’d be willing to take them on. All they really have to do is contact Kenny or I and we’ll sit down with them and explain to them how our company goes and how they really don’t have to come out of pocket for anything. We take care of their studio time and their beats. Pretty much we doing everything and get it all in the works we. We think we’re being pretty fair as far as the percentage we’re offering our artists and at this point I’d rather not disclose.
GW: What’s the best way to contact you guys if an artist is interested?
IR:Our website www.internationalrecordings.com .
GW: Where did you find your artists that you have now?
IR: Okay to make a long story short… A longtime friend of ours became interested in the music business and pretty much put a spark in us to get off of our butts and do what we love to do. Then his cousin who is the main artist in the Saints song that we released had been in it for quite a while. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing where we were like okay we’re going to start over and get with all of our friends that put out stuff or people that know people that put of stuff and try and build this family, and go forward with the music. So for right now we have two artists, and right now we are looking at one more artist that has agreed to do another solo album with us and his name is Trinidad. And besides him we have yet to sit down with six other people that are interested in becoming a part of the label. Times have been crazy and we’re trying to push this solo song out, so we’ve been pretty busy but doesn’t mean that we’ve forgot about them.
GW: Where do you see International Recordings this time next year?
IR: Hopefully everywhere! [Laughs] Everything we can get ourselves into, I know we’re working with you’ll Gutta World and every other magazine we can get a hold of. And hopefully get some of our artist as features with some major labels on some major songs. Pretty much a year from now we want to be a record label that’s well recognized across the nation, we’re hoping to be doing shows all over the nation, Texas, Atlanta and of course in hometown, that’s where we’ll be starting. We’re hoping that we are overseas that this time next year as well. And maybe in Honduras, my [Antony] hometown, doing shows. We also see ourselves as maybe being one of the only labels that have versatile genres. We’re not going to be just a hip-hop and rap label. We’re gonna go ahead and represent the Spanish side of it, we’re gonna go ahead and represent the American side of it, and it doesn’t necessarily mean Spanish or white or Chinese or what not it doesn’t mean that have to be from that country, but if their family is from then we consider them international.
GW: You both have daytime jobs right? This isn’t what you do 24 hours a day right?
IR: No. Actually I’m sure I can speak for both my partner and I, we’re both self-employed and own our own business. I own a roofing and remodeling company and Kenny owns a grass business. But we’re putting in about 70 hours a week, so along with our daytime jobs it’s a full time job right now also.
GW: How do you guys balance your personal businesses and continue to thrive with International Recordings?
IR: [Laughs] By only getting 3 hours of sleep a night… It’s actually pretty hard to balance it, you have to make sure that all of your materials and jobs are going on during the day and then at the end of the day when your actual business shuts down that your next job begins. You start doing all of the foot work making sure your website is coming along, make sure your artist’s have everything they need, make sure they have their lyrics ready, make sure your talking to your local businesses. It’s hard to balance, don’t get me wrong and its kinda hard to do on your own, but we’re a family here, me and Kenny are like brothers, my wife and his wife have been very very supportive and without them we really wouldn’t be as far as we are now. So it helps when you have someone supporting and backing you up on what you’re doing. And of course helping you out with the paperwork and setting up meetings.
GW: Will you accept artists from anywhere right now? And how would you make it work; would you just meet with them over the phone?
IR: We would definitely make it work for them, and see what we could set up as far as meeting but we would definitely be interested in artists from all over. They can pretty much just contact us through email and provide their contact information then we can get ahold of them. And from there we’ll set up and meeting to where maybe we can meet half way or we can fly to them. And anyone coming from out of town we would like them to at least have a demo or at least six songs that their working with, so we are able to hear what their all about. Don’t get me wrong everyone thinks their music is great, we think our music is great, but not everyone else thinks so. So we sit down as a family and we will filter all of this music and decide who we want to use. We’re not shutting the door down on anybody, because what some people might not think is good, we may think it’s good. We welcome anyone across the nation to go ahead and email us with their contact information and a little bit about themselves, what their working with and their genre and a brief message with a name and telephone number.
GW: What role do your artists play? Do they write their own music, select their beats, etc.?
IR: Our artist’s definitely write their own music, and that’s basically their job, to just be artist. Like Antony said, we don’t want to be one of those type of labels that just hold all of the business to ourselves, we like our artist’s to be involved as much as they can be with the whole business side of everything, not just being an artist and writing and recording, and going home. We also allow our artist’s to go out and promote their own selves. I know promotional fees can be pretty expensive, but the main thing is building a fan base. We encourage them to make friends, have a Facebook. But yeah the artists write their own lyrics, some of the songs we do give them ideas. Now as far as finished product when the song comes out, we make the decisions. We let them go ahead and run with their product and material, we listen to it, analyze it, filter it and then we tell them what we thinks good and what is not; and we do it all as a team. No decision is made without everyone agreeing on it.
GW: What would you do if you represented an artist and at first they told you that they were all about the music and then after a while they started to get money hungry how would you control that situation?
IR: Pretty much we’ll bring him or her down to square one; we have an agreement as far as how the label operates. Really a lot of people are about the fame and money, but what we’re trying to do here is become a label of artists that actually love what they are doing, and who want this to be what they want their everyday life to be and want to go out and perform in front of a crowd. When you come to our label those are the expectations we have from the artist.
GW: Do you guys plan on keeping your daytime jobs when you become nationally and internationally known?
IR: It depends on the circumstances, ya know. If we can give them up we’d love to, but me and Antony we are business men and we’d love to have multiple businesses going at the same time. I think that’s why we work so hard.
GW: Is there a certain market of fans that you guys are focusing on targeting?
IR: Right now we are actually targeting the Rap, Hip-Hop and R&B fans. And I think relates to almost everyone, because now a days everyone pretty much open minded to listening to all types of music, I don’t think you have people that only listen to certain types anymore.