Many a boutique label tend to fall by the wayside after only a short stint above ground. Kolour LTD has been around for a little over six years and was initially preceded by Kolour Recordings/Kolour Digital before label heads Mike W. and Justin McMillen decided to focus on the vinyl only imprint full-time. Priding themselves as being a family oriented label and with the amount of quality records under their belt, it’s easy to see why they are consistently able to attract a number of both veteran and newly blossoming producers to their roster.
As their biggest release to date, they are putting out a 14 track compilation called “Tale of 2 Cities” which is due to hit shelves as a 3×12 LP in September, housed in a tri-fold jacket with a poster insert included. Welcoming back family members such as Frank Booker, Ugly Drums, Eddie C, Patchworks and Franc Spangler, they are also increasing their list of relatives to include fresh faces such as Fouk, Admin, Sleazy McQueen & Vinyl Addicted, Inkswel and Vincenzo De Bull just to name a few.
In this, the first of its kind double feature, we managed to catch up with label head Mike W. and ask him some questions about Kolour LTD while also debuting one of the tracks from the forthcoming compilation. And who better to inaugurate our new premiere series than Franc Spangler aka Jimpster?
For the first time in several years, Jamie Odell steps away from his widely popular Jimpster moniker and releases an original production as his Franc Spangler alias called “Wally’s Groove”. The A1 on the Kolour LTD “Tale of 2 Cities” compilation is driven by a groovy bassline with warm chords and a vaguely tropical sounding arpeggio. Synth keys, jazzy trills and the occasional afro percussion fills all add to a somewhat balearic vibe. Short breaks with a crescendoing string and ethereal vocal pad ramp up the tension before bringing the song back down to earth. We’re not sure who Wally is but there is no doubt we’ll hear be hearing this tune in many a sunset playlist towards the end of the summer season. Preview “Wally’s Groove” in all it’s glory here:
Kolour LTD has been a widely successful vinyl only imprint for a number of years now, do you have a certain secret recipe to keep your output so consistently strong? How do you manage to grow your roster to always include such talented producers?
Well, first off thanks for the kind words! Truthfully, I don’t know that there’s a specific »recipe » behind what we’ve managed to do over the years though. Most everything we do is predicated around our gut feeling(s) about someone/something. We’ve definitely been fortunate enough to work with some house-hold names over the years, but it’s the aspiring & undiscovered talent out there that really intrigues us. That mindset is what brought about the array of talent we chose for our Tale Of 2 Cities compilation. There’s a lot of really talented, undiscovered people out there making great music and we feel as though it’s our duty to give those people & their music a physical platform in which to shine. That really stands for something to us!
What made you decide to leave the digital world and focus on the vinyl only side of things, dropping your other two labels Kolour Recordings and Undertones?
Vinyl is what we were raised on. It’s how we « cut our teeth » and has always been the physical representation of our passion behind what we do. There is a certain amount of gratification that comes with a physical product that is something you just don’t get via a digital file. Despite the recent onslaught of vinyl sales, turntable purchases, and media outlets touting vinyl these days – digital is still the dominant medium. However, it just became too cumbersome to keep up with staying visible in the digital world when our real focuses were/are always on vinyl. Also, we actually hung on to the « Undertones » name when we dropped Kolour Recordings/Kolour Digital. Undertones then became the home for our series of « Supplement » releases by The Nathaniel X Project.
Can you give us a bit of insight as to how this 14 track compilation came about? What inspired the name? As it is your biggest release to date some serious planning must have gone into it, especially with a few other releases coming in short succession before and after it.
The idea behind this compilation was always something we’ve always wanted to explore throughout our years of doing Kolour LTD. In all honesty we just never really did anything about it until now. Besides, we’ve always had a steady stream of releases to keep us busy between Kolour LTD, special RSD releases, The Nathaniel X releases on Undertones, and more recently – Kolour LTD 10’s. For a project of this magnitude to stay consist with what people have come to expect from Kolour LTD .. it did require a lot of careful thought and consideration. The vision behind TO2C was to present a bit of a »cumulative package » of the sounds, vibes, and inspiration that has gone into our body of work at Kolour LTD over the past 13 years. With Justin from Detroit and myself from Houston – the Kolour LTD sound has always been a « Tale Of 2 Cities » if you will. 2016 just happened to be the year that we were able to take that body of work and roll it all into one release. We reached out to quite a few people we’ve done music with previously such as Jimpster (Franc Spangler), Ugly Drums, Frank Booker, Eddie C, and Patchworks but also wanted to usher in some fresh new faces to the mix who are doing some incredible music at the time such as Admin, Fouk, Henry Wu, VIncenzo De Bull & Halve Soul, Napoleon, & LeBlanc. There’s everything from straight up deep house, to edits, soul, and even funk/rare groove for good measure.
Presentation seems to be a big factor for you as well as a lot of your records have come out on coloured vinyl (or should I say Koloured?). With T.O.2.C. coming out in a neat little package as well, is it safe to assume that the aesthetic of your output is something you spend a lot of time thinking about?
Great question. Yes, aesthetics are definitely something we’ve taken into account over the years. The only reason why most KLR LTD releases are on black vinyl these days is because we’ve simply exhausted most (if not all) colored vinyl specs on all our different releases over the years. That being said, T.O.2.C. was something that we wanted to go all out for aesthetically. For a project like this – it needs to obviously sound the part first and tell the story, but it also needs to look the part as well. That’s why we decided to go with a tri-fold record jacket for all three vinyls and even include a little 12″ poster insert as a token of our appreciation. One thing that I’m quite proud of over the years is that we’ve had the same designer for all of our records & that is none other than Matt Pond. He hand-writes 90% of the stuff you see on our releases and his design ideas and color schemes have been a perfect match for our labels visual branding. We’d also be remiss without mentioning how much Prime Direct Distribution has played a role in our execution as well. Spencer, Richard, David & the gang over there take such great care of us. This compilation would be literally impossible without their help and interest in our vision with not just TO2C, but with Kolour LTD in general.
Another big thing you have going right now are your LTD 10’s series and we’ve seen a few already from Chezz, Jonny Conga and M.ono & Luvless with a couple more to follow from Admin and Daniel Leseman. Can you give us a little more background on these releases?
LTD 10’s was an idea that was brought about by the whole »less is more » mentality. These days, there seems to be a lot of these 5-6 track EP’s that get released and while it’s a great musical showcase for that producer & label, sometimes a two-track EP can be just as effective and send the same »message ». Sometimes music has a tendency to get lost in the shuffle when there’s TOO much of it and with KLR LTD 10’s .. the thought process was quite simple … two tracks (one per side) with music that is tailor-made for maximum playability. There are no frills, no extravagant artwork, no ambient intros/convoluted wash-outs or anything of the sort behind these releases. It’s just a fun little side project that we’re going to end at volume 5 with Daniel Leseman’s release. Get them while you can!
With all of the delays and backlogs we hear about at pressing plants over the last while, are you still managing to keep releases on schedule and do you plan for the possible wait ahead of time?
Well, as any fellow label owner could attest – there’s no rhyme or reason with trying to keep a schedule when releasing vinyl. You’re at the mercy of plant capacities, current work on-hand, and any other incidentals that might »surface » along the way. We definitely try to take all that into account and send our releases over the moment they’re ready to go. That way if there are extended delays or what have you, at least the release can »get in line » and hopefully hold it’s place until she’s finally finished. The flipside of that is kind of what’s happening at this very moment & that’s a bit of an over-saturation of releases. LTD 10’s seemingly has had a new release every month and it was never really intended to be that way. Stacking releases was just a means to compensate for extended lead-times at pressing plants. I guess the lead-times are running pretty true these days though!. It’s when the RSD fury hits that lead-times become very difficult to project for us. There’s no exact science to managing it all. Communication is your most essential tool of all though! Always try to be in contact with your network and if you feel out of the loop .. then get your ass back in the loop!
We’ve probably shed light on a lot of your upcoming plans here but is there anything else that you can divulge? Or maybe a nice long vacation is in order?
There’s definitely been a lot of light shed on our forthcoming releases. However, we’re never without a few tricks up our sleeve outside of what’s already been mentioned here. We’ve got a couple of EP’s in the pipes from The Last Trip To Gandahar (watch that name folks!) and one with Marcel Vogel/Mr. Mendel/Rahaan. Those are still a ways off, but definitely something we’re looking forward to! There’s also someone VERY special returning to us at Kolour LTD very soon! More on that later!
Tale of Two Cities released next month. Pre-order on Juno and most online shops.