London based house duo Saison have, over the last few years, carved out a niche of their own. Named the best deep house artist of 2018 and 2019 by Traxource, and one of the biggest selling deep house artist on Beatport, they have released on some of the most respected house labels in the world, including Defected, Toolroom, Large Music, Sonar Kollektiv, and Suara to name a few.
They’ve also remixed many titans of the scene including such musically diverse artists as Jack Back and Chez Damier. With a unique sound that incorporates influences from their disparate backgrounds, Saison’s music is raw, heady and demonstrating house music at its very best.
With their new single Show Me out this week, we thought it was about time we caught up with them for a chat.
No-one could have foreseen we were going to have a year like 2020. How do you think the music industry should prepare for something like this happening again in the future?
It’s hard for any industry to prepare for something like this. Most people in our world are self employed artists. Those who depend mostly on gigging, it’s going to hit hardest. Making sure you have a little safety net to get you through dry times is a must. It’s been great seeing all the live streams, it keeps awareness of the scene and music. We personally haven’t seen any much change in our sales for music and have seen an increase in streaming. So people are still listening to music, that won’t ever change.
Do you think online streaming is a reasonable substitute for actual clubbing? Or is there just no comparison?
It’s a different kettle of fish all together. Nothing can substitute a community experiencing music together in the same place. It’s our favourite aspect about our culture. However like we mentioned, its great to see a lot of this going on. People need music throughout all this even if it’s experiencing it on your own computer, it’s nice knowing you’re doing that with others watching at the same time.
What’s the first record you’ll play in your first set back?
Oh that’s a tough one, depends on where and when we play. We always have a few songs on hand but nothing is ever planned. So depends on the crowd, the setting. If we did have to choose it would be the new Local Options on No Fuss “Boiler” – we love what these guys do, if it’s a little more chilled daytime vibes, Coppola “Kings & Queens ” on D.O.C
Hard question I know, but what is your favourite house record of all time, the one that gets you every single time you hear it?
Matt – There’s too many name and for different reasons but the most influential record for me is Armando “Land of Confusion.” It was life changing the first time I heard it. I thought it was the future, and wanted to make music that sounded just like that!
Leigh – Again there are a handful. The one that completely made me change direction from rave culture to house music clubbing culture was Heller & Farley – Ultra Flava, DJ Pippi played it at Ku Club in Ibiza the first time i visited in 1995 and subsequently took me 3 months to find out what it was called, i managed to get a tape recording of the night and played it to people in record shops till it eventually surfaced as a promo on Junior Boys Own. The array of remixes over the years has taken the magic out of the record for me. The straight up original dubby vibe with the bassline and string hits essentially made me fall in love with House music
Tell us about your label, No Fuss. What’s the defining ethos behind the label, and what are you particularly looking for – other than quality – in the record you sign?
No Fuss was born out of the work we do at our studio Earthworks in North London. We work with a lot of artists in helping them finish their music or developing their ideas. It was a natural step to release that music. With our label we have a hand in everything we do, whether that’s co-producing something, helping someone develop a good idea or if we are just mixing and mastering the project. What we look for are good ideas no matter how raw they are. We can help get them in a space after that. The idea of No Fuss came through the amount of work we were doing. If you focus on the small stuff and over think your music you’ll never finish a song. We came up with the No Fuss approach to help us focus on what’s important in a song and not to fuss over the small stuff.
Do you think there are too many labels? Or does that just mean more choice for DJs and music lovers?
Yeah, it’s over saturated for sure but we think good labels cut through. Too much choice isn’t always a great thing but the fact music is easier to release these days has had a positive outcome for talented artists who struggled to get their music heard. The download stores do a good job in curating their genre sections, filtering out the quantity and ultimately giving smaller labels that produce quality, the platform to be heard.
What’s the most challenging thing about running your own label?
Keeping up with our schedule! We produce or have a hand in everything we do even if it’s just the mix and mastering process. We release every two 2 weeks so maintaining the level of quality with our schedule keeps us extremely busy. We try to work 7-10 weeks in advance as well. We don’t always get things done on time, but keeping up with our quality and consistency is something we are really proud of.
Attack Magazine recently published an interesting article about DJs who feedback ‘downloaded for XXX’ instead of leaving meanfingful feedback. As both receivers and senders of promos, what’s your take on this?
To be honest we don’t send out promos for our label. We just don’t believe that mail-outs have much impact on record sales or do much to expose your music. It’s not to say we don’t do other things to spread the word of our releases. Investing in a good PR company to raise the profile of your label and key artists goes a lot further to attract awareness. Having a DJ give a quote for a record doesn’t actually persuade people into buying it, at least in our experience. The copy and paste fire emojis just don’t cut it in the real world of presenting your music for sale. Music lovers buy music they like and connect with, that has always shown for us. We have never sent out a promo for our label and that hasn’t stopped people from finding our music. We might pass a project on to someone who we think might like it but we aren’t looking for feedback for promotion, just sharing the music. If you have good music people will buy it. And if a DJ likes it they will chart it. It doesn’t matter how many quotes you get, it just doesn’t sell records.
From personal experience we don’t like being on loads of lists either. It’s nice if a favourite label or producer sends you something but promos have gotten way out of hand. At one point we were receiving over 100 promos a week . If we like something we’ll buy it. We really enjoy spending our time searching for music, it’s exciting to us to discover something we like. Maybe you could argue that’s an old school sensibility but we would rather operate that way rather than responding to 100 promo emails.
What do you have coming up in the next few months?
We’re really proud about our next Saison single on No Fuss “Show Me” featuring Dominique Fils-Aimé. We have a great remix of this track from Waajeed that will be released later this year as well. We also have a few remixes up next for Soulfuric Records, Jalapeño Records, Kevin Yost and of course No Fuss. We just started a new vinyl series called Saison, which focuses a little more on our sample based work. The first 2 in this series just came out through Juno Records. Our 5th vinyl release for No Fuss is out later this month as well. Other than that, we’ve taken some time out at the moment to focus more on our original material. We’ll also release a few more Saison EPs throughout the rest of the year.
Any final message for our readers?
Keep safe, wash your hands and don’t get too overwhelmed by all those promo download links in the inbox. Take time out on the download stores and the vinyl sites and hunt some new music down