Mango Alley is the first label Decoded Magazine has featured since joining Pioneer DJ Radio and we received a lot of good feedback from listeners. I’m sure Mango Alley have gained a few new followers from progressive lovers who had not yet discovered the label. I’m joined by label owner Alex Golovanov who is really honoured for Mango Alley to be the first label we featured on Pioneer DJ Radio. “Thank you so much for the invitation and the opportunity to share our music. For sure the exposure has been amazing and it’s been great reaching lots of new listeners” he said.
Mango Alley started back in 2008 as an avenue for Alex to release his own music. He was about a year into his artist career and things were really starting to take off. “I already had a couple of successful releases, some chart appearances, and had a solid fan base. It was the perfect moment” he said. At the same time he knew he didn’t want MA to be solely an output for his own music, he also wanted to represent and showcase the sound he loved and the artists he admired. So, the first five years of MA were mostly about melodic progressive house, but also included some deeper elements and sounds as well. Then, as the scene developed and progressive house evolved into its regular sound spin, he had a real vision of what he wanted Mango Alley to be.
“The imprint needed a fresh start. Moreover, I needed a bit of a break to focus on completing my artist album, so I refocused my energies on my own music and set about coming up with a new concept for the label” he told me. As a result, he re-launched MA 5 years ago with a totally new look, refined concept, and more flexible sound frame. “One of our first releases was my own album ALLEY030 MANGO Citylanes Airplanes. While the album was kind of a tribute to my old sound and to all my fans, it included some distinctive melodic techno sounds and showed we were moving on to the next chapter” – Alex explained.
For the first two years after re-branding he told me he can honestly say they were working out their sound and “polishing” the concept. Then, since 2015-2016, Mango Alley had completely formed as a boutique label mostly focused on progressive house and melodic techno, but also having a special place for electronica and chillout. “I suppose our MA ADE compilation series gives the best idea of our current sound” he said.
Now, how would Alex describe the ethos of the label and style of music it purveys? He’s always been a progressive house fan, from back in the early 2000s. “Progressive house is the main story for Mango Alley. I love this genre because it’s very broad and ever-changing. For me as an A&R and an artist at the same time this is a perfect genre because it gives a lot of freedom for creativity. Melodic techno stands right next to progressive house and the two are currently closer than ever. They both also have influences of electronica and chill-out so the overlap and possibilities between the genres are endless. ” he said.
Alex still can’t believe he’s 10 years into this when I congratulated him on the label’s milestone anniversary. Is reaching this moment everything he expected it to be?
“I always set my goals very high so that I always need to aim higher each step I take with the label. So, I guess today I can say we haven’t reached 100% of what’s planned, but we are pretty close. And we have big plans for 2019.”
However, in an over saturated market there are struggles and Alex explained what he feels some of these are. “I think about this regularly. An over saturated marked is a problem of its own, but that’s a different topic. I’d say the biggest struggle is staying true and keeping the identity. I think we have managed to do it with our recognisable designs and our attitude to music. I love that we can release an EP of a yet undiscovered artist and after that release a big name like Ryan Davis. Or that we can take a completely non-format electronica song and have it remixed by established progressive house or techno artists like Quivver. This way we are confident that everything appears natural coming out of Mango Alley” he explained.
Alex has spoken about never chasing down stars and top names on purpose however, they have naturally gravitated towards the label. “Mango Alley has been releasing big and recognisable artists from the very start. If we take the first five releases, it’s Squash84 (an alias of a real hero of that time Komytea), Solarity (a greatly talented duo who are now Dusky), Kosmas Epsilon & Cid Inc whom need no introduction. There was a point when we decided to involve bigger names on our releases and that was when we were undergoing a re-branding.” That being said, Alex didn’t want it all to come down to a simple strategy of a top artist on every release. He loves the fact that the releases are always different. “I believe that adds a unique touch to each release. I never stop looking for undiscovered talent and I think it’s one of Mango Alley’s strong points that we can showcase artists of all calibre on the label” he explained.
If you managed to catch the radio show in syndication you would have heard the work of, We Are All Astronauts providing the MA label showcase mix. “Dave (We Are All Astronauts) is our Mango Alley core artist, an essential part of our Team and my very good friend” Alex said.
“Aside from being a great producer and having quite a few appearances on the label, he’s one on the most talented and skilful guys I’ve met when it comes to track selection and mixing. Dave has been a host for our label show The Alleys for 3 years now, currently residing on FRISKY Radio. You can have a listen to some of the archive episodes to see that I’m not exaggerating.”
Dave has also been in charge of the mixed versions of all the MA ADE Compilations. These are mixes totally worth hearing, they bring your listening experience of the Compilation to a new level! Generally speaking, he plays a big role in representing the label and its broad sound. “We’re also expecting him to come back in 2019 as a remixer on a very unusual and even experimental LP we’ve got in the works now. Can’t tell the details just yet, but it will definitely be something unique and captivating” Alex said.
The MA label showcase mix for Decoded Radio includes the biggest tracks released on Mango Alley during the last 2-3 years. I asked if these based on sales, hype, personal preference or a combination?
“It’s a mixture of everything really. Preparing for a label feature basically means we need to help a listener get to know what Mango Alley is about. We also want them to show we have some established artists on board and that we’re an imprint one can trust. On top of all that we want the mix to be interesting to listen to, we aim for making it more than just a usual selection of hits mixed in no particular order. As a result, we have a mix where our bestsellers and our off-format releases sit next to each other comfortably and form a very natural harmony.”
And whilst I had the opportunity, I asked Alex what would be his personal favourite releases on MA from the past 10 years? “From the past 10 years wow” he said at first. Then followed on…
“Obviously all our releases are my favourites, otherwise they wouldn’t be on MA. But ok I got it, there are still quite a few to mention (I guess I’m lucky to say this). Milestone releases basically. Undoubtedly in first place comes releasing my “school-years” progressive house heroes for the first time: Quivver and King Unique. This was a very personal moment for me and it still is.
Then it’s the ALLEYS series of mixed compilations, back from the former MA era. We picked big/influential DJs to compile and mix for each instalment. The main feature of these compilations was the tracks and remixes were exclusive (never released before). We had Cid Inc mixing the first compilation, Luke Porter on the second, and Arthur Deep in charge of the third compilation. We also released ALLEYS004 after the re-branding a couple years ago with Lank. Lank did a tremendous job producing a lot of new tracks for this release and making a lot of re-works, remixes, mashups, turning it into a complete “Involver”-esque experience.
Our Summer Chillout Compilation releases are always very personal to me as I hand-pick all the tracks for these releases, doing a lot of SoundCloud surfing and searching for some musical gems no one has heard of before.
And of course, our MA ADE Compilations. These take a lot of hard work, because they also include around 80% of exclusive tracks and represent Mango Alley during the Amsterdam Dance Event. But the feedback we receive from DJs, artists and fans is so rewarding! And hearing the tracks from these compilations played during ADE on big festivals and small venues, seeing people dance to our music, smiling and enjoying the moment… This is a feeling I just can’t describe, it makes all the effort totally worth it.”
As part of the anniversary MA have released 10 years of Mango Alley VA’s in three chapters – Melodic, Progressive and Contemporary. “We’ve designed 10 YEARS of MA as kind of a story book” Alex said. “The Melodic part tells about where we started and what sound was represented on Mango Alley initially. The Progressive part shows how the label concept evolved over the years, leaning more and more towards a deeper and more techno-kind-of progressive house sound. Finally, the Contemporary part represents the current sound of Mango Alley and gives a hint of where we’re moving in the next years.”
Next, we spoke about the demographic in what age range do the MA followers and fans fit into. “Well according to the stats on our pages, most of our fans are 25-34 years old. I didn’t check this data before to be honest, but it’s very close to what i had in mind (22-40)” Alex informed me. He also feels this is a true representation of progressive house followers overall stating –
“I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of a progressive house fan. The older half are the people who are fans of the genre from back in the days of 2000s era and the younger half are those who got into it 3-4 years ago when a classic progressive house began to regain its greatness in the scene. Quite a few Mango Alley releases are broadening the sound frames and experimenting with different concepts, thus our average listener is more a grown-up person with an established musical taste who seeks intelligent and a bit more nontrivial sound.”
However, it is important to not lose contact to the youngsters finding their feet in underground dance music? “It is, but I also think this is where a significant difference between pop dance music and underground dance music is: the goal of pop music is to attract as many listeners as possible using all kinds of advertisement/marketing/commercial tools in general. The underground music scene just exists and it doesn’t conform to any kind of commercial standards and doesn’t “force” anyone to listen to it. Underground music influences the listener with is the music itself. So, I’d say yes, younger fans are of course important for the underground, but let the music do the talking. Music is what welcomes new listeners and guides them on. I believe this is why the underground scene has such rich and diverse fan base.” Alex said.
As we bring the discussion to a close, we ended with a look forward to 2019 and what is planned for the label? There is quite a lot happening so I’ll leave Alex to round things up and I hope you all enjoyed the feature.
“2019 already looks like one of the strongest years for MA (if not the strongest). We have a lot of releases lined up for 2019 and lots of amazing artists will be joining the Mango Alley roster. Releases will come out more often and we plan on broadening the sound of the label with a couple more “experimental” releases. Music remains the main focus for the label, as well as a concept of showcasing all kinds of artists, from established names to upcoming talent. I can’t mention all the names and details yet, but giving a hint we’ll have brand new releases by Dan Sieg, TH;EN & Las Von, Formel, Sonic Union & Bastards of Funk, Kaito (who will be joining the label once again), Subandrio, Paul Sawyer, Kamilo Sanclemente, and Rauschhaus, who is also expected to appear on MA alongside our great friend and exceptional artist Ryan Davis. And that’s not even a half of what’s coming up! Stay tuned.”
Decoded Radio hosted by Luke Brancaccio presents Mango Alley with We Are All Astronauts
01. Tuvaband vs Butch – Trees [Crosstown Rebels]
02. Superflu – Selee [Monaberry]
03. Adriatique – Studies in Dance Theory [Afterlife]
04. No track Id
05. John Monkman – Enhancer [Ellum]
06. Edu Imbernon & Ali’s Suruba – Formentera
07. Locked Groove – Oscillate
08. Frankyeffe – Red Giant (Nicolas Masseyeff) [Yoshitoshi]
09. John Monkman – Tune in Turn on [Ellum]
10. Chemical Brothers – Electronic Battle Weapon 8
We Are All Astronauts
01. Swoof – Luminescent [Mango Alley]
02. Huminal – Wave Chamber (GMJ & Matter Remix) [Mango Alley]
03. Dan Sieg – Something’s Not Clicking Right (Quivver Remix) [Mango Alley]
04. Monax – Kombe (Original Mix) [Mango Alley]
05. Oovation, Yoachim – Open It Wide (Rauschhaus Remix) [Mango Alley]
06. Ryan Davis – Aeons [Mango Alley]
07. Dan Sieg – Sidewinder (Mononoid Remix) [Mango Alley]
08. Hyperbox – Empty [Mango Alley]
09. We Are All Astronauts & Seawaves – Found and Lost (Neil Browne Remix) [Mango Alley]
10. Dan Sieg – The Art (Dousk Remix) [Mango Alley]
11. Rag and Bones – Paralyzed (Quivver Remix) [Mango Alley]
12. Michael A – Flying (Jamie Stevens Remix) [Mango Alley]
13. Clemens Ruh – We Are Infinite [Mango Alley]
14. Michael Harris – Departure [Mango Alley]
15. We Are All Astronauts – Cerulean Sky (Sunset Mix) [Mango Alley]
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