How often is one invited into the home of a dance music pioneer? Not often! Decoded was welcomed with open arms into the lush country home of Dutch hero Robin ‘Jaydee’ Albers, also known as Mr Plastic Dreams. With his record label First Impression he was the first to contract Junkie XL and helped the Trancesetters – among many other talents – to find their way into the dance scene. Work, life, family – at a certain point they didn’t combine with being a label director anymore. But since the times, they are changing, for Robin now is the right moment to inject new life into First Impression: “I want to give young producers a chance.”
The name First Impression came to Robin in a movie he once saw. “In it, a beautiful woman said: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. And if you listen to a track for the first time, you will never have another chance to hear it like that again. I liked that thought.” The label name was born. The logo of First Impression is an eye.
“When I meet new people I always look in their eyes and the first impression I get from them. The eyes are the mirror of the soul – they say so much about a person.” – Robin Albers
The label First Impression was originally founded in the early nineties. “Around that time, everyone started their own label. You really needed to have one to be taken seriously. If you had a label, you were seen as being ‘complete’.” Junkie XL was one of the first who signed at First Impression and we all know how big he became since then. “In the late nineties I ran a club and in 1998, and in cooperation with ID&T, I started Slam FM.” All these projects took up a lot of hours, so there wasn’t enough left for First Impression and Robin decided to shut the label down. “I just didn’t have the time anymore. To run a label all by yourself is hard.”
These days Robin is part of Dutch DJ Booking and Streaming Music. They suggested revitalising First Impression and Robin agrees that it’s a perfect time. “With Dutch DJ Booking, we’re a great team that works together on handling labels, royalties, contracts, etc. I don’t have to occupy myself anymore with those aspects of the job. I’m pretty bad at financial stuff (laughs). I have total artistic freedom, when it comes to First Impression. I decide which tracks will be signed.” Robin feels there’s room for improvement when it comes to the treatment that young and aspiring producers often receive from record labels.
“Many talents are dissatisfied by that. We believe that, when someone made the effort to send us a demo, we should at least respond – whether we’re interested in the track or not. It’s a matter of respect. Most companies lack this common courtesy.” – Robin Albers
The revived label has already signed several upcoming talents: the Belgian producer Franco La Cara, Dutch producers Ricky the Dragon, Djis, Buurman van Dalen and Rick Dyno and last but not least: Robin’s own daughter Jada. Coincidentally she arrives home from college where she’s studying communication and marketing, as we are listening to a few new productions in Robins’ home studio. As soon as she comes in to join us, Robin plays two of Jada’s productions for us – befitting of a proud dad. They’re actually pretty good – especially the second one has a surprisingly agreeable old school vibe that reminds us of Todd Terry. Bear in mind that Jada is only eighteen.
Working out which of his own new tracks he will release first on First Impression is one of Robin’s major concerns right now. He’s on the fence between three productions: a powerful, stadium-sized update of his own track Single Minded People, Paradise – which he summarised is “like climbing a mountain” – and Decoded’s favourite, Break Point. Which one of those Robin will finally choose to kick off the rebirth of First Impression? All are brilliant and show there’s no slowing down for one of the Netherlands best-loved artists.