The Sessions with C-Jay

C-Jay drops in with a little bit of news for his Label – The Sessions. We drop him a quick Q&A to get the low down and how you can submit your next track.

Hi Christian, you are no stranger to This Is Progressive over the last year, but we understand you are doing some big things with your label in 2014. Can you tell us how your label ‘The Sessions’ started?
The label started already back in 2001 (when dinosaurs ruled the earth)In this period I used to own and run my (dj / house music) recordstore in the city of Amersfoort. Thanks to running my store I had all the right connections with distributors, mastering engineers, big name dj’s, other vinyl stores etc. This network came in quite handy when I came to the decision of starting my own label. On vinyl that is mind you, as 2001 is pretty far away from usb stick dj’s.

I was a producer for years allready and just had my first break on the label of Jaydee (First Impression) who was quite a name in those days. (and still is) So, after that first release (that went really well) I decided to give it a go myself. I made the music, I visited the pressing plant to monitor the process, I had my contacts with the distributor and send out my own promos. And the first ones got picked up by none less than Carl Cox and Armin van Buuren to name a few, so …….that was the start. And after 3 very well sold releases on vinyl, the digital era appeared and we all know what happened next.. :) Anyhow, the label went digital and still exists, 13 years later.

What I do wanna stress out, is how times changed: back in the vinyl days artists like me sold 500 – 1000 copies, ore even more. Pretty easy.. It was hard work, but I sold them. All DJs worked with vinyl, so you had to buy the vinyl if you wanted to play it out. There were no cd players or usb sticks. That’s what made sales so strong and music worth something. Nowadays, one is lucky to sell a quarter of these numbers.

What also changed drastically, is the way big name dj’s look towards promos. Even someone of my level gets 50 promos per week, if not more. Imagine what Armin, Digweed or Sasha get? And what’s the value of sending out an mp3 link, if you haven’t made a name for yourself yet? Next to that, not everyone has the private email of Sasha.

In the vinyl days, receiving a vinyl as promo or releasing a vinyl really meant something, cause u knew a label, or the artist himself, invested a big amount of money to press and release 500+ copies. Sometimes, including art / nicely designed sleeves, it was more than 2000 euro’s investment mind you. So, keeping in mind the costs of making a vinyl release, one would really think twice of signing someone or taking up the process by himself, if you didn’t have all the fait int he world in the product / track. As I’ve been around for some years now, I can say the value of music went down the drain. But, even in this age superb music will always stand out, just as hard working and talent. That’s a fact.

And for those of you out there who never had a release, please don’t sign blindly to a label just because you like the label. Do your homework and read a thing or 2 about authors rights before signing away your soul and career.

So what direction can we see you taking us in 2014, what do you have planned?
First up is a release of up and coming producer Marc Pollen, from the Dutch city of The Hague. He allready did a remix for me on Baroque and is a close friend, so it was a matter of time before he’d do a solo tune for me. And it’s huge! Early support comes from lemon8, sezer uysal, paul hazendonk, olivier weiter, darin epsilon and guy mantzur to name a few. And off course, my own productions will appear on the label again, just as in them early days. First up is a track called “NachtPauwOog” that is done now, but won’t be out before Spring. Building a bit of a hype at the moment.

And finally, next to expected releases of Revolt (label resident) and Nick Hogendoorn I’m always on the lookout for unsigned kick ass tunes. So, if anyone out there has anything, just mail me a soundcloud link.

Unlike other labels, you are focusing on only a few releases a year, why is this so?
No surprises there, just good old quality control. That’s it.
I really, really, really HATE labels that put out more than 10 releases per month. I mean, come on? What’s the bloody point? You wouldn’t do this in the vinyl days where the money to be invested was some sort of quality control, so why do it now? There are just too many labels out there as it is, and those too many labels release too many tunes that are just not good or have any quality. They just release it, hoping that one of the 200 per year, hits the bulls eye.
The digital age has many, many advantages, but a market being swamped with terrible tunes isn’t one of them.
Sales will never, ever be the same again as they used to be. So I feel, artists benefit more of a label with a soul, good connections and love for their product than they would signing to a label that doesn’t even shows an artist the artwork, before releasing it. Or worse, there are labels that don’t even give the artist the master recording for approval.

So there you go: I want to focus on a handfull releases per year, so each tune get’s the attention it deserves. A long promo path of at least 2 months, high end mastering, and stunning artwork. Both my mastering guy and artwork guy are long time friends of mine, and true craftsmen. Guys like them also find it hard to make a living nowadays, where just anyone with a Ozone plugin calls himself a mastering engineer, and anyone with photoshop calls himself a designer. In all fairness, it’s an art, just as making music.

Long story short, quality over quantity.

Are you looking for any new artists and what are you looking for?
Yes, bring it on! If you make decent dance music, ranging from ambient to tech-house, send it over. Some months ago people were sending me EDM. That’s lightyears away from what The Sessions stands for. And kids sending EDM to a proggy label: you suck. Really, you do. Karma will have a drunken horse bite your ears of someday. Beware.

Lastly, we know ‘The Sessions’ is quite a Sunday institution in Amsterdam, can you tell us what is coming up this year?
You did your homework didn’t you?
Indeed, every 1st Sunday of the month I host my own night called (wait for it….) ….The Sessions!
Lined up for the next months are Lemon8, TILT, Brent Lawson, Jaap Ligthart and Yoram.. and off course, a Thisisprogressive collaboration during summer.

To submit your tracks, send a private link to promos@thesessions.nl Goodluck!

www.thesessions.nl

www.facebook.com/cjayamsterdam


Damion Pell
About the Author

Loves long walks along the beach, holding hands and romantic 80's power ballads, partial to electronic music and likes to make the odd mix or two.