Flunked Records is the brainchild of Ryan Butler and his continuing quest to keep house music an active concern. Club music trends come and go in Dallas only slightly less frequently than the changing of the seasons, but house music has been a constant. Even with the recent uptick of interest in techno and electro, house music still has the most consistent club music fan base.
For this week's mixtape, Butler has put together a mix of Flunked Records artists showcasing the label's take on house music.
How did Flunked come together as a label?
Flunked came together out of the idea that anything is possible. Literally. Me and my original core roster were releasing on separate labels but would keep sending each other demos and talked about how we wanted to do something of our own. So we did. That simple. We had an idea in our heads of what we felt was missing in the Dallas labels scene, as well as just in general, and decided to take action. Flunked is the response.
What has it been like navigating the digital sales landscape?
It's been tricky but very entertaining at the same time. I did my research and went with a distribution service that already had connections to most major streaming/selling sites, so most of the hard work was done for me, but there's always little things you find out about each site. Beatport wouldn't allow us to release on their site until we had X amount of releases, for example. Spotify has it to where you can access the artist page and really personalize the artist pages and make them feel like home, not just another page. It's also crazy because we're getting streams/downloads/buys in countries we've never set foot in, and that's always amazing, and there's no way we could do that if it wasn't for the digital age.
Who is on your release roster of artists?
At the moment, we have both local and international artists. Our roster consists of LittleHuman, Clean Batch, Gustavo Aldofo (Puerto Rico), Sean Lotty (Ireland), Kalico Jak, HYD (Colorado), Darian Sparks (Oklahoma), Reckless Ryan (myself) and a few unannounced artists that will be releasing with us very soon.
How do you go about finding artists? Do you mostly stay within a tight-knit crew?
I do a lot of digging. Lots of time spent on Soundcloud, Facebook group pages, Twitter, etc. You never know when or where you're gonna find a track that just grabs you. While we're always trying to evolve and expand the roster, we definitely are a tight-knit crew. We have a big group chat that all roster artists are a part of and multiple conversations happen on. We even have a separate chat just used to send demos for feedback or to collab on. We try to keep it one big family.
Do you have any plans for physical releases?
Oh, we'd love to do physical releases. It's not really something we have the budget for at the moment, but I've been looking into everything involved, and later down the line, we for sure plan on having a few physical releases out.
Are there any particular genres that you gravitate to?
House. House and its various subgenres. We love that four to the floor. I personally gravitate towards disco/nu-disco type of house while our A&R, LittleHuman, gravitates towards tech house/techno. I think that's been a big part of what has kept us from just blending in and lets us stand out a little bit is that we only release house.
What drew you to house music? What is your relationship with the culture surrounding house music?
I was drawn into house music literally by watching sets on YouTube. I used to watch Pioneer's "DJ Sounds Show" and "Boiler Room" religiously. From those shows, I watched legends like DJ Sneak, Carl Cox, Hot Since 82, etc., and their music grew on me like crazy. I was in high school at the time when I became aware of these shows, so I'd literally have them on while I was doing schoolwork.
I try to do whatever I can for the culture. If that means reposting an artist or label's new track, promoting or attending a local house show, or even just simply releasing brand new local and international house tracks for others to enjoy, I try to do my part. I want this scene to thrive, and I'd really love it to do it with locals, so that's been my main goal.
What is the creation process like for your music?
I based my creation process around something I heard Laidback Luke say a few years back: "If I spend more than four hours on a track, I throw it away." I go into the DAW with an idea in my head, and I quickly create a loop. Simple drums, bass, synth. Then I build the loop, adding percussion, maybe a pad, etc. At that point, you literally have the meat and groove of the track, so I just build the track around it. I've been able to knock out tracks rather quickly using this method.
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What is the most significant musical experience you have had in the last year?
Well, 2018 has already blessed me with multiple amazing experiences, but if I had to choose, it would have to be my set for Norman Music Festival on April 28. I played in a very small, intimate venue that was completely cramped. I mean we had a line outside wrapping around the building of partygoers waiting to get in. I was coming on after about two hours of rap. Oklahoma isn't exactly known for its house music scene, and I'm not from Oklahoma, so needless to say, I was nervous. I fully planned on clearing the floor of the rap-heads and then gaining a new crowd by the middle of the set, but that didn't happen. Literally every single person from the rap shows stayed and grooved. It was amazing. I was dancing up onstage like I was the one out in the crowd. I was vibing off them like no other. They really loved the disco part of my set. It was easily one of the funnest sets I've ever had the pleasure of being able to play, and I'm still riding the high off of it.
What gigs or releases do you have coming up for Flunked Records-related artists?
You can catch me playing at Abby Underground this upcoming Friday, May 11. You can also catch me and fellow label-mates Clean Batch at EVRLAND at the end of June. We are also working on a Flunked showcase, but nothing is official just yet.
As for releases, we have a new release every last Monday of the month. I'll give a little hint for our release this month: It's the first female artist to release on Flunked Records.
Sean Lotty — "Kurupt (Original Mix)"
LittleHuman — "Talking With Louis (Original Mix)"
Clean Batch — "Misery (Original Mix)"
LittleHuman — "Moving and Using (Original Mix)"
HYD — "Drop Dat (Original Mix)"
Darian Sparks — "Frequent Sieze (Original Mix)"
Mastabuziness — "Haunt You (Original Mix)"
Reckless Ryan — "Doin Pillz (Original Mix)"
Darian Sparks — "In The Rave (Original Mix)"
HYD — "The Purge (Original Mix)"
Kalico Jak — "Sea Serpent (Original Mix)"