If this past summer and spring you found yourself by a pool, a beach, or a spa, you probably heard a bit of the “tropical house” sound. The sound has been gaining in popularity since last year but it’s been this year that the genre has taken leaps forward. Just take Kygo’s massive tours and signing with Sony/ATV as an example. Now beyond the few pioneering names, the only consistent beacon of tropical house has been Next Wave Records. The LA-based label was founded this past July by Braedon Belofsky and it has since grown steadily in the number and quality of releases and a growing presence in the online dance music blogosphere. We’ve personally supported Next Wave acts like Bearson and Free n Losh before and we’ve loved what they’re doing, so we had to get some questions answered.
What was the initial impetus for starting Next Wave? It’s only been a short while since you’ve launched and yet it seems like it was definitely the right choice.
I originally created Next Wave to be a home for the artists that I manage and do press for. The business model quickly changed because I realized that my network, friends, and co-workers around me had the ability to do anything that we put our mind to. The idea to build Next Wave into a boutique label came to me because I’ve spent the last two years of my life networking like a monster across the Internet, meeting and making friends with hundreds of producers from all around the world.
Can you explain the philosophy behind Next Wave? It seems like there’s a full vision here that a lot of up-start labels and collectives seem to lack…
Our dream is to showcase the music we love to a broad audience and shine light on artists who deserve the spotlight. We honestly launched the label side of Next Wave out of pure passion and love for music. Our goal isn’t to make money off the back from selling records, our goal is to create a loyal fan base and reward them with some of the best free music on the planet. We do plan to sell music in the future, once we have built a strong enough following, but our goal even then is to use a lot of that money to give back to charities. At the end of the day, we want to have a brand that can change the world for the better by using music to do so.
When starting a brand, appearance means a lot and speaks for itself. I was lucky enough to grow up around two of the most artistically gifted individuals, Blair Berger and John Rambo, who have given Next Wave the visually stimulating appearance that every good brand needs. Our philosophy of combining amazing art with amazing music is going to be a key characteristic that separates us from most labels.
Visual appearance is not the only branding that a new company needs to worry about either. I recently teamed up with Will Runzel and Steven Hadad, who are two of the most well liked and knowledgeable tastemakers in dance music. By combining forces, we have created a machine that is going to turn into one of the coolest companies in the world. When you work with people who you consider friends and family, business is fun and environments like this make it way easier for a company to grow.
Next Wave Records seems to have a specific focus on a sound that’s being called “tropical house”–a sound that seems to have originated with Kygo and Thomas Jack. How did Next Wave come to focus on that sound? Any particular reason why?
We in no shape or form want ourselves to be categorized by any one genre. Next Wave represents music that we believe is good and will forever stay genre less. We represent artists on the management/press side of Next Wave who produce tropical sounding music but on the label side we have not done any type of tropical releases.
But, I was introduced to the tropical house sound a little over a year ago when I found Thomas Jack’s SoundCloud, thanks to my roommate Tyler Blackwell. I then proceeded to introduce Thomas to his manger now and helped curate and push Thomas’s tropical house sound in America. When Tom came and lived in Orlando last year I was able to learn a lot from him about the sound. A good trick for any A&R out there is to realize that the best A&R’s in the world are musicians/prodcuers themselves. TJ showed me every producer that was worth knowing in the genre and I was able to make friends with them before a lot of people caught on to the trend. This is how I met Bearson and Jerry Folk.
I don’t like to classify any of our artists as tropical house producers because I believe our artist’s sound is much more developed then a lot of the cheesy tropical house that is being released at the moment. If anything I would categorize us as representing Indie-pop artists who are multi dimensional musicians.
What kind of future do you envision for the tropical sound and scene?
I personally love the sound and the happy vibes that it brings to everyone who listens to it. Like all genres and sounds, though, I think the genre will continue to develop and grow until it becomes one big extension of indie pop music. Artists like Kygo and TJ have opened doors for a lot of new producers and I think that this is only the beginning for this genre. I am expecting there to be a massive surge of popularity within the genre come spring/summer 2015 when beach’s and pools are ready for dancing.
Next Wave is also home to a few of DAD’s favorite artists including the likes of Free n Losh and Bearson. Can you explain a bit about your artist development process? How do you go about deciding who you’d like to bring in?
When it comes to management, the only way I will take on a project is if I am the artist’s biggest fan. The same goes for every single person who manages artists underneath Next Wave. I personally manage Bearson and Jerry Folk and do press for Felix Jaehn and Sam Feldt. When you put your passion into a project, it needs to be something that you believe in more than anything in this world.
When it comes to record releases, all we look for is amazing songs. It doesn’t matter how big or famous you are, we just want to release the best music that we find.
What’s next for Next Wave? Anything on the horizon you can speak of?
Lots of new records, a bad ass SXSW party featuring artists we are friends with, manage and who have done releases with us, a compilation vinyl, merchandise, and lots lots more.
That all sounds great. One final question, do androids dance?
Do Androids Dance has been supporting the artists I work with for a long time now and I can't thank you guys enough. From supporting our acts on individual songs, to curating a list of the best acts in Norway and including two of our artists. Do Androids Dance has a staff full of taste makers and industry professionals who do a lot of stuff outside of blogging which is something I really respect. I'm a big fan of the site and I'm stoked to have such awesome support from such sick publication.
Haha, you're too kind and I'll take that as a yes!