Closer To Truth launched a year ago with three free downloads, all of which (but especially “Save The Day”) blew away most labels’ paid offerings. It was a sign of things to come, as releases from Alex Agore, James Johnston, Danny J. Lewis, Intr0beatz, Nicolas Meyer and many more have cemented CTT’s place as one of the top 5 labels working in underground House Music today.
Twelve months later, the circle closes with a full length album from Alex Agore (also titled Closer To Truth: The Album), this profile of the label with CTT’s David Nicol to follow, and this free EP of tracks from Alex Agore, James Johnston, Intr0Beatz, Snazzy Trax, Nicolas Meyer and Thomas Elder – a free download made available by Closer To Truth exclusively for 5 Magazine readers.
1. Intr0beatz: Fly Like Love
2. James Johnston: Everything 2 Lose
3. Alex Agore: In And Out
4. Nicolas Meyer: Always Drunk People
5. Snazzy Trax: Acid People
6. Thomas Elder: Beyond The Clouds
You started CTT with a few free giveaways. Lots of people do that but these were REALLY good records and it feels like your reputation kind of soared starting there. What was the logic behind that kind of launch?
Well we had some success in the past with free download tracks while doing it via my other label, Hustler Trax, so we thought we’d kick things off this way while Closer To Truth was still being set up behind the scenes. Plus it was a good way to grow our following organically with people who genuinely like what it is we’re doing
And to be honest who doesn’t love free music? Even after a year or so, Alex’s opening track “Save The Day” has been the most played and downloaded track on our SoundCloud.
So that was successful?
I would say overall it worked out well, and the three free tracks that we released were well received and helped us to build a decent following so it was definitely an encouraging start.
Okay so who are you and who is behind the label? How is it different than Hustler Trax?
Closer To Truth is Alex Agore and myself, David Nicol (Taktix). Alex is based out in Berlin and I’m in the UK. Hustler Trax is run by myself and Yael Ruiz G who is based out in Mexico City. There isn’t a huge difference between HT and CTT – the only defining difference would be music policy on Hustler Trax pretty much anything goes. It’s hard to pigeon hole that label as we like to release whatever we want on there, from Tech House all the way through to Soulful House and everything in between.
With Closer To Truth, the style doesn’t stray to far from the core sound you would expect from Alex Agore’s music. The label was originally set up as a vehicle for all of Alex’s music.
You’ve been featuring some young guys, or at least guys early in their career. How does A&R work for CTT?
On the A&R side sometimes it’s potluck in finding a good demo someone has sent over. But 9 times out of 10 it’s reaching out to people we know or artists we’d like to work with and asking them to make something for us. Occasionally that has involved asking people I have previously worked with at Hustler Trax such as the talented Intr0beatz , Nicolas Meyer , Twin // Peaks and Gregory Dub, all of whom I’m sure we’ll be working with more in the future. It’s definitely important for us to have a strong stable of artists we can always turn to and who we in turn want to help grow their own reputations within the scene.
What are some highlights in terms of releases? Personal favorites or unexpected hits?
There have been quite a few highlights for us. Firstly, it was great for us to get James Johnston involved with the first release and then with his EP. With all the great work he and Alex did on “No Matter What” it was nice to complete that circle once again. Also the massive Chapter Two EP which featured many of our favorite artists who we highly respect all doing their thing in the right way. Then there were the Intr0beatz and Nicolas Meyer EPs – both these guys have so much talent I’m sure they will become names that everyone will become familiar with soon enough.
It was also great working with Danny J Lewis on his Never Your Love EP. Danny’s a legend and has been producing for 20 years or so, making classics like “Spend The Night” along the way. So for us it was a massive honor to release his EP.
And obviously for us, all of Alex’s music is stand-out (without sounding too biased lol) but he’s just a low key guy that just goes about doing his thing while remaining well under the radar of most people. You’ll never hear him bragging about any of his music – EVER!
One of the biggest surprises for us release-wise was probably Alex’s Fantasy EP. These were mostly old tracks that Alex personally wasn’t all that keen on releasing but it’s a good thing we did as it was one of our biggest successes. The track “Kisses So Sweet” in particular did really well.
There is no shortage of labels in the world. How do you make Closer to Truth stand out beyond simply “releasing good music?”
This is a tricky one to be honest. With the amount of labels out there it’s becoming ever more difficult to get noticed. We’re lucky that Alex has a great loyal following who have helped drive the label to where it is today, plus we also had Hustler Trax to boost the label as many people that like that label got on board with Closer To Truth, which we are extremely grateful for. And many who were following No Matter What, Alex’s previous label with James Johnston have found us too.
We’ve never gone down the premiere route on SoundCloud or paid anyone to promote our music, etc. Everything we have done has been organic. We don’t have a massive budget for promotion so it’s all mostly people reposting or sharing our music on social media that has made us stand out. We’ve only been going for a little over a year now and our SoundCloud has had about 222k plays which for a small underground label with just over 3K following is great.
And then of course there are all the DJs and producers that have been playing our music in their mixes and out in clubs. Although Alex and I don’t get out to clubs as much as we would like so we are kinda insulated from all that, I do wish more people would share what they are doing with the music more.
Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I’d definitely go back to the thing of getting noticed. Unless you have a massive amount of cash to splurge on promotion, it will take serious time to grow. For example we’ve only been going for the year and we’re still a long way from where we want to be. Also the whole vinyl thing: looking back maybe we should have started off with vinyl as there has been a massive interest from many people asking constantly on each release, “Will this be available on vinyl?” For now we’re strictly digital, although offering vinyl does open up a whole other market. You have the people that are strictly vinyl that won’t go near us due to the fact we’re digital-only. but it is what it is.
What do you have coming up next?
We have Alex’s Cloud Forest EP which is our next release following on from his LP. Then in December, Various Artists’ Chapter Four is landing. Looking into next year we’re going to be working with the legendary Mike Delgado. Both Alex and I are massive fans of his work and the sound he creates fits so well with what we’re all about so that’s going to be pretty special for us. Also we’re hoping to work with Sean McCabe and Groove Assassin, both of whom are making really great music at present. And of course we’re always looking to put out more music from our label artists. We’re also always actively searching for new unheard talent.
2017 will also see the start of Closer To Truth and Hustler Trax parties over here in the UK. They will be taking place in my home town, Bournemouth, at a club called EDEN. The first night is the 21st of January so there’s plenty of exciting things on the horizon.
Published in 5 Magazine Issue 140, featuring Eli Escobar, Booker T, Ant LaRock, Closer To Truth & more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music.