WHAT’S THE NAME OF YOUR LABEL, AND WHO RUNS IT?
The label is called Percebes Música. It’s a play on words, “Percebes” as a noun is a delicacy found in some seaside places – a mollusc (like a barnacle) just boiled with salt, tastes like a bite of pure sea flavour. It’s a rare, very healthy and tasty treat only found in Portugal and parts of northern Spain, making it a sort of national symbol. As a verb it can be the conjugation of the verb “to understand”, or “Perceber”… when you read the name of the label it can be translated as “You Understand Music”, or a question “Do You Understand Music?”, while also referencing a national delicacy that not everyone enjoys. There’s some meaning there.
It was conceived and is managed by myself (Ka§par, João Pedro Pires) and I am advised and aided by close friends. I curate the music, direct the artists, schedule releases, often promote and also do all the necessary sound engineering (mastering and often mixing as well).
WHEN & WHY DID THE LABEL START?
I had worked with other labels in the past as A&R, curator, engineer, manager, I also managed a recording studio for a long time. But I had never felt like the vision I had of what a relevant label in the 2000’s would look like.
So after years working for others for little or no value, I decided to start it on my own, with the help of friends who came and went along the years. Ultimately my trusted advisors have always been Daino and Hélder Russo, close friends with whom I have worked in all the previous labels as well.
I needed it to be well done and though out. Great labels, are varied, wide and suggest a set of ideas and values by story-telling it’s identity, release after release. I have a background as club DJ with considerable eclecticism, then as a producer I have also explored many different environments and ideas, so the label would have to balance a fun, clubby set of tracks but sprinkled with challenging and unique pieces that set it apart from any predictability. It’s not so much about genre as it is about authenticity and artistic ambition, but clearly house, techno, disco, electro and dub and bass music are clear cultural influences.
GIVE US A BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHAT YOU’VE RELEASED SINCE THEN….
We prioritise local artists to make sure we have something unique to what we put out, we have released artists that are central like myself, Hélder Russo and Daino but other local people like Al:X, Early Jacker, Sheri Vari, Terra Chã, Moreno Ácido, Pedro Ricardo, 2Jack4U, Elite Athlete, Ninguem and others. We have also invited more artists to join us, from around the world with whom we sense a similar vibe, people like Larry Quest, Basic Soul Unit, Change Request, minimalArchiv, Cyclonix, Peletronic and others.
Our EPs are named in Portuguese, they have a strong conceptual subtract, designed by Chris Kontogeorgos (Oracy Design), we release digitally and often on wax as well.
WHAT QUALITIES ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN THE MUSIC YOU RELEASE?
A certain tingling sensation, strong sound and attitude, originality and/or honesty. Effort to either be disruptive or totally transparent. Often I also like to release just really groovy dance floor stuff that I can drop in my sets, but I also host a well followed radio show where in I also play a lot of different styles and go beyond just dance floor content, so I also look for off kilter stuff, downtempo, dub, jazz, rap… If I can see myself drop the track in a mix, whatever the objective of it, I can see myself release it.
WHAT KIND OF VISUAL IDENTITY DOES THE LABEL HAVE (ARTWORK, VIDEOS ETC) ?
We wanted to convey a sense of urbanity and a relationship with the sea, so our logo is a loose brush outlining the word Percebes, aided by a simple representation of the mollusc. We wanted it to look like a hypothetical surf/skate brand from somewhere in the 90s. Concept and execution by our friend Chris (as mentioned) who also proposes the colour palettes for our releases.
Our digital content is usually uploaded by our digital distributor on youtube and you can hear all of it as a “video”, but a few of our tracks have been made into actual video clips that were put together by partnerships with online youtube channels that premiere the track (like Eelf music, for instance). We are mostly musicians and DJs, we don’t see ourselves as influencers or social networking wizards, so often our focus goes into the music and only eventually into videos, though we recognise the importance of developing other medium.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SELLING RELEASE TO DATE? TELL US A BIT ABOUT IT AND WHY YOU THINK IT WAS SO POPULAR.
We basically sold out all our catalogue on wax, and all things considered in vinyl and digital, the biggest sellers were Ka§par – Gestures of Release and Larry Quest – Entrega. I hope they sold well because of how good they are! I mean, I buy records since I’m 8 so I know what a good record is supposed to feel like when you pick it up and I think we put this material together with that care, making sure there is coherent variety and/or intense physical pleasure behind the music.
I think “Gestures of Release” is my most accomplished album, a lot more concise and coherent than the ones I made before and “Entrega” is Larry Quest’s most stand out moment for me with absolute classics on it. We have had other releases do well, played out by Kerri Chandler, Juan Atkins, Laurent Garnier, Recloose, Reggie Dokes and many others…
NAME ONE RELEASE THAT YOU THINK DESERVED TO GET MORE ATTENTION THAN IT DID
I think our compilation Produto Interno Bruto on wax was a bit overlooked because it ended up being expensive to make, consequently wasn’t so cheap. It is also very wide in it’s selection (which I love) and that tends to confuse buyers. We are not a straight forward label I guess, so sometimes I feel like the way the buyers react is a fearful, and conservative. I have felt like this particular record, for example, if it were being released by a bigger and trendier label it would go further with the same music… but as a small indie being original and different can be a risk. But then again, releasing safe music is not really much of a challenge is it?
IF YOU COULD SIGN ANY ARTIST, ALIVE OR DEAD, WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
Great question, hard not to fall into the obvious answers. I would love to sign different people for different reasons, certainly would love to make a record with the late James Stinson, but I could say the same about Gerald Mitchell or Mike Banks who are still around. I would sign Dominic Stanton (Domu), an amazing english producer from the late 90’s and early 2000’s if I could. I’d love to make a jazz record one day so I would love to sign someone like Kamasi Washington, a dub album with guys like Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus. I’d certainly produce, record and sign legendary music makers from a classic house background like Larry Heard, but also lesser known talented guys from back in the day like Paul Hunter or Nick Calingaert (Common Factor).
As for a dream scenario… I’d make a special band with Tony Allen on Drums, Prince on Guitar, Miles on Sax, George Duke on keys, Manuel Gotsching on synths and Robbie Shakespear on bass… clearly the vocalists would be Aretha and Dilla!
WHICH OTHER LABELS DO YOU ADMIRE AND WHY?
From my infancy I can recall important brands like FFRR, Peacefrog, Guidance, MoWax, WARP, Sound Signature, Neroli, Stones Throw, Talking Loud, old Ninja Tune and even Delicious… all these are editorial houses that I have enormous respect for, for different reasons, that show a wide perspective of music.
As building blocks and cultural heavyweights I’d say Atlantic, Virgin, Island, West End / Prelude, Fantasy, CGI, Motown (of course), but also BBE, Tokyo Dawn, and many others. I buy a lot of music.
Also could mention Metalheadz, Good Looking (and it’s subsidiaries), Tempa, 3024, Visions. I also admire Clone and Rush Hour for their resilience and sense of curation. With projects like these it’s easy to follow.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK TO FROM YOUR LABEL NEXT?
We are just about to release our next LP, “Conversor”, that gathers really cool tracks from our past catalogue and compiles it into a single 12” with about 17 minutes of play per side, sounds good and can be played in the club but also gives a wide ranging perspective of the label’s objectives and vision. We also have more releases lined up on our digital front, with Peletronic coming out soon, followed by a new Ka§par house EP, a new Terra Chã fusionist EP, LPs from label artists and collaborations with artists in Brazil for instance. A lot of ideas floating about, many options and possible outcomes.