The article below originally ran in Space Ibiza Magazine's July, 2012 edition. Launching a label based on such an integral human right as the Freedom of Expression might be daunting for some, but Jonny White from Art Department seems to have pulled it off in style. Named after article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jonny White’s No.19 Music has rapidly risen to the top of the underground’s ranks in the four short years since launching in 2008.
We caught up with him just after he had closed out Sonar in Barcelona with his imprint’s own Social Experiment party to discuss the label and the impact it’s had on the career’s of some of his artists. Has it been fun to build a following for your Social Experiment Parties at gatherings like Sonar, WMC, BPM and DEMF and help give your artists exposure while building a family? I’m getting as many of my artists (who are also great friends of mine) together under one roof for a night of madness, while showcasing their talents and giving people a very true sense of what the label is all about - LIVE, so people can actually feel it. Doing the events is as interactive as we can really get with our listeners, the closer you get the more personal it all becomes and so to answer your question… yeah its fun!
By his own admission, Tanner Ross says that his record, B Side was probably his biggest record. How does it feel to be responsible for one of an artist’s defining moments? For me, that’s about as good as it gets. I sign music that I'm in love with and I sign artists whom I enjoy as people. Tanner is a good friend and I've loved his music since I first discovered him so it was really special for me to be able to release his first-ever solo record.
Easily one of the biggest records to break at this year’s BPM was Maceo Plex’s “Under The Sheets.” It’s one of those records that gets better upon repeat listening, what was it like hearing it for the first time? I got “Under The Sheets” from Eric (Maceo Plex) nearly a year before we released it. The first thing I thought of when I heard it was one of my favorite records of all time, Knights Of The Jaguar by The Aztec Mystic. At that time we didn't know what was about to happen with his Maceo Plex project so I can be totally honest in telling you that record sales were the last thing on my mind but, of course, it didn't hurt the way things worked out.
Sci+Tec recently had its second art show at Sonar, would you like to continue with No 19’s theme of supporting freedom of expression by entering the visual art world? We have some really impressive artists doing work for us and one of the reasons that the concept involves the artist being from Toronto is to showcase our hometown talent, which was the original concept for the label in the beginning. In the past, we've had one of our cover artists come in and do a piece live at an event over the course of the night and then auction the piece off for charity to close the night. We've been planning our first proper art show which will showcase our 2 past cover artists, Hugh Steele, and the artist who will be doing next year’s series in Toronto earlier in the evening before a Social Experiment show.
As your own DJ/Production career continues to pick up incredible speed, what do you think is essential to staying connected with the label’s output and its growing footprint as a brand? Who else has been helping you keep things moving smoothly with the organization? No.19 really is my baby still, so I try to find time to do what is necessary to be as involved as I have to be. We've got a good sized team of talented people who really love being involved and hold it all down together, from management to A & R, PR, design, distribution everyone is doing it for the right reasons. I have two partners in the label, Nitin and Teeloo who are also two of my best friends from Toronto. They're really the keys to keeping this whole thing running smoothly while I'm traveling,
so much in fact that if I wasn't a bit of a control freak I could likely leave everything but A & R to them.
There’s always been a fair bit of interplay between artists on No. 19 and those on Crosstown Rebels and Hot Creations. What’s the secret to retaining your own identity while having such an open door policy? The trick is really to focus less on having a sound or staying away from a sound and use every avenue of marketing you have available to you to create an identity that isn't related to a genre. If what you and your crew like happen to be a somewhat uniform sound in terms of taste then regardless of genre that should become the identity of the label. I always use WARP as an example because they put out interesting music and conceptually it’s been really cool since day one. You know it’s going to be a good record because they put it out but you don't know what it will be-that’s the model.
What’s on your horizon in Ibiza this summer? Will we be seeing a Social Experiment party on the island this season? Spending a lot of time at dc10, of course. We just did the past two Mondays there and I left each time feeling like this is going to be an amazing summer. As for the Social Experiment shows, we've got something cool planned-something small and the right thing to start us off on the island. We've been doing these massive shows around the world this year and the brand has picked up a lot of steam quite quickly. Knock on wood, we've never done a show that wasn't sold out and for me the only to start things off in one of my favorite places in the world is to do it right and make it special. Keep your ear to the ground and you'll find us...
Check out the article as it was printed here.