Monday, 24 October 2011

Interview: Louis Serrano - Launchpad Records

I got to talk with Louis Serrano, a director of Launchpad Management & Records and spoke about working with Wiley, being given 7 days for their first release, working with Tre Mission, up-and-comer Blizzard and some future predictions for the grime scene in 2012.

dpm: For those that don't know, can you give us a quick background to yourself and how the Launchpad label came about?

Louis Serrano: I'm 18 Years old and I've listened to Grime since the age of 11. I started designing video graphics for SB.TV and Roll Deep when I was 16 and last year after getting in touch with another Grime fan, George Quann-Barnett AKA QuannGrime, we decided to try and start our own label for grime music. George had Wiley's number after meeting him at a videoshoot and then Wiley then called me after DMing me on Twitter. I explained what I was trying to set up and a couple of months later he gave me our debut release 'The Radio Kid'.

dpm: I read somewhere that when Wiley handed over 'The Radio Kid' you were given something like a week to release it! That must have been an intense time?

LS: Yeah it was crazy. I woke up one Sunday morning, Wiley rang me and said that by the same night he'd have a song finished for us to release and then he just casually added "yeah, let's bring it out next Sunday". So it was crazy.

We'd never done a release before and we had less than 7 days to promote it. Our Twitter account had like 5 followers, yet the very next day we managed to get it on Logan's show on Kiss and all through the week it had airplay on Radio 1, 1xtra and Rinse. We were very lucky with the support we got from DJ's particularly Mistajam, all the DJ's played a massive part in getting 'The Radio Kid' in to the Top 200 Charts.

dpm: What's the mission statement behind Launchpad? What was it that you set out to achieve with the label?
LS: The mission and aim for Launchpad is to take Urban artists and their music and treat it how a major label would treat a mainstream release, just on an independent scale. Trying to add a more professional vibe to the way the Grime scene is run.

dpm: That's a really good thing to bring to the scene because there's been an explosion of talent and to get yourself above the norm you have keep your content to a professional standard. I'm a massive fan of Wiley's. How has working with an artist so established in the scene, especially with your first release, helped you as a label?

LS: Being able to work with the Godfather of a scene, you've only just started to get involved in has been mad. It's definitely been a blessing for us, he's helped so much with giving us 2 singles, advice and also inviting us to his studio for meetings to introduce us to other artists and producers.

Having him on board has made people take us more seriously and obviously given us some attention we wouldn't of got on our own.

dpm: How do you look for artists? and what do they have to do in order to grab your attention?

LS: Well so far, most of our releases have been from established and legendary artists in their field. Tre Mission was the first person who we released a debut from. With the help from JME, Wiley and support from Mistajam and Logan Sama, he is now certified in the scene. We saw potential in him, a Canadian Grime artist is just too much of an interesting thing to ignore so we made sure to approach him before any other label did.

In terms of looking for artists, Blizzard who is signed and managed by Launchpad, struck our attention cause of his diverse musical ability which involves his lyrics, producing and performance. We just try to look for artists that are capable of multiple things.

dpm: We're nearly coming to an end for this year. Do you have any predicitions for the grime scene for 2012? Any particular artists, producers, DJs, etc.

LS: This year has been a really great time for new sounds and for the Grime sound to evolve.
So many artists have shown the levels this year, I like Marger a lot, cause I can see him taking the sound into the charts without changing it too much to cater for a mainstream audience.

Tre Mission will definatley be one to watch next year and Blizzard, who you will hear and see a lot more of! In terms of producers, I think Preditah is clearly the one right now and I'm sure he's gunna move on to some huge projects next year! I do think though that the original legendary MC's Skepta, Wiley, JME, Ghetts, Kano, Scorcher, Dot Rotten, Jammer, Roll Deep etc will be doing massive things, in terms of monster singles, tours, albums... there's a lot to look forward to!

dpm: I've seen a few things from YouTube on Blizzard and the guy is most defiantly one to watch. What has it been like to work with artists not from the hub of London, with Blizzard from Manchester and Tre in Canada? Does it cause problems or not, with all the digital tools that we have?

LS: Blizzard is a very talented spitter. Working with him has been a really interesting project, he's been involved in the scene since he was 11 so he's had a few years to find himself musically, I think now that we've got involved he's ready to take it to the next step, you're starting to see that now with his videos on SB.TV and also a few collaborations and co-signs from JME, Wiley and others. Him being in Manchester hasn't been too much of a problem so far, right now in this stage of his career he's writing a lot and so we let him do his thing that way... further down the line we'll come in when it's time for his work to be heard and therefore he'll be in London a lot more.

Despite Tre being on the other side of the world, things so far have gone quite well, through the internet we were able to work alongside him and secure a Top 20 in the Hip Hop charts for his debut release. I think with him being here there would be a lot more possibilities, I'm sure he'll be back here a lot next year though so it's all good.

dpm: What are launchpad working on at the moment and looking to do in 2012?

LS: Right now we're working closely with Blizzard on developing him as an artist. As well as this we're talking to a few big names about new releases. As a label and a company... just today me and George have been discussing a very interesting addition to the way we work, which fingers crossed will make us grow as a label!

dpm: Evolve or be Extinct.

Download: Wiley - Radio Kid

Download: Tre Mission - Maxin Everything

Download: Manga feat. Scratchy and J2K - No MC