This day three years ago, Jordan Wengler set out to grow musicianship in unique electronic production by starting a record label from scratch.
The result has been astounding so far. Philos Records brought on artists who have curated their own niches within the realm of sample-based production spanning from electro hiphop to future funk. Many of them have even gone to collaborate with and gain exposure through artists from labels like Pretty Lights Music, All Good Records, and Lowtemp.
Stereofox had the pleasure of hosting a mini mix some weeks ago by Derlee as well as song features on Daily Bread, Kinetik Groove, and Guggenz. Now, we are stoked to have Philos founding artist Wes Paioff aka Ageless on the mini mix and label founder Jordan Wengler to gather insights from.
This minimix gives us the perfect foretaste of the Philos sound -- packed with samples from Jurassic 5 to NAS to Steve Miller Band transformed by complex production techniques. What's especially worth mentioning about this label is that each Philos artists contributes a unique effort in crafting a message. Sample-based music is different in that written lyrics aren't present to lay it all out straight for us. Rather, instrumental and sampling work provide the entrance into an interpretive, often introspective, musical journey. Get ready for a brilliant set of tunes in this mix.
- The Geek x Vrv - Spread the Funk
- Ageless - The First Time
- Daily Bread - Life Goes On
- TechNoddo - Party Favors
- Kinetik Groove - Dive In
- Styles In Black - Kicking Flowers
- Kinetik Force (Kinetik Groove & Blunt Force) - Time to Live
- Inverse Universe - Without Hesitation
- Derlee - Heard My Baby
Wes, thanks again for throwing down that minimix. Let’s start by getting an introduction of who Ageless is.
I grew up in NY and was always interested in making music, I took on the name Ageless around 2004 when I first started recording and playing shows. Since then I’ve been part of a few different scenes, both as a band member and solo artist, but for the past few years my focus has been on electronic production.
The sound you create includes vinyl sampling and beat-making. You kind of mash eras into one sound. How would you describe your music to people who have never heard it before?
It’s definitely a fusion of eras. It’s Electro-Hip-Hop-Soul. Glitched out, yet emotionally charged bass-heavy beats, with a respect for the old school. Overall I try to make music that people from all walks of life can find a connection to.
Bringing these sounds together must be a lot of production work. How would you summarize your process from inception to final product?
I’d say it starts in a record shop, digging through crates of vinyl looking for that gem. The whole process of choosing which records to buy and hopefully get a sample or two out of is strongly connected to the final product. Once I chop up some samples I’ll start building a track around them, and then I add a modern touch using synthesizers and software-based production. I usually get 90% of a song finished in a day but then spend weeks or months finishing the last 10%. A lot of time is spent creating custom synth patches and eventually mixing everything.
Philos Records is up and coming – How did you get involved with this assembly of beat-making magicians?
Jordan had heard my 2012 independent album “Beginner’s Mind”, and reached out to me about his newly formed record label, Philos. I was sitting on a new LP at the time and had already been releasing music under the ‘pay what you want’ model, so it was a perfect fit. “Broken Inventions” marked the first official release on Philos Records, Since then I’ve dropped four albums on the label.Three years since the beginning of Philos, what kind of evolution have you witnessed in the label?
It’s evolved from a small record label into an international collective of artists from all different backgrounds, who support the scene and make some dope music. At first there weren’t too many producers out there making sample-based electronic music, but recently there’s been an explosion of talent in the sub-genre, and I like to think Philos has played a part in that.What kind of personal evolution have you noticed in yourself since joining up with Philos?
I’ve been able to connect with a network of like-minded artists and friends through Philos, and that’s definitely something that’s helped me evolve. Being around people who push the boundaries of different genres and create fresh new sounds is always inspiring. We all do our own thing and find success in different ways but still manage to come together to share ideas and collaborate.So, what’s next for Ageless?
Right now I’m putting the final touches on a new album that I’m really proud of. I explored a bunch of different styles on this one but still maintained that Electro-Soul vibe. We should have the release details soon. I’m also hitting the road later this week for a few east coast shows. 3/24 Philly, 3/25 Baltimore, 3/29 NYC.Thanks again for hanging out with us. We appreciate it. Any last remarks you’d like to make? Shout outs?
Shout out to the whole Philos crew, and thanks for the support Stereofox!First off, Happy Third Birthday to Philos Records! Thanks again for joining us for this special occasion, Jordan. To start off, what’s the story behind the creation of Philos?
Thank you for having us! I formed Philos during my junior year in college - I was studying Business & Management Systems and some other things at the time, while also becoming more and more intrigued by the world of sample-driven and electronic music. I wanted the label to be an outlet to share music, but also something I could mess around with and learn from. After I’d created the label’s skeleton I hit up Wes (Ageless) to get his thoughts on putting out a record together. I wanted a select group of artists to work with to help flesh things out, so that they would be part of it as much as I was. Philos teamed up with SwAy, TechNoddo, and Artifakts shortly thereafter, and things progressed quickly after that.What kind of goal did you want to accomplish through this project from the beginning?
I suppose it was driven partly by self-interest in the beginning. I worked extensively with an organization at my university that put on large-scale programs for students, including a number of concerts featuring nationally-recognized artists. Dealing with the back-end logistics of putting on big-time shows for thousands of people sparked an interest in the ‘behind the scenes’ of music, while I was simultaneously discovering a ton of awesome music by relatively unknown dudes. I was also pretty sure that my friends were getting tired of my constantly showing said music to them...so the two wants fit hand-in-hand pretty well. The label allowed me to help showcase well-deserving artists while providing an experimentation ground for different business models and theories I was curious about.You have a number of talented producers on the roster. How did you scout producers such high potential?
To be honest, they’re all artists that I just really, really enjoy listening to. If I’m able to easily find something unique and fun about an artist’s music I generally look forward to working with them. Each of the guys have something I could point to and say “that’s why”. In the beginning I was digging through tons of artists on SoundCloud to find a few I’d like to start things up with. After that, it became introductions of friends, professionally-written demo submissions, even shows I attend.I notice a lot of collaboration and remixing happens between the artists – even some collaborative releases. Is this something you encouraged or did it just kind of happen on its own?
The side projects and friendships formed naturally - it’s one of my favorite aspects of the label. Many of us have become close friends, which has resulted in some really dope collaborations: Ageless & SwAy, Daily Bread & Derlee, Blunt Force & Kinetik Groove, among others. I’ve really only ever encouraged it once with our “Now That’s What I Call Philos!” compilation project, which was probably the most fun thing ever.I did see that you guys have done a number of different mixes like 'The Grapevine' series and the 'Now That’s What I Call Philos!' series. Tell us more about those.
The GrapeVine is a series of compilation releases that we started up pretty early on in 2013, and was meant to bring together up-and-coming artists that we thought people would like to hear from. It’s great working with all kinds of diverse and talented dudes for those. For ‘Now That’s What I Call Philos!’ we paired up members of the crew to put together five collaborative tracks. It was probably the most challenging (and fun) project we’ve put together so far. It gave the guys an opportunity to bond and learn different production styles, and someone had the awesome idea of putting all of us on the cover a la Brady Bunch style... We’re spread out all over (The Geek x Vrv in France, SwAy in Canada, the rest from all over the United States), so it wasn’t really an option to get everyone together for a photoshoot or something. I laugh thinking back on it, because it really was a lot like herding cats...and I don’t think it could have turned out any more awesome in the end.
Do you guys ever get to hang out? What kind of adventures have you been on with the Philos artists?
We do, although it’s not as much as I would like thanks to the crew being spread out all over everywhere. I view the diversity as an asset, but it does make getting a few of us together in one spot an interesting challenge. Ageless (NYC), Blunt Force (Austin), Artifakts (Milwaukee), and T.Wilde (Denver) and I all joined up in Colorado for our first showcase, and several others are playing with Artifakts in Milwaukee coming up on April 2nd. I try to make it out to kick it for any big nights or shows that the guys are playing when I can.
I can imagine a lot of work has been put into Philos the last three years and it seems you’ve gotten a nice footing so far. What’s up next for the label?
Up to this point we’ve been primarily focusing on building the label organically by putting together a diverse back-catalog and refining the business model. We’ve reached audiences in over 100 countries since 2013 through digital outlets, and although that’ll always be a staple for the label, 2016 will see us taking more steps outside of just digital interactions via additional physical releases, more diverse showcases, etc. There are many other ideas and big plans that are still baking that I’m planning to put in motion this year as well. For now, I’ve always got my ear to the ground for new and exciting music, and we’ve got some releases from newer artists coming up that I’m really, really stoked about.
Any last thoughts – shout-outs, or perhaps some wisdom, even for those interested in starting their own label?
Gotta give love to my Philos brothers - they’re the lifeblood of this operation, and working closely with them every day is a huge blessing. Also to the people enjoying the music we put together, a big thanks for the ears and support so far. And thank you to Stereofox for celebrating our third birthday with us! As for wisdom… I’ll just share some of the best advice I’ve received that’s always inspired me: There’s never a perfect time - stop thinking and planning, and take real action on whatever it is that you’re chasing.
You can head over the Philos Music Store and listen to all of their releases, even buy them on a "pay what you want" basis.