Record label, events brand and DJ agency PIV have responded to lockdown by switching things up. Label boss Prunk reveals all…
There was a story in the papers today (or maybe yesterday – they all blur into one at the moment!) about a teenage boy who'd been in a coma for 18 months. He woke up a couple of days ago, and they had to explain to him about coronavirus and lockdowns. Which must have come as quite a surprise.
You, on the other hand, almost certainly haven't been in a coma for the past 18 months. Which means you know all about coronavirus, about how badly lockdowns have hit the entertainment industries, and about how various outfits and organisations have been turning to new ways of doing things as a result. New ways to generate revenue, new ways to stay in touch with their fans, new ways to express their creativity and/or new ways to help out their local community (see, for instance, the numerous nightclubs around the world that are currently being used as food banks or testing/vaccination centres).
Well, here's another label who've been exploring new avenues: Amsterdam's PIV Records. Headed up by DJ/producer Prunk, PIV was born out of a pre-existing club night of the same name (“Prunk InVites” was the original idea behind the name, though they've since decided on “People InVited” instead), and they've been putting out deep and soulful house music since 2015, while continuing to stage events and run their own DJ agency.
And now they've added a new string to their bow. Back in September, they put out their first sample pack, featuring sounds created by deep house stalwart Djoko, and their second – put together by rising scene star Aron Volta – has just been released this week.
We got Prunk on the phone to find out more…
You started releasing these sample packs as a response to lockdown, is that correct?
“Yes, basically. We felt the need to do something creative during the coronavirus lockdown, and of course there was less income coming in from events. So we decided it was time to do something else, and a sample pack was one of the things we came up with.”
But was it purely a lockdown thing? Or would you have done it at some point anyway?
“Well, I'd always sort of had an idea we might do one, but it wasn't something we'd ever really discussed. So yes, it was a lockdown thing really.”
You already have several strands to what you do – events, the label, a DJ agency – and of course, when a brand has several aspects like that, they don't always follow exactly the same musical remit. So will PIV's sample packs stick to the same sort of music policy as the label, or can you see yourselves branching out into other genres?
“Well, the label is a mix between soulful and deep house, but the two packs we've done are more in a contemporary deep house style. But we've just signed another pack – I can't say who from yet, but that one will be more kind of soulful, jazzy vibes. If you talk about classic US house, for me I think of that classic San Francisco sound, people like Mark Farina and Miguel Migs. So the next pack is more in that sort of vein.”
But all roughly within the deep and soulful house arena – you've no plans to release a jungle pack or a hard acid techno pack, for instance?
“No, all the sample packs will be related to the core sound of the label. It's funny you should ask, because I was speaking to someone about this yesterday. Maybe in the future we'll do something like that, like a jazzy drum & bass pack or something – never say never! But for now, all the packs are related to the sound of the label.”
And how's the first pack been selling? Djoko's a pretty big name in deep house so you'd expect it to get a fair amount of attention…
“Yeah, we've been really pleased, actually – we've already sold twice as many as we thought we would!”
Could you see a point ever coming where the company pivots, and perhaps you step back from production or the events, but carry on doing the sample packs?
“Well, you can never say what the future holds, but I thing the sample packs will always be a sideline and the label will always be the main focus.”
What do you know about your customers – do you find you're mostly selling these packs to existing PIV supporters, or are they attracting you new fans?
“Again, it's funny you ask because I just had an email from a guy yesterday, he's a trance producer but he was telling me that he really liked the sounds on the Djoko pack as well. That was funny because I never dreamed that people working in other genres would buy a pack like this.
“But then again, when I'm producing I do buy sample packs from hip-hop or drum & bass or whatever, so I shouldn't be surprised! Maybe we need to so some wider advertising and promotion…”
Where can people buy these packs – I know they're available through your website but are the samples also available on Slice, for instance? And are they purely downloads, or are disc versions available too?
“No, they're purely digital and they're exclusive to our website for now. We're also talking about selling them through Beatport or SampleMarket or wherever in the future, but we wanted to start out this way to make the sample packs exclusive.”
It seems like a bit of a softly-softly approach at the moment: you're not going all-out with 20 packs every week covering all styles of music, it all feels a bit more toe-in-the-water…
“Ha ha! For us, it's more like… you know, I spoke to Djoko and said 'Do you fancy getting involved with a new project, and hopefully we can make a little bit of money as well?” and that was it, really.
“But then when the Djoko pack started selling in two, three times the numbers we'd been expecting, that's when we thought 'Hmmm, okay… maybe we can do this some more'. If we can a new pack every three months, that's great: I think one-a-week would be too much right now – for us, I think that 'exclusive' feel works better.”
Given that the sample packs were born out of lockdown, will you carry on doing them once lockdown ends? Has your experience of being “in the samples game” so far made you want to carry on doing it?
“Yeah, but once lockdown's over I'd like to bring the sample side of things and the live events together. Like, get Djoko to do a showcase, that kind of thing. That'll be the next step after coronavirus, I think.”
So I'd go to a club, Djoko's playing tracks he's made using these sounds and if I like it then I can buy the samples right there?
Oh! Well that's interesting – I'm not aware of any other sample houses doing anything like that…
“No, that's the point – that's my idea of how we can do things a little bit differently! But that's for the future. Right now it's just nice to get the sounds out there – music is love and it's for sharing, right?”
What a nice sentiment! Now of course, PIV isn't the only little independent label/agency/events brand out there – is doing a sample pack something you'd recommend to others in a similar boat?
“It can be, but it's a good idea to get some advice from people who know what they're doing. PIV, for instance, started out doing events – when we set up a record label, I got some advice from people who had experience running record labels. So yes, it can be a good route to go down but it's better to get the help of someone who knows what they're doing, than to do it yourself and do it badly!
“And only do it when you can bring the quality. It's the same as releasing records, really – there's no point putting out something sub-standard that's been thrown together in five minutes. That's why we asked Djoko to do our first pack: he's a great producer and we knew it would be a high-quality pack. But if you've got a label that can attract artists of that calibre then sure, go for it, why not?”
Having the roster of talent that've signed tracks to PIV to work with must have been a good starting point there, then. You've had people like Djoko, Roland Nights, Leigh D Oliver and Anthony Mea, all very respected names in deep house circles – do you feel you were uniquely positioned to do this?
“Well, it's helped. we always call it 'future classic' – we sign tracks by some artists people have heard of but also a lot by up-and-coming artists they won't have heard of yet. And these days we get sent about 50 demos a week so it's not hard to find good stuff.
“But it's funny because those names you mention – they're pretty underground really! Since we've moved from Traxsource to Beatport we've also branched out a bit, signing tracks by people like Archie Hamilton and S.A.M – still in the deep house arena but that more modern sound.”
Moving beyond the sample packs, what else is coming up for you? I'm guessing you'll be itching to start up events again once lockdown ends, but apart from that – any other plans for world domination we don't know about yet?
“Ha ha! Well at the moment, we're busy organising a club night at Amnesia in Ibiza – it was meant to be happening this year but it looks like it'll next year now. Plus we host stages at a few different festivals around the world, and we've also been looking at staging our own – in fact that's pretty much ready to rock whenever the pandemic finally calms down.
“And then obviously, we've still got regular releases coming on PIV Records and we're starting up a new label as well. The name's not set in stone yet but for now it's called 4 The People, and it'll be more the very jazzy, soulful sound – think DJ Spinna or Gilles Peterson, that kind of thing. And when we start our festival there'll be a stage for that kind of music as well, so yeah, that's a whole other new project.”
So, lots going on then! Anything else our readers need to know about, before we sign off?
“Our next release is gonna be an EP from Sidney Charles. He's known for tech-house but this is more like proper deep house. I've known him for several years and he's always had that love for classic house music – and this EP is proper house music.”
Words: Russell Deeks
Check out PIV's sample packs for yourself here