The boss behind one of EDM's coolest labels
The last few years has seen Guesthouse Music label boss DJ Mes release numerous top quality slabs of wax from both tried-and-true mainstay artists on the scene as well as some of the freshest up and coming talent - the true house stars of tomorrow. With a focus on consistency, quality, and tunes aimed directly at the dance floor, Guesthouse is looking forward to massive 2012. We meet the main man.
Words : Dan Prince
Mes, welcome to DMC. You began the mighty Guesthouse Music label 8 years ago mainly down to the fact that you wanted to support friends and artists who's music you believed in that may not otherwise get supported. What tunes/artists are you proudest of bringing out?
"Hello Dan. Well some of my proudest moments over the years include Gramophonedzie ‘Why Don’t You’ , J Paul Getto ‘3000’ , DJ Dan ‘Nasty Night out’ Demarkus Lewis ‘House Guest EP which was GM001. The Sound Republic (all releases), Cosy Creatures ‘Show U The Way’, DJ Sneak, Bobby and Klein, Natural Rhythm, Dan X, Soydan, Tommy Largo, Dimitri Max, Sonny Fodera and Poncho Warwick."
An Oakland boy, home of the likes of Sly Stone and Digital Underground. What was the music you were listening to as a kid?
"My musical upbringing was pretty eclectic. Early on my dad listened to the likes of Paul Simon, The Beatles, John Denver, Neil Diamond, Taj Mahal and Otis Redding. Once I developed my own tastes I was listening to everything from Too Short, Souls of Mischief, Del the Funky Homosapien to Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin and Primus."
Cool music. So what did you want to be when you grew up?
What was your first break in the music industry?
"My first real break would have to be starting the label. It opened doors for me to do more as an artist, and as a DJ. I have to give a lot of credit to Tony Hewitt (Tango Recordings). If it wasn’t for Tony believing in me and my idea for Guesthouse, the label never would have got off the ground. He funded my first few releases and got my foot in the door. Without his help and guidance, Guesthouse would not exist. Tony also got me my first big gig at the infamous ‘Gathering’ party in San Francisco. I started getting booked for shows and traveling regularly after that. Thanks Tony!"
What do you think of the current state of the record industry?
"How much time do you have? With digital being the industry standard it isn’t what it used to be. The quality control is seriously lacking and what gets labeled ‘House Music’ today is a lot more commercial than ever. You’ve got acts like got Swedish House Mafia, Afro Jack and Paris Hilton cashing in on ‘House Music’…Arhhhh!!! They’ve all lost the plot as far as I’m concerned. At the end of the day it’s all subjective, but it seems to me that today’s ‘artists’ are more about the Benjamin’s and not so much about the love of the music. But who am I to decide? Nobody!"
Who were your influences as a DJ on the way up,?
"Without a doubt DJ Dan was my number one influence as a DJ growing up and he is still one my biggest influences today. Others include, Tony Hewitt, Jeno and Derrick Carter. A couple of lesser known DJ’s that really influenced me early on are Rob Drake and Rob Doten and Levi Lyman. They showed me the ropes!"
What are the plans for WMC 2012? What tunes are you taking this year and where is your party?
"I'm mainly trying to keep my liver intact and survive the rigorous week of no stop parties. As for the tunes – everything J Paul Getto, everything DJ Dan and everything DJ Sneak. More new stuff from the likes of Sonny Fodera, Gramophonedzie, Dimitri Max and more. Some classics for the heads. We’ve got two Guesthouse parties planned – one is Wednesday @ Kill Your Idol and the other is Saturday @ Love Hate. Both parties offer something a little different while staying true to the Guesthouse sound…you definitely don’t want to miss either one."
Was signing Gramaphonedzi's 'Why Don't You' the biggest no brainer of your career?
"Pretty much! That was a monster tune and a definite no brainer. It was our biggest record to date."
What is your current top 10 you are spinning?
J Paul Getto – Everything They Make
DJ Dan – Out of Nowhere
White Noise – Pimp On
Audio Jacker – Do It Yourself
Treasure Fingers – Crusaders
SRC – Tiger Motel
Gramophonedzie - Simply
Trevor Loveys – Heebeegeebee’s
Dimitri Max – Hit Wonder
DJ Mes – Love Affair
You once said that every now and again you like to "throw a curveball to startle people with a new, unexpected style". Have we any curveballs on the horizon?
"The last one we did was the J Paul Getto 3000 – A super classy, sultry number that was definitely left of center from the usual Guesthouse Sound. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for future release but nothing specific to leak just yet. Just stay tuned I suppose."
What is the finest record you have ever played to a dancefloor?
"I have no idea! I wish I could remember that."
What DJs and producers from around the world are doing it for you right now?
"I’ve only mentioned them 100 times in this interview but they are worth mentioned again - J Paul Getto! This duo is on fire and they have got some serious ammo in their arsenal. They get my vote for best producers of 2011 and it’s looking to be the same result for 2012. DJ Dan is also on a streak. He’s honed his skills and gone back to doing a lot of funky house and disco influenced records. All his jams are impossible to stand still too! Some others are DJ Sneak, Dmitri Max, Jay Veags, Hijack, Treasure Fingers, Mark Funk and Demarkus Lewis."
There are hundreds of tiny labels pushing stuff out on an almost weekly basis. How do you compete in terms of publicity etc.?
"We don’t sleep! Guesthouse HQ is firing on all cylinders 24-7. In my experience the most important thing for a successful label is quality control. If you get that right, the rest should fall into place. I have been doing Guesthouse for 8 years now and it does help that we were in the vinyl game for 4-5 years before the digital marketplace really took off. Having 35 vinyl releases puts a bit of weight behind you label and helped establish Guesthouse as a reputable purveyor of quality house music. People know us, they know the brand and they know what to expect (mostly) from a Guesthouse release."
What is your Guesthouse Alltime Top 10?
Demarkus Lewis – House Guests EP
Cosy Creatures Show U The Way
The Sound Republic – Singes the Blues
Gramophonedzie – Why Don’t You
DJ Sneak – Did it at the Disco
DJ Dan Nasty Night Out
J Paul Getto – 3000
DJ Mes & Sonny Fodera – Wanna Do
Jasy Veagas – Way Back EP
DJ Homewrecker _ Step Daddy
What one record from the past 12 months would you love to have signed?
"J Paul Getto – 'Imma Let You Know'."
How many new records do you listen to on average every week?
"Between promos, demos and hunting. I probably really listen to about 50-60 tracks a week and I skim through another 50-60."
What kinda stuff do you listen to chill out to?
"Thievery Corp – Nightmares on Wax, Bob James, Crusaders, John Lee Hooker, Paul Simon, Sadae and ‘The Groove’ on serious satellite radio."
And finally, what can we expect from your seminal label for the rest of 2012...
"Consistent quality house music from the well known and not so well known.
Thank you Dan!"