In 2015, Josh Gunston and Jay McDougall (also known as KXVU, pronounced ‘kovu’) joined forces to create ‘Southpoint’ – a record label centred around their motivation for promoting local and lesser known talent and dedication to reviving their hometown of Brighton’s fading bass and grime scene. In just over 12 months the lads turned the idea of a small-town label into one of the hottest properties in Bass Music. With plenty of love from the likes of 1Xtra and Rinse FM and tipped by UKF as an essential new label to watch, the local lads have created one of 2016’s runaway success stories.
We caught up with the guys on the launch of the new "KXVU Presents" album to talk about the Southpoint family ethic, business expansion and the Brighton Bass Music scene. As you know we love it when labels pop down to Juno HQ with some freebies and this time Southpoint have gone one step further. Not only are they letting you download their next EP "The Takeover" for absolutely niente, you can also grab a free banger from one of their most promising recent signings Drax! Finally, don't miss the specially recorded Southpoint showcase mix with head man KXVU on the buttons.
Hi KXVU and Josh. How are things with you right now?
KXVU: Awesome man, we're in a really cool position at the minute, every day we're waking up to a new bit of good news.
Josh: Everything's good, just extremely busy!
So for those uninitiated please tell us about the Southpoint sound and the Southpoint family.
KXVU: For us, one of the most important aspects behind Southpoint has always been the family. We wanted to build a project which is more than just a label, within which everyone involved can truly benefit from each other's movements. If we can't sit in a room and enjoy the company of everyone involved then we aren't going to want to be releasing the music, however good it may be.
Our sound is so varied it's hard to put a name to it, but it's bass-heavy and whatever we put out is musically interesting to us, and hopefully our supporters.
From its very inception the label has showcased a wide range of sounds from across the Bass music spectrum; from Dubstep to Grime, Bassline to 2-step was it always your intention for the labels catalogue to be such a mixed bag?
KXVU: 100%, definitely. We have both been music heads for as long as we can remember. I've primarily been a grime/dubstep DJ, but I've always been interested in energetic music whatever it is, from dancehall through to tech-inspired drum & bass. I think as long as the energy is potent then it fits perfectly with us. Josh has also had a strong passion for grime, dubstep, and UK garage but our paths all lead the same way.
Do you think this more open and eclectic approach is likely to become more common for record labels in the future?
KXVU: I think you have to be more than just a title that releases music if you want your project to resonate within the underground music community. It's very tempting for me as a grime producer/ DJ to just push out grime, but that wouldn't be beneficial to any of our grime producers. Cross-pollination of fan bases is the most useful tool we can offer our artists and that only comes through having a diverse roster to begin with. Josh has always stood by the "more than just a label" approach, and vows to stay transparent, with the idea of having a reach in each musical sector, from events through to artist management, which is taking place as we speak.
In the space of a little over a year Southpoint went from basically an idea in the heads of yourself and business partner Josh to one of the most exciting and highly regarded record labels in the UK. What would you put this meteoric rise down to and are there any tips you would give fellow record label managers?
KXVU: I think personally working with people rather than against people is the most important factor here. We started Southpoint originally to bring back diversity to our hometown's nightlife, because nobody was working together. We communicate with a lot of other projects, events and labels as often as we can to open up new doors for everyone involved. The single slogan at the heart of our movement is "everyone can benefit".
I also think trying to empathise with people is incredibly important, especially musicians. We live in a culture that makes it so easy to turn around and say, "he's clearly done that on purpose to screw us over", when really the majority of people are just doing what they think is best. Being open and honest about your plans and communicating with people is so important to us, because without sounding cringe, we can't stand seeing our roster/fan base disappointed.
Josh has handled much of the business involvement and works with a very firm, yet friendly attitude. He was the one who came up with the idea in the first place, and will always tell others that passion is what will drive your label, not money.
We know that you are busy guys because as well as one of you being a producer and one of you being label manager you have also recently launched Southpoint management – please tell us a little about this.
Josh: I wanted to start a management arm for a while. I found that most managers (especially within the DJ circuit) were very illusive and unresponsive, and I wanted to change that. I wanted to represent my artists while also providing them with a stable label platform, which luckily works hand-in-hand. It also reinforces our "family" aspect, as not only can we release their music but can also handle all their legal issues, bookings, and tours.
Are you currently on the search for new talent? Is there anywhere budding producers can send submissions to?
Josh: At the moment, we aren't accepting demos purely due to the size of our roster, and there's already a long queue of releases planned. We don't like to make producers sit on material for months and months, it's not fair on them.
We are always looking for new material for our radio shows however, the best place to send music to is our SoundCloud inbox as we check that on a daily basis, but if not, then drop us a private SoundCloud to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
Your lot are giving Juno Download fans the chance to download some seriously good unreleased music for free as part of the takeover – can you tell us a little about the free “Takeover EP”?
KXVU: Well the original plan was to just do a single free download, but we found it so hard to choose a single track from the entirety of our 40+ strong roster, so instead that we decided to build it into a special EP.
The tracks included are from artists who are synonymous with the label, but also artists we feel that we haven't had a chance to promote enough. This provided a perfect opportunity to give them an additional push. We are really excited to give Brighton-based grime MC 'Writz' his first release as well.
You have also recorded a very special and exclusive mix as part of the takeover – can you tell us a little about the mix – the set up used, the thought process behind your selection process etc?
KXVU: The mix is a showcase of a big chunk of our forthcoming material. There's music in there that isn't due out until next year which we are very excited about. Being able to dip into such a vast pool of quality music.
So last week saw the releases of 'KXVU presents' Please tell us a little bit about the concept of the album.
KXVU: The idea of the artist 'Presents' compilation series is to give artists on the label the chance to put their own spin on a release beyond just featuring on it. The artist presenting the release will be working alongside us to curate the track listing, both by selected artists and assessing their submissions. We ran this as a test run and the results couldn't have been better for us. We are already planning the next 'Presents' paid compilation for February 2017 and we are extremely excited.
Southpoint is of course synonymous with the city of Brighton, although it might be fair to say that while Brighton has a fantastic musical heritage the city is not synonymous with Bass music – so with that in mind when creating the label, did the City inspire you to create a label concentrating on Bass music or are you hoping to inspire the city to focus on Bass music?
Josh: I was born and raised in Brighton, and was able to witness the grime and dubstep scene take-off here, although when it started to die off, I went to Bristol for two years to study. I observed the music scene and saw it as a fairly parallel city to Brighton, but Bristol was doing much better. When I returned to Brighton, I saw a gap in the market. The bass scene was slowly on the rise again so the conception of Southpoint was an attempt to provide a platform for the DJs and fans interested in the Brighton bass scene.
Are there any Bass Music events or venues that visitors to the city should check out?
Josh: There are numerous different event companies competing in Brighton at the moment, and most are specialising in bass music. The ones to mention at this current point in time are Freerange, Mute, and Worried About Henry.
There are many more, but I'll leave the rest as a mystery.
We know that Southpoint has dabbled in nightlife recently, do you have any plans for more events or perhaps a regular club night?
Josh: This is all work-in-progress but stay tuned for many more label takeovers coming your way, featuring a potential collaboration with another bass-orientated label – very exciting stuff.
The album has been greatly received with Juno Download users, storming to the top of our charts, but how pleased are you with the way it has been received from your peers and critics so far?
KXVU: Everybody so far has loved it, if anything we've been a bit overwhelmed with how much support it's been receiving. Every day we're seeing it getting shared by more and more people, it's quite mad to be honest.
The Southpoint family now has a show on Brighton’s Trickstar radio – tell us a bit about what to expect from the show and how non-local fans can tune in.
KXVU: We broadcast live via www.trickstarradio.com (East Sussex DAB) every Thursday between 18:00-20:00. We are super proud of the show as it gives us a chance to show people all of our upcoming projects and interact with our listeners. We also have guest mixes from members of the Southpoint collective near enough every week, as well as interviews, release announcements, live discussions and more.
Are there any Brighton-based artists that you are expecting to blow up in 2017?
KXVU: Bushbaby, Noble, and Drax are all faces we are expecting to be household names within their respective genres by this time next year (as far as Brighton-based producers).
Any final thoughts or shout outs?
Josh: We just wanted to thank everyone who have supported our movement since our conception. It’s mad to see such positive feedback, and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon. We are more than just a record label.
Juno Download Guest Mix - KXVU
Grime Ammunition - Raw energy and tough rhythms created by the Southpoint family
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