Just about to turn one year old, Pittsburgh-based label is / was has already made quite the impact with fresh and timeless releases from heavy hitters and new names alike. We had a chat with label boss Tony Fairchild after he turned in this bangin’ set for the Hot Mix.
Tell us a little about the mix — what was the idea behind it?
It’s a collection of records I’ve bought over the past month or two with maybe 3-4 that have been in my collection for some time. I think I’m starting to get to a point where my personal definition of house music is starting to congeal and define itself. This mix is another step in the distillation process.
You’re a new imprint — how’d this all get started? Is it “is / was” or “was / is” ?
Yes, the labels (is / was & was / is) will turn 1 in April and they are my first labels. It all started with my desire to present music from the 90’s that has maybe fallen out of the spotlight to dance floors of today. Currently the curatorial ethos is simply releasing whatever I feel is timeless and important music. It helps to have a kick drum too!
Looking across the state from Philly, Pittsburgh packs quite the punch with its scene / labels / parties. Tell me a little bit about the scene and what you think makes it special / different.
I think what makes Pittsburgh great is what makes Midwest techno great in general. Heads-down, no frills, hyper-devoted people who involve themselves in dance music simply for the love of it. It’s an example of the beautiful things that can happen to art and culture when you take money out of the equation. What I’m most proud about is how cohesive the scene is and how supportive everyone is of each other. All the contributors to our scene have their own hustle yet are able to come together to lift each other up and put wind in each other’s sails.
How do you come across some of these older projects and go about re-releasing them? What can we expect the rest of 2018 ?
Usually it starts with a record I have, or am aware of (and wish I had!), that I think has something to offer current dance floors. Often its just a matter of contacting the artist and asking if they are interested in working together. Facebook is a big help!
As far as what to expect from the label, there will be 4 more pairs of is / was & was / is records dropping between now and the end of the year. Expect tunes from Mark Ambrose, Archetype, BPMF, Dar Embarks, a couple of top secret surprises and the debut of the insanely talented Teakup. I am also launching a new label, “TerraFirm”, this spring via Subwax Distribution. Its a very conceptual project focusing on a melodic, utopian, futuristic strain of techno. Look for 2 releases or so this year on that imprint.
Tell me something distinctly Pittsburgh that I should know about.
I’ve only lived here for about 2.5 years so I’m not the most qualified cultural ambassador! Our museum has a sick gem room that should be one of the first stops on any tour of the city.
What’s your favorite / least favorite thing about electronic music right now?
Favorite: watching the DJ’s and producers of my generation evolve as they mature in the scene. I see my cohort getting more nuanced, skilled and discerning. We aren’t the ankle-biters anymore!
Least Favorite: Discogs prices 😦