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Jelly For The Babies [Interview]

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The sixth installment of our label manager interview series welcomes Jelly For The Babies who runs One Of A Kind, RYNTH and The Purr, with the latter now being a Top 10 selling Organic House label on Beatport. We had a chance to catch up with Marijan for an exclusive chat about his vision for the labels, day to day operations, advices, pet peeves and much more. Enjoy.

Hi Marijan, thanks for sitting with us today! What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a happy new year 2023. Health and happiness and that you spend this year, as well as every year to come, with the ones you love.

Considering that I spent the previous two months in Iceland, where I primarily went to relax mentally and make plans for the near future, I must admit that I feel very good.

Lately I've been listening to a lot of indie rock, so one of the last albums I listened to was the Meltt band's album "Swim Slowly".

What are your plans for the week?

Well, mostly the plans are related to my publishing houses. At the end of 2022, with the masterful remix of Erdi Irmak, for the Wassu's original "Devi", we managed to enter the Top 10 Organic House genre on the prestigious digital music sales portal, Beatport! All that, as well as the great trust of musicians like Cream, Bondarev, Dowden, Subandrio, Alan Cerra, Hobin Rude and many others who signed their releases to One Of A Kind, as well as super promising musicians from RYNTH, motivates me to enter even more time and work to publishing houses. We build cooperation on a very healthy level, full of empathy and respect, and therefore success cannot be lacking.

So, you run three labels correct? One Of A Kind, The Purr and RYNTH?

Yes, three publishing houses and that is my primary job. Thanks to the great trust I have from Proton distribution, as well as all the musicians who sign for the aforementioned publishing houses, I can say that this is my primary job from now on.

What led you to start The Purr initially? Was that your first foray into running a record label?

To be honest, I first started to engage in music production, and then at the persuasion of my good friend Milos Miladinovic, manager of Balkan Connection, I started my first publishing house, and I have not regretted it. A lot of new contacts, a lot of good exclusive music and what I love the most and what makes me the happiest is investing in promising young musicians. In a relatively short time, The Purr has become a popular publishing house for all lovers of deep house sound, so by signing musicians such as Hraach, Andrew Meller, DSF, Julian Wassermann, Miroslav Pavlovic, and many others, we establish our place in the world of deep and melodic house music and we become interesting in the EDM scene.

What was it that led to the quick formation of One Of A Kind and RYNTH shortly thereafter?

Since I'm a big fan of the progressive house sound, which I found myself in, that's where the idea for One Of A Kind came from. RYNTH was born as a result, because everything that was of good quality, which did not fit into the style of The Purr sound, was signed to RYNTH.

In terms of DJs and artists who would say are the biggest sources of inspiration for your labels?

It's really hard to single out some, because my taste in music changed and evolved as I grew up.

If you had to pinpoint a few tracks that you released which were crucial in the development of your labels?

Every musician I signed contributed to the development and prosperity of my publishing houses. It is very difficult and perhaps not even fair to single out anyone. Really, without the slightest ego attitude, my approach to musicians is open and friendly, whether they are great and successful musicians or young ones just at the beginning of their career.

You’ve spoken before about the frustrations and/or drawbacks of trying to run a label from a country like Serbia, tell us a bit more about that and why it is challenging at times.

It's simple. It is very difficult to compete with publishing houses from economically developed countries, where whoever starts a publishing house can financially support it with a large amount of money. Like any business, in the beginning, in addition to desire and will, you need money for designers, mastering engineers, promotion, and releases of already established musicians.

And of course, the choice of musicians will be the publishing house which, according to its image on the stage, is more prosperous and seems more powerful.

We developed slowly, but now we can already boast that The Purr is one of the best publishing houses for deep and organic house sound on the market.

The Purr recently became a Top 10 best selling Organic House label on Beatport, would this be your proudest accomplishment as a label owner thus far? And if so, what have some other milestones been along the way?

I already mentioned it. Of course, thanks to the trust and great music provided to us by Wassu and Erdi, as well as to all the people who supported this edition, we reached the long-awaited Top 10! But I repeat again, joint persistence has brought us to where we are.

Organic House has become a trendy sound in electronic music these past couple of years, do think this genre has become a bit over-saturated? And what is your opinion on the current state of the genre?

Well, music evolves and therefore changes its sound and form over time. Organic house is popular at the moment, melodic will be popular tomorrow, deep house again the day after tomorrow. I think that everything happens cyclically. It is up to us to try to build a sound that is recognizable to us and not to follow the trend so much, but to create it.

And to add to that, with the emergence of Organic House, has the Progressive genre suffered to some extent?

I think that progressive has always been there and where it should be - Underground. Because that's the only way we can listen to quality progressive. Now, of course, when something is underground, the population that listens to that type of music decreases. But again, it doesn't necessarily mean that if it's underground, it's bad.

Are you solely responsible for the A&R on the labels? And if not, who else contributes to what gets signed or is helping with the weekly duties?

I do most things myself. Things like listening to demos, sorting and organizing releases, communicating with mastering engineers, Edner Soares and Nicholas Van Orton, and while I do the design for two labels, one is in charge of Bojan Borjanic, also a musician whose alias is Bojan B. For the marketing part of The Purr, I am helped by Filip Fisher, who has been a part of this great story from the very beginning, as well as Milos Miladinovic, a man without whom most of these things would not be feasible, because he is our main link with the distributor. One Of A Kind however i have started with Bonaca, super talented musician and even better person. Later we parted amicably because my taste in music and his did not match.

Do you have someone who you get a second opinion from when it comes to signing tracks? A significant other or close friend perhaps?

We work hard to ensure that every musician receives the same treatment from us. I repeat, most of the things I do I do with great empathy, so that first contact with a musician I make it known that we are first of all people and then collaborators.

When you get to a point with a track or set of tracks where you’re close to committing to signing them what can push the decision one way or the other?

I don't think there are any rules and it seems to me that most labels make decisions based on taste and first listening. What kind of impression a song leaves on me at a given moment largely depends on my mood. Of course, there is a genre range that the publishing house goes to, but again that first impression of listening to the song is the most important. It can be said that luck is also one of the factors when you send a demo to a major publishing house.

Do you have a special spot to listen to demos? Outside of the studio I mean, a place where your mind resets a bit, and you have fresh ears in a way.

I don't have a special place. Sometimes I do it while I'm walking, by listening on headphones, because the idea is the most important to me, and we can work on the mix and sound together, and sometimes in my home studio. It really depends on your mood and free time.

Let’s discuss artwork for a moment, all your labels follow a very recognizable theme which is working very well for you. Should labels be putting more time and thought in their artwork?

I claim that the image of the publishing house is one of the more important factors that catches the eye of whoever sends a demo.

Of course, first the music, but then again it is important that you have an image, that you try to be original and that you have a story and a soul.

I started the ALT Workshop, where all those who are interested in how to open a publishing house, what exactly to do, what kind of approach to have towards musicians, how to follow mailing lists, etc. they can see and read. The pictures are in Serbian because I want to focus more on the development of the domestic electronic music market, but in the description on Instagram you have (translate) so whoever is interested can read it, and if anyone has any questions, they can send it directly to my inbox.

LINK: https://www.instagram.com/alternativeworkshop/

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to any of your 3 labels?

Before you send a demo, listen to what the publishing house signs, and if your music is close to what we release, there are already big chances that we will sign it. Also, be persistent and have patience. Don't be discouraged if someone rejects you. The fact that this and that publishing house rejected you does not mean that another will not accept you. Also, whenever you have questions, ask, don't be shy. There is no shame in asking what needs to be improved in a mix or an idea.

Is big DJ play a factor in signing something? From someone like Hernan Cattaneo or Nick Warren for example.

Any kind of support is more than welcome. Hernan and Nick are great people, great musicians, great promoters of the music we love. And not only their support, but the support of all major producers and DJs throughout the edm scene. I repeat again, mutual support and modesty is a virtue of the great.

You generally do remixes on your releases so what is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?

It is true that most of the releases have remixes, but we try to make sure that the EP we put together does not lose its originality. If we are already doing remixes, then that release should be diverse, and not that the remix sounds 80% the same as the original, because then we haven't done anything. The point is that when musicians get a promo of that release, before it goes out, they have the luxury of choosing which mix they like best.

What is your biggest pet peeve about receiving music for the labels?

Send only the link without any prior introduction. It is very important to compose a good email, both for work and for the demo that you send to the publishing house. The email should be concise and clear. You don't need to write a book or record a podcast... The bigger the email, the greater the chances that your email will not be answered.

Looking back over each label’s discography, which one of your early releases / tracks still puts a smile on your face when you listen to it now, and why? (Maybe pick one per label)

Again, I don't like to single out releases because I don't think one release makes a label great.

But let's try it this way. For example, Hraach with the release "Eternal Soul", on The Purr label, still has a lot of streams...I think over seven million. Even if the release was signed in 2015, it is still very popular.

I owe a great deal of gratitude to all those who agreed to open my publishing houses by signing their editions, and for the trust they placed in me!

Who do you see as future stars in Progressive and Organic House?

Ugh, tough question. I follow the music scene and there are a lot of talented musicians who will surely come to the fore in the next few months and years. Some of them, in my opinion, are Not Demure, Hobin Rude, Maximo Lasso, Juani Dubra, Travis Jesse, Facucio and many others.

What advice would have for new or potential label owners out there?

Write your idea and vision of your publishing house on paper (be detailed). Put the paper aside for about a month and then read what you wrote. If at that moment you doubt your idea, try again. Don't give up.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

Petar Dundov 20:00 - 22:00

Eelke Kleijn 22:00 - 00:00

Sasha b2b John Digweed 00:00 - 03:00

Guy J 03:00 - 05:00

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I'm a big movie buff so I can't single out one that influenced me. Very very difficult. I try not to philosophize too much lately, but to simplify things because I believe that simplicity = health.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest risk you’ve taken and what made you do it?

I said that I don't like to philosophize, but now I'm going to have to haha... I think we take risks every day. Life is such that no matter what we do, there is no guarantee, but it is up to us to keep trying. Regardless of our decisions, there are side effects, which unconsciously affect us and the decisions we make. It is up to us to try to be better people and to leave behind good words when we leave this world. Here I remember the movie that left a big influence on me - "Pay It Forward".

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

As an introvert trying his best to be an extrovert probably invisible haha I'm kidding... well I wish I could heal by touch.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

To take care of people who are important to me.

What can we expect from your labels to close out the year and on into 2023– any special releases we should be looking out for?

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Follow Jelly For The Babies here: https://linktr.ee/jelly4thebabies

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