THRONE OF BLOOD’S KEY CUTS IN THE SCION DANCE ZINE
Originally published in Scion Dance Zine #5 in 2011.
The members of the band the Rapture created the Throne of Blood label after the release of their album Pieces of the People We Love in 2006. The initial reason for the imprint was to put out that full-length and singles from it on vinyl. The band enlisted James Friedman, formerly of Studio Distribution and Trevor Jackson’s Output label, to run the project. After the album cycle for Pieces of the People We Love ended, Throne of Blood was reborn as an independent dance-music label with a growing roster of artists. Friedman discusses their philosophy, their progression and some of their key releases.
Throne of Blood’s mission is to support really good music and to create a space for the artists we work with to do what they want without a lot of interference from the label itself. I don’t tend to give heavy creative direction to my artists, I try and work with them to clearly articulate the ideas they want to express. I try and offer them a platform to do what they want to do. Once I make the determination that this is someone we want to work with, I give them a platform to do what they want. We don’t have a stylistic pigeonhole that we fit neatly into. A lot of artists are into classic-sounding house music. Some folks are really into pushing things forward using antiquated analog gear. Some people are into a darker sound. Some of our artists are into a more poppy take on dance music. We don’t want to have a strong focus on any particular minute subgenre.
We’ve focused on singles to this point, because that’s what we can handle, resource-wise. If the label grows to a place where we can do artist albums and put them out properly and promote them properly and make sure they get the attention they deserve, I look forward to that time, but we’re not going to rush into that until we’re ready and we know there’s an audience there to buy the records.
The guys from the Rapture are still involved—Gabe Andruzzi has a solo 12-inch coming out, Vito Roccoforte produced a release from an artist called AKA JK. I think the label has grown into something much greater than we originally conceived, but it’s happened in a very gradual way, without a master plan. It’s grown into something really healthy and natural.
Zombi, “Sapphire” (2009)
“Sapphire” by Zombi was one of our best-sellers, we pressed it four or five times. It’s currently out of print. Zombi is a two-piece prog, almost metal, band from Pittsburgh. They make sci-fi, almost Goblin-esque instrumental music. Somewhere along the way someone played them some Italo disco and “Sapphire” was their attempt at making a record like that. This track found its way to me in 2005 and I was able to license it for my Go Commando mix CD. The song never got a stand-alone release, so I was able to relicense it as a full 12-inch and we got Escort to do a remix. Steve Moore from Zombi has put out a bunch of stuff on labels like L.I.E.S. and Kompakt, and this was his first foray into dance music.
Populette, “Mommy”/”Daddy” (2009)
“Mommy”/“Daddy” marks the beginning of the current phase of what Throne of Blood is doing: lots of releases with really high quality remixes. It was the debut of Populette, who are one of our flagship acts. They have done three 12-inches for us, two or three remixes and an iTunes–only label compilation called Populette Presents Throne of Blood. “Mommy”/“Daddy” was sort of a coming-out 12-inch for Throne of Blood. It got a lot of DJs’ attention and whatever momentum we have now started with that record. Also, my two best friends made it, so it’s a record I’m really proud to have been involved with since I love those guys.
Cosmic Kids, “Reginald’s Groove” (2011)
Cosmic Kids are a duo of guys from Los Angeles I only knew from the internet who sent me a track out of the blue and I just fell in love with it. I still remain open to the random demos that I get. It initiated what I think is going to be a great relationship. They came to me with a song and with an idea for a 12-inch: They wanted their friend Juan MacLean to do a remix and they wanted their friends Classix to do remix. Those are both artists I’m familiar with but don’t know super well, and it marks the only time one of my artists has really come to me with more than just a track and saying they want to do a 12-inch. Cosmic Kids had a really strong vision for what they wanted that meshed really nicely with what we’re doing and where we are at artistically. They’re our first American signees who don’t live in New York. They’re really down for Throne of Blood and they’re really committed. It was probably our best-selling 12-inch for the year.
Beat Pharmacy, Inside Job EP (2012)
Beat Pharmacy is Brendan Moeller, who is also known as Echologist. Brendan is a dub techno producer who is South African and lives in upstate New York. He’s a guy I worked with from 2001 to 2003 at Studio Distribution. He was a sales guy there who had a nascent production project going. He was always someone I really liked and after Studio fell apart he became a really respected producer who put out music on a lot of different labels. We started talking again over the past couple years, and it’s really nice to work with someone who I worked with at the beginning of my career. It’s nice to come full circle like that.
As told to Eric Ducker.
Watch an interview with James Friedman of Throne of Blood from the Scion Streaming Radio segment.