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Exclusive Interview: Label Owner Max Kessler Talks KESS Records

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Max Kessler
Max Kessler
is no stranger to the music business world, his experience and drive have taken him to new heights with each project he embarks upon; known for his passion for music, and his eagerness and vision that takes every artist that comes his way really far, it’s no surprise his record label KESS Records portrays the values and characteristics he’s known for; powerful and increasingly popular releases from the hottest names in the Dance music world like VAVO, TWINSICK, and LZRD, that have already amassed millions of streams on digital platforms and reached the top slots on the most important Electronic music charts like the Billboard Dance charts or the Beatport Top 25, the successful journey of KESS Records as a prominent label in the Dance music world with Max Kessler at the head shows this is just the beginning.

1 — Hello Max, how are you?

I am doing very well, thank you. Glad to be chatting!

2 — Can you walk us through your first steps in the music industry? How did you start?

Absolutely! I would say it really dates back to when I was a student at Tulane University. During my sophomore year, I became very into DJing and my passion for electronic music grew. One day my roommate tells me about this new class called “Intro To The Music Business” and I immediately knew I needed to take it. Of course, the class was already full, so I sent the professor a huge email (people who know me well, know these emails can really be huge) explaining why I would love to be in his class to which he responded by saying I can join the class. He did also say I would need to sit on the floor because there isn’t enough room. Excited by his response, I joined and made sure I arrived early so I didn’t have to sit on the floor.

Following that class, I was still DJing and explored making my own music. One day I came across a music production summer class that would admit about 4-5 kids at a time, was interviewed by phone, and later admitted. In that class, I learned everything about producing, but during the last week, the producer’s manager came in and something clicked. I realized I would rather work with artists and help them achieve their dreams.

Fast forward another year, going into my senior year, I meet some very talented artists at my university and ask them if I could help. I became their “manager” and we just started making things happen. We were going to studio sessions, releasing music on Soundcloud, doing PR pitches, etc. At the same time, I sought out a job working with a promotions company in New Orleans that was putting on EDM events because I figured that would be a great experience as well. This became my every day so when graduation came around it was only natural that I wanted to continue what I was building toward. I graduated school without a “real job,” took the risk of becoming an artist manager, and worked 24/7.

KESS Records Label Owner Max Kessler
3 — When did you realize you wanted to create your own music label?

After a few years of working with VAVO, I felt like there was an opportunity to really level them up. I had a few meetings with some of the more well-known labels, but based on our conversations, I felt like what we needed was something different. We needed a label that was focused on development. Plus, who would be more patient and understanding than the artist’s own manager? So, I proposed the idea to the guys, and they gave me their full trust. A couple of months later, we end up releasing our first single and it found its way to the Billboard Dance charts. It was truly an unbelievable moment and proved we were on the right path.

4 — What would you say it’s the most important thing when managing a label?

Personally, I believe the most important thing is knowing what the artist’s goals are and working closely with them to achieve them. As someone who is a manager and as a manager first, I started KESS Records to be a partner to the artists. Whether that is to aid in their development, help them achieve chart-topping releases or execute some unique thorough release campaign, we are here for them. We will always fight to do what’s in the artist’s best interests and will always be looking to create opportunities.

5 — What do you look for when releasing new music with KESS Records?

When it comes to releasing new music, I look at several factors, but the most important is the music itself. I don’t necessarily care if an artist is just starting out or doesn’t have a massive following. If they present a song that I feel is very strong, I will happily support them. Having said that, we have become known for being a label focused on songs that lean into the Dance House and Dance Pop/Electronic Pop Lane, but I take an open approach with everything I do.

6 — And, what do you look for when signing new artists to the label?

It starts with the music of course, but removing that from the equation and it would be synergy. Synergy is key. Synergy, drive, vision, and morals. KESS is the first four letters of my last name, which makes this label very personal to me. When signing new artists, I not only look for great music but also great people who are driven and motivated. These artists are also passionate about their craft and most importantly are good kindhearted people. I hope that the artists we work with are people that can be role models to the next generation of aspiring artists. Those kinds of artists are artists I will always go to bat for and are artists I am proud to either represent or support however best I can.

On a side note, music-wise, we look for artists we can grow long-term with.

7 — Which advice did you receive when you started your career as a label boss that you still carry with you?

I honestly didn’t really get much advice when starting. I didn’t begin my career well connected or have real guidance. Were there people who gave me opportunities early on? Absolutely! And, I remain very close with them to this day. Having said that, I would say I received a lot of advice indirectly through being a student of the business. The legends that have made such a positive impact are people I pick from. I learned everything along the way. I studied what the greats did and put my own flare on it.

8 — Whose input is the most important to you before making a new move with the label?

This is dependent on what moves we’re talking about. I typically have a grasp on the moves I want to make, but I always value the input from people on my team. I also like to get input from my fiancé. She’s incredibly smart and always has good insight.

9 — What are you currently working on with KESS Records?

I’m honestly working on a ton of exciting projects for KESS Records right now. We have amazing new releases on the way that will easily be the biggest and best releases yet. We also have a lot of new concepts and ideas we’re developing. These will be focused on the fan experience and the relationship between artist, label, and fan. For those interested in that, connect with us on social media because that’s where we share most of the updates.

10 — What would you like to achieve with the label in the near future?

That’s a tough one because there is so much, I’d like to achieve in the near future. For one, I’d love for one of our artists to win their first Grammy. I feel very strongly about the quality of music we’re releasing, so I don’t think it’s too crazy to hope for that. I’d also love to build out a strong roster of incredibly talented artists I can champion. KESS was built on a family-oriented mindset. I hope to have a group of artists that are not only connected with the label, but also with each other.

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Hi, my name is Erick Ycaza. I have a BA in Advertising & Graphic Design. This blog is to provide you with daily music news and share my personal style.

Interviews

Discovering Lucii’s Musical Journey And Her New Song “Narcissist”

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Lucii
In this exclusive interview, Lucii shares more about her journey as a musician, the meaning and inspiration behind her new single “Narcissist, and her plans for the future, including incorporating a live band into her performances and releasing a new album.

1 — How did you first become interested in music and what led you to pursue it as a career?

So I always sang and made songs on guitar as I was growing up but never thought I was good enough. I went to a rave at 17 and really loved it so I started DJing and producing and started to use my vocals on my tracks and it turned into a career!

2 — As a member of the LGBTQ community, how do you feel your identity influences your songs?

I feel like Idk I just write songs about girls, but I think cause I’m female writing about a female gives this extra sparkle of divine femininity.

3 — How do you aim to use your artistic platform to uplift and inspire others in the community?

I just want to make people feel something, music is a form of expression sometimes easier than talking. Mac Miller helped so much with my mental health and I just wanna be that to someone. Make people not feel alone, especially the LGBTQ community.

4 — Please tell us more about the meaning and inspiration behind your new single “Narcissist.”

I was in therapy and was describing this person to my therapist and she said (her name is Andrea and I shout her out in the song) “well that person sounds like a Narcissist” I NEVER heard of that word in my life so I started writing that night “you’re a Narcissist says my therapist” and that’s how it came about. I just wanted an angry song about a Narcissist so I made it.

5 — What’s your favorite lyric line?

Probably “thank god for Andrea I should send the bill to ya for all the times I’m in the chair wondering how I got here” Andrea is my therapist and I just think that’s a BA.

6 — How has your experience been as an electronic music producer and how has that influenced your shift into the Pop genre?

I feel like it influenced my Pop music a lot because I want my songs to have energy even if they’re sad, I want that emotional wave rollercoaster to feel like dance music gives.

7 — Are you planning to incorporate a live band into your performances?

YES!! I cannot wait to start playing with my band. I can’t wait to be closer to my audience and just play my songs, that is my dream and I can’t wait to do that soon hehe.

Lucii
8 — Can you share a bit about the creative process of your upcoming album?

Details on the upcoming album will be announced soon.

9 — What message would you like to send to aspiring LGBTQ musicians looking to break into the industry?

I would say just fucking go for it we NEED you. Look at fletcher she is breaking boundaries right now she is a full-on amazing Pop star and watching her grow has just been so inspiring and made me realize I can do this, I can make the move from being a DJ to being a live performance act.

10 — How do you see your music evolving in the future?

I see myself going through eras, I really love how Taylor Swift each of her albums feel like a chapter to read from ‘1989’ to ‘REPUTATION’ and OMG ‘Folklore.’ All of them are AMAZING but I just want to give that feeling with every one of my albums, as you listen to it and you’re transported back in time to a feeling.


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Exploring An Experimental Album With XENOBYT — Interview

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XENOBYT
Are you a fan of electronic music with a hint of nostalgia and horror? Look no further, as XENOBYT‘s new album ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’ is exactly what you’ve been searching for. In this exclusive interview, the up-and-coming artist gives you an inside look at the inspiration and creative process behind his original work.

1 — How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?

I try to make music that people can vibe to. Something you can put on and get lost in while driving or doing something mundane. There is something fascinating about using a synthesizer, which for a long time was considered the sound of the future, but using it to make music that reminds us of the past. I like to think that if you like Horror and synth music and enjoy the groove of the song over the technicality of what’s played, you would enjoy what I am trying to do here.

2 — Which artists are you most influenced by?

When I was younger, I was a huge Metalhead, but my dad was a big tech geek and loved messing around with a synthesizer and listened to a lot of Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder. So I had an early appreciation for it. I was big into Horror movies and really dug the soundtracks that John Carpenter was doing, and Brad Fiedel’s Terminator 2 soundtrack was another of my favorites. But I didn’t decide to start making this kind of music until I heard Carpenter Brut and Perturbator for the first time.

3 — What drew you to the experimental genre and what sets it apart from other electronic music styles?

I went to college for sound design, so I love taking a sound that people are familiar with and messing with it to make something completely new. And I try to incorporate that into my music in ways that aren’t done very often. Classifying yourself as experimental kind of takes the chains off and resets expectations of what your fans expect to hear when they listen to your music.

4 — What inspired the title of your new album ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’?

Usually, I come up with a simple horror theme for an album before I even start writing the songs for it. The last album, New Retro Witch, was about witchcraft and this album was about malevolent spirits. The concept of getting hired for a certain time to caretake a haunted mansion resonated with me and the things I had going on in my life at the time. I was facing a lot of old trauma I had buried and this concept paralleled with what I was dealing with in my own head, so I based the title of the album around that idea.

5 — How does this material differ from your previous works?

I wanted this album to be heavier than my last album from the start. I wanted to incorporate more Rock and Metal vibes into it but keep some of the same beauty and melancholy that I really liked about New Retro Witch.

Because of the more personal nature of this album, I didn’t really do any big collaborations on it, which is something I normally try to do.

experimental electronic music
6 — How long did it take you to complete this project?

I started working on this album in the Spring of 2021 and had 9 songs written for this album by the end of summer, but I wasn’t happy with it and scrapped all but 3 songs. I kind of fell into an artistic rut after that and sat on it until February of 2022 and wrote, mixed, and mastered the remainder of the album over the spring and summer.

7 — Could you tell us where ‘Nine Nights In The House Of Harrow’ was recorded?

I have my own recording studio here in Austin and I did all of the writing, mixing, and mastering for this album there.

8 — How did you approach the design of the artwork?

During that artistic rut I had mentioned earlier, I got really enthralled in AI Art Generation and went as far as learning how to and coding my own AI Art Generator. I made a bunch of stuff with it that actually helped inspire me to finish the album. While I am a big fan of collaborating with other artists, I was really proud of the fact I made this art-making machine and how it helped me get back on my grind. I wanted to showcase what it was capable of with this release.


9 — Is there a particular song on this album that stands out to you?

“Deluge,” because there is a sad and dark story behind it. I suffer from depression and PTSD and had a bit of a mental breakdown last summer. That song was created live while I was in the midst of that breakdown. I felt like I was drowning, and I wanted the song to sound like I felt. But I also wrote the song I wanted to hear to feel better, and it worked. I still put it on when I am feeling depressed, and it still makes me feel better.

10 — Are you open to collaborations? If so, what are the requirements?

Absolutely! I am always open to collaborating with other artists. My only requirement is ensuring proper credit is given to everyone involved.


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Empowerment & Authenticity: An Interview With Tash Blake On “Mannequin”

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Tash Blake
With influences from icons like Madonna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga, Tash Blake is not afraid to break boundaries and bring fresh energy to the music industry. Her debut single “Mannequin” carries a powerful message of rebellion and authenticity. Read the full interview here.

1 — First of all, what makes Tash Blake an artist?

I am constantly thinking about what is missing from the music/visual world and want to contribute my vision, writing, and voice to provide my personal expression in a way that may resonate with how others are feeling but may not be able to express.

2 — How do you combine your passion for dance and musical theatre into your current projects?

I always strive to incorporate choreography and dramatics into all my visual projects. Whether it’s through storytelling or fashion, my goal is to use body movement and character to elevate the art every time.

3 — Can you tell us more about the message behind your debut single “Mannequin”?

“Mannequin” is all about the types of language and power structures that demean and are used to control others and then the recognition and rebellion against them so as to take the power back from whoever or whatever has suppressed your power as a human being.

4 — In what ways does the music video enhance or support this message?

In the video, it was really important to me to feel powerful, sexy, confident, and badass.

5 — What did you enjoy the most about shooting these visuals?

I always adore expressing myself through dance and fashion, and I got to do both! Additionally, I love working in black and white imagery to highlight form and shape.

6 — Was it difficult to translate your personal experiences with manipulation and the pursuit of authenticity into the lyrics?

It was extremely easy to write about my experiences in the lyrics. I was beyond ready to talk about my past, operate in the present, reach for the future, and help others grab their power back.


7 — How does the influence of Madonna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga manifest in your music style?

I have always adored the way these women didn’t play by the “rules.” They were always being themselves and consistently breaking boundaries. I like to be disruptive and break from the norm. Additionally, each of these women were incredible visionaries and performers, and I thoroughly want to bring that experience back to videos, music, and the stage in full force.

8 — Do you have any upcoming live performances scheduled?

I’m currently working on my live show and I’m so excited to share it with you. The stage is where I feel most at home.

9 — What are your most ambitious aspirations as an artist in 2023?

It’s a goal of mine to be playing at a festival this year like Tomorrowland! I would also be so grateful to perform at club venues and interact with and entertain fans.

10 — Finally, what will be your next song about?

I have always felt this deep desire and need for strong love even if it ends up hurting me, I’d rather feel something than feel nothing at all. “Inject Me” expresses exactly that. Throughout the song, I talk about performing and I pulled inspiration from both how I crave such an intense love before I die and how the industry can be a magical yet dark place where you can feel very loved, but overwhelmingly alone and I have always been fascinated by that contradiction.


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