Friday nights in New York City are always a crapshoot, so when we ended up at a social gathering event at one of our favorite bars, it turned out it actually worked out. We met Harald Austad there, a Norwegian music producer with his own Brooklyn-based record label, Supervillain Records. We got the inside scoop on what it really takes to start a label, upcoming tracks from his current artists, and of course, his biggest fashion blunder.
Labeling Men: How did the idea of Supervillain Records come about?
Harald Austad: I started Supervillain Records because I was making so much music - good music - with different artists and song writers. I was thinking instead of trying to pitch all the tracks to other artists, on other labels. I wanted to release it and get it out and get it heard! It started with just wanting to get my music heard. [I’ve] been selling beats to artists for most of my career and now I wanted to have the music out there that I want to make.
So the first artist I have been working with is RayZa, a rapper from Long Island. We just released his first single, "I'm About". The next artist we have is Meta Dia who is a reggae artist, known from Meta & The Cornerstone, with his first single "The Prophecy,” which we released a month ago. And right now, both of them are working on their debut albums. Right now we just signed Margilicious, welcoming her to the family. So there is going to be a lot of music coming out!
L.M: What made you “label” your record label “Supervillain Music"?
H.A: Well, I was looking for a name and I had a bunch of different ideas. I always liked the space aesthetic of things, space age and all of that. [I] always liked "cosmic galactic" and I feel like it’s timeless, because space is timeless – it’s always there - so you really can't go wrong with space. I was thinking, the coolest guys are always the super villains, not the good guys. It’s obviously Yoda but don't you really want to be Darth [Vader]! At least for the looks alone! Supervillain is cooler and the aesthetics are cooler; so much more to play with, and the associations.
L.M: What would your dream recording studio look like?
H.A: Obviously I would like to have all the cool recording equipment you can get. But making songs is more about having a good vibe with the artist than having the best microphone. I've recorded in fancy studios and in bedrooms, sometimes getting a cooler sound at a shitty spot. But if I could get my dream studio, I would love to have a view of Manhattan just right in front of the keyboard.
L.M: Does networking help an artist or do you feel that they can get by on talent alone?
H.A: Networking is crucial in this city, but if you don't have a good product, it's not worth a lot. I feel it's easier to make a good song than to sell it. If you have connections to get your music heard, you have an advantage over all the other artists trying to do the same thing as you. An artist with a bad song and a network might reach more people than a great artist without a network, so it's important for any artist to build relationships that can help the music grow.
L.M: What about "Supervillain Records" sets it apart from other record labels?
H.A: First off, it's all produced by me. But then it's also a project-based label, meaning the artist is free to work and sign with anyone else at the same time. We work on a track or album together, find our sound, and then release it. We own everything ourselves and it's more about having a platform to release the music we want to make without anyone else saying what we can do.
L.M: What upcoming track should we be looking out for?
H.A: You should be on the lookout for +MGL+. We are releasing Margilicious’ debut album, “Radio Ratchet”, in the beginning of September. We're doing the final touches now, and I'm really excited to share it with the world. [Editor’s Note: Margilicious debuted her video at an exclusive showcase during NYFW]
L.M: Where do you draw your inspirations from?
H.A: The moment. I love to make a track from scratch with an artist, not knowing beforehand what we're going to make. Then whatever happens at that time and place with that artist will be the result. Starting a track, I draw inspirations simply from browsing sounds on my keyboard; play around, have fun, find a cool melody or a groove and then just run with it.
L.M: How would you label your sense of fashion?
H.A: I just have fun with it! Right now I'm on a “street Goth” thing with all black and white and big prints, but it's an ever-changing process I guess. I think it's cooler to have a great style rather than just following trends. I try to stay somewhat updated on what’s happening, but really it's just about finding expressions that work for you.
L.M: What is your most embarrassing style memory?
H.A: As a white kid rapping in Norway in 1999, I think I crossed every faux pas on the list: Dada sneakers, Johnny Blaze pants, Sean John hoodie and yes, a do-rag with a fitted cap on top. Weirdly enough, I kind of want to wear that today. I guess I never learn!
L.M: Does fashion play a part in what you are trying to produce for your artists’ albums?
H.A: Sometimes it does. For some artists, the visuals and their style and fashion is a part of everything. For others, it's all about the music. +MGL+ is a fashion blogger, so that is naturally a part of the whole project. I think it's great if you have a good style, but it's not a must for making a good song. But, as most people discover an artist through a video, the visuals are very important and convey a story and an idea, almost as much as the song itself. So, I wouldn't say fashion necessarily plays a part of making the music, but it plays a big part in presenting it.
Find out more about Supervillain Records and their artists at www.supervillainmusic.com
Photo Credit: Kyrre Skjelby Kristoffersen
Interview by Nisim Frank