Imprints brings you regular profiles of the most exciting record labels the world over, with input from the movers and shakers who contribute to their local electronic music communities.
Location: Vancouver and New York
Members: Malcolm Levy, Sarah Cole-Burnett, Robbie Slade, Gina Loes, Bill Kal, Aidan Ferris, Eli Wener
Artists: Humans, Wolfey, Thomas Cade, Sabota, Ladyfrnd, project pablo, Michael Brock, Dreamboat, BCBG, The Passenger, Fantastic Modern
Number of Releases: 14
Social: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Hybridity are one of Vancouver’s most sincere, revered record labels and with their expansion to NYC underway, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with everything that makes them so special. They’ve never done a like-to-download release; they’ve never used a scantily clad woman in a cover art to help sell a record; they’ve never asked you to heart a track on Hypem, and I adore them for all these reasons and more. Hybridity are a rare find: a group who claim to weave audio, video, and technology together, and succeed triumphantly.
By chance, I met Co-Founder Sarah Cole-Burnett at Resident Advisor’s SXSW showcase back in March and the following day, in a quieter setting, she shed some light on what’s ahead for the label. They were soon-to-release vocalist/producer Michael Brock’s debut EP (which moved me in ways and is entirely unique to itself), their photo and video editing app, Generate, (which I use daily), and they were preparing for the highly-anticipated follow up release by famed Vancouver duo Humans (which had me pulling “De Ciel” out of the archives as soon as I got home).
After the dust had settled and the street tacos had been worked out of my body, I reached out to Sarah to fill in the gaps about Hybridity’s history, where it is, and where it’s going next.
What’s the deal?
Sarah: Malcolm Levy founded Hybridity Records in collaboration with myself and even before the name was formalized, both of us were thinking about this hybridity concept. Malcolm had been working in the art and music space for over a decade with the New Forms Festival, and CODElive, I was fresh out of school in search of a way to explore my interest in similar topics. When we got talking, it was clear that we saw the world in a similar light. For us, it seemed that all aspects of art, music, and culture were becoming more and more fluid, the lines blurring between genres and forms. Technology was becoming ubiquitous to production, and artists were at the forefront of this “post digital” phenomena. In a sense, we saw Hybridity as the next movement. To turn this idea into a functioning company, we brought on a number of artists, musicians, and programmers to work with us on various projects. Together with these ‘collaborators’ we formed a music label, a tech start up, and an artistic curating and production department.
Where does the name Hybridity come from?
The name Hybridity refers to the mixing, converging, and cross-pollination in current culture, art and music styles.
How would you describe your sound?
The sound of the label varies to some degree. We have artists who are more pop-electronic, and future releases that are more house and techno. The label is a milieu of work under the overall guise of electronic music.
Which release would you recommend to introduce a new listener to Hybridity?
I would say the recent Sabota LP. That album is incredible, and a perfect introduction to us. Each release speaks to a different listener, so for one person, the perfect intro would be Thomas Cade, but for another, it would be Michael Brock or project pablo. We like it that way, as it allows for continued growth and new experiences for us.
Who are the biggest artists who’ve released on Hybridity?
Humans are probably the biggest act but Sabota is doing really well right now, and we have a lot of anticipation around our releases through the fall... Ask us in a year!
How do you choose the artists that you work with?
Many artists on the label are part of a larger local (Vancouver based) and international community that we operate within. Some of them have played New Forms Festival in the past, and others have put out music that we really love and we get in contact. We do go through submissions as well, and a couple of the releases have happened this way.
What’s the next release on Hybridity? How far ahead do you plan your releases?
We just released Michael Brock’s debut release, “Scorpio.” He’s doing a gorgeous blend of pop and R&B, and the response so far has been really positive. The next release is project pablo (formerly 8prn), who is produces incredible, underground electronic stuff. I feel like he’s going to blow up to be honest. We are also releasing a pop and R&B project called Fantastic Modern, as well as a more acid house focused EP by The Passenger. Over the summer to early fall there will be a much anticipated Humans album, produced by Nik Kozub of Shoutoutoutout notoriety.
What are you looking for in a demo?
A sound that does something different, that hits you on an emotional level. We are also looking at production skills, and what makes this artist unique on our roster.
Who signs off on releases?
It’s a pretty collective decision between Malcolm, Robbie Slade, and I.
How important is design in packaging your releases?
It’s very important! We recently did a rebrand because we wanted to have more of an impact and voice in terms of our aesthetic. You’ll be seeing more cohesion around our design on future releases.
What are some challenges that you face day-to-day or week-to-week?
Scheduling can be an issue. We have been incredibly busy this year, so it can be a challenge to keep up. Fortunately, we have incredible staff that are far more organized than us and who make sure we stay on task. The team has also been amazing at organizing the structure of the label, making sure we are operating efficiently. There are a lot of details in running a label and management company, and it takes a strong team to make it happen.
What’s the next step for Hybridity?
We are setting up shop in NYC in addition to Vancouver, so we’re looking to sign a couple of artists there, and help build the profile of our Canadian artists in the US. Other than that, we’re going to manage and build our existing artists, and keep things pretty boutique. We are looking in to doing a Hybridity tour with a few of the artists. We also just launched an interactive art and AV app called Generate. It’s in the app store now, and it definitely speaks to the hybridity concept.